Oil Up! Enjoying the Benefits of Ayurveda Oil Massage

One of our top recommendations to guests at The Raj as they head home is to continue with daily oil massage (abhyanga). The effects of daily Ayurveda oil massage (recommended before bathing in the morning) are multifold. Not only will a morning oil massage help pull toxins from the skin (the largest organ in the body and an important organ for the elimination of toxins), it also leaves a protective film that acts as a barrier between your skin and harmful environmental elements.

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While oil massage helps balance all doshas — especially when you use oil infused with herbs that specifically target Vata, Pitta or Kapha — it is especially good for balancing Vata. I know many people who never travel without a small container of sesame oil. After a long plane or car ride, there is nothing more grounding than an oil massage followed by a good soak in a hot bath. (Add in some Vata tea and aroma oil and you are well on your way to side-stepping the jangling effects of travel.)

But the beneficial effects of oil massage don’t stop there. Research also suggests that sesame oil (the oil most often used in abhyanaga) selectively stops malignant skin cancer cells from growing in laboratory tissue culture, and at the same time allows normal skin cells to proliferate.

According to the study, sesame and safflower oils selectively inhibited the grown of malignant melanoma cell cultures, but coconut, olive and mineral oils did not. The traditional Ayurveda texts specifically recommend sesame oil massage to promote health and longevity.

(One note of caution: sesame oil has a naturally heating property. Those with a Pitta body type or with Pitta imbalances may need to opt for another oil and may react to sesame oil with rashes or redness. If you are in this catagory, you will want to opt for a more cooling oil.)

Researchers have known for years that linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid that is present in small quantities in the body, inhibits many kinds of cancer growth. But because pure linoleic acid is highly unstable and can irritate a person’s skin and eyes, it cannot be used or ingested safely. In the above mentioned research study, scientists used the whole vegetable oil, rather than trying to isolate the active ingredient, thus avoiding unnatural side effects.

Research also shows that oil massage is an important component in removing synthetic chemicals from our physiology. In the US there are thousands of these kind of chemicals used in various types of industry or agriculture. These toxins are present everywhere in our environment and can be found in virtually every living organism around the world. Regardless of our lifestyle, profession, eating habits, or geographic location, by the time we are 40 years old, our toxin level is substantial.

A study on clients participating in the traditional Ayurveda detoxification and purification treatments (Panchakarma) at The Raj showed that blood levels of these chemicals were reduced by 50% after a 5-day course of treatment. Because these harmful chemicals are fat-soluble, they are able to be “washed” from our fat cells by the deeply penetrating sesame oil (as well as by other components of the treatment program.)

Integrating a 10-minute sesame oil massage into your morning routine can have a significant impact on reducing Vata imbalances, purifying the skin and maintaining balance throughout the body.

To learn more about the research on removing fat-soluble toxins through the detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma), visit The Raj website:

www.theraj.com/rajresults/index.php

www.theraj.com

The Healing Powers of Hot Water

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Ayurveda considers removing toxins and impurities from the physiology, and preventing their build-up in the tissues, to be a key part of staying healthy. Ayurveda refers to these toxins and impurities as “ama”. Because ama disrupts the delicate biochemistry in the tissues and blocks the channels of circulation and communication within the physiology, it is a contributing factor in many physical disorders. The build-up of ama often starts with poor digestion. A sluggish digestion creates toxins and poor elimination, which allows the toxins to be absorbed into the circulation system and transported throughout the body.

Many of the recommendations given by Ayurveda experts during a consultation address the need for internal cleansing or detoxification. Of those that can be done at home, sipping hot water throughout the day is easy and effective.

Hot water flowing through the digestive tract helps to dissolve impurities and cleanse the digestive and eliminative systems. The result is an improvement in digestion and assimilation of food, improved elimination, and prevention of the formation of ama.

In addition, the hot water is absorbed into the circulatory system and travels throughout the entire body. The extra warmth and fluid aids in opening all the various channels of circulation, dissolving accumulated impurities and washing them from the body.

Many people report that after just a few weeks of sipping hot water throughout the day, digestion and elimination has improved and they feel fresher, lighter and more energetic.

Drinking hot water (water which just cool enough to be sipped comfortably) is especially helpful during vata and kapha season. During the hot summer months, warm or room-temperature water may be preferred, especially for those with pitta body types or with pitta-related disorders.

Ideally, Ayurveda recommends that water be boiled for ten minutes. Boiling the water allows excessive minerals deposits and impurities to precipitate out and increases the water’s lightness and its cleansing influence.

A slice of fresh ginger root, a pinch of turmeric or a few fennel seeds may be added to the boiling water if desired. These herbs can help increase the cleansing influence of the water in your system. Lemon may be added if it is not upsetting to the stomach.

For more information on Ayurveda consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

Panchakarma: Sublimely Effective Ayurveda Detox

The ultimate goal of all Ayurveda modalities is to restore balance to the level of biological intelligence in the body and allow the free flow of communication and circulation. This allows perfect coherence of the body’s innate healing mechanisms.

Ayurveda believes that the functioning of the body breaks down as impurities and toxins (caused by diet and poor digestion, stress, environmental toxins and other factors) accumulate in the cells and tissues. Over time these impurities begin to block various channels of the body (blood vessels, lymph circulation, capillaries, cellular pores, etc), limiting the flow of biological intelligence.

Panchakarma is one of the specialties of Ayurveda. Literally translated as “five actions”, Panchakarma is series of integrated procedures that, together, dislodge impurities from the tissues and cells and flush them from the body. This sequence of massage, heat treatments and internal cleansing helps to balance the doshas and allows for a more normalized flow of nutrients, blood, hormones, etc. Developed thousands of years ago to give long life to the the rulers of India, Panchakarma is the cornerstone of rejuvenation programs at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa.

Panchakarma provides the ultimate mind-body healing experience. It restores the connection of any weak or diseased area of the body with the mechanisms of biological intelligence responsible for healing. Sounds intense? It is surprisingly luxurious and gentle, especially considering the profound results that this ancient detoxification treatment provides.

Studies on the effects of Panchakarma have shown reductions in cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of heart disease. Many doctors recommend PK to their patients as a follow-up to chemotherapy, once the patient has regained his or her strength. (The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa recommends allowing 6 months from the end of one’s chemotherapy treatments or radiation treatments before undergoing any Ayurvedic massages and therapies.) Guests have also reported relief from fatigue, depression, digestive disorders, and stress.

A study published in the Sept./Oct. 2002 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed that a 5-day course of Panchakarma treatment decreased blood levels of fat-soluble toxins (such as DDE, PCBs and dioxins) by 50%. Western medicine offers no means of removing these harmful chemicals, which are associated with hormone disruption and immune system suppression.

Panchakarma treatments can be taken for as few as 3 and as many as 30 consecutive days. Participants always begin with a consultation with an Ayurvedic expert who then creates a customized program based on their individual levels of balance and imbalance.

Panchakarma uses three types of therapies:

1) The first group stimulates the release of toxins from the cells using various types of massage, many of which involve herbalized oil.

2) The second group uses heat to dilate the channels of the body, allowing the impurities that were loosened through oil massage to be drawn into the intestinal tracts.

3) The sequence ends with a gentle internal cleansing treatments consisting of either warm herbalized oil or water-based decoctions.1. Shiro#3

This sequence of treatment occurs every day. As an example, one day may start with an herbalized sesame oil massage followed by an herbalized steam treatment, ending with gentle elimination therapy. Another day may begin with a massage with warm rice and milk packs, followed by Shirodhara, the pouring of warm oil over the forehead, followed by elimination therapy. Treatments will vary from day to day, depending on one’s needs.

Never had detoxing felt so good! Sometimes it is hard to remember that behind the pampering there is a powerful restructuring of the physiology taking place. Even though I’m ready to take on the world after my treatments, it’s better to take it slow for a week or so after you return home, so the body has a chance to integrate all the changes.

For me, my yearly treatment is my opportunity to reset my diet and my daily habits. To make the most of your PK treatments, a low-fat, vegetarian diet is recommended starting one week before, and continuing through treatments. If I’ve gotten into any bad habits during the year (sugar, snacks, late nights on the computer) I emerge from my treatments with a new resolve. And the new state of balance in my physiology naturally helps to support that resolve.

I’ve managed to have Panchakarma treatments once a year for the last 25 years. It is like spring-cleaning for one’s house. I can’t imagine going without.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

DDT and Alzheimer’s — Ayurveda Can Help!

A recent study published in JAMA Neurology found that patients with Alzheimer’s had four times as much blood levels of DDT as healthy people. While the findings are not conclusive, researchers believe the chemical increases the chance of Alzheimer’s and may be involved in the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which contribute 6a00d83451e0d569e201156e4f87e6970c-800wito the death of brain cells. Even though DDT has been banned in the US since 1972, the average American still ingests small amounts of the toxic chemical every day.

The good news? The ancient science of Ayurveda provides a means to remove this harmful chemical from the body.

Current mainline thinking is that the only way to eliminate DDT from the body is to let nature take its course. DDT’s half-life — the time it takes to naturally fall to half it’s original value — is 2 to 15 years. But a published research study conducted on the traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center in Fairfield, IA showed that 50% of DDE levels (DDE is the by-product of DDT found to be linked to Alzheimer’s) can be eliminated through a 5-day treatment program. A good investment in one’s future! To read more about the study visit http://theraj.com/rajresults/index.php

(If PK is not in your budget, daily massage with organic sesame oil can be helpful. See more tips at the end of the blog.)

DDT

DDT is harmful to the nervous system and is a known carcinogen. It belongs to a group of chemicals (along with PCBs and dioxins) that are fat-soluble. This means the chemicals adhere to the fat in insects, animals and people. The chemicals remain stored in the fat until their natural dissolution. This can take from 4 to 30 years. Although DDT is no longer made or used in the US, our water, air, soil are so contaminated that the chemical still poses a threat to our health.

Exposure to DDT

DDT and its by-products are persistant, bioaccumulative and can be transported long distances through the atmosphere. They can travel in the water systems and can end up in produce, dairy and meats through irrigation. DDT can build up in sediment in rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, and then accumulate in fish and shellfish. It is still in our soil and can be absorbed by some plants and by the animals or people who eat them. The largest fraction of DDT in a person’s diet comes from fish, meat, poultry, and dairy products. Leafy vegetables generally contain more DDT than other vegetables, possibly because DDT in the air is deposited on the leaves. DDT also comes to us in food from other countries. Infants may be exposed by drinking breast milk.

Removing DDT

The purification treatments of Ayurveda start with a week of “home-prep”, an individually recommended protocol that primes the body to get the most out of the up-coming treatments. One aspect of home prep is a fat-free diet. When the detox treatments begin, pure oils are massaged into the body day after day, penetrating deeper and deeper into the tissues and organs of the body. Because the restrictive diet has reduced the body’s natural fat saturation, the fat-soluble chemicals respond joyously to the pure lipid infusion, detaching from the cells and attaching to the new lipids.  These then get flushed out of the body with daily elimination therapy. To date this is the only proven way to remove fat-soluble toxins from the body.

Avoiding DDT

1. Begin each day with a warm oil massage. Sesame oil is the most penetrating of the oils but those with a more pitta constitution may develop itchy skin or a rash. If you have sensitive skin, try using sweet almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil. Warm the oil slightly before using. Sit for 10 minutes after application and follow with a warm shower.

2.  Favor organic foods, especially organic foods grown in the U.S. Many countries still use DDT to contain malaria. The run-off from spraying can contaminate the water systems and get onto food through irrigation (even into so-called organic farms).

3. Wash all fresh produce thoroughly in water, especially leafy greens, beans, root vegetables, and fruits and berries, to remove soil and any residues of DDT or DDE on the surface of the food.

4. If you are not a vegetarian, choose lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Trim excess fat from meat and poultry.

5. Consider a yearly commitment to Panchakarma treatments. A five-day treatment can accomplish what nature takes 2 to 15 years to do.

To learn more about Ayurveda detox and purification programs, visit The Raj website:

www.theraj.com

(Photo of older man with younger woman. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

An Apple a Day….Seven Dietary Recommendations to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

AppleIt is estimated that 60-70% of cancers can be prevented by the implementation of simple changes in one’s diet and lifestyle. Below are a few recommendations that have been shown to help prevent cancer and also promote overall health and wellbeing.

1. Increase amounts of fruits and vegetables (organic when possible.) Most of the fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery store are laced with hazardous chemicals. However, fruits and vegetables also contain bioflvinoids, which are known to have anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Because plants create oxygen as a by-product of harnessing the suns’ energy through photosynthesis, they have to develop powerful anti-oxidant defenses to combat the lethal combination of sunlight and oxygen (a recipe for free radicals.) The anti-oxidant substances used by plants to control free radicals work exactly equally in the human body.

2. Enjoy vegetable fats (such as those found in nuts and olive oil) and reduce intake of saturated and trans fats often found in meat and processed foods. Head researchers on a new study on prostate cancer published in JAMA, June 2013, concluded,” If you eat the right kind of fat, you are less likely to die of not only prostate cancer, but really, of any cause.”

3. Avoid excess weight gain. Those who are 40% overweight have a much higher risk of developing cancer.

4. Increase fiber intake. A high fiber diet helps remove toxins from the body. Low fiber and high animal fat diets have been implicated in cancer of the colon. This is another reason to increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit in our diet.

5. Favor fresh foods. Avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners.

6 Add turmeric to your diet. Turmeric has been shown to protect the DNA of the cells and to stimulate detoxifying enzymes. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties and increases the anti-cancer properties of other phyto-chemicals (plant chemicals). This is just a sampling of the many beneficial properties of this wonderful spice.

7. Avoid eating meat (this includes lean meats and chicken.) Every cell in a piece of meat and chicken contains a membrane that controls what goes in and out of the cell. This membrane is made up mostly of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Not only are polyunsaturated fats easily oxidized (creating free radicals), they are also storehouses for fat-soluble carcinogens and chemicals, such as many pesticides and herbicides. When you eat meat, ingesting these chemical-concentrated fats, the chemicals then become stored in your body fat, attaching to the DNA structure.

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you have already heard about the research that Robert Herron, Ph.D. conducted on the Ayurveda purification therapies (panchakarma) offered at Raj, Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Fairfield, IA.

The study, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2002, showed that levels of fat-soluble toxins could be reduced by about 50% through a 5-day treatment program. The reason I keep bringing up this study is that there exists no other proven method of removing these kinds of fat-soluble chemicals from the body.  Western medicine offers no solution beyond letting nature take its course.  These toxins are know to have a half-life of anywhere from 7 to 30 years. This means it takes 7 to 30 years for the quantity to fall to half its value — to achieve a 50% reduction. The results of this study came after only five days of treatment.

There are a wide variety of detox programs available today that can remove water-soluble toxins and even heavy metals. Panchakarma, however, is the only proven means of removing fat-soluble toxins.

Whatever foods you may have eaten in the past, it is reassuring to know that you can undo many of the negative effects of those foods and start fresh on a new path of good health.

To learn more about Panchakarma visit

www.theraj.com

 

(Photo of Fruits and Vegetables Basket. Source: National Cancer Insitute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health via Wikimedia Commons. The image is used under the terms of Wikimedia Commons rules: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Licensing. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)