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

 

     

The Ayurvedist®

                Volume III Issue 2                                                                                        March 2006 

Health and Science in the News

Text Box: Angel of the Waters Central Park NYC
 

 

 

                                                                                                                   

Inside This Issue

1

Health and Science in the News

2

The Book Corner

3

Gandharvaveda

 

 

 

 

More on Turmeric: “People’s Pharmacy” reported that feeding turmeric to a pet pig with debilitating disk problem provided dramatic and fast relief of pain. It’s pen-mate has arthritic feet and also shows improvement with turmeric in the daily diet.

 

In another study it was shown that saw palmetto extract showed it was more effective than placebo at reversing hair loss in male-pattern baldness. The herb inhibits an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (as does the drug finasteride (Propecia, Proscar). See Journal of Alternative and Comp. Med., 4-2002.

 

Blueberries, rich in fiber and antioxidants, were reported in Journal of Medicinal Food, Spring 2005, to have better blood vessel function.

 

People’s Pharmacy also reported that persons taking statins for high cholesterol found more relief with red yeast rice (60 points decline) without side-effects. Others writing of experience with red yeast rice reported similar side-effects (muscle pain) but milder.

 

Researchers reported in The Annals of Internal Medicine findings that regular exercise (at least three times per week for 15 min. or more) were much less likely to develop dementia that those who were less active. While the study did not establish a causal relation, only an associative one, this finding joins a body of observational findings of similar nature.

 

Another study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine (Dec. 20, 2005) reported that yoga is at least as effective or more effective than traditional exercise in the treatment of lower back pain. It was definitely more effective than self-help books with back-care tips.

 

AP reported that arthritis sufferers may not get relief from taking chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine in cases of mild osteoarthritis. In more severe cases benefit was experienced by study subjects. The study was funded by NIH and conducted by Dr. Daniel Clegg at the U of Utah.

 

 

From the orthomolecular corner comes the findings of the NIH published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept. 12, 2005 data that follow the research path of Linus Pauling and Vit. C.  Hi doses or supraphysiological amounts of this vitamin administered intravenously, only, selectively kill tumor cells.

 

Again from orthomolecular medicine are clinical findings that manganese is needed as a trace element for repairing connective tissue injuries. Dr. Lynne August, quoted in Townsend Letter, Dec. 2005, p. 14, made the observation that manganese in relatively high doses is needed for connective tissue repair. Supplementation with 35 mg. daily while recovering from injury is non-toxic and works even better with protomorphogens, or glandular supplements, to enhance its effect.

 

Iodine has long been associated with thyroid health. Guy Abraham, MD reports that its deficiency may play an important role in the following: subclinical hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, autoimmune thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, fibrocystic disease and cancer of the breast, polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, hormone resistance syndrome, and recurrent and chronic infections. Daily intake of 12.5 to 50 mg elemental iodine for approximately 4 weeks builds system sufficiency and relief of many symptoms and a sense of well-being (see Townsend Letter Dec. 2005, pp.85-88).

 

Stem Cells:

Attention now is being given the health and research potential of human umbilical cord stem cells (hUCSC). Their existence, though known for quite a while, has drawn researchers to their potential use in stead of embryonic and placental stem cells. It seems that many of these cells can function exactly as the former do and have no special risks associated with their use, because they are still almost entirely undifferentiated protein. Proteins in this state raise no alarms in the recipient’s body and don’t require tissue and other matching tests. Stem cells have three qualities: they are unspecialized, capable of dividing and renewing for long periods, and can give rise to specialized cells. Unlike the embryonic and placental stem cells these are generated in normal conditions of birthing and avoid the moral conflict associated with the other two types of stem cells. Some early successes have been in the areas of: cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, early stage progressive and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Poor responders have included the following: advanced MS and ALS, advanced COPD (emphysema), Charco Marie Tooth disease and diabetes type I. Interested persons can view a news video regarding one subject’s story on line at: www.stemcelltherapies.org/resources.htm (scroll down to item #12).  Read more in Townsend Letter Dec. 2005.

 

Organic vs. Conventional / Commercial Foods:

This is a hot issue for Ayurvedists because of the link to estrogenic and inflammatory effects engendered by them when in the body. Experts writing on the topic declare that all xenotoxins, including petrochemicals, pesticides, etc. are estrogenic or endocrine disrupters. Dr. Lad, one Ayurvedic authority, feels that estrogen produces pitta effects. I believe that this is probably correct. Now for the research it’s been shown by numerous studies that organic foods have more of the things we eat foods for: nutrients and food components, such as quercetin, flavonoids, beta carotene, etc. that have shown to have health-supporting effects. USDA researchers tested catsup and organic ones consistently showed higher antioxidant content and activity. Others have shown that pesticide residues are consistently lower among organic foods—usually by 50% less and sometimes even 75% less. (Researchers have found higher levels of pesticides in those eating conventional farming products versus those eating predominantly organically grown foods.) Some feel that the presence of natural challenges between plants and animals leads to a survival response in plants causing them to increase the secondary metabolites (flavonoids, etc.) to meet the threat from insects, etc. Rose Marie Williams, MA writes a column: “Health Risks and Environmental Issues” for the Townsend Letter; read her column for more details on these matters. One tip—it’s a good idea to buy organic but it’s a good idea to soak all your fruits and vegetables in a capful of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or soap detergent in a bowl of water for about five minutes before eating/cooking. Some foods need scrubbing as well. There is antimicrobial action and well as cleansing of the pesticides.

 

 

The Book Corner

 

Molecules of Emotion, by Candace Pert, PhD

 

Central to our concept of life is the notion that mind is one of the nine causative elements; further, the mind is responsible for giving direction to creating. It’s not the stuff from which things are created but it is the element of the equation that thinks and wants things to happen. The product of mind---thought--is responsible for, among other things, concrete things to materialize. In the context of health we can say that the mind is a major element in disease formation, too. Remember that prajñaparadha is the root cause of disease—meaning our thoughts and perceptions get us into trouble. Formally we can say that Ayurveda is a mind-body system or science. A book that was written to show the science of this is: Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, PhD. The book chronicles her personal story and her story about the historical development of a new science: Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) or its sister PNIE—endocrinology added to the PNI. The book is not recent but it is important to Ayurveda.

 

Candace, while working at the NIH / NIMH, discovered evidence that cell’s might have special receptor sites that are sensitive to hormones and other chemicals and that these sites might be connected to immune functioning and more. Her research led her to the discovery of what has become known as the neuropeptide. This molecule of chemicals gets its name from the fact that the mind / nervous system is responsible for its manifestation and the peptide part attests to the fact that it is a protein substance. A peptide contains a string of amino acids usually about 100 in the chain and a polypeptide = more than 200 amino acids in the chain and it’s now called a protein. Each and every peptide no matter where it had first been discovered was actually made in many parts of the organism including often the brain. It was found that peptides bound to receptors in the kidney to change blood pressure could operate receptors in the lung and brain. Although peptide structures are deceptively simple, the responses they elicit can be maddeningly complex. Now classified under hormones, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, growth factors, gut peptides, interleukins, cytokines, chemokines, and growth-inhibiting factors. Pert has preference for informational substances. These biochemicals are the physiological substrates of emotion, the molecular underpinnings of what we experience as feelings, sensations, thought, drives, perhaps even spirit or soul (P130). Further she states: “ When I use the term emotion, I am speaking in the broadest of terms, to include not only the familiar human experiences of anger, fear, and sadness, as well as joy, contentment, and courage, but also basic sensations such as pleasure and pain, as well as the “ drive states” studied by the experimental psychologists, such as hunger and thirst. I also refer to an assortment of other intangible, subjective experiences that are probably unique to humans, such as spiritual inspiration, awe, bliss, and other states of consciousness that we all have experienced but that have been up until now, physiologically unexplained (P131-32).” If we accept the idea that peptides and other informational substances are the biochemical of emotion, their distribution in the body’s nerves has all kinds of significance—the body is the unconscious mind. There are almost an infinite number of pathways for the conscious mind to access—and modify—the unconscious mind and the body.

 

“In virtually all locations where information from any of the five senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—enters the nervous system, we will find a high concentration of neuropeptide receptors. These nodal points seem to be designed so that they can be accessed and modulated by almost all neuropeptides as they go about their job of processing information, prioritizing it, and biasing it to cause unique neurophysiological changes.... This site filters all incoming sensory information. The more general proposition is that where any sensory input thru any of the 5 senses enters the nervous system, that site is rich in neuropeptides (p.142).” “Emotions and sensations become interchangeable, occupying a receptor site via the NP then lead to a physiology based upon which theme is dominant or “chosen” bathroom function versus sexual arousal for example. This also means that emotions affect the body sensations and vice versa merging them together. The quantity and quality of the receptors at the nodal points determines in main the effect (awareness of it or not) in the frontal lobes of higher processing. The Q&Q of these receptors = function of past experiences. Emotional states or moods are produced by the various NP ligands, and what we experience as an emotion or a feeling is also a mechanism for activating a particular neuronal circuit—simultaneously throughout the brain and body—which generates a behavior involving the whole creature, with all the necessary physiological changes that behavior would require (p.145).”

 

“p.179) A major conceptual shift in neuroscience has been wrought by the realization that brain function is modulated by numerous chemicals in addition to classical neurotransmitters. Many of these informational substances are neuropeptides, originally studied in other contexts as hormones, gut peptides, or growth factors. Their number presently (about 88), and most, if not all, alter behavior and mood states, although only endogenous analogs of psychoactive drugs like morphine, Valium, and phencyclidine have been well appreciated in this context. We now realize that their signal specificity resides in receptors rather than the close juxtaposition occurring at classical synapses. Precise brain distribution patterns for many neuropeptide receptors have been determined. A number of brain loci, many within emotion-mediating brain areas, are enriched with many types of neuropeptide receptors, suggesting a convergence of information processing at these nodes.

“Additionally, neuropeptide receptors occur on mobile cells of the immune system: monocytes can chemotax to numerous neuropeptides via processes shown by structure-activity analysis to be mediated by distinct receptors indistinguishable from those found in the brain. Neuropeptides and their receptors thus join the brain, glands, and immune system in a network of communication between brain and body, probably representing the biochemical substrate of emotion.”

 

“To summarize the basic idea—The three classically separated areas of neuroscience, endocrinology, and immunology, with their various organs—brain, glands, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes—are actually joined to each other in a multidirectional network of communication, linked by information carriers known as neuropeptides (p.184).”...”The point I am making is that your brain is extremely well integrated with the rest of your body at a molecular level, so much so that the term mobile brain is an apt description of the psychosomatic network through which intelligent information travel from one system  to another. Every one of the zones, or systems of the network—the neural, the hormonal, the gastrointestinal, and the immune—is set up to communicate with one another, via peptides and messenger-specific peptide receptors (p.189).”...” My cells are literally talking to each other and my brain is in on the conversation.”

 

We have quoted many important excerpts from this book and we think there are two important points. First, the “mind” is greater than the organ of the brain—perhaps we should say it’s larger than the whole body and all its parts. This is absolutely consistent with Caraka’s description of the Ayurvedic notion of mind. Secondly, we can say that for health and disease we now have a mind-body model of physiology that is the basis of health and disease. The mind has “universal” status meaning that every location and cell is under the control by the mind. Every cell responds to the NP cascade created by emotions and feelings. This cascade results in the physical basis of disease as the body’s ability to communicate the changing conditions of balance / homeostasis / health is blocked by the NP’s occupying the cell receptor sites all over the body. Chronic emotional states are the most problematic. In good health NP’s of emotions are absent and the cells function properly, but in their presence almost everything can go wrong.


 

Gandharva Veda

 

The ancient-India culture is probably diverse but one important cultural theme was that one dominated by Veda—knowledge, and specifically, Self-knowledge. A large array of sciences arose from the study of Veda, including one dealing with music: Gandharvaveda. Gandharva relates to the celestial musicians, a class of entities responsible for “out-of-this-world” music. This writer believes he has had the first-hand experience of this music some years ago. I believe that I was in a transcendental state and suddenly heard some truly enrapturing music. The experience didn’t last long but it has remained clear in my memory for many years.

 

Gandharvaveda is an upaveda, meaning a body of knowledge that is subordinate to and supportive of Veda. Its companions are Dhanurveda, Sthapatyaveda, and none other than our dear Ayurveda. According to Apte’s Sanskrit Dictionary, Gandharvaveda is a sub-ordinate Veda treating of music attached to the Samaveda. Samaveda is one of the four Vedas—Rg, Yajur, Atharva, Samaveda. While verses may overlap in these 4 Vedas the meter and melody are different.

 

Gandharvaveda’s purpose in the creation is to unfold or create harmony by enlivening Natural Law through sound. These sounds, as mantras, have the capacity to create and when one listens to it peace / harmony / wholeness / integration are promoted. In this sense the sounds are healing to disease and preventive to illness not yet arisen.

 

We have studied in Ayurveda the theme of time. While time has numerous facets--cycle, frequency, eternal, changing, and so on, we recall that vata, pitta, and kapha aptly express different physiologies of the body at different hours of the day and year and age. Gandharvaveda is keenly aware of the different styles of functioning in Nature for these periods. Most important, however, is the time of the day and this fact is addressed by the Gandharvans in the changing nature of the sounds necessary to create balance through the 24-hour cycle. Generally, there are (3) 8-hour periods in a 24-hour day and during each of these 8 periods the style of the music changes. Remember that one of the dictums of Ayurveda is: it’s not enough to do the right thing, one has to do it at the right time. Thus a particular combination / sequence / style of music characterizes each of the 8 periods.

 

An interesting element of Gandharvaveda music is the co-existence of change and non-change. This means that there is an inherent constant structure to the piece—called a raga—but also spontaneous or creative elements. Typically, one hears one instrument that places the same notes/ pattern throughout the raga—called a drone. This represents non-change. In the playing of the melody the listener will be treated to elegant elaborations on a theme. Further, the keen listener will observe that the full range of a note—not just a narrow interval of it—is another aspect of this music.  These elements taken together expand the consciousness and structure and ground it simultaneously. What this symbolizes is the creative and diverse nature of Self / Being and its underlying permanent nature—co-existing together. This music is highly spiritual though emphatically sensual.

 

Different qualities of the day imply different needs and Gandharvaveda music has this diversity, too. For example, there is music to create rain in the environment—aptly called rain raga. There are numerous presentation formats: vocal, instrumental—sitar, flute, etc. All the elements of music are perfected in this music: pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, etc.

 

Some time specific recommendations are:

 

Ramkali & Lalat ragas 3-7 AM; Makansa raga 11-3 PM  (for pitta/vata)

Makansa raga 11PM – 3AM  (for pitta/vata)

Bhupali & Shri ragas 6-9 PM  (for kapha)

 


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