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

 

The Ayurvedist®

Volume III Issue 3                                                                                                                    May  2006 

Health and Science in the News

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Angel of the Waters Central Park NYC

Inside This Issue

1

Health and Science in the News

2

Summer Guidelines

3

The Book Corner   The  Mind/Body

4

Marma Therapy

 

 

From the Graedon’s—People’s Pharmacy—comes this warning: too little fluids puts one at risk of kidney stones but grapefruit and cranberry juice increase the risk of stones and lemon and orange reduce it.  If you’re taking Vit. C regularly in high doses of 2gms. daily you’re at increased risk of oxalate kidney stones (pitta type).  And if you have plenty of that ascorbate around you may be able to cure warts by applying solution of 1 gram powder in 1 ounce of water—6 times per day.  

The cherry juice industry has been concentrating the juice and some have found dramatic relief from gout and other inflammatory symptoms.  Research supports claim of having antioxidants—probably the anthocyanins—and another compound that may lower risk of cancer—perillyl alcohol. The FDA isn’t buying any claims for efficacy, however.

Anecdotal reports about a popular brand of tea: Earl Grey, have indicated a tendency for some to experience muscle cramping, twitching, and stomach distress. Bergamot oil flavoring has a compound that interferes with the potassium channel in the cell. If you or your client has these symptoms and drinks this tea try discontinuance to see if relief comes shortly.

Else where other research indicates that strength training while on a weight loss program keeps metabolism facilitating sustained weight loss.  In another study indications are that drinking diet sodas contributes to weight gain. The understanding of why this happens is cloudy but one hypothesis holds that the body's intelligence to regulate food intake gets confused when switching back to high calorie food.

Our friend turmeric continues to be of interest to researchers. A study involving curcumin extract in Crohn's disease showed improved symptomology and decreased dependence upon other medications.

Another study involving pomegranate juice and a look-alike alternative found those taking the 250ml/day pomegranate juice appeared to improve stress-induced myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary heart disease. It's rich in antioxidants of several types--tannins, anthocyanins, polyphenols, etc.

Research on CFS now shows these persons have 16 proteins healthy people to not have--5 of these are found in all CFS patients.


 

SOME AYURVEDA GUIDELINES FOR THE SUMMER

 The summertime climate is hot and sunny.  From the perspective of Ayurveda this presents the potential for aggravation (second stage of increase) of that dosha responsible for digestion, metabolism, and transformation--pitta.  Remember that the qualities of pitta are hot, sharp, liquid, moving, light, sour, and slightly oily. When these qualities are lively in the food and climate, etc. they tend to build or accumulate in the physiology.  Often this accumulation is experienced as increased body heat or sour taste in the mouth, but also emotionally as irritability or anger or impatience. In order to help reduce this imbalance in the physiology due to these influences we will make some specific recommendations following an extended quote on this subject from one of the revered ancient authorities, Sushruta (as translated by Bhishagratna)—

Physical exercise, toil, hot and excessively drying articles of food, as well as those abundant in heat-producing tastes (pungent, acid, saline) should be avoided in the summer. Large tanks, lakes, and rivers as well as charming gardens and cold rooms should be resorted to. Cold rooms should be resorted to, and the finest (refreshing) sandal pastes and garlands of flowers of lotuses and lilies, soft breeze from palm-leaf fans and necklaces (of precious stones and pearls) as well as light clothes should be used in summer. Sweet-scented and cooling panakas and manthas (soup-like preparations) with abundance of sugar should be used. Sweet, liquid and cool food mixed with clarified butter, and boiled milk sweetened with sugar, etc, (should be) taken at nighttime. One should at that time lie on a bed strewn over with full-blown and fresh flowers in some palatial building with his body besmeared with sandal pastes and refreshed by cooling breeze.

This is certainly everyone’s idea of the Garden of Eden existence. And who can afford the pearls, the palatial building, and the attendant to fan you all night long? And where is all that water coming from? So the idea of the quote is to seek out things and places which are cooling in their effect. Sweets, ghee, sandalwood, milk, pearls, and lotus flowers, and water are cooling to the physiology. Doing less physical activity (resting more) during the summer is what many would call a “no brainer.” So let’s look at some other specifics.

 Sleep is rest--the time the physiology takes to reset, restore, rebuild, and clean.  When sleep is adversely affected then the first process to be disturbed is digestion--that all-important function at the root of all health, according to Ayurveda. Therefore, we want to maintain those conditions which promote sleep. Ayurveda thus recommends a cool sleeping environment. If air conditioning or fans are available then consider them useful for good health for this reason. We don't recommend air conditioning settings below 780 unless sleep doesn't come.

 The heat from the climate tends to promote bodily sweat--that natural process which serves to cool the body.  It is important, therefore to drink plenty of fluids.  Ice cold beverages are not indicated, however, as they tend to adversely affect digestion, slow metabolism and promote weight gain.  The Southeast is considered the "kidney stone belt" of the U.S. and this probably relates to the high consumption in this area of carbonated beverages and insufficient plain water.

 When we crave sweet beverages, etc. our body is primarily asking for something cooling--sweet is primarily cooling to the physiology, according to Ayurveda. Naturally sweet fruit juices are especially good including grape, peach, mango, etc.  Chew fennel as it's cooling to the body when metabolized and provides the influence the body/mind wants without the baggage of sugar. Raw and cooked greens may be eaten more frequently. Fresh fruit salads/meals are great for evening meals. Favor the sweet ones--melons and berries--rather than the citrus fruit.

 Some miscellaneous suggestions include:  rose water drops in the eyes during the day or castor oil drops at night before bed may be helpful. Applying cool compress to the eyes and body is beneficial also. In regard to the organ of the skin the sun's rays produce free-radicals, which may result in dry, leathery skin and even skin cancer. Using an anti-oxidant daily, such as neem/sesame or coconut oils would be beneficial. Daily exercise is an important Ayurvedic guideline.  For best results it should be done with reduced vigor, early in the day--before 10 am, and avoid mid-day direct sun exposure as much as possible.

.

The Book Corner

Reinventing Medicine by Larry Dossey, MD, Harper, 1999, is a tale of a western doctor's journey of awakening to non-local reality. It all started with three, more-real-than-life dreams, that accurately depicted future events--events that he could personally verify.  His whole materialistic worldview was shattered in about a week's time. His research of dreams led him to Hippocrates and his views: prophetic, diagnostic, psychologically revelatory. The famous Roman physician, Galen, was guided in surgery by his dreams and bragged about their life-saving content. Then investigating the mind Hermes wrote that the mind unifies man and gods as part of a unifying divine nature. Mind was non-local--everywhere-and no where. Avicennes, too believed that the mind was grander than a single individual. But history records the antagonists to these ruminations berated them and ascribed such things to myth and superstition. This limited world view has been the predominant one for 2000 years. But, now, he says, it's time to turn back to our roots, not to mysticism, but to an alignment with fact and experience.

 Of course, the connection with Consciousness, a non-local field of all knowing, power, eternity and so, hits one dead in the face with the necessity of a connection with mind. Mind is just the agency for communication, sensing and so on but universal mind implies universal consciousness and this is the linchpin of our mind-body-spirit medical science--Ayurveda.  With so much empirical evidence of many non-local phenomena no rational being could not argue for a spiritual, universal, eternal reality. Much of the book gives the record of research and anecdotal evidence of non-local medicine/healing and so on. The list of non-local interventions is long: prayer, intention, visualization, mental health/state of happiness of water bearer, pill pusher and so on. The science for the effectiveness continues to add up. One study of cardiac patients was done with double-blind and random precautions and showed the prayed for group: was 5x less likely to require antibiotics; 3x less likely to develop pulmonary edema; none required endotracheal intubation, fewer died. 

As for the concept of consciousness Dossey offers the following as features of this emerging concept (p. 83):

  1. Consciousness is non-local; it extends beyond the individual. It cannot be confined to specific points in space, such as brains or bodies, or specific points in time, such as the present moment.
  2. Consciousness is an ordering principle. It can insert information into disorganized or random systems and create higher degrees of order.
  3. Consciousness is not the same as awareness. The ordering power of consciousness can occur completely outside awareness, such as in dreams.
  4. Both individual and group consciousness can insert order or information into the world, and can extract information from the world as well.
  5. Coherence among individuals is important in the ordering power of consciousness. Coherence may be expressed as love, empathy, caring, unity, oneness, and connectedness.
  6. Consciousness can affect humans and nonhumans alike. Even inanimate objects can "resonate" with and respond to human consciousness.

 The range of subjects is also broad--rats, mice, plants, seeds, yeast cells, a variety of pets--dogs, cats, birds, and even machines. In one study dogs showed uncanny ability to know that the master was close at hand to returning home regardless of the time of day. Of particular interest was a study involving a random event generator which displayed a skewed distribution in the direction of investigators' intentions. On the subjective side athletes have often been quoted as saying that he/she was "in the zone--" a place in time where no time exists. Awareness is so focused that time seems to stop. For others it's about a period of activity where activity is taking place but there's no effort to it. It's the eternal now.

Dossey says we medical practitioners need to begin to make use of ESP--patient's and doctor's, dream analysis,  prayer, visualization, shamans, and all that in both diagnosis and treatment . We Ayurvedists have known about these and more--ESP in diagnosis, healing mantras, rituals, yantras, and a host of other spiritually-based techniques.  And finally, he says we all should honor death, not as a tragedy but as a blessing and as a beginning.

Marma Therapy

 What is the concept of marma? Apte defines marman: a vital part of the body, the vitals, weak or tender point (of the body), any weak or vulnerable member or organ; any joint; the core, quick; the secret or hidden meaning, the pith or essence; a secret or mystery. For the ancient Ayurvedist, Caraka, the concept embraced these meanings and one essential point: they are points of unions in the body, where Consciousness is most lively in expressing Itself through the physiology. Caraka says there are three main ones (heart, head, and navel) and 107 overall. He states that the main ones control all of the remaining 104 as via a trunk branching arrangement. This statement hints that there may some therapeutic effect by acting on the main controlling marma. Unfortunately, whatever the value of this knowledge for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes rests in the oral tradition. They are to be protected from wound and sickness. We can say, however, that two traditional Vedic sciences--Dhanurveda--and surgery within Ayurveda did give significant attention to these spots, but for slightly different purposes: Dhanurveda is the science of martial arts and wants to identify vulnerable areas for protecting oneself or for defeating the enemy. Sushruta, the surgeon, however, said that knowledge of these vital points was necessary for the surgeon to avoid in surgical operations--primum no nocere--first do no harm. Sushruta described their placement and size and how closely one could incise to the point without doing damage to it. But notable, neither school emphasizes a diagnostic or therapeutic value.

 Modern practitioners have concluded that indeed there is such diagnostic and therapeutic value. For example, Dr. Vasant Lad, MASc., teaches that a tenderness at one of these spots indicates that the organ, etc. that is associated with the point is operating under duress. This pain tells the clinician that that system is faulty and further, the theory goes, that stimulating that point and others associated with that function helps to restore functionality to the system. There is a sense that the Chinese meridian concept applies here. Of course, Ayurvedists would say that the proper term is nadi, but the point remains that a network-like system of marmani and nadis are controlling structure and function. Some points operate at a distance (tele-receptors) while some stimulate hormonal or similar responses (chemo-receptors).

 Sushruta writes that there are many types of marmani: from immediately lethal to forever painful; affliction, writes Caraka always brings pain because of the connection with Consciousness. Sushruta described them in terms of unions of muscles, veins, ligaments, bones, and joints which naturally and specifically form the seats of life (prana). Thus some are joint-marmani and others may be nerve plexi, and so on. 

Treatment protocols vary considerably. For example, the field of reflexology may be using the same points and its approach is to use deep massage of the point. There is speculation that Chinese medicine's acupuncture points are also the same and here needling, with and without moxibustion is done. Essential oils are being used on these spots because they are deemed highly pranized (powerful low frequency vibrations) that penetrate quickly and move easily to disordered tissues.

One vaidya, Rama Kant Mishra, I have spent a short time with says his family has a 2000 year-old tradition of using the marmani. He uses clarified butter, herbs, and essential oil extracts on the marmani/nadis for which he and his proponents advocate good results. The theory here is to use the ghee as a carrier-penetrant, along with the essential oils to convey and augment the herbal effects to distant organs and tissues. The use of oils is long validated in Ayurveda--sesame being the most widely herbalized. Ghee or ghritam is especially good for pitta afflictions as its energy is cooling. Vd. Mishra cautions, however, that ghee-based preparations must be refrigerated as they last only about 45 days before plant-based contaminants begin to degrade the oil. If unrefrigerated use these ghrita only 30 days, and still the oil should be stored in a dark, air-tight, moisture-free container. The next time you can't sleep try brahmi ghee on the third eye and on both radial artery points at the wrist. Of for better meditations, apply an essential oil such as lavender or sandalwood to the third eye, throat, heart, and navel marmani. By the way, don't forget your mantras while applying the oils: Om Aim Hrim Klim will work for those who don't have one already.

 


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