Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am often asked what Ayurveda prescribes as a healthy diet. I hesitate to write down a fixed diet plan for many reasons: there are many diet fads these days which have become accepted as healthy diets (for example the vegan diet, keto diet, millets diet, etc). Most of this is contrarian to the principles espoused in the texts.

1. universally healthy

The second is that Ayurveda is the ultimate customised medicine. The texts opine that health, regimen and medicine should all be customised to the individual, and what works for one individual is especially unique to him / her. Therefore, what works for you is a customised blend of your food culture, what you are used to your prakriti, and where you live.

2. customised approach
The third is a very interesting reason: Ayurveda recognises the importance of “patterns and habits” in the way we eat, behave and live. The Acharyas tell us that even a great diet. Or a set of behaviours considered universally healthy cannot be suddenly introduced to the system, as the system, which has reached a sense of balance with whatever it is doing, will rebel in shock. So for someone who has persisted on a diet of fried bacon, bread and no vegetables, cannot be suddenly asked to substitute fish for fried bacon and introduced to a whole lot of vegetables. The Acharyas tell us that for the system that has been used to food which we consider unhealthy will react to healthy food (if introduced suddenly) like it would react to poison!

3. gradual is better

Obviously our notion of what is healthy food ad not healthy food will have to vary by region, season and availability of food. So if you live in a dry, hot desert I cannot tell you to eat broccoli all the time, despite the fact that it is considered a nutritional superfood.

 

So rather than speak about specific foods to eat, we focus our posts on how to eat. We saw a post this week on eight Ayurvedic eating techniques, and how chewing food well, eating on time, eating when hungry, etc are timeless principles of healthy living. We saw how even the right foods eaten wrongly can cause distress to the body.

 

Speaking further on foods to eat, here is our 2 part series on Ayurvedic eating for good health. Again, these posts are in the form of eating principles, and cover aspects of eating like ethical diets (vegan / vegetarian), eating timings etc. These are atleast as important as what you eat, so do read on.

 

As with all new information, please read this with an open mind. The science of Ayurveda has evolved over thousands of years and is extremely sophisticated in its understanding of both food and its effect on human beings. Many of the things I have written down may seem contrarian to what we believe in now – but the system has survived and thrived for thousands of years

  1. Timing is everything (in health, food & life)

The time of eating is at least as important as what you eat and depending upon your body’s condition, it is sometimes more important than what you eat.

Every organ system is said to have a particular time to cleanse itself and do necessary repairs. For example, the liver, the seat of pitta in our body, cleanses itself around midnight. Cleansing of organ systems occurs ONLY after digestion is through, nutrients have been extracted and toxins have been removed from the body. So if you are eating dinner at 11 pm, your organ systems will NOT cleanse themselves, and will wait until the next available time slot to do so. Which means your body will feel dull and sluggish the next morning (especially if you are consistently eating late).

This does not mean you can get away with eating junk food like a burger everyday at 7 pm for dinner. Do read point 2.

This is corroborated by many systems of traditional medicine. TCM opines that the window to eat breakfast is between 7 am – 9 am. When you consistently eat breakfast after this window, your chi energy or stomach fire energy gets weak and dampened. This in TCM is said to lead to digestive disorders, high production of gas in the system and an inability to digest foods leading to a high accumulation of toxins.

4.damp agni

 

  1. Ideal food is local, freshly cooked, lightly spiced and eaten warm. No spoiled food should be eaten. And no food should be stored, re-heated and eaten.

Ayurveda frowns upon the wonders of modern food preservation. In fact, the Charaka Samhita specifically says that for good health one should not eat too much of pickles, traditional papads or even traditionally salted and preserved vegetables (like vadagam and vathal).These references are to HOME MADE preserved vegetables, lentils and fruits. So this definitely rules OUT eating preserved, commercially processed foods like biscuits, sauces, etc which have a shelf life of 1 year or more (so most of the time we are eating stuff that has been made at-least 6 months ago in a factory and would contain several harmful chemical preservatives).
5. processed food
Local in Ayurveda means something that not only grows naturally within 100 miles of where you live. It also means eating foods you and your digestive system are accustomed to. So if you have grown up eating rice, rice will suit your system the most. Not quinoa. And not even millets. Any new food must be slowly introduced to your digestive system. (This does not take away from your responsibility of sourcing high quality food. Most of us grew up eating untainted, pesticide-free food – so this naturally means you should source the same now. And not just buy the first available pesticide sprayed pack of rice you find in the supermarket).

6. local food
The point about spoiled food is an interesting nuance and goes to our food culture. For example cheese eating is not a practice that is universal to many parts of India. It is usually common only in cold and hilly regions. In hot and humid regions, fermenting a dairy based food will quickly lead to rot, mildew and fungus. However the same food is very well preserved in a cold, hilly region.

Cheese, especially aged cheese, tends to be very salty, sharp and concentrated. In Ayurveda, this has all the makings of a pitta food group. So it makes sense to eat this food, if it is eaten traditionally, in a cold, hilly region where the atmosphere is low in pitta dosha. The pitta in the food is welcome to stimulate digestion.

7.cheese

However in a hot, humid city like Chennai or Hyderabad, where the atmosphere is full of Pitta, the pitta dosha from the cheese would over stimulate pitta dosha. Which is probably why in practice, it does not form a part of traditional food.

If you live in the city of your childhood, it is probably best to stick to your traditional food practice. If you live in a foreign city, it is still better to stock to your traditional food unless the weather and climate is dramatically different from what you are used to. If you are living in an utterly foreign land, it makes sense to slowly acclimatise and add foods and eating practices local to where you live, while continuing to eat traditionally most of the time.

 

  1. An ideal food for you is something that is digested quickly by you and puts the least amount of stress on your digestive system. This can differ from person to person.

Ayurveda believes the more effort the body has to take in digesting your food, the more energy is diverted away from your organ systems. Also, depending upon your state of health, if your food is difficult to digest, there is a possibility that your body will not complete the job of digestion within the allotted time. The longer your food sits in your body without being processed, the more poisonous it becomes to your body.

8.putrefecation

 

Food that is undigested and sits around in your body becomes “Ama” or undigested waste + toxin. Ama prevents the healthy functioning of your organ systems and leads to faster aging and illness. Ama can accumulate across every organ system, but is linked primarily to an improperly functioning digestive system, brought on by eating improper food.

Now how your digestive system will respond to your food group is completely unique. Some of us can easily digest fried food, and can eat copious quantities of this without losing sleep or productivity. Others are extremely sensitive to certain food groups: a single Chinese meal can set us back by 2 – 3 days when we feel dull and sluggish.

9.digestive ability
These digestion patterns tend to change as we age, and by season. They also change when we are under a high amount of stress. So it is important to listen carefully to your body and develop a sense of what works for you. Limit food experimentation to a window where you can take the consequences, and always plan for “cheat” or “treat” days.

  1. Many foods we think are healthy and should be eaten in copious quantities are considered unhealthy in Ayurveda

Many foods that we now consider healthy and are eating a lot of are considered difficult to digest in Ayurveda or are considered unbalanced as they are very high in one particular dosha: these include raw vegetables (yes salads!), raw sprouts, millets, brown rice or cereals with a high amount of husk on them, fermented foods like idly and dosa, cheese, curd, milkshakes. These must be eaten with the proper preparation and caution and at times when the body is capable of digesting them.

Example 1: Fermented foods like idly and dosa are considered high in pitta as they are sour foods. Eating them every day for breakfast will mean your pitta will increase. It is important to balance them with something like a coconut based dish as coconut is both cooling (and high in kapha) and will balance the pitta in the idly / dosa. (Please note that this does not apply if you spike your coconut chutney with an impossibly high amount of green chillies). Eating a fermented food with another pitta heavy dish like a Sambhar high in tamarind or acidic tomato based chutney will not be balanced.

10.idly

 

In this there is obviously a gradation. Freshly fermented idlis are lower in pitta dosha than 3 day old batter. Batter made at home is obviously superior to something bought from outside, because we can guarantee that no other additives like baking soda have been added. Idlis eaten in cold winter season are better for the body compared to idlis eaten in summer.

 

This is because in winter, the heat of the Idlis through Pitta dosha is opposite to the cold produced by the winter – so the load on the body is less. But an idly eaten is summer is far more stimulating to Pitta dosha.

 

When you are suffering from an intense imbalance of Pitta dosha, eating an idly everyday for breakfast can throw you out of gear and is not advisable.  The key, as always is finding balance.

 

Example 2: Raw foods are considered “lekhaniya” (scraping quality), and depending upon what kind of raw foods we are describing, they may be “rooksha” (dry), rough, and “guru” or difficult to digest.

 

An example of a “guru” raw food is raw beetroot. An example of a “rooksha” and “guru” raw food are raw sprouts. From a western, raw food perspective, eating raw food is considered healthy as we get access to many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed when cooking. So eating the raw food as a juice, smoothie or as a salad is considered health boosting.

11.raw
Ayurveda however says that the process of digesting this raw food dampens or weakens Agni, hence this food is not properly digested (especially when consumed in quantities that are much higher than what we are used to). So despite eating healthy foods, we could be increasing the ama in our body as the act of digesting this healthy food has weakened Agni.

 

Seasonal fruits and fruit juices are not necessarily a part of this list. But even here, temperance is advised – you cannot suddenly force the body to eat, digest properly and assimilate a very large quantity of fruit juice of fruit salad. Depending upon your constitution this can aggravate Agni, leading to diarrhoea, or leave you feeling sluggish and listless.

12.fruits
Example 3: Millets are now extremely popular across South India as a healthy replacement to rice. Ayurveda however considers many Millets as dry and difficult to digest, which makes sense as they are traditionally dry land crop. Substituting rice completely with Millets will mean that your vata dosha will increase. This is welcome if you have a health condition like diabetes where kapha dosha is high – so here the vata of the Millets will balance excess Kapha. In fact, millet is prescribed in diabetes for just this reason instead of rice. But if you have no such health conditions and have decided to substitute rice completely with Millets, you will be drying out your body, especially if you do this very suddenly.

13.millets
The benefits of Millets must of course be experienced by you. But this should form a part of your experimentative 10% and must be prepared using the correct format and in doses where your body does not rebel or where other symptoms like aggravated vata dosha develop.

 

Here are some of the ways you can experiment with Millets:

Changing the format of the cereal changes how your body digests it – In millets, flour is easier to digest as you have broken down the cereal physically and are not depending upon your digestive system to do this job. So if you would like to introduce Millets into your diet, perhaps Millet flour is a better first step instead of the millet grains.

13.millet flour
The timing of eating is everything, especially for a difficult to digest food. Noon time, when the sun is at its peak, is considered the time when your digestive system is the strongest. So this is the time your body can handle the rigors of digesting a difficult to digest food. Like millets. OR Quinoa. (After preparing it properly).

14.lunch
This list which I have compiled is by no means complete or a prescription in itself. This merely represents a starting point to think about your diet and your health. As with everything, your body and your health are unique and what works for you is something you will have to evolve with time and experimentation.

Part 2 of this post will tackle more of what Ayurveda says about food. In the meantime, do remember, there are no shortcuts to good health and good looking skin and hair. It is built meal by meal, and choice by choice.


Krya’s range of skin care products for pitta prone, normal to oily skin can be found here. Our skin range for vata prone, normal to dry skin can be found here. Our anti acne skin care products can be found here.   Apart from this, we have a range of products for Sensitive Skin (skin that is eczema, dermatitis & psoriasis prone) and for Sun Tanned skin . We also have a large range of Abhyanga-Snana products. 

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Our products are inspired by Ayurveda. completely natural, toxin free and extremely effective. If you would like help choosing the right Krya product for your skin, please call us (075500-89090) or write to us.


 

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Herb Thursdays at Krya – the ayurvedic properties & benefits of Bael (Aegle marmelos)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Today we are going to speak about a herb that is considered an auspicious herb and is used in the worship of Lord Shiva. We are of course talking about Vilwa or Bael, Aegle marmalos, also called the Golden Apple or Bengal Quince. Vilwa is a tree native to India, Nepal and Myanmar. It is also present via naturalisation in countries like Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

1. vilwa

 

Like the south Indian soapberry which is called Sapindus trifoliatus due to its tri fruit arrangement, the Vilwa has trifoliate leaf arrangement with each leaf having 3 distinct leaflets. The Vilwa is a true Indian native, tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and can grow in a wide range of soil pHs and in unusually cold or unusually warm climates.

2. trifoliate leaflet structure

 

Religious, spiritual and cultural significance of Vilwa:

The Vilwa’s trifoliate leaf arrangement is of great significance in Hinduism. On one level the 3 leaflets signify the trinity of Brahmi, Vishnu and Maheshwara. On another level, the trifoliate leaflets also signify the 3 eyes of Shiva and point to an unusually awakened and spiritually charged plant.

3. trimurtis

The Skanda Purana says that the Vilwa tree grew from the sweat of Goddess Parvati, so she is set to reside in her different avatars in various parts of the tree – for example, the branches of Vilwa are said to be Dakshayani, the Vilwa fruit is Goddess Katyayani and Goddess Gauri, its flowers.

Apart from literally embodying the Shaktis, the Vilwa tree is also supposed to be auspicious to Goddess Lakshmi. So culturally, it is considered good form to do a circumambulation of a Vilwa tree for good luck before starting any new venture – especially if the Vilwa tree is the Sthala Vriksha of a temple.

 

The leaves of Vilwa are considered unusually spiritually charged in Hinduism and is said to reverberate with sattvic energy. Many forms of Shiva which are worshipped for health and well being use Vilwa leaf in their spiritual practice.

 

For example: the temple of Lord Marundeeswarara in Chennai is said to be the place where Lord Shiva initiated Acharya Agastya into Siddha medicine. Here the Prasad of Lord Shiva, his sacred Ash (vibuthi) is given to devotees in Vilwa patra (Vilwa leaf) which has been sanctified by placing it on the Shiva linga in the temple. This Vilwa leaf is said to be miraculous in curing disease and promoting well being.

4. marundeeswarar temple

 

The Vilwa tree is so sacred that the Atharva Veda says that it is a great sin to burn and use Vilwa wood for fuel or cooking. Even today some of the Santhal sub tribes worship the Vilwa tree as a totemic deity.

 

Vilwa’s Ayurvedic properties:

Vilwa is an extremely important herb in Ayurveda. Acharya Charaka describes Vilwa as a Shothahara (anti inflammatory), Arshoghna (useful in treatment of haemorrhoids). Vilwa balances both excess Kapha and excess Vata, removes Ama or undigested waste in the body

Vilwa leaf is used in gastritis, lack of appetite and to cure colds and sinusitis.  The leaf is an excellent external poultice for the eyes (when cleaned well0. The leaf is also used internally to cure pitta based complaints like ulcer, hypertension, jaundice, headache and other pitta aggravations.

5.detox

Vilwa fruit is very commonly used in Ayurveda. The unripe fruit is intense, stimulates digestion and balances vata and kapha. It is used in acute diarrhoea and also helps in ulcerative colitis.

The ripe fruit is very heavy to digest and may disturb the doshas if taken without supervision.

 

Vilwa in Krya:

At Krya, we often use certain herbs across all our products for their high sattvic effect and general auspiciousness. For example, Amla is usually added to every single Krya product because of its rasayana nature and also because it is a highly spiritually charged fruit. Similarly Vilwa is another such herb.

6. vilwa at krya

Vilwa goes into Krya’s classic and Anti acne skin formulations for its anti inflammatory, dosha balancing and astringent and cooling effect on skin. The addition of this very valuable herb helps our Classic and Anti Acne range work on imbalanced pitta, cool and soothe the skin, help in toxin elimination in the skin and also help shrink size of the acne on skin.Besides its very obvious health benefits, Vilwa, we believe, helps charge our products with high spiritual energy.

7.krya classic with vilwa

So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Aegle marmelos /  Vilwa / Bael which goes many of Krya’s skin care products meant for pitta prakriti skin. As we have said before, Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel Vilwa could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Vilwa in the right dose and right format for you.

We do herb related posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb next Thursday, do leave that in your comments as well.

 

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Stop hiding fine, thinning hair & Start Ayurveda today. Krya tells you how.

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Reading Time: 15 minutes

I received an interesting email today which had me changing the post du jour on the Krya blog. I see today’s post as a follow up to yesterday’s blog post on the nature of pitta dosha and its far reaching effects on skin, hair and health when it goes out of control.

We discussed how differentiated and unique Ayurveda’s approach to solving a common skin problem like acne, pimples and the associated scarring is. Western cosmetics and medicines do not get into the root of this acne and describe the symptoms themselves as the cause.

1-ayurveda

For example: Acne is caused by greasy / oily skin (which is in itself a symptom)

Instead Ayurveda has clear first principles and guidelines by which it is easy for us to understand the root of a problem. So acne is seen as Ayurveda primarily as a pitta imbalance related skin disorder. This is described by the very nature of pitta dosha which is hot, intense, oily, fast spreading and liquid in nature.

The current Western method of classifying hair:

There is a similar lack of clarity when classifying and diagnosing hair problems. For example, most of us are given 2 classifications of hair: hair that is oily and hair that is dry. In addition in advanced haircare markets, hair is further classified as per nature to be wavy or curly and in addition, African American hair is specially classified as being thick, prone to dryness and curly.

2-hair-classification

The standard route to caring for these classified hair types is as follows:

Current hair care regimen if you have oily hair:

If you have oily hair, you are asked to refrain from oiling, or suggested to use non-sticky hair oil. You are asked to shampoo your hair very frequently, sometimes every single day, and to apply water based gel / conditioner that does not “weigh” down your hair.

Most importantly you are told that as your hair is already oily in nature, you do not need to use any hair oil. And using this will give your dandruff, make your hair much oilier, and lead to hairfall. You are instead asked to switch entirely to frequent shampooing and use of synthetic conditioner to maintain your hair.

3-shampooing

If you are nodding as you are reading this, then Houston, we have a problem. And in this post I am going to explain just why your current hair regimen is not just unhealthy for your hair, but also for your body. In addition your current hair regimen will in the future lead to premature greying, hair thinning and if you are very unlucky, male pattern baldness as well (even if you are a woman).

The hair care regimen of doom for dry hair

Similarly if you have hair that is dry, frizzy, brittle or thinning, you are simply told you have dry hair (stating the obvious anyone?). If you haven’t been brainwashed and asked to despise the traditional Indian hair oiling habit as yet, you would be told that oiling is very bad for your hair, causes dandruff and blocks hair follicles and causes hairfall.

For those of you who haven’t bought this, you are asked to abandon good, old fashioned but works wonderfully Indian base oils like coconut and sesame. Instead you are asked to use olive oil, argan oil, morocco oil, and the list just goes on and on and on.

After having been dismissed as extremely old fashioned by your hair stylist, you are told that your dry, brittle hair will require intensive conditioning and spa treatments. You are put on a 9 – 10 session programme of a toxic, synthetic “serum” and an intensive conditioner, which is nothing more than a fancy version of your regular silicon filled hair conditioner. Alternatively it could get more hairy if you are advised to do a keratin treatment or a deep conditioning treatment. Read here for the horrible damage this can inflict on your hair.

4-deep-conditioning

After a few months / years of this, the oiling tapers off, and the synthetics increase. Somewhere in your 30s, you wake up one day to find that your hair is mousy, thin, doesn’t grow and needs a lot of very slick and expensive haircuts and use of a blow dryer to make it look like you have any volume at all.

Now your hair stylist tells you that this is because of pollution in the air, chemicals in your food, and most ironical of them all, because you have been using too many chemicals in your hair!

And if you are frantically nodding and looking aghast as you read this, yes we still have a problem. And you are going to want to sit down as you read the rest of this post.

Ayurveda understands prakriti (body constitution) and does not superficially classify skin or hair types

If you are used to seeing your hair and skin classified superficially and put on bottles of shampoo, serums or conditioners, then Ayurveda is going to put you in a quandary. Ayurveda classifies the person and not her hair, or skin.

By understanding the makeup of a person, Ayurveda is able to have far reaching predictions that span the person’s entire body. We are able to make deep, well thought out and intuitive connections that are predictive in nature enabling us to make corrective suggestions.

I will illustrate with this email we received today:

Diagnosing a person’s prakriti – an example from Krya

“I have naturally straight hair, and it is also fairly thin, without much volume. It is also a bit dry, brittle and also gets tangled very easily. Generally, my scalp (especially the top of my head) becomes oily within 2-3 days of a hair wash, but the bottom length of my hair stays quite dry. So I apply oil on my hair every two days or so. Because of the dryness, I thought Krya’s conditioning range would suit me. What do you think?”

If we followed the Western approach to hair, we would simply conclude that this person has dry hair and suggest the whole gamut of Moroccan oil, Argan oil, serum and a Spa treatment for her – which would really lead her nowhere and to a certain hell of hairfall a few years down the line.

Instead, Ayurveda teaches us to follow clues like a detective and understand the underlying patterns of a person’s prakriti to detect her dosha type and understand the root cause of a disorder.

The email gives the following clues for the trained Ayurvedic mind : a scalp which gets oily every 2 – 3 days, straight, flyaway hair, hair thinning and a lack of volume on the top of the head.

What are the reasons for hairfall, hair thinning and hair greying? Answers from Ayurveda

Charaka Samhita –Chikitsa has a shloka which says this:

“  Tejoniladhau saha keshoboomim dagdhvashu kuryath khalitya narasya

Kinchitu dagdhva palithani kuryadhyareprabatham cha shiro roohanam”

“When high pitta combines with vata, it burns the hair from the roots very rapidly, causing baldness. If the pitta is not that high, it turns hair grey or fully white.”

5-pitta-hair

The first stage of balding hair is hair thinning as the pitta rages like a forest fire supported by the mobility of vata dosha.

So the effects of high pitta dosha on hair can be seen as these 4 stages: Stage 1 – grey hair -> Stage 2 White hair -> Stage 3: Thinning hair and Stage 4: Balding hair

Of course depending upon your diet, regimen, and climate lived in and your prakriti, you may jump through a few stages.

Based on the email of this consumer with clues like scalp oiliness, hair thinning, loss of volume on top, it appears to be a sign of classically high pitta. To confirm this, I have asked a few follow up questions.

Look for these signs for high Pitta if you have hair fall, hair thinning or premature greying

If my diagnosis is right, the consumer will also display these other signs of a strong Pitta dosha:

Skin type: very prone to acne in her youth, quick to develop hot, red, inflammatory skin conditions like prickly heat or a non specific rash. Is generally warm to touch. Redness in skin should be very prominent as displayed by a visible blush when embarrassed. Skin displays an oily sheen even in cold weather especially in places like the forehead and nose.

Body odour and sweat: Moderate to high sweating with strong and slightly offensive odour especially in the summer

Hair quality: Straight, thin, flyaway, with a tendency to appear slightly brownish or reddish in the sun.

Uncomfortable around: extreme heat, finds summer extremely uncomfortable, becomes very red quickly or develops a sunburn / sun tan very quickly

6-pitta-prakriti

Personality type: can be very focussed, single minded, driven, type A, sticks to a schedule quite easily, is very determined and driven and passionate

The Ayurvedic difference: treating hairfall, hair thinning and premature greying

Through this example, you would have understood just how deep, unique and holistic the Ayurvedic approach is in understanding skin and hair conditions. When we accurately diagnose thinning hair, greying hair as a symptom of high Pitta and not dismiss it as simply dry hair, we are able to offer a richer set of recommendations and solutions.

The focus will shift from providing just a set of products to providing the golden 3 guidelines of Ayurveda – which is a diet, lifestyle and product change to help manage excess pitta.

In yesterday’s post, we described in detail some of the diet and lifestyle recommendations we would offer someone whose pitta dosha is high. The diet recommendations would include reducing pitta aggravating foods like chillies, tamarind, curds, sesame and jaggery. It would also include adding cooling and tridoshic supplements like ghee to the diet. In addition, the regimen changes recommended would have a weekly or bi-weekly abhyanga and pranayama or meditation added to the mix, along with very frequent hair oiling. You can read our post on acne and pitta imbalances for more details on these recommendations.

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In addition to the above, I wanted to touch upon a few additional points on managing pitta imbalances.

Abhyanga recommendations – to balance excess pitta

The Abhyanga is one of the cornerstones of external applications in the Ayurvedic Dinacharya and is used extensively in Ayurveda to release excess Pitta, ground excess Vata and stimulate people with excess Kapha.

Do an abhyanga early in the morning

In the case of excess Pitta, an abhyanga works by rapidly reducing excess pitta and releasing it in the form of sweat, and ushna (heat / vapour) through all the orifices of the body. So an important point to be noted is that an abhyanga should be performed as early as possible in the morning (preferably within the first 2 hours of sunrise) in order to give the body a chance to release excess Pitta through the day.

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Do not sleep in the afternoon on the day of Abhyanga

The second important point around an abhyanga is that the eyes are an important excretory point to release excess Pitta. If your pitta is high, and you are regularly doing an abhyanga, you will find that your eye is tearing up or there is heat being released from your eyes during the day as vapour. As the eyes are such an important pitta release point, they should be kept open as long as possible. This means that if you are used to an afternoon nap, you must forego it on the day of an abhyanga to allow the excess Pitta to leave your body. If you do not do so, pitta will remain trapped around your eyes causing further problems in your body and vision.

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Eat light, easy to digest food

The third important point on the Abhyanga is that if your pitta is high, the abhyanga has worked on it and reduced it so that the body can be restored back to balance. So on the day of the abhyanga, your digestive Agni will be in a delicate and slightly weak position as you have forcibly released excess Pitta from your body. So you must eat very light and easily digestible food on this day and consume cow ghee as well. The day of abhyanga is a day to be vegetarian, eat on time, eat freshly cooked food, and eat light and easy to digest food like Mung dal, rice, etc. The Abhyanga day should not be a day to eat out, eat a buffet or experiment with new cuisines.

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Similarly, on abhyanga day, it is advisable to protect yourself from the sun, to reduce or skip your regular exercise, and avoid activities that exhaust or physically tire you out.


Hair oiling – an important part of managing pitta problems like hair thinning, hair fall, premature greying and dryness

Ayurveda recommends hair oiling as a regular complementary hair practice for everyone irrespective of age. Even babies and small children are advised to regularly use hair oil. Ayurveda says that skin, scalp and hair should be coated with oil before washing /cleansing it to protect it from drying out and ensure that the body remains cool. In addition, the practice of regular oleation is said to dislodge deep seated dirt, debris, micro organisms, helps tone the body and retains a healthy, toned and youthful appearance.

11-frequent-hair-oiling

If hair oiling is supposed to be done by everyone, it is a much more important practice for those with pitta based hair disorders. So if you have hair thinning, dryness due to excess pitta, premature greying or hair fall related to excess pitta, you should be doing much more oiling and abhyanga to help reduce your excess pitta.

At Krya, we recommend hair oiling atleast 4 times a week to balance pitta disorders, of which atleast twice, the oil is left on without washing on the scalp. This is done to prolong the pitta balance process and continually reduce the excess heat from the body.

Some signs of pitta balancing you may notice with frequent hair oiling

You may begin to notice mildly yellow secretions from the eyes in the morning, especially in the corner of the eyes, after waking up. This is a sign that as the pitta is reducing from the scalp, and eyes, the dirt and sleshma (kapha) in the eyes are being normally discharged by the body.

As you continue oiling your hair, your eyes should start feeling less scratchy, tired or irritable, especially if they have been feeling so due to excess pitta.

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If your pitta is very high, in the beginning you may notice increased urinary output or sweating as the pitta is finding its way out through the excretory secretions. You may also find that the oil is fully absorbed by your scalp, feeling quite dry in the morning.

 

Overall signs of Pitta balance in the body

As you begin following the complete programme to balance pitta, you may notice some other positive signs in your health, which are an indication we are on the right track:

  1. Bowel movements are rapid, smooth, well formed and resemble a well shaped banana
  2. Hunger is strong, at the right times
  3. Food cravings especially for salty, sour foods is controlled
  4. You are able to maintain an even mood and temperament and control your anger and irritation much more easily
  5. You are able to switch off at the end of the day and relax
  6. Your sleep is deep and untroubled and less vivid (in states of excess pitta, dreams can be full of emotions like extreme anger, violence and excitement with sharp, vivid colours)

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As we have seen, a judicious combination of diet, regimen and the right products can help balance excess pitta. Let us see some famous herbs recommended by Ayurveda to balance excess pitta next.

Ayurvedic herbs for healthy hair growth and for Pitta disorders like hair thinning, premature greying

Amlaki – Phyllanthus emblica / Indian Gooseberry / Amla / Nellikkai

The Amla is referred to as “Dhatri” or the nurse in Ayurveda due to its efficacy in treating many disorders. The amla is a very powerful tridoshic fruit which can be used in different formulations in different ways to control vata, pitta and kapha. Thus Ayurveda opines that no fruit can be better than amla in granting health. According to Vedic literature, Amla is considered the best of fruits.

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Acharya Charaka has mentioned its use in many health disorders. The speciality of Amla is that unlike other souring agents like tamarind, kokum, mango, tomato, it does not aggravate or increase Pitta, but instead it balances Pitta when eaten internally.

A common diet prescribed by us at Krya is to liberally add Amla in place of other souring agents like kokum, tamarind etc in the food. This helps balances Pitta and also brings in the powerful, nutritional benefits of Amla into your cooking. We have tested Amla in many standardised South Indian preparations like Sambhar and Rasam and have found that the addition vastly reduces the pitta nature of these preparations and makes it much more balanced and healthy to eat. (If you would like to do this as well, do write to us for recipe suggestions.)

This is also why the Ayurvedic texts mention that curd should never be eaten daily as a staple because of its Pitta aggravating properties. Instead in the appropriate season, it can be eaten in small quantities along with Amla to balance its high pitta and kapha nature.

We use Amla in the Krya hair oil as a fresh juice which is boiled along with the base oils. It is used in its dried format in the Krya classic hair wash and hair mask. We use Amla for its anti oxidant, hair growth properties and for its beneficial effects in reducing pitta and promoting the growth of dark, naturally coloured black hair. Amla is also used in several of our skin care formulations for its rasayana properties as it helps keep the skin firm, youthful and toned.

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Bhringaraja / Kesharanjaka / Suryavallabha / Eclipta alba / Karisalai

Bhringaraja is a famous bitter ayurvedic herb that is used internally to control excess pitta and is a renowned Ayurvedic hair herb. As a pitta balancing herb, it is also considered a netrya herb that helps promote good vision.

Acharya Charaka indicates the use of Bhringaraja for Rakta pitta disorders and Acharya Vagbhatta says that consumption for a specified period of Bhringaraj is essential for the rasayana effect.

The liver is also considered an important seat of Pitta as per Ayurveda. Bhringaraj is used in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha as an excellent hepatoprotective drug and is given in cases of acute jaundice to calm the liver and promote appetite.

How Krya processes fresh organic herbs – an example

At Krya, we are extremely particular and proud of our herb selection, collection and processing methods. Our Bhringaraj for example comes to us from a certified organic farm where it is grown not as a mono culture but as part for healthy crop diversity.

We harvest the plant whole with the roots as is recommended in Ayurveda. We receive it fresh within 2 hours of harvesting and then rinse the entire plant in clean water to remove any dirt or foreign particles. The Bhringaraj is then dried on gentle shade dried heat in our specially constructed solar dryer for 3 days until it loses its moisture but continues to retain its dark green colour. This Bhringaraj goes into our kwathas (cold infusions), kashayas (decoctions) and as churanas (powders) into our hair care products.

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For our hair oils, we extract the fresh Swarasa (natural rasa or juice) from the freshly harvested plant and add into to our hair oil mixture to be gently boiled and manually stirred for over 8 hours. This process called the Tila paka process helps transfer the nutritive properties of the Bhringaraj into our base oils.

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The Krya Classic hair nourishing system – an important set of products to help with Pitta hair disorders

These 2 herbs we described above are a sample of the 17 different lentils, grains and pure herbs we add into the Krya classic hairwash. We also add 20 different nutritive, pitta reducing growth enhancing herbs into the Krya Classic hair mask. The Krya Classic Hair oil uses 14 different fresh organic herbs, vegetables, fruits, and cold pressed organic oils we use in the Krya Classic hair oil.

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We recommend using all 3 Krya Classic hair products (oil, wash and mask) as a system, for a better and more transformative change in hair disorders of excess Pitta.

In addition, to reduce Pitta through the body, we also recommend using the Krya Abhyanga system which comprises of our abhyanga skin oil and a specially formulated ubtan (we have different ubtans for men and women) to moisturise skin, clean it well, trap and remove excess pitta, dislodge deep seated skin debris like dead cells and micro organisms and leave you in a state of dosha balance.

You can explore these products here:

  1. Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha (unisex)
  2. Krya women’s Ubtan with Lotus Leaf and Lodhra
  3. Krya Men’s Ubtan 


Krya’s other daily use skin care products for Pitta prone prakritis

In addition, if your skin is displaying classic signs of Pitta aggravation, you could also explore Krya’s skin products for pitta prone prakritis here:

  1. Krya Classic Skin massage oil with Carrot and Winter cherry – can be used every day on your face and body pre bath. Very nourishing, formulated for pitta prone skin and absorbs very quickly ensuring you do not need a post bath moisturiser. Use along with the below 2 skin care products
  2. Krya Classic face wash with Green Tea and Chamomile – one of our best selling face wash products. Cleanses without stripping skin of oil and over time helps reduce old scars and evens out the complexion. Recommended if you have skin that is oil and breakout prone, but does not develop extremely severe or wide spread acne (can handle 1 – 2 pimples at a time). If you have severe acne, you can try the Krya anti acne face wash instead.

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  1. Krya Classic Face Mask with Rose petals and Guava – complements our Classic face wash for your once a week pick me up routine
  2. Krya Classic Bodywash with Chamomile and Cassia flower – our very gentle, pitta balancing, non irritating alternative to synthetic soaps as a daily bathing alternative. Does not dry out skin even in harsh winter, and cleanses thoroughly without stripping skin of sebum.

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Are you searching for hair styles for thin or fine hair? Try balancing your doshas instead

If there is a well thought out answer to persistent hair problems like poor hair growth, hair thinning, premature greying and other Pitta disorders, then that answer can only be found in Ayurveda. And through this post you would have been able to understand just how rational, deep and non-superficial Ayurveda’s approach is to solving your health, hair and skin issues.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and also hope you were able to appreciate the difference in approach Krya followed when treating hair and skin problems. If you too are alarmed at your fine and thing hair, rapidly greying hair or hair fall, and would like to consult us, do call us on 075500-89090 or write to us.

Remember, where there is health, there is beauty.

 

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Is your natural product really natural? – an ayurvedic doctor’s perspective

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is a guest post written by Dr.Anupama Santosh of Shreshtha Ayurvedic Centre, Bangalore, an Ayurveda Centre that offers authentic, high quality and effective, personalised Ayurvedic therapies to meet people’s health needs . Dr.Anupama Santosh and Dr.Santosh, regularly prescribe Krya’s hair and skin products to their patients.

At the end of most consultations involving complaints related to hair& skin, I am often posed with this question:

“Doctor, what do you suggest to wash my hair with? Not that I use any brand, I am very careful and choose only herbal shampoos. Hope that’s fine, Doctor!”

In my practice, spanning over 15 years, I have tried to answer this query in various ways. I have often told my patients, what the label “herbal/ayurvedic product” can mean and to what extent, it can be herbal and (un)safe. A labeled herbal product can get away with containing a miniscule amount of herbs in it bringing a great deal of advantage to a pharma company which can just add a herb for namesake and marketing it.

I also mention my 7 years of experience as a consultant in the pharmaceutical companies where I am also involved in product development. I use this as a background to explain the concept of fillers, preservatives, artificial coloring agents and other additives to products. Thankfully, the understanding and acceptance of this kind of information is much more now than ever before.

So, after the shock and incredulity passes, their next question is this: “OK, doctor! Please give us some better and safe options and make them available.”

And this is exactly where I became less chatty. Not with an intention to hold back, but because of the lack of trustworthy products. Recommending a product to a patient, is a huge responsibility which I am not willing to take unless I am really, really sure.

Over the years, I have suggested herbs which patients can mix and use, which is practical only for a handful people who have the time and willingness to do it.

Krya blog post aug 8th - indian haircare herbs pic

At our clinic, we do make a lot of our own medicines and we did try and make a herbal hair wash and a hair mask which worked really well. But, we did not have the bandwidth and time to pursue these products for long. And another major requirement is also to have various options of hair washes and hair masks to suit specific needs like prakriti/dosha/roga/age. After all, Ayurveda is rogi-specific not roga-specific (specific to the patient and not specific to the disease)

And in this long pursuit for safe and effective hair care products for my patients, I came across Krya products. I was ecstatic to find their thoughts reflected mine. I immediately ordered a few products and started prescribing them. Initially, I had to spend some time educating patients (mostly the younger lot) about methods of washing hair with a powder as opposed to washing with a frothy shampoo. After a couple of months, the feedback has been really good.  Some of them have become more aware of the other unsafe products they have been using and have started picking up the face wash range as well.

My husband Dr.Santosh, specializes in treatment of Skin problems and is relieved to have found Krya products which he confidently prescribes to his patients with eczema and scalp psoriasis.

We are prescribing Krya products regularly for about 6 months now and are extremely glad to associate with their team. Thank you, Krya, for helping us to further our endeavor towards safe and chemical free healthy living.

About Dr.Anupama Santosh:

Dr Anupama SantoshDr.Anupama is an Ayurvedic consultant at Shreshtha Ayurvedic Center based in Bangalore. She believes that the Ayurvedic way of living is more relevant today than ever before. Her success in treating infertility cases has earned her immense love and gratitude from her patients. She is also a medical consultant for some Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical companies and advises them on product formulation and development of proprietary Ayurvedic medicines.

About Shreshtha Ayrvedic Centre, Bangalore

Shreshtha Ayurvedic Center, founded in 1997, is run by leading Ayurvedic consultants Dr.Santosh and Dr.Anupama. Though the center is located in Koramangala, Bangalore, patients from various parts of the country visit, owing to the genuine Ayurvedic treatment made available here. Apart from the consultation services, the center is equipped with a good pharmacy stocking Kottakkal medicines and organic lifestyle products. A Panchakarma center is also maintained at the center, which offers none of the spa kind of massages ( which is often confused for Panchakarma), but authentic, classical chikitsa with curative effect. To reach out to the growing demand of patients outside Bangalore, Shreshtha Ayurvedic Center started their Online consultation portal and also shipping facilty for prescribed medicines, which has had an overwhelming response.

You can explore more about Shreshtha on their website and facebook page

Team Krya would like to thank Dr.Anupama Santosh and Dr.Santosh for their generous support of our work. We are privileged that such reputed Ayurvedic Vaidyas have found Krya’s products useful for their patients.


 

To inspire a change to toxin-free natural products and to give your hair a much better shot at real health, we are celebrating the Krya Hair Olympics Challenge this August.

Looking for thicker, healthier, stronger hair this August? Throw away your synthetic hair care products and replace them with Krya’s nourishing hair care products instead.

Every Krya hair care product for adults carries a special discount only in August 2016

  • 10% off if you buy a single piece of any Krya hair care product for adults
  • 20% off if you buy 2 or more pieces of any Krya hair care product for adults or a Krya hair care system for adults

Explore Krya’s huge range of good-for-you hair care products here at very special prices.

 

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Krya Herb Wednesday – the Magic Mulberry

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

We are often asked about the nutrient value of the many herbs we put into our formulations. Our herb display at the Krya Lab fascinates visitors to the Krya facility, and most of them linger on there to touch, smell and experience the herbs. Many of us have been born and brought up in cities where the opportunities to experience and understand the healing power of nature are fewer.

The Krya herb Wednesday series on the Krya blog was born to revitalize our collective interest around herbs and give us a chance to talk about and hopefully demonstrate how diverse, long reaching and powerful herbs are in their action.

We start the Krya Herb Wednesday series with the Mulberry (Morus alba, Morus indica, Morus nigra and other sub species). Krya’s Classic face mask uses the Mulberry Leaf and the Mulberry Fruit.

The Wealth of India, that venerable comprehensive compendium of India’s flora and fauna, lists the Mulberry as a species that is now cultivated across India. An exact origin point is hard to pinpoint . The Mulberry is said to be indigenous across Persia, China, Korea and certain parts of India.

The Mulberry is now cultivated across India for its leaf which forms the primary food for silkworms. The fruits find their way into indigenous cuisine and are delicious and full of nutrient value. The wood of the Mulberry tree is used for the manufacture of hockey sticks, tennis and badminton rackets, cricket bats and stumps.  Mulberry bark is also used to make a special kind of paper which has a silk like texture.

The Mulberry in popular culture:

In the plot that clearly inspired William Shakespeare to pen his tale of ill fated lovers, Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses speaks about the star crossed lovers Thisbe & Pyramus. When Pyramus arrives pre-arranged to meet Thisbe under a mulberry tree, he sees Thisbe’s torn scarf with drops of blood on it and assumes in every star crossed lover’s fashion that she is dead, and proceeds to stab himself with his sword. Pyramus’ blood is said to have stained the fruits of the Mulberry a reddish black.  Naturally Thisbe does the same when she sees Pyramus’ body. Moved by the lovers’ torments, the Gods themselves change the colour of the Mulberry to represent the blood spilled by Thisbe and Pyramus for their love.

The Mulberry Tree” is a painting painted by Vincent Van Gogh a year before his death. This painting was done during his year’s stay at the Saint Paul asylum at Saint-Remy. While Van Gogh painted any aspects of his life during his stay at the asylum like the doctors, the hallways, the flowers around the asylum, the wheat fields, etc, he described the painting of the Mulberry tree as his favorite.

In the 1961 Kurosawa film, “Yojimbo” there is a mulberry themed scene that defines the Toshiro Mifune character. When asked his name, Mifune looks at the mulberry fields outside the window  and takes the name “Kuwabatake  Sanjuro” ( thirty year old mulberry field). His no –nameness defines him. This proved so popular  that Kurosawa made a sequel called “Sanjuro” the next year.

Mulberries in popular culture - krya blog 1

 

Nutritive value of Mulberry Leaf:

The Mulberry leaf is extremely high in protein content, especially tender leaves. As the leaf ages, its protein content decreases and is carbohydrate content increases. This could explain why silkworms generally pick and eat tender mulberry leaves. Studies show a direct correlation between the strength of the silk produced and the composition of the leaves that are eaten / fed to the silkworm.

Because of the high protein content of mulberry leaf, research indicates that it could make a good nutritive supplement to diets that are protein deficient.

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The leaves are also a good source of ascorbic acid – 100 gm of dried leaf contains upto 200 mg of ascorbic acid. The leaves also contain carotene, Thiamine, folic acid, folinic acid and Vitamin D. The leaves have also been studied to contain Glutathione, an important anti-oxidant that helps prevent free radical and heavy metal damage to the cellular structure.

Mulberry leaves are also a rich source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and silica.

We use the Mulberry leaf in the Krya Classic face mask for its anti oxidant and free radical damage limiting action. Through its regulation of melanin synthesis, the Mulberry leaf could with frequent use, help clear up small blemishes and dark spots on skin.

Nutritive value of Mulberry fruit:

Mulberry fruits are eaten fresh or made into jams, tarts and juices.  Fresh mulberries contain 88% water and are said to be a low calorie snack as a standard cup (140 gm). Of course as they are usually consumed dried, this makes them less low calorie. At 12% protein content in their dried form, they are considered a relatively high protein fruit. Mulberry fruits are also an excellent source of Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin K1, Potassium and Vitamin E.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E are vitamins that are important for skin health. Vitamin C is important for general skin health and Vitamin E helps in limiting oxidative damage.

The Mulberry in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) :

Reading up on TCM is always of interest to me. It is an equally ancient system of Medicine and is said to be atleast 2500 years old. TCM has many parts to it that are very similar to Ayurveda including herbal medicine, massage, exercise and emphasis on right eating.

Acne is considered an imbalance of heat in TCM, similar to Ayurveda which considers it a pitta imbalance disease. Similarly, blemishes and dark spots are also considered an imbalance in heat.  TCM prescribes Mulberry leaf in both these conditions to cool and balance skin.

So there you have it – that’s a brief window into the amazing health and nutritive properties of the Mulberry fruit and Leaf. The Mulberry leaf and fruit are just 2 of the many hundreds of whole herbs we use to make our nutrient dense skin, hair and home care goodies.  Our whole herb goodies are completely plant based, use whole herbs that are carefully processed and use absolutely NO synthetics in their making – the result are toxin free, kind on the planet, vegan and cruelty free skin , hair and home care solutions that actually work.

A happy Wednesday and a fantastic week ahead to you from all of us at Team Krya.

 

Skin not feeling its best? Try the Krya Classic Skin range:

The Krya Classic face wash was one of our earliest launched face care products. We beta tested the product in Jan 2014, and now hundreds of consumers have used and loved the product across different climatic conditions all over India. The Classic skin care range has been designed for normal – oily skin . Consumers love it for how soft, smooth and non-taut their skin feels. Many consumers report seeing a lightening in small blemishes and scars and improvement in skin quality with frequent use. This is one of my favorite skin care products at Krya as well also because of the amazing fragrance it has (which comes with the addition of high quality, Kumaon grown organic Chamomile).

Krya classic face wash

Here are some testimonials:
“Hi Team Krya, am so impressed with your classic face wash that I have officially become ur brand ambassador. My skin has become softer and younger . I am ordering hair care products for me and my daughter rite away. Thanks ” – AK, Chennai

“Krya classic facewash is my staple face wash. I absolutely LOVE IT. “- Surabhi S, New Delhi

“Good morning!!! It’s been almost 2 weeks I’ve been using krya classic face wash..its very very good:) I have lot of black heads on my nose n believe me..it’s come down drastically..I am using it like a pack once in 2 days n face wash twice a day:) the fragrance takes me somewhere else:) thank u.” Anu SH, Bangalore

The Krya Classic face mask  (newly launched) contains both Mulberry Leaf and fruit and dried guava fruit. We have designed this mask as an addition to those who use our Classic face wash with Green tea & Chamomile.

Krya classic face mask

This mask (and wash) is meant for normal – oily skin. It helps clarify skin, balance oil slightly, and give facial skin a nutrient boost.

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