Ayurveda for this cold season

Though the earth is closest to the Sun during this time, it is the coldest month as the northern hemisphere is facing away from the Sun. To battle this cold season and its effects on the body,ayurveda provides some remedies.

In general, due to the change in season, the body's immunity becomes low. This causes some common illnesses and aggravates acute and chronic painful ailments.

According to ayurveda, the body comprises three doshas. The central concept of ayurvedic medicine is that good health exists when there is a balance between three fundamental bodily humors or doshas called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. In winters, Kapha dosha increases due to the chilly weather and leads to cough, cold, and may aggravate sinus or other cold-related problems. Attributes or qualities that define the Kapha constitution are cold, moist, sticky, oily, smooth and sweet. ayurvedic mantra professes that 'liking increases liking,' and to end that, it would be better to refrain from consuming foods that reflect these attributes, this wintry season, so as to avoid an imbalance of the Kapha dosha (constitution) in our body. Those who are of a predominant Kapha constitution need to be more careful during cold weather, as an imbalance in the doshas or constitutions affects both the body and the mind.

In ayurveda, there is an answer to almost all the winter illnesses. According to Dr P Aravind, BAMS, DNYS, a senior medical officer, even chronic diseases like asthma and bronchitis can be cured through ayurveda. "In chronic diseases, there will be a structural weakness, which in turn affects the functions of that organ (lungs, in the case of asthma) and functional weakness will be more prominent. So addressing the functional weakness is more important," he says. Dr Aravind further explains that asthma, in ayurveda, occurs when the vayu path is blocked either by vitiated pitta or vitiated kapha. Hence, during acute cases or during an asthmatic attack, the attack must be controlled immediately by prescribing drugs which have 'scrubbing' property. "Once the attack is controlled and patients come to normal state, we focus on improving the structural weakness. Here, attention is given to decrease vata dosha (vata is the nervous system and is responsible for all movements), thereby strengthening the respiratory tract," he adds.

Many believe that ayurveda takes a longer time to give relief and that is why it's not the first option for joint pains as a person needs instant relief. What is less known is that it can also provide instant pain relief through ayurvedic shoolagnam,(pain relievers) vedanasthapanam (pain moderators) for joint pains. Dr Aravind says, "These internal medicines come in the form of kashayams, arishtams and lehiyams. In addition, external panchkarma treatments such as abhyangam, elakizhi, kateevasti, etc. are carried out. Further, diet is also addressed by the patient avoiding vata aggravating flatulent food items like tubers, peanuts, etc."

There is also an answer to obesity in ayurveda. It is treated as a distinct problem or ailment. Stress, PCOD, etc. are treated for the root cause. After assessing the dominant doshas, diet modification, internal medicines and external panchakarma treatments, depending upon the individual body condition, are prescribed and administered.

Author: Isha Sharma
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