Bitter Tastes Help with Asthma

For years a friend of mine has extolled the use of bitters in dealing with congestion. Because bitter is one of the six taste identified in Ayurveda and associated with decreasing Kapha, and because are one of the main seats of Kapha, I thought it made sense. Recently I learned that back in 2010, researchers at the University of Maryland School of medicine found that bitter taste receptors are located in the human lungs as well as in the mouth. Although the taste buds located in the lungs do not send signals to brain, they respond to bitter tastes by opening the airways “more extensively than any known drug that currently exists to address asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”.

According to the American Lung Association, asthma affects nearly 23 million Americans, including seven million children, and COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

During asthma attacks, the smooth muscle cells contract, causing a narrowing of the airways and subsequent breathing difficulties. The fact that bitter tastes can relax these smooth muscles cells has opened new possibilities for natural treatments of asthma.

While Ayurveda acknowledges many types of asthma, Kapha-related asthma is the most common and involves the production of sticky, thick mucous. Even with a Kapha-related asthma, however, an imbalance of Vata dosha is often involved, along the presence of ama (a sticky toxin caused by poor digestion.) Because Kapha and Vata have opposite qualities, finding a course of treatment that will pacify both is delicate. For this reason is it best to consult an Ayurvedic expert to help determine the most beneficial approach to any individual case of asthma.

While bitter is not a taste that is common in the traditional American diet, bitter flavored foods have long held a special place in traditional medicine. From the ancient Egyptians to the 16th century prescriptions of the physician Paracelsus, elixirs brewed from bitter herbs have been considered cure-all remedies. Studies have confirmed that getting an adequate amount bitter flavor is important for digestive balance and bitter is linked with many related health benefits. Kale, bitter melon, grapefruit and turmeric are examples of bitter tastes.

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Experiencing the bitter flavor on the tongue initiates an effect that starts with the salivary glands, which is why bitters should not be taken in pill or capsule form. The stimulation of the taste buds and increased saliva output is the signal to rest of the digestive process to produce and release the necessary enzymes and digestive juices for proper and thorough digestion of food.

The first line of treatment that is traditionally recommended for asthma is the purification therapies of Panchakarma. These treatments expel the excess doshas from their sites of accumulation. This treats the condition at a deep level and decreases the chance of recurrence.

A diet and lifestyle that avoids aggravation of both Kapha and Vata dosha should also be followed. This means avoiding heavy, cold or dry foods. Warm, soupy foods that are freshly prepared nourish Vata without aggravating Kapha. Again, balancing of both Vata and Kapha at the same time is tricky. It is best to consult with someone who is experienced in this area to avoid creating more imbalances.

For more information on the Ayurveda approach to asthma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

How Ayurveda Can Help Prevent Asthma, Arthritis and Heart Disease

The Ayurvedic approach to creating health has two goals: to restore balance to the level of underlying biological intelligence and to open the channels of communication and circulation. This helps bring re-establish the lively coherence between biological intelligence and the material level of the physiology.

Enhancing Mind-Body Coordination

At its deepest level, the body is a network of intelligence that is constantly being influenced by our mental state. In fact, Ayurveda holds that all health problems are ultimately due to “mistakes of the intellect.” This is because in the mind-body system that constitutes our selves, “consciousness is primary and matter is secondary”. Enhancing the body’s connection with the network of intelligence at its source is the most important step in creating ideal health.

Diet and Proper Routine of Life

Proper routine of life is also a prerequisite for health. In the majority of cases the imbalances at the basis of disease are created over time by simple life-style mistakes in diet, exercise and behavior that disrupt natural biological rhythms.

Our diet and daily routine of eating, sleeping and exercising determine whether we become stronger and healthier day by day or whether we create imbalances that continually grow toward disease. Without proper diet and routine of life, the effectiveness of any treatment program, whether it is a Western medicine approach or an natural medicine approach, will be greatly reduced. This is because the true cause of most diseases and disorders will continue to exist. The primary goal of an Ayurvedic program is to help structure day-to-day behavior so it has a balancing and strengthening effect on health. (See our blog, Staying Healthy with an Ayurvedic Routine)

Internal Cleansing

Impurities blocking the channels of circulation and communication are a major factor in the body losing contact with its own network of intelligence. Most blockages develop gradually over time due to poor digestion, which leads to the creation of impurities (referred to as “ama”), and poor elimination, which allows the impurities to be absorbed into the system.

Improving digestion and elimination and removing accumulated impurities is an important step in your Ayurveda health program. This can be achieved by simple internal cleansing therapies that can done at home can be prescribed by an Ayurveda expert, depending on your individual state of health and balance. For more profound internal cleansing, the traditional detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, are recommended. (Read our blog on Panchakarma)

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The following examples describe how an accumulation of ama can be at the basis of various diseases.

1)Arthritis: When ama starts to accumulate in the joints, this can create an inflammatory and immune response that creates the symptoms of arthritis.

2) Asthma: When ama accumulates in the lungs, impeding the circulation in that area, the body can both accumulate more allergens and also become more sensitized to those allergens.

3) Cardiovascular disease: Modern medicine describes how impurities block the cardiovascular system. When the accumulating impurities are high in free radicals, they become very reactive with the blood vessel walls and damage them.

For more information about specific disorders and how Ayurvedic programs can help restore balance, contact the Vedic Health Office at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com