Autumn brings dramatic shifts in nature. But is it only nature that changes?
The micro-macrocosm correspondence theory of Ayurveda teaches us that every single human body is a form corresponding to the whole cosmos. When the atmosphere around us changes, our body follows suit.
Like the trees shedding leaves and changing colours and humidity disappearing from the atmosphere, something similar is going on inside the human body. Your client may not recognize the shifts in Doshic balance (especially if they are unfamiliar with Ayurveda) until they come down with a cold, the flu, or some other health issue.
Ayurveda gives its users an opportunity to avoid sickness during seasonal changes. It describes what health problems may occur if the body is not able to maintain homeostasis.
As an Ayurvedic practitioner, you have to be prepared to help heal these probable health issues. You should start with stocking your own little Ayurvedic pharmacy with herbs and products that your clients will likely need with Vata season approaching or already arrived!
Ayurveda describes 6 seasons: Shishir, Vasant, Grishma, Varsha, Sharad and Hemant. These seasons are based on the weather patterns of the Indian continent, but are still useful for western practitioners.
The western world divides yearly atmospheric changes into 4 seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. So to correlate these, you have to consider the sun, moon and wind currents that are responsible for atmospheric changes.
The United States is the world`s 3rd largest country by total area. Considering the geographical and climate diversities, autumn in North America can correlate with two possibilities in the Ayurvedic texts: Sharad ritu or Varsha ritu.
In areas where it`s sunny and dry like Arizona, autumn conditions correlate to Sharad ritu. If it`s rainy, cold and windy like New York, autumn is comparable to Varsha ritu. As a practitioner, you should assess your area and the symptoms your client is experiencing, how those relate to the Doshas, and then come to a plan of healing.
In Sharad ritu, Pitta Dosha is aggravated because of hot, sunny weather coming just after cooler, rainy days. In Varsha ritu awindy and cold climate aggravates Vata Dosha. In autumn, you may come across clients with aggravated Vata or Pitta or both simultanouesly.
Here are the 5 most helpful herbs that you should have in order to manage Doshas in autumn! All five herbs are rasayanas. They have rejuvenating and nourishing properties which is very helpful for the transition from hot summer to cold winter!
As a rasayana, ashwagandha has a special ability to soothe physiological stress. It has bitter and astringent tastes which balances both Kapha and Pitta. Ashwagandha is ushna (hot), veerya (potent) and vipaka (post-digestion taste). It is also madhura (sweet) which balances Vata. Ashwagandha, because of its bitter and astringent taste and sweet post-digestion effect does not aggravate Pitta. Ashwagandha Arishtam and Rasnadi Churnam helps to heal arthritis and other muscle tissue related Vata disorders that have a tendency to become severe in cold conditions. Balaswagandhadi Oil improves muscle strength and reduces muscle pain, body aches and headaches.
Pippali rasayana is praised by Aacharya Charak. Charaka Samhita has described different ways of using Pippali. Taking Pippali with milk or Pippali Ghritam are two of the best ways to use it in autumn. It's madhura vipaka (post digestion taste and effect), ushna veerya (potency) and snigdha (oiliness) enables it to balance Vata Dosha. But you have to exercise caution when prescribing to your clients who may have excess Pitta - its pungent taste might aggravate Pitta. With your Pitta clients it is better to take Pippali Ghritam. Pippalyasavam increases the digestive fire and promotes healing of liver disorders. In autumn, respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis become more prevalent and worsen for those who already have it. Pippalyasavam has a cleansing effect on the respiratory system and increases all thirteen fires. Panchakola Churnam purifies all the bodily systems and removes aamdosha (undigested food toxins circulating).
In places where autumn is hot and dry like Sharad ritu, Shatavari should be one of your first choices. It's sweet and bitter and also has a sweet vipaka (post digestive taste). Shatavari is sheeta (cold) in veerya (potency) so Shatavari soothes aggravated Pitta. It has properties like snigdha (oiliness), deepana (digestive strengthener) and nourishing for rasa dhatu and overall body tissues. This balances Vata Dosha as excess Vata is almost always present alongside excess Pitta. Peptic ulcers, gastric ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems flare up due to Pitta prakopa. Shatavari can be used as a powder or liquid decoction. Shatavari Gulam can be used for the healing of gastrointestinal tract problems as well as hormonal imbalances leading to infertility in females. The rasa dhatu nourishing effect of Shatavari helps to heal skin conditions as well. Mahanarayana Oil contains Shatavari as well which improves skin conditions like dryness and scaling.
Another name attributed to Guduchi is Amruta (elixir or divine nectar). It has a very high value in the practice of Ayurveda. It has the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes and sweet vipaka (post digestive taste/effect). It has the ushna (hot) quality and veerya (potency). It is the best herb to prescribe if you are dealing with aggravated Tridosha or a disease where all three Doshas are involved. Take guduchi with ghee to balance Vata, with organic cane sugar to balance Pitta and with honey to balance Kapha. It is used to promote the healing of gastrointestinal diseases in combination with shatavari and yashtimadhu. It has a great pacifying effect on all three Doshas. Amrita Arishtam is particularly powerful in healing the flu because of the anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory effects of guduchi. Nimbamritadi Panchatiktam Tablets provide healing for skin conditions like eczema. Guduchi is also a major ingredient in Kaisora Guggulu which is used in the treatment of gout because of its blood purifying properties.
Immunity is naturally slightly weakened in autumn. Autumn is the season for cold and flu, allergic asthma, pink eye and peptic or gastric ulcers. Yashtimadhu is an answer to all! It has the sweet taste (a relief for those who don't like the bitter taste) and sweet vipaka (post digestive taste/effect). It has sheeta (cold) and snigdha (oiliness) so it reduces both Vata and Pitta. It increases Kapha but in a beneficial way - it boosts the immune system. It has a soothing effect on all five senses so it helps to heal sore throats, colds, pink eye and dry skin. Yashtimadhu is one of the ingredients in Kayyanyadi Coconut Oil. It is also a major ingredient in Brahmi Oil which is well known for relieving migraines and dementia.
Amalaki is well known as an ingredient in Chyavanaprasam and Triphala but little is said about its use as a single herb. Amla literally means sour. Amalaki has the sour and astringent tastes as well as sweet vipaka. It is sheeta (cold) veerya (potent). Amalaki mostly balances Pitta and Kapha. Because of its sour taste it has the deepen property (increases digestive fire), anuloman and stransan (laxative) properties so it keeps Vata under control. It strengthens immunity and has anti-aging properties, purifies the blood and detoxifies the liver. It promotes regular bowel movements.
I hope this list helps you to be more prepared for your clients this fall! May the new season bring you the changes you wished for.
Vaidya Prajakta Apte
The purpose of this article is to provide information about Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health problems please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with our affiliated practitioners. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.
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Herbal steam inhalation is a great way to help open congested sinuses and bronchial airways caused by a cold, flu, or allergy. Herbal steams are also used before Nasya therapies to help open the nasal airway.
The steam from the boiling water is often sufficient to help congestion; however, by adding herbs that help respiratory disorders, the effect is far more notable.