Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center  Michael Dick, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Leesburg, Florida    e-mail: md@ayurveda-florida.com

 

The Ayurvedist®

 

      Volume II Issue 4                                                                                                    July 2005 

Science and Health in the News


 

Inside This Issue

1

Health and Science in the News

2

Cancer—The China Study

3

The Book Corner

4

Yajna / Yagya

 

 

Golden Domes Quarterly June 2005, reports research findings that those sleeping with their heads pointing north had significantly lower scores on the Mental Health Inventory compared to those who slept in other directions. Further, those living in homes with south entry had lower overall scores on the same inventory compared to those with entry’s facing in other directions. In another study researchers found that homes with south entrance had 75% more burglaries than homes with other orientations.

In other research it was found that children who meditate demonstrate greater analytic ability, conceptual maturity, sustained attention, and greater increase in general intelligence.

Source--People’s Pharmacy by Joe Graidon and Terry Graidon, PhD writing in the Palm Beach Post:

Reader: My great-aunt kept a diary of old remedies for various afflictions. She advocated distilled white vinegar for wart removal. I decided to try her remedy when I discovered an odd wart on my elbow. I attached it by soaking my elbow in a pan of vinegar. Like most Americans, I desired a quick fix. My skin seemed pickled, and I worried that the surrounding tissue would be eaten away altogether. I was about to bail out when I realized the skin around the wart was merely wrinkled, not damaged. Only the wart itself was truly affected. After two weeks, the wart was destroyed. The virus can’t stand the acidity.

Response: Readers often tell us about the healing power of vinegar—from fighting dandruff and nail fungus to chasing away athlete’s foot and warts. Unadulterated white vinegar may be too strong, though. Diluting it with twice as much water as vinegar makes a good soaking solution.

 

 

Reader: I started having acid reflux in my late 50’s (I am now 64). For a while, I took over-the-counter acid controlling drugs with moderate success. After reading in your column about the benefits of ginger tea, I tried Tazo Chai organic spiced black tea that contains ginger root, cinnamon bark, black pepper, cardamom seed, cloves, and star anise seed. I drink one or two cups a day, and I have not had an episode of gastritis or acid reflux in two months. In addition, I eliminated alcohol from my diet except for an occasional beer. I also watch what I eat.

Response: We’re glad you were inspired to make effective lifestyle changes. Eliminating alcohol and foods high in fat or culprits like tomatoes or onions can help control heartburn. Ginger is a traditional Chinese remedy against nausea and indigestion. People taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) should be cautious about adding any herbs to their regimen. Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding.


 

 

CancerThe China Study:

 

In prior issues, The Ayurvedist has presented different perspectives on the topic of cancer—including disease modeling and some radical treatment approaches. In this issue we’d like to take up another aspect of cancer in light of a recently released book: The China Study by Colin Campbell, PhD. Its author was able to effectively examine and analyze, with the assistance of over 650,000 workers, diet, lifestyle, and disease epidemiology of cancer death rates for over 880,000,000 people in all parts of China across many, many years. His background includes involvement with nutritional research at the highest levels for over 40 years. His project was to try to understand whether diet and lifestyle could be causally linked to disease epidemiology, generally, and with special attention to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. He worked with the highest health official in China on a project culminating in a book described as “The Grand Prix of Epidemiology” by the New York Times, and “one of the most important books about nutrition ever written,” by Dean Ornish, MD. There were over 8,000 correlations made by this study.       For the purposes of this column we will report on some that relate to cancer. Some terminology that has been useful in discussion of cancer involves three terms: initiation, promotion, and progression. The first term points to causes that have been labeled carcinogenic or mutagenic and generally involves many known themes: viri, heavy metals--mercury, arsenic, lead, xenotoxins--dioxins, PCB’s, petrochemicals, aflatoxin, and so on.  This genus of things gets the cancerous changes underway. The second class of things—promoters—takes a bad situation—DNA mutation, for example, and makes it worse by promoting replication of the cancerous cells. Progression occurs when the mutating cells spread through other tissues, organs, and systems. What this research and others done by Campbell and many others with animal models has shown is that the promotion and progression stages can be turned on and off at will. This means that in their research they have found “a single theme” that is at the heart of the promotion and progression control mechanism. That one theme is animal protein, including milk casein. In some studies researchers found that no matter how much carcinogen exposure was given, the outcome of promotion and progression consistently hinged upon whether none, some, or a lot of animal vs. plant protein was in the diet. For the population studies this correlation—that animal protein is the primary promoter of many diseases, including cancers-- was found consistently. These findings were valid for ALL cancers, though they are a class of diseases numbering around 200 different entities. The genetic argument for cancer was examined and found to be valid for 1-3% of the total cases. He consistently found that the most important factor was dietary protein. This finding is consistent with identical twin studies reported in JAMA and New England Journal of Medicine about 2-3 years ago, viz. for most health outcomes diet/lifestyle factors were twice as powerful predictors. The genetic information could only explain or predict about 25-30% of health variations among the identical twins.      

Here are some other specific findings: Prostate cancer rates are highest in Western countries where dietary animal protein is highest and conversely where plant protein is highest prostate cancer is lowest—this finding is generally true for all cancers. Dietary animal protein increases early onset of menses, delay of menopause, total years of estrogen exposure in women, and exacerbates hormonal imbalance, all of which explain why breast cancer incidence is high among cultures favoring dietary animal protein and is almost unheard of in China. Dietary animal protein decreases Vit. D levels in both sexes--Vit. D helps to prevent cancer, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, etc. Dietary animal protein increases insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone which is a high predictor of cancerous changes. Dietary fiber intake is inversely related to colorectal cancer but even refined grains provide the same protective effect suggesting that there is a more fundamental mechanism—dietary protein. Calcium supplementation appears to have no colorectal cancer protective effect. Lab animals fed plant protein diet voluntarily exercise twice as much as those fed animal protein diet.

In summary the importance of the findings reported in this book appear to support a fundamental Ayurvedic dictum: Food is your medicine.  However, we would modify the author’s claim that the same dietary guidelines-- plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and avoidance of animal proteins, saturated fats, and cholesterol--apply to treatment of any disease. The quality and quantity of these foods needs to be based upon our doÃic theory: according to prakriti, vikriti, season, time, and strength of digestion, etc.


 

The Book Corner

 

This month we’d like to feature one book: The China Study, already referenced in this newsletter as germane to cancer epidemiology and treatment. The authors claim to have found irrefutable evidence that dietary/lifestyle factors are primary to disease etiology and treatment. There are several paragraphs at the end of the work which summarize its value and findings (pp. 348-349):

 

“Never before has there been such a mountain of empirical research supporting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Now, for example, we can obtain images of the arteries in the heart, and then show conclusively as doctors Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., have done, that a whole foods, plant-based diet reverses heart disease.  We now have the knowledge to understand how this actually works.  Animal protein, even more than saturated fat in dietary cholesterol, raises blood cholesterol levels in experimental animals, individual humans and entire populations.  International comparisons between countries show that populations subsisting on traditional plant-based diets have far less heart disease, and studies of individuals within single populations show that those who eat more whole, plant-based foods not only have lower cholesterol levels, but have less heart disease.  We now have a deep and broad range of evidence showing that the whole foods, plant-based diet is best for the heart.”

 

“Never before have we had such a depth of understanding of how diet affects cancer both on the cellular level as well as on the population level. Published data show that animal protein promotes the growth of tumors.  Animal protein increases the levels of a hormone, IGF-1, which is a risk factor for cancer, and high-casein (the main protein of cow’s milk) diets allow for more carcinogens into cells, which allow more dangerous carcinogenic products to bind to DNA, which allow more mutagenic reactions that give rise to cancer cells, which allow more rapid growth of tumors once they are initially formed.  Data show that a diet based on animal-based foods increases the female’s production of reproductive hormones over her lifetime, which may lead to breast cancer.  We now have a deep and broad range of evidence showing that the whole foods, plant-based diet is best for cancer.”

 

“Never before have we had technology to measure the bio markers associated with diabetes, and the evidence to show that blood sugar, blood cholesterol and insulin levels improve more with a whole foods, plant-based diet than with any other treatment. Intervention studies show that Type I diabetes treated with a whole foods, plant-based diet may reverse their disease and go off their medications.  A broad range of international studies showed that Type I diabetes, the serious autoimmune disease, is related to cow’s milk consumption and premature weaning. We now know how our autoimmune system can attack are bodies through a process of molecular mimicry induced by animal proteins that find their way into our bloodstream.  We also have tantalizing evidence linking multiple sclerosis with animal food consumption, and especially dairy consumption.  Dietary intervention studies have shown that diet can help slow, and perhaps even halt, multiple sclerosis.  We now have a deep and broad range of evidence showing that the whole foods, plant-based diet is best for diabetes and autoimmune diseases.”

 

“Never before have we had such a broad range of evidence showing that diets containing excess animal protein can destroy our kidneys.  Kidney stones arise because the consumption of animal protein creates excessive calcium and oxylate in the kidney.  We now know that cataracts may and age-related macular degeneration can be prevented by foods containing large amounts of antioxidants. In addition, research has shown that cognitive dysfunction, vascular dementia caused by small strokes in Alzheimer’s are all related to the food we eat. Investigations of human populations show that our risk of hip fracture and osteoporosis is made worse by diets high in animal-based foods. Animal protein leeches calcium from the bones by creating an acidic environment in the blood. We now have a deep in broad range of evidence showing that the whole foods, plant-based diet is best for our kidneys, bones, I, and brains.”

 

I doubt that there is more compelling evidence for a vegetarian diet than this work. I recommend that everyone read it and circulate your copy to all you know. – The Ayurvedist


 

Yajna / Yagya

 

Vedic rituals are known by the Sanskrit term yajna. It means a sacrifice, sacrificial rite, any offering or oblation. Rigveda and other important Vedic scripture often describe and prescribe ritual ceremonies with incantations for many purposes. While the ceremony is spiritual in origin there are many possible mundane purposes for which they may be done—money, marriage, fame, health, and so on. One of the more notable rituals among them is the fire ceremony or agni hotra. Mostly, this sacrificial burning of prescribed elements accompanies  incantations for enhancing fertility, wealth, or some other end. This ceremony is mentioned numerous times in the classical Ayurvedic literature as one of numerous spiritual remedies. They constitute an avenue of regaining health by ridding one of spirit possession, and so on. We must state, however, that the Upanishadic literature gives this kind of knowledge second-rate status. The highest knowledge is that of Self-Awareness and the implied vehicle is through a process such as described in the yoga darshana—withdrawal of senses (dhyana), concentration (dharana), and self- absorption (samadhi). The rituals clearly place the aspirant in the position of attachment to the fruits of the ritual, which attitude is to be totally disdained, according to the Upanishads.

 

One practitioner of agni hotra (homa) visited The Ayurvedic Institute while I was teaching there. He claimed that done at the proper time, with proper apparatus, and in the proper manner one could purify the environment of all toxins high up in the atmosphere for many miles around. He stated that even radiation in the environment would be purified by this ceremony. He holds that the entire planet can be rejuvenated by homa. As environmental insults tend to be on going, the agni hotra needs to be done regularly at sunset and sunrise. By the way, the initiating of the mantra must, according to him, be exactly in accord with official sunrise and sunset times. The use of an atomic clock for this purpose is urged. Another interesting thought offered by this practitioner is that the animals in nature seem to know the exact timing of sunrise and sunset as their behavior changes at this precise moment. Ashes from the ceremony are reputedly effective for cure of many diseases and for neutralizing radiation in the body. In an experiment homa was performed exactly at sunset in one of two rooms. Bacterial counts were taken before and after in both the rooms in a similar manner at half hour intervals.up to two hours after performance of homa. Microbial counts in the room where Agnihotra was performed were reduced by 91.4% while the other had no reduction.

Agnihotra Mantras:

            Sunrise: suryaya svaha   suryaya na mama;   prajapataye svaha  prajapataye idam na mama

            Sunset: agnaye svaha  agnaye na mama;    prajapataye svaha  prajapataye idam na mama

Note: Sanskrit uses the following pronunciations of its letter a equivalent:  a  as in nut (final a in mama);  a as is father (initial a in svaha);  a as in yay (as in final ye of agnaye)

 

Yajna Contacts:

  1. Michael Laughrin: 440-582-9848--foci for yagyas in July and August 2005 will be money and marriage

  2. Maharishi Global Yagya Program: P.O. Box 1839 Hillsboro, NH 03244  Tel 603-588-4235  FAX  603-588-4249

  3. MA Center (Ammachi Organization):  P. O. Box 613, San Ramon, CA 94583  FAX 510-889-8585

  4. Pandit C.S. Samavedula   512 633 7999

 

Agni Hotra Information:

 

 


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