Showing posts with label Ayur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ayur. Show all posts

Ayurvedic Ingredients



Dictionary of Common and Uncommon Ayurvedic  Ingredients



Aduki- Also known as adzuki or feijao, this small dark red bean is native to Japan and China. Rich in nutrients, it is considered, like mung, to be a tridoshic bean. 

Agar agar- A buff-colored, translucent seaweed available in 12-inch bars or in flakes. Indigenous to India, agar-agar has been used since Vedic times as a food thickener and to make gels. Use warm water or other liquid to dissolve. Available in most health food stores and in Indian and Oriental grocery stores. May be used by all types. 

Ajwan (ajwain)- Also known as bishopweed, this tiny spice seed is related to caraway and cumin. Its delicate flavor resembles the combined tastes of lemon, pepper and thyme. Available in Indian and Oriental grocery stores and occasionally in health food stores. Good for Kapha and Vata types. 

Aloe vera- Called kumari in Sanskrit, aloe vera is bitter, astringent, sweet and cooling in nature. It is used in pancha karma therapy as a tonic, blood cleanser, mild laxative, and for douching. Excellent for Pitta, it may be used by all types. 

Aragvadha (purging cassia)- A family of the senna plant, the fruit, bark and pods are used in Ayurvedic purgative therapy. Pungent and bitter in taste and cooling in energy, the fruits, bark and pods are used primarily by Pitta and Kapha types. 

Arka (sadapushpi)- The root, leaves and flowers are known for their extensive use in Ayurvedic purgative and emesis therapy. The "milk" of the plant is known for its sharp potency, and a few drops of it is used to alkalize purgative decoctions. Arka is bitter and pungent in nature and is heating in energy. Good for Kapha, Pitta and Vata disorders. 

Ashwagandha- Bitter, astringent and heating in nature, this herb may be used primarily by Vata and Kapha types as a tonic, nervine, aphrodisiac and a rejuvenative. 

Atibala- This herb, like bala, is sweet and cooling and may be used by all three doshas, although it is most suitable for Pitta and Kapha types. Atibala is used as a mild laxative as well as a tonic and calming agent. 

Ayurvedic formulated oils- Amavathahara, anu taila, bilva, brahmi, chakra, dashamula, dhanvantari, kaseesadi, ksheerabala, masha, Narayana, nirgundi, pinda, padmaka, shatavari, sidda, yasti madhu. 

Ayurvedic formulated pills- Avipattkar, icchabhedhi, drakshadi, jalodharari, kutajaghana.

Ayurvedic medicated ghee- Tikta ghrita, maha tikta ghrita, brahmi ghrita, mati- kalyana ghrita, guggulu tikta ghrita. 

Bala- Sweet and cooling in nature, this herb may be used for all three doshas as a rejuvenative tonic and nervine. 

Besan- Chickpea flour. Good for Pitta and Kapha types and maybe used occasionally by Vata types. 

Bhringaraja- Bitter, sweet and cooling in nature, this herb may be used for all three doshas as a nervine, blood cleanser and tonic. 

Black cumin- Called kala jeera in Sanskrit, the black cumin is a relative of both the cumin and caraway plants. Used extensively in Vedic cooking, black cumin, like cumin, is considered good for all three doshas. It is pungent and bitter in taste and is used as a stimulant, blood cleanser and carminative. Available at Indian grocery stores. 

Brahma dandi (Mexican poppy)- Pungent, astringent and sweet in taste with heating energy, the root, seeds and flowers are used in pancha karma to soothe Vata disorders, and sometimes Pitta disorders. 

Brahmi (Indian pennyworth or thyme-leaved gratiola)- Also called gotu kola, the whole plant is used Ayurvedically. Bitter, pungent, sweet and cooling in nature, brahmi is used to promote memory, sleep, and longevity. It is used as a blood cleanser, to reduce internal bleeding and to alleviate heart disease and diabetes. Good for all doshas but excellent for Pitta disorders. 

Burdock root- This dark brown root of the burdock plant is long, thin and wiry and has medicinal properties. Bitter, pungent, sweet and astringent in taste with heating energy, this root is good for Pitta and Kapha types. Available in health food stores. 

Cardamom- Known as ela or elachi in Sanskrit, the cardamom pods and seeds are used extensively in both Vedic cooking and Ayurvedic medicine. Cardamom is sweet, pungent and heating in nature and may be used primarily by Vata and Kapha types as a carminative and stimulant, as well as to relieve mucus. It may also be used occasionally by Pitta types. 

Chana dhal- A variety of small chick pea, which is husked and split, this buff-yellow dhal is very popular in Indian cuisine. Best for Pitta and Kapha types. 

Chitraka- Pungent and hot in nature, this herb is used by Vata and Kapha types to promote digestion, regulate menstrual flow, and as a tonic for liver, spleen and intestine. 

Coconut- The whole coconut fruit is used extensively in India to make many wholesome products. Sweet in taste, the fresh and dried coconut as well as the coconut oil are used in Ayurveda as a neutralizing tonic and diuretic by Pitta and Vata types. Available at Indian and Oriental grocery stores. 

Dadima (pomegranate fruit)- Sweet, bitter and astringent in nature, the pomegranate fruit is used extensively in pancha karma therapy as a tonic and blood cleanser. It is also used to destroy bacteria, parasites, fungus and yeast in the body. Good for Pitta and Kapha types. 

Dashamula- A combination of ten Ayurvedic herbs, namely: ashwagandha, shatavari, yastimadhu, punarnava, arjuna, bala, bilva, gokshura, vidari and kumari, generally used in pancha karma therapy for Vata disorders. 

Dhanyaka (coriander leaves and seeds)- Used extensively in Vedic cooking as well as in Ayurveda, coriander is bitter, pungent and cooling in nature. It is good for all three doshas. 

Draksha- Sweet and cooling in nature, the grape powder, juice or medicinal wine is generally used in pancha karma therapies. Good for Vata and Pitta types, although Kapha types may use occasionally. 

Echinacea- A relative of the camel's thistle (utkataka), this herb is bitter, pungent and cooling in nature. Used for its antibiotic quality, echinacea also helps to induce sweating. Good for Pitta and Kapha types. 

Eranda (castor root and oil)- Pungent, sweet and heating in nature, castor root and oil are used in purgation therapy as a strong laxative causing rapid evacuation. Castor root and oil also calm the tissues and relieve pain. Good for Vata types. Fruits used in pancha karma (fresh fruit, fruit juice and dried fruit powder)- pilu, draksha, palasha, bilva, badri kanchanara (red and white variety), dadima, amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki.  

Ghee- Best made fresh , this clarified butter is also available in health food stores and Indian grocery stores. Ghee is excellent for Vata and Pitta uses. 

Gokshura- Sweet, bitter and cooling in nature, this herb may be used mostly by Pitta and Kapha types as a diuretic, tonic and aphrodisiac. 

Gotu kola- See Brahmi. 

Gourds used in pancha karma- Dokshi, koshataki (torai), koshaphala (bidali), katukumbi (bottle gourd), mahajali (kadwi torai). Generally the seeds, which are pungent and bitter, and fruits, which are cooling, are used in emesis therapy to relieve excess Kapha. Fresh gourds are available at Indian grocery stores. 

Gum arabic- Sweet and cooling in nature, gum Arabic is used as an emollient to the tissues as well as a tonic to calm the internal membranes. Good for Pitta and Vata types. 

Japa (shoe flower, or hibiscus)- The leaves, roots, flowers and buds are used in pancha karma therapy. Sweet, astringent and heating in nature, hibiscus is used as a blood cleanser, to relieve thirst and stop internal bleeding. Good for Pitta and Kapha types. 

Honey (madhu)- In Ayurveda, honey is known as yogavaha, since it enhances the therapeutic effects of the medicines which are added to it. Its unique qualities of sweet and astringent tastes, yet heating energy, make honey an excellent vehicle for carrying medicines deeply into bodily tissues, allowing penetration through the subtle tissues and pores. Adding to its uniqueness is the effectiveness of naturally aged honey in reducing obesity and diabetes. For obesity, honey is mixed in hot water. This is the only circumstance in which honey is combined with heat, since when heated or used in hot substances, honey becomes highly toxic in the body. Honey is excellent for Vata and Kapha disorders. Even though sweet, it reduces Kapha due to its dry, rough and heavy attributes. Although heating in nature, it may be used discriminately by Pitta types, especially as a medicinal carrier. Honey is used to alleviate conditions such as ulcers, bronchitis, asthma, hiccoughs, nausea, excessive thirst, bleeding, diabetes, eye diseases (when applied topically) and sore throat. Honey also promotes intelligence, strength and determination. 

Hot chili pepper- Native to tropical and semi-tropical climates, chili peppers come in an infinite variety of hotness. Those recommended in this book are the mediumhot variety, such as the one-inch long red or green chilies found in Indian, Oriental, and Latin American grocery stores. You can reduce the heat of a pepper by deseeding it. Cut off the stem and slice the pepper in two lengthwise. Use a dinner knife to scrape the seeds off. Alternatively, remove the stem by cutting around it and twisting or pulling it out of the pepper; most of the seeds should come out with the stem intact. Good for Kapha types although it may be used occasionally by Vata types. 

Unrefined brown sugar (jaggery and gur)- For millennia, jaggery and gur, both unrefined sugars, have been culled and preserved in India's villages. Jaggery is made from the juice crushed from the sugar cane, while gur is made from the sap drained from the coconut, date and palmyra palm trees. Much in demand in India, gur is made into several types of confections and offered at religious ceremonies. The season's first batch of gur is a sought- after delicacy. Jaggery and gur, available through Indian grocers, may be used interchangeably in the formulas and recipes in this book, along with unrefined brown sugar and Sucanat, available through health food stores. When used in milk preparations, unrefined sugars should be added towards the end of the cooking process. Jaggery, gur and Sucanat share smooth, heavy, oily, sweet and cooling qualities and are used primarily to reduce excess Vata and Pitta conditions. Kapha types should use these sugars sparingly since all sugars increase body fat. 

Jatamansi (Indian spikenard)- The root of this plant is used to relieve Pitta and sometimes Kapha conditions. Sweet, bitter and astringent in taste, jatamansi is cooling in nature. Karanja (Indian beech)- The leaves, seeds, bark and root are used extensively in pancha karma as an emetic, to relieve nervous tension, skin diseases and ulcers, and remove parasites from the body. Karanja is pungent and bitter with a heating energy, and is good for Kapha, Pitta and Vata disorders. 

Katuki (gentian plant and root)- Bitter, pungent and cooling in nature, gentian is used as a bitter tonic, blood cleanser, and to reduce bodily heat. Good for Pitta and Kapha disorders. 

Kudzu- The root of the kudzu plant is best known for its medicinal starch, which may also be used as a food thickener. Kudzu starch is similar to guduchi starch used in Ayurveda. Good for Pitta and Vata types, although it may be used occasionally by Kapha types. 

Lemon grass- Pungent, bitter and cooling in nature, lemon grass is good for all three doshas. Generally used to cool the system, or as a diuretic and sweat inducer. 

Lotus root- Known as kamala in Sanskrit, the lotus plant is native to ponds and lakes of Kashmir, China and Japan. Every part of the lotus plant is used medicinally in Ayurveda. The roots may be used fresh or dried for cooking, whereas the root powder may be used medicinally as a nutritive tonic and nervine for Pitta and Vata conditions. 

Madana (emetic nut)- Known for its extensive use in Ayurvedic emesis therapy, both the kidney-shaped fruit and seeds are used. Madana fruits and seeds are sweet, bitter and astringent in taste and cooling in energy, and may be used by both Pitta and Kapha types. 

Masoor dhal- Commonly called French lentil, this small bean when split resembles the red lentil. Traditional to North Indian cooking, this legume is best for Pitta and Kapha types, although seasoned appropriately, Vata types may use occasionally. 

Matar dhal- Common split peas, yellow and green. Best for Pitta and Kapha types. 

Mung dhal- Also known as mudga or green gram, this legume used since Vedic times is considered queen of the legumes because of its alkalizing and healing properties. May be used by all types, although Vata types need to spice appropriately. 

Musta- Bitter, astringent, pungent and cooling in nature, this herb is used to alleviate fever, thirst, diarrhea, as well as disorders and burning sensation of the skin. A natural blood cleanser, musta is good for Pitta and Kapha disorder uses, and may be used occasionally by Vata types. 

Neem- Also called nimba in Sanskrit, the neem tree grows predominantly in and regions of Punjab and Rajasthan. The entire tree is used medicinally in Ayurveda. Neem leaves are also used in Vedic cooking. Bitter in taste, neem is used primarily by Pitta and Kapha types to reduce conditions such as fevers and blood disorders, and as a bitter tonic. Fresh neem leaves, commonly called curry leaves, are available at Indian grocery stores. 

Nilini (indigo plant, root or dye)- Bitter, pungent and cooling, indigo is used in pancha karma therapy as an antibiotic and mild laxative. Good for Pitta and Kapha disorders. 

Padmaka (wild cherry bark)- this bark is used extensively in Ayurveda to relieve cough, bronchial spasm, palpitations, and skin and eye problems. Bitter, astringent and sweet in taste with cooling energy, padmaka is good for all types, but in particular for Pitta and Kapha. 

Pippali- A hot and pungent red pepper, two to three inches long, and one of the three ingredients in the Ayurvedic formula known as trikatu. It is excellent for Kapha types, and occasionally for Vata types, to provide heat to the body and to stimulate digestion. 

Plantain- Known as green banana in the United States and kacha kela in India, plantain is actually considered a vegetable. Used in the cuisines of South India and South and Central America, it is available in most Indian and Latin American grocery stores. Astringent, pungent and bitter in taste, plantain is a natural diuretic and may be used by Pitta and Kapha types. 

Pudina- The Sanskrit term for mint, pudina is mentioned as a vital tridoshic herb in ancient Ayurvedic texts. Especially pleasing to Pitta types, it is available fresh or dried in health food stores and farmers' markets. 

Punarnava- Bitter and cooling in nature, this herb may be used mostly by Pitta and Kapha as a diuretic, laxative and a rejuvenate. 

Rock Salt- Primarily mined in crystalline form from the seabeds of the Sindh mountain region in Pakistan, where it is known as senda namak; this salt has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic foods and medicines. It may be used by all the types and substituted for sea salt in any of the recipes in this book. Its sister salt, known as kala namak, is a deep purple, highly pungent rock crystal that has a volatile taste and a smell resembling hard boiled eggs. It may be used occasionally (in small quantity) by Vata and Kapha types. 

Saffron- Known as kesar in Sanskrit, saffron threads are handpicked from the saffron crocus cultivated in India, China, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Carmine red in color with an exquisitely delicate taste, saffron is used in Ayurvedic medicine to tone the colon, cleanse the blood, regulate menstrual flow and as a rejuvenative. Saffron is also used extensively in India for making sweet drinks and desserts. It may be used by all three doshas. Available at Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores, as well as through health food stores. 

Shatavari- Sweet, bitter and cooling in nature, this herb is used as a nutritive and calming agent, to regulate menstrual flow and to boost the hormonal system. Good for Pitta and Vata disorders. 

Soybean- Native to India, China and Japan, the soybean is a medium-sized bean, either black or white in color. This bean is highly nutritive, as well as cooling, making it an excellent choice for Pitta types. Seasoned appropriately, both Kapha and Vata types may use occasionally. The derivatives of the soybean, tofu and soy milk, may also be used accordingly. 

Sucanat- Trademark for a natural sugar made from sugar cane juice. Excellent for Vata and Pitta use. Kapha types may use sparingly. 

Tamal patra (Indian cassia)- A family of the cinnamon plant, the dried leaves and bark are used extensively in Ayurveda as a stimulant, blood cleanser and to promote perspiration through the skin. Pungent, astringent and sweet in taste with heating energy, the carnal patra is good for Vata and Kapha types, although Pitta types may also use occasionally. 

Tamarind- The pulp of the tamarind pod, used since ancient times in India. The tamarind tree is considered auspicious in Indian mythology, and its fruit is known as imli. Fresh tamarind is available in the tropics. Dried tamarind is packed in the shape of small bricks or slabs that can be prepared as a pulp. Dried tamarind, tamarind pulp (or paste), and a gel-like tamarind concentrate are all available in Indian grocery stores. Sour and sweet in taste, Tamarind is a natural stimulant and may be used by Vata and Kapha types, although Pitta types may also use occasionally. 

Trikatu- A combination of the three pungent herbs, ginger, pippali and black pepper, trikatu may be used primarily by Vata and Pitta types to boost digestion and to stimulate the system. 

Triphala- A combination of three ancient Ayurvedic fruits, amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki, triphala is an excellent tonic for all three doshas. It is used to detoxify the system, as well as a mild laxative and sleeping aid. 

Turmeric- Also known as haridra in Sanskrit, turmeric comes from the underground rhizome of a perennial plant native to the humid regions of South India and Southeast Asia. Used extensively in both Vedic cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is bitter, pungent and heating, but may be used for all three doshas as a blood cleanser, stimulant, and antibacterial agent. Available at Indian grocery stores and health food stores. 

Urad dhal- Also known as masha, or black gram, this small, black legume has been used since ancient times. When husked and split, the bean is white. Traditionally used in many South Indian vegetable dishes, urad is considered a tridoshic bean. 

Uva ursi- Astringent, bitter, pungent, and cooling in nature, this herb may be used by Pitta and Kapha types for its antiseptic and diuretic properties. 

Vacha (calamus, or sweet flag root)- Pungent, bitter and heating in nature, vacha may be used mainly by Vata and Kapha types as a stimulant, rejuvenative and decongestant. 

Valerian- Pungent and heating in nature, the herb valerian is used primarily as a sedative, nervine, and to tone the colon. Good for Vata and Kapha disorders. 

Vamsha rochana (bamboo)- Sweet, astringent and cooling in nature, this herb is excellent for Pitta and Vata disorders. It relieves mucus and acts as a tonic and calming agent to the tissues. 

Vidanga (embelia)- Pungent, astringent and heating in nature, the berries are used in Ayurveda to reduce appetite and fat and to destroy parasites, bacteria and fungus. Good for Kapha disorders. Wood powders used in pancha karma- Sandalwood, agaru and khadira. 

Yastimadhu (madhuka)- Sweet, bitter, and cooling in nature, licorice root and root extract are generally used in both emesis and purgation therapies. Good for Pitta and Vata disorders. 


You may also want to read more about Ayurveda and Holistic Healing here.






Dictionary of Sanskrit Terms used in Ayurveda




The detailed vocabulary that follows will help you understand the many key Sanskrit terminology used in Ayurveda.


abhyanga - anointing body with oil or ghee

accha peya - pure cow's ghee

agni - bodily fire, particularly digestive fire

ahamkara - ego; the "I" notion; cosmic memory recorder of all lives

ahara rasa - ingested nutrients, before they are digested

aja - goat; one who transcends the cycle of births

ajna - limitless power; name of sixth chakra

akasha - space; principle of vacuity

akshitarpana - herbal decoction used to revive eyes

alambusha - one of fourteen nadis; starts at anus and ends in mouth

alepanam - application of astringent plaster

alochaka - fire of eyes; one of five fires of Pitta

ama - undigested, foul-odored remnants of food in bodily channels

anahata- fearless, unafflicted; nature of the black antelope, symbol and name of fourth chakra

anna lepa sveda - fomentation therapy where poultice is applied to whole body

annam - literally, "that which grows on the earth"; food

annavaha srotas - digestive system or channels

antahkarana - inner or psychic instrument, referring to the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and ego memory (ahamkara)

anuvasana - decoction generally used in enema therapy

apana - one of five bodily airs; air controlling ejection of bodily wastes

artava - menstrual fluid

artava dhatu - ovum

artavavaha srotas - menstrual system or female reproductive channels

ashmaghna sveda - sudation on a hot stone slab

ashtapana - another term used for decoction enema therapy

Astanga Hridaya - Ayurvedic text written by Vagbhatta

asthi dhatu - bone and cartilage tissue

Atharva Veda - one of four principle Vedas

Atman - indwelling spirit; soul within body; Conscious Self

avagahana sveda - sudation in a hot tub

avalambaka - water dosha of heart; one of the five waters of Kapha

avapeda nasya - introduction of soft paste into the nasal passages

Ayurveda - knowledge of life; Vedic science of health

bala - strength

bandhana sveda - fomentation therapy where poultice is applied to a localized area of the body

baspa sveda - fomentation occurring in a traditionally designed wooden box, whereby the head of the person remains outside of the box

Bharata Bhumi - ancient name of India, land of Bharata; land of dharma

bhasma - literally, "ash"; incinerated metal or mineral used as potent, powdered remedy

bhrajaka - heat of the skin; one of the five fires of Pitta

bhu sveda - sudation on heated surface of the earth

bija - seed mantra

bodhaka - water of the tongue; one of the five waters of Kapha

brahmacarini - student of the Vedas; observing a monastic life

Brahma Randhra - most sacred aperture of the body, situated at the center of the cranium

brahmin - spiritual caste; one of the four castes delineated in the Hindu scriptures

brhmana - tonification or strengthening therapy

buddhi - faculty of personal wisdom; resolve of the mind; the intellect;

Buddhi - Mercury, son of Shiva; deity who rules Wednesday

chai - Indian tea mixed with milk

chakra - wheel; seven energy centers of consciousness in the body

Charaka - ancient Ayurvedic scholar

Charaka Samhita - Charaka's treatise on Ayurveda

churna - powder

collyrium - Ayurvedic salves for eyes

darbha - type of grass used in Ayurvedic medicine

deva (devata) - generic name for the gods in the Hindu scriptures

devadatta - one of the five subsidiary airs

Devanagari - means of communication between the gods; later, translated as

Samskritam (Sanskrit); one of several scripts in which Sanskrit may be written

dhanamjaya - one of five subsidiary airs

dhani - audible or imperfect sound

dhara chatti - see dhara patra

dhara patra - treatment pot made from metal or clay used to drop oil on head

dharane - to sustain

dharma - right action according to the laws of nature

dhatu - tissue element of the body

dhmapana - introduction of medicated powders into the nasal passages via a straw or tube

dhoma nasya - inhalation of medicated vapors

dhoti - cloth to wrap the lower body

dosha - literally, "that which can go out of balance"; bodily humor

droni - traditional massage table made from woods such as sandalwood, bilva, khadira, and arjuna

Gaja - Lord of herbivorous animals and keeper of earth's memory of plants  and herbs; the elephant that represents the fifth chakra

gandhari - one of fourteen nadis; begins below the left eye and ends at the big toe of the left foot

gandusa - retention of fluid in the mouth

Ganesha - Ganapati; elephant-headed Lord, son of Shiva; one who blesses all beginnings and renders them auspicious; remover of obstacles

garbha-pinda - fluid state of embryo; cosmic womb

ghara - earthen pot

go - cow; sacred scripture

Gopala - protector of the scriptures and of cows; another name for Lord Krishna

grisma - Sanskrit term for summer, one of the six seasons in Ayurveda

guna - attribute or respect, as in the three gunas of Maya

guru - quality of heaviness; spiritual teacher; Guru - Jupiter; deity who rules Thursday

gurukula - traditional school for disseminating knowledge of Vedas

hastajihva - one of fourteen nadis; begins below the right eye and ends at the big toe of the left foot

hemanta - Sanskrit term for early winter, one of the six seasons in Ayurveda

holaka sveda - sudation on a daubed surface of the earth

ida - one of two main nadis; begins in the left genital and ends at the left nostril; breath which flows through the left nostril; lunar nadi

indriyas - five senses

Isvara - Vedic name for the omniscient Lord, when used in association with creation

japa - repetition of mantras

jentaka sveda - sudation in a specially designed sweat lodge

jiva - individual soul

jivana - invigoration; life

kala- nutritional membrane for tissues; "body crystal"

kalari- ancient form of martial arts originating in south India

kala vasti - series of sixteen enemas

kambalika - soup made with yoghurt, urad bean and sesame oil

kapha - biological water humor

karma - bondage to action; cause of rebirth

karma vasti - series of thirty enemas

karna purana - dripping fluids into the ears

karshu sveda - sudation in an earth pit

kavalagraha - holding liquid in the mouth for a comfortable period of time

khada - spicy vegetable or herbal soup generally made with buttermilk

kichadi - mixture of rice and mung bean

kitta - waste

kledaka - water of digestion; one of the five waters of Kapha

krekara - one of the five subsidiary airs

Krishna - Gopala, protector of the scriptures and teacher of self-knowledge in the Bhagavad Gita

krushara- thick grain gruel

kuhu - one of fourteen nadis; begins in the throat and ends in the genitals

kumbhika sveda - sudation from a pitcher of warm decoction

kundalini - primal energy of manifestation symbolized by a coiled serpent at the coccyx of the spine

kupa sveda - sudation on a daubed surface of the earth

kurma - one of the five subsidiary airs

kuti sveda - sudation in a specially designed sweat lodge

langhana - depletion or reducing therapy

lassi - traditional Indian beverage made from yoghurt, milk, and fragrant herbs, generally taken after meals to aid digestion

lepa - plastering body with medicated substances

majja dhatu - bone marrow and nerve tissue

makara - crocodile; symbol of sensual movement and trickery

mala - garland; rosary of beads

malas - bodily wastes

mamsa dhatu - muscle tissue

manas - mind

manda - cooked rice at the bottom of the pot

Mangala - Mars; deity who rules Tuesday

manovaha - channels that carry mental energy

mantha - thin gruel made from rice and ghee

mantra - sacred sounds; group of sounds cosmically designed to stimulate certain physical and physic centers of body

mardana - mild pressure massage

marma - anatomical reflex points of the body; vital seats of pranic energy

marsha nasya - introduction of medicated oils into the nasal passages

masala - combination of spices ground together; spicy mixture

masthiskya - medicinal paste applied to the head

maya - cosmic, creative power; manifestation; relative reality

medas - fat

medas dhatu - fat tissue

moksha - a "state" in which the potential material and vibrations for future rebirths on all planes of existence are completely resolved; liberation from the cycle of birth and death

mutravaha srotas - urinary system

nadi - subtle channel within the nervous system made of fine threads of fluid; refers to the gross form in terms of nerves, veins, and so on; pathways of breath; Ayurvedic name for pulse

nadi sveda - steam application through a hose

naga - one of the five subsidiary airs

nasya - nasal insufflation

navana nasya - insufflation of unctuous substances or powders to clear nasal passages

niruha - oils generally used in Ayurvedic enema therapy

odana- thick porridge

ojas - perfected essence of dhatus when bodily system is in excellent order; glow of health

paca kizhi sveda - sudation with green leaf poultice

pachaka - one of the five fires of Pitta; fire of digestion in the stomach

padabhyanga - Ayurvedic foot massage

padaghata - anointing feet with oil

pancha karma - five cleansing therapies of Ayurveda: emesis, enema (two forms), purgation, and nasal medications

parisheka - fomentation with an affusion of Ayurvedic herbs

Patanjali - founder-renovator of the classical Yoga system

payasam - sweet fluid porridge

payasvini - one of fourteen nadis; located in the right ear lobe and connecting with the cranial nerves

peya - decoction made from rice and ghee

phala - fruit

phanita - sticky candy made from sugar cane juice

pichu - process of placing an oil soaked cloth on the forehead

pinda sveda - fomentation therapy with use of a poultice wrapped in a bolus

pingala - one of two main nadis; begins in the right eye and ends in the right genital; solar power; breath of right nostril

pitta - biological fire humor

prabhava - specific action without regard to the general rule of the three stages of taste; exception to the rule; special action of herbs

pradeha - non-absorbent plaster

prakriti - first creation; individual constitution

pralepa - thin, cold layer of plaster

prana - life breath; first of the five airs of the body; vital force; air of the heart

pranavaha - channels that carry prana; force of prana, or breath

pranayama - yogic breathing exercises

prasthara - fomentation on a bed of poultice

prinana - joy infused from nature

puja - religious ceremony

purana - fullness

purishavaha srotas - excretory system

pusha - one of fourteen nadis; begins at the right ear and ends at the big toe of the left foot

rajas (rajasic) - activity or aggressive force of creation; one of the three gunas rakta dhatu - blood tissue

rakta moksha (mokshana) - therapeutic blood letting

raktavaha srotas - circulatory system (hemoglobin portion)

ranjaka - heat of the blood, operating in liver; one of the five fires of Pitta

rasa - initial taste in the three stages of taste; literally, "external beauty," or "maturity"

rasa dhatu - plasma tissue

rasayana - rejuvenation therapy

Rawal - religious head of the Hindus

rtusandhi - junction between two seasons or two phases within a season

rukshana - dehydration therapy

rupa - form

sadhaka - the third fire found in the heart, central to the activity of Pitta; also the one who performs sadhana (the wholesome activities which bring us into harmony with nature)

sadhana - wholesome activity practiced with presence of mind in harmony with nature; helps to revive and awaken cognitive memory

sadhu - simple person

sahasrara - literally, "a thousand petals"; seventh chakra; spatially boundless dwelling

saindhava (sendha namak) - Ayurvedic rock salt

sama - three doshas in a state of sameness

samadhi - silent breath

samana - air of the stomach; one of the five airs of Vata

samhita - text

samskaras - karmic impressions from past lives carried in the subtle body

samvahana - shampooing the body with a warm decoction

sankara sveda - generic name for fomentation therapy where poultice is used

sarada - Sanskrit term for autumn, one of the six seasons in Ayurveda

Saraswati - goddess of knowledge; one of fourteen nadis; begins at the base of the tongue and ends in the vocal chords; sonority of vocal prowess

sattva (sattvic) - central aspect of the three gunas; cosmic force of balance and contentment

shakti - cosmic feminine force; power, energy, power of consciousness

shamana - therapy which nurtures and adds strength to the body; palliative measure

Shani - Saturn; deity who rules Saturday

shankhini - one of fourteen nadis, begins in the throat and ends on the left side of the anus

shikha - crest of the head

shiro abhyanga (shirobhyanga) - anointing the head with oil; head massage

shirodhara - dripping medicated decoction on the forehead

shiro tarpana - application of oil to the head

shirovasti - applying oil to the shaven head

Shiva - pure being or pure consciousness

shodhana - therapy which consists of elimination procedures; purification measure

shukra - collective refined essence belonging to shukra dhatu; refined emotion of love; semen, reproductive fluid; the ovum of the female; 

Shukra - Sanskrit name for Venus; deity who rules Friday; giver of happiness or fame

shukra dhatu - sperm

shukravaha srotas - male reproductive system or channels

sisira - Sanskrit term for late winter, one of the six seasons in Ayurveda

sirovirechana - snuff inhalation therapy

slesaka - water of the joints; one of the five waters of Kapha

sleshma - another name for Kapha or phlegm

sneha - extravagant love; lubrication; name of the enema treatment in which only half cup of oil is used

snehana - external oelation of the body; lubrication therapy

snehapana - internal lubrication of the body

snehika dhoomapana - herbs mixed with oil or fat for therapeutic smoking

soma - potent nectar taken by the devas to give eternal strength; pleasure principle at work behind mind and senses

srotas - channels, as in the thirteen channels of circulation

sthambana - retention therapy

suksma - subtle

Surya - Sun; deity who rules Sunday

Sushruta - ancient Ayurvedic scholar

sushumna - central and main nadi, within spinal column, which accommodates all nadis

svedana - sudation or fomentation of body; sweat inducing therapy

swami - renunciate; one who knows Brahman and the Self to be One

taila - oil

Taittiriya - literally, "three birds"; one of the Upanishads which deals with Self-knowledge

takra dhara - medicated buttermilk

tamas (tamasic) - inert aspect of creation; one of the three gunas

tanmatra (tanmatric) - quantum energy aspect of the subtle elements that pervade both subtle and gross bodies

tarpaka - water of the sense organs; one of the five waters of Kapha

tarpana - thick gruel of rice, bean, black pepper and ghee

tejas - cool, refined universal fire; subtle, fire of the mind

tikta ghrita - pure ghee combined with bitter herbs

tridosha - three doshas in a state of balance

ubtan - fresh ground legume or grain flour traditionally used to cleanse the skin

udana - air of the throat; one of the five airs of Vata

udvartana - oil or dry massage for Kapha disorder

upadhatu - secondary tissue of the body

upanaha sveda - generic name for fomentation therapy where poultice is used

Upanishad - ancient Vedantic scripture of India

utkarita - pudding made from milk, yoghurt or cream

uttara vasti - douching enema

Vagbhatta - ancient Ayurvedic scholar

vairechanika dhoomapana - therapeutic smoking of dried herbs

vajikarana - aphrodisiac; virilization therapy

vamana - therapeutic vomiting; emesis therapy

varna - pure vibration; unmanifest sound

varsa - Sanskrit term for rainy season, one of the six seasons in Ayurveda

varuni - one of fourteen nadis, which originates between the throat and left ear and ends at the anus

vasanta - Sanskrit term for spring, one of the six seasons in Ayurveda

vasti - Ayurvedic enema therapy

vasti netra - hose used in enema therapy

vasti putaka - enema bag

vata - biological air humor

vayu - air or wind; another name for Vata

veda - knowledge

Vedanta - culmination of Vedas in the philosophy of knowledge of the Self

Vedas - ancient books of knowledge presenting the spiritual science of awareness; first knowledge on earth

Vedic - belonging to the Vedas

vicarana sneha - medicated ghee

vilepika - mixture of four parts water and one part rice

vipaka - post-digestive effect of herbs

virechana - purgation therapy; one of five cleaning actions used in pancha karma

virya - energetic effect of herbs as heating or cooling

vishvabhesaja - healing secret of the universe; universal medicine

vishvodara - one of fourteen nadis; exists in the umbilicus and energizes bodily prana

vyana - air of circulation; one of the five airs of Vata

vyayama - natural forms of exercise

Yama - Lord of death

Yama damstra - period of time between November 22 and December 9 when the earth begins its northward rotation around the sun

yashasvini - one of fourteen nadir; companion nadi to pingala which runs

from the left ear to the big toe of the right foot

yavagu - mixture of six parts water and one part barley yoga - psycho-physical practices aimed at Self-knowledge

yogavaha - that which enhances the effect of what it enjoins

yoga vasti - series of eight enemas

yogin (yogi) - one whose life is devoted to the practice of sadhanas to attain union with God

yusha - bean soup



You may also want to read more about Ayurveda and Holistic Healing here.











Ayurveda - Understanding the Knowledge of Life

Ayurveda (from ayur meaning “life,” and veda meaning “knowledge” or “science of”) is a system of healing from India that uses nature as medicine, in a preventive and curative sense. It uses food, spices, herbal therapies, bodywork, and lifestyle changes to create the conditions of optimal health. It’s all-encompassing, in that it aims to use your personal story to create a specialized path for healing. It’s quite possible that the most comforting thing Ayurveda has to offer is its ability to understand you as you are, not some hypothetical “you”. It appreciates your uniqueness and knows how to treat you as an individual. It offers explanations for things you’ve always known about yourself but haven’t been able to articulate, implement, or accept.

This adeptness in knowing and interpreting what makes you tick isn’t a magical or psychic phenomenon. Living by Ayurveda doesn’t require converting to a religion, practicing any mystical ceremonies, or even practicing yoga. It is science and arises from nature—both the observation of our external environment and the understanding that we are not separate from it. This is also the most foundational principle in Ayurveda, known as the macrocosm microcosm continuum theory. Simply put, the theory states that we (the microcosm) reflect the universe (the macrocosm), and as such everything that exists outside of us also exists within us. This means that any shift in nature causes us to change, and that our actions can also strongly impact nature.

With our universe being as vast as it is, the continuum theory can be tough to grasp at first, even a bit scary. It’s one thing to know your actions affect you alone, but to have them affect other people—even the planet—is something else entirely. Yet as we divide nature into smaller components, things seem more manageable. When we accept nature’s elements and understand the roles they play, we can lessen our desire to be in control of how we feel. We become responsive to our surroundings rather than resistant.


Elements, or Bhutas


When you attempt to live in harmony with nature, you aren’t connecting with only one large entity, but rather something made up of several smaller parts. Ayurveda defines nature as being comprised of five elements, or bhutas: ether (or space), air, fire, water, and earth. They are present in everything, including us, and we need all of these things to survive. We need space to expand, air to breathe, the sun to transform or grow, water to hydrate, and the earth to nourish. And while the concept of everything being made of the same elements could be suggestive of everyone looking, thinking, and acting the same, the opposite is true. The elements are expressed differently and in varying degrees in each of us, making each thing and being unique. You can easily see this in Earth’s weather, as we have sunny days with more fire, windy days with more air, and rainy or humid days that are full of water.

This is observed in our food, too: Root vegetables that grow in the ground carry a greater expression of earth, whereas you can feel the fire in spicy foods like peppers. And in ourselves and other human beings, the rule of elements is just as present. You’ve certainly encountered people you’d describe as “spacey,” others who are “hot-headed,” and some who are “grounded.” There are those whose mind will change with the wind and others who are more like rocks and unwilling to budge. When someone has more earth expressed in their physical body, they will be taller or have bigger muscles or bones, compared to the presence of air, which produces a more delicate frame and features. Stop to look and you’ll see—the five elements are found in everyone and everywhere. 


Qualities, or Gunas 


Now that you have a grasp on the concept of elements, let’s explore another principle that makes the system of Ayurveda more relatable: the gunas. The gunas are attributes or qualities that are used to describe the elements and are paired in opposites. There are ten pairs, with each descriptor in the pair being at one end of a continuum: dry/oily, light/heavy, mobile/static, rough/smooth, cold/hot, clear/cloudy, hard/soft, liquid/dense, sharp/dull, subtle/gross. Each element carries its own combination of properties—for example; air is dry, light, and mobile, but earth is oily, heavy, and static.  

Since the elements are found everywhere and in everyone, these words are used to describe all things, ranging from the foods we eat and the experiences we have to the symptoms we feel. Did you have a heavy or a light lunch today? Was it a rough day at work, or did things go smoothly? Are you thinking clearly or are your thoughts clouded? Is your skin as dry as your humor? Are you sharp-minded or do you have a sharp tongue? There are so many ways that we use these qualifiers in daily life, but we rarely pause to consider that they are more than just semantics.

The concept of gunas is as important as it is basic, and quite possibly the most empowering concept in Ayurveda. When you can understand where you inherently lie on each of these continuums and what descriptors your imbalances have in common, you hold the key to your own healing. As you’ll learn later, qualities can accumulate and too much of one thing will leave you feeling unwell. Though it almost sounds too simplistic or easy to be true, you feel better by incorporating the opposite quality on the continuum into your life. 

The Three Constitutions, or Doshas


Nature, the elements, and their descriptors are all neatly packaged into Ayurvedic constitutions called doshas. The doshas give a concise picture of how nature is represented in us, while simultaneously giving an explanation of how our physiology works, and providing meaning to why each of us has our own specific strengths, weaknesses, and needs. There are three doshas —vata, pitta, and kapha—and each is composed of two of the five elements. But just as all of the elements exist within us, all of the doshas are within us, too. Each is responsible for governing different tissues, organs, and functions of the body; so, like how we couldn’t live without air or water, we couldn’t live without having each constitution present. Your unique expression of your constitution explains everything about you, from your bone structure to the color of your eyes to the texture of your hair. It tells about the ways your physical characteristics and personal interests are related, and the way you react to stress, or the illnesses you most frequently experience. As you read on to learn about each dosha, begin to think of the aspects of each you see in yourself and which resonates with you most, keeping in mind all are a part of you.

Vata

The vata dosha is made of ether and air, and has the qualities of light, subtle, dry, rough, hard, clear, cold, and mobile. Vata governs our nervous system, hearing, elimination, and all movement in the body, including the movement at our joints and the circulation of blood and lymph (fluid that’s a part of your immune system and contains white blood cells and lymphocytes). In our physical traits, vata appears as coarse or curly hair, a small or petite frame, lean or sinewy muscles, and delicate facial features, like thin lips, small eyes, or small teeth. Those with a higher proportion of vata tend to get cold easily and frequently experience dryness, such as in their skin or eyes. In psychological traits, the combination of ether and air enables creative and spontaneous sides, but this blend can also heighten emotions like fear, indecisiveness, or worry. Vatas will gravitate toward such career paths as artists, creators, or jobs that require more movement than sitting. They can love to travel, be known as social butterflies, or generally enjoy change.

Pitta

Fire and water make up the pitta dosha, which is described as light, sharp, hot, liquid, and dry or oily. It keeps watch over our ability to transform and governs our hormones, enzymes, digestion, blood, skin, and eyes. Physically this constitution has an average-size stature and a sharpness in their facial features, such as a well-defined jawline, pointy nose, or piercing blue or green eyes. Their hair is commonly fine or thin, and is often blond, red, or early to go gray. As for the mind, pittas are known to be the thinkers, problem solvers, goal setters, and leaders. Those with this dosha have a passion that makes them want to do their best, and even the competitiveness to do better than others. But this intensity can also cause them to become frustrated, angry, or irritable more easily that the other doshas. Their focus on achievement means they seek out influential roles in society or careers that require higher education, which is why doctors, lawyers, politicians, and CEOs are often pitta predominant.

Kapha

The kapha dosha is a combination of water and earth, giving it adequate properties for protection and growth within the body. It’s described as heavy, dense, static, dull, gross, smooth, soft, cloudy, and warm or cool. In our physiology, it’s in charge of our respiratory system, heart, brain, immunity, mucous membranes, cartilage, and synovial fluid. You’d be right to guess this supportive nature means kaphas will have the sturdiest structure, with bigger bones and bulkier muscles.

These qualities also provide them with thick and lustrous hair, milky skin, big, compassionate eyes, and full lips. They appreciate stability more than change, and are non- confrontational people who are like peacemakers, interested in everyone around them being happy. While these stable qualities are desirable, they can also create a heaviness that leads toward depression, sluggishness, or feeling stuck. As such steadfast beings, kaphas are usually in nurturing and supportive roles in our society. Many with a lot of kapha in their constitution choose to become caregivers, teachers, nurses, or social workers.

Though all doshas are present within all of us, and you will relate to each one to some extent, we are each likely to have one or two that are more prevalent. This is called your prakruti, or your inherent constitution, which is said to be determined upon conception. The time, place, and context under which you were conceived, along with your parents’ health at the time, were all crucial in creating your makeup.

Your dosha or constitution never changes. Your tendencies and vulnerabilities as a child are the same ones you deal with now. What does change is whether you are living within a balance of your true self, surfing life’s waves and managing small fluctuations. In this case, balance doesn’t mean equal amounts of each dosha, but rather the maintenance of your personal dosha recipe. So when you set out to achieve “perfect health” according to Ayurveda, you are really aiming to keep the proportion of doshas determining your constitution intact, as your nature made them.

There is great value in knowing your dosha or constitution. However, what is most useful is being able to recognize how a dosha can either support you, or accumulate and block you. While there is an abundance of dosha quizzes online and in books to help you determine your constitution, I have intentionally omitted one from this book. It’s too easy to take a quiz, which may not be reliable, and even easier to allow it to become your identity in a rigid and limiting way. Instead of using your budding knowledge of how you feel to label or categorize yourself, use it to understand more about you in each moment: about your physiology, the reasons you excel at certain things, and how you make decisions each day. Then, in time, you can meet with an Ayurvedic practitioner, who can help you more accurately assess your constitution.  


Like Increases Like: How We Experience Imbalance


It’s important that we appease our constitution, to feed the things that we love and to foster our strengths and talents, but when we take things to the extreme or fail to counter with the opposing qualities, we can experience imbalance. Imbalance comes from an influx—either slow and steady, or sudden and abrupt—of a quality, element, or dosha, and is called vikruti.

Though this can occur from a dosha being subdued or depleted, it is most often discussed as an accumulation or increase. For example, if on one of the coldest days of winter you decided to eat your lunch of a raw salad outside and wash it down with an iced beverage, the excessive cold would start to make you feel uncomfortable. You might be able to mentally override this or eventually feel better after spending time in the air of your artificially heated home, but if you had to sustain this for many hours or for many days, the level of discomfort would begin to increase and be more challenging to resolve, no matter how much you enjoy salads or the winter. Without opposing heating qualities to level things out, the cold will continue to rise and to manifest as symptoms, increasing their severity in time. This is the principle of accumulation, or “like increases like,” which is at the heart of every ailment we have, physical, emotional, and psychological.

No matter what your overall constitution is, you can have an imbalance in any dosha (or quality or element); however, you are more susceptible to the dosha that is already highest in you. Picture it like this: If you have three buckets of water and two of them are only one-third full while the other is filled to the brim, any of them could overflow if you were to add enough water, but the one that is nearest full would overflow the quickest. The doshas are exactly the same. Someone who typically has oily skin (kapha) can still experience dry skin (vata) if they eat an excessive amount of drying foods or are exposed to dry air and wind, but it would take more for them to get to that point than someone who naturally has dry skin in the first place.

Similarly, our dosha also gives insight as to where in our body we might have these imbalances. Remember how each dosha governs certain tissues? You are more likely to have imbalances manifest in the organs that your primary constitution governs. For example, given the right scenario, a vata person could certainly experience a hormonal imbalance, but because pitta governs hormones, the pitta person is typically more readily affected in this way, whereas a vata-predominant person is more likely to first experience problems with their nervous system, joints, or colon.  

These principles of imbalance are part of what makes Ayurveda an accessible system, but understandably, it can be difficult to comprehend at first. Use the above as a guide for getting to know more about how each dosha relates to you and the symptoms you experience. And above all, become an observer of how different foods, activities, and even people make you feel. 

They have dense and lustrous hair, milky skin, wide, caring eyes, and full lips because of these attributes. They value continuity over transition and are non-confrontational individuals who act as peacemakers, caring for the happiness of those around them. While these characteristics are attractive, they may also trigger heaviness, which can contribute to sadness, sluggishness, or a sense of being trapped. Kaphas are normally used in caring and loving positions in our culture because they are such steadfast creatures. Many people with high kapha levels prefer careers as caregivers, teachers, nurses, or social workers.

While all doshas are present in all of us, and you will be able to connect to each one to some degree, we are likely to have one or two who are more dominant. This is referred to as the prakruti, or natural constitution, and is said to be decided now of conception. Your makeup was shaped by the time, place, and circumstances in which you were born, as well as your parents' health at the time.

Your dosha, or constitution, remains constant. Your childhood tendencies and flaws are the same ones you face today. What does improve is when you are living in a state of equilibrium with your true self, riding the tides of life, and handling minor fluctuations. In this situation, equilibrium refers to maintaining the personal dosha formula rather than equivalent quantities of each dosha. So, according to Ayurveda, if you want to attain "perfect fitness," what you have to do is maintain the proportions of doshas that determine your constitution as they were created by god.

Knowing the dosha, or constitution, is extremely beneficial. The ability to understand how a dosha can either help you or accumulate and obstruct you is the most valuable skill. Although there are several dosha quizzes available online and in books to help you decide your constitution, I purposefully left one out of this book. It's all too tempting to take a quiz that may or may not be accurate, and it's much easier to let it define your personality in a strict and restricting way. Rather than using your developing understanding of how you feel to mark or categorize yourself, use it to learn more about yourself in each moment: about your physiology, why you succeed in those tasks, and how you make choices on a daily basis. Then, when the time comes, you can consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner who can help you determine your constitution more accurately.


How We Do When Things Are Out of Control


It's vital to satisfy our constitution, feed our passions, and nurture our strengths and abilities, but when we go too far or struggle to balance out the opposing virtues, we may end up with an imbalance. The term vikruti refers to an influx of a quality, feature, or dosha that is either slow and steady or rapid and abrupt.

Though it may happen because of a dosha being subdued or exhausted, it's more commonly referred to as an accumulation or rise. For eg, if you were to eat your lunch of a raw salad outside on one of the coldest days of the winter and wash it down with an iced soda, the extreme cold will start to make you feel uneasy. You would be able to physically override this or gradually feel comfortable after spending time in the air of your artificially heated home, but if you had to do so for several hours or days, the amount of pain will continue to rise and become more difficult to overcome, regardless of how much you like salads or the winter. Without the presence of competing heating qualities to even it out, the cold will begin to escalate and manifest as symptoms, becoming more severe over time. This is the aggregation principle, or “like rises like,” which is at the root of any physical, mental, and psychological ailment.

You can have an imbalance in any dosha (or consistency or element) regardless of your overall constitution; however, you are more susceptible to the dosha that is already dominant in you. Consider the following scenario: If you have three buckets of water, two of them are just one-third full and the third is overflowing, all of them could overflow if you added more water, but the one closest to the top would overflow first. The doshas are indistinguishable. Someone with oily skin (kapha) will develop dry skin (vata) if they eat too many drying foods or are exposed to dry air and wind, although it will take them longer than someone with naturally dry skin.

Similarly, our dosha will reveal where these imbalances are in our bodies. Remember how each dosha oversees different tissues? Unbalances are most likely to occur in the organs governed by your primary constitution. For eg, a vata person could certainly develop a hormonal mismatch under the right circumstances, but since pitta regulates hormones, a pitta person is more likely to be affected in this way first, while a vata-predominant person is more likely to have trouble with their nervous system, joints, or colon first.

These concepts of imbalance are part of what makes Ayurveda a user-friendly scheme, but they can be challenging to grasp at first. Use the information above as a starting point for learning more about how each dosha affects you and the symptoms you feel. Above everything, learn to notice how different diets, behaviors, and even people affect your mood.