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Why You Should Add Holy Basil To Your Diet

Posted by on 12:19 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The list of benefits found in ‘holy basil’ seem to be endless according to this article. This herb not only bring anti-aging, detoxifying and immunizing properties, but it is also used in Ayurveda! The article below dives into all of the benefits you feel if you consume holy basil. Read more to understand the benefits! (Natural News) Holy basil, also known as tulsi, Ocimum sanctum or Ocimum tenuiflorum, is a sacred plant to many Hindus, and is used in a wide variety of religious contexts. It is also an important herb in Ayurveda, or traditional Indian medicine. Although the plant has been used in Ayurveda for centuries, Western herbalists and scientists are only just beginning to understand the powerful benefits of this anti-aging, detoxifying herb. In Ayurveda, holy basil is used to support immunity, aid detoxification, modulate stress and slow aging. In Western herbalism, the plant is known as an “adaptogen,” or a plant that increases the body’s resistance to a wide variety of environmental stressors, rather than having only a few specific effects (such as lowering blood pressure, for example). Adaptogens are so named because they adapt their function to the needs of the body, thus helping maintain balance. (Learn more about natural medicine for preventing disease at Prevention.news) Soothing stress, slowing aging According to Ayurveda, holy basil can be used to boost mood, stamina and endurance by filling the body with a calming energy. It can help speed up slowed digestion or free up suppressed emotions. Studies suggest that some of holy basil’s benefits come from its ability to help the body regulate its levels of cortisol, which is sometimes called the “stress hormone.” Released during times of stress, cortisol activates many components of the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the “fight or flight” response. While this response is important in times of crisis, it is hard on the body over time, and cortisol has been linked to many of the negative health effects of chronic stress. Holy basil’s effects on cortisol may partially explain its traditional use in Ayurveda to soothe emotional and digestive upset. Cortisol can also suppress the immune system, a condition holy basil is also used to treat. The herb’s much-lauded anti-aging effects may come in part from its high antioxidant activity. Researchers believe that many of the effects of aging come from cell and DNA damage caused by chemicals known as free radicals; antioxidants help remove free radicals from the body. Science beginning to explore effects Holy basil’s antioxidant effects likely make it a powerful cancer preventive, as cancer is one of the many health conditions linked to free radical damage. A 2007 study from the Journal of Medicinal Food further suggests that holy basil may also exhibit direct anticancer activity. In that study, cancer was induced in rats, who were then treated with varying doses of holy basil leaf extract. At concentrations of 300 mg per kg of body weight, the extract reduced cancer cell formation, oxidative damage to proteins and fats, and levels of enzymes responsible for producing further toxic effects in the body. Another study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2008, found that holy basil might help reduce the effects of nerve degeneration (neuropathy), a common side effect of injury and many diseases, such as diabetes....

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Ayurveda in the New Year.

Posted by on 2:34 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Is your resolution in the new year going to be to practice ayurveda more? If so, you can use this article as your starting guide! It explains and teaches a different meditation for each of the three doshas. Meditation itself has many benefits so if you tie that into ayurveda you will be even better off! Learn about the meditations in the article below. The key to true mind-body balance? Understanding your body’s natural needs—how to eat, cook, cleanse, and heal—through each season. In our upcoming online course Ayurveda 101, Larissa Hall Carlson, former dean of Kripalu’s School of Ayurveda, and John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa.com and best-selling author, demystify yoga’s elemental sister science. Sign up now! The new year is the perfect time for a fresh start—and meditation can help, no matter what your dosha is, says Larissa Hall Carlson, former dean of Kripalu’s School of Ayurveda and co-leader of Yoga Journal’s new course, Ayurveda 101. “Meditation is important for all the doshas, all year long, but it’s especially important this time of year as we re-focus goals and set intentions,” she says. While the following three meditations can be done by anyone at any time of year, each one is intended to balance the qualities of each dosha, whether you’re looking to balance your personal constitution or the qualities of the current season. Here, Carlson shares her favorite New Year’s meditation for each dosha. Vata: Japa Meditation Establishing rhythm is one of the most effective ways to stabilize an overactive or scattered mind. When the light, subtle, and mobile qualities of vata dosha increase excessively during the cold and windy winter season, excess vata often manifests as mental restlessness, stress, fear, or anxiety. Luckily, the rhythmic repetition of mantra during japa meditation slows down a racing mind and enhances focus. I like using mala beads to track the mantra repetitions, as mala beads have some weight, and that tangible anchor is good for grounding excess vata and staying on point. Don’t have mala beads? Not to worry–just repeat the mantra for several minutes, until you feel quiet and relaxed. How to Practice Japa Meditation First, choose a mantra that resonates with you. The following mantra to settle the mind is especially popular for yogis in the new year: Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirodhah (Yoga ceases the fluctuations of the mind). Grab your favorite set of mala beads and sit down comfortably. Cover up with a warm blanket. Take the mala into the right hand, draping it over the middle, ring, and pinky fingers (relax the pointer finger—it doesn’t touch the mala). Use the thumb to move the mala beads, one bead at a time. Close your eyes. Repeat the mantra once for each bead, using a soothing rhythm. Do this 108 times, or until the mind gets focused and steady. Kapha: Walking Meditation Ensuring good movement and circulation is important for preventing the heavy, thick, wet qualities of kapha dosha from accumulating during the rainy spring kapha season (or if you’ve been eating too many holiday treats this winter!) and manifesting as mental sluggishness, lethargy, foggy thinking, and lack of motivation. You can reduce excess kapha by using meditation techniques that have sharpness, lightness, and mobility. One of my favorite meditations for kapha is walking mediation, as it keeps the body moving while enhancing focus and...

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If You Get a Sinus Infection…

Posted by on 2:34 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sinus infections are not fun. You can take brand after brand of medicine and only feel the slightest bit of relief. Luckily there are natural alternatives to medicine that can help you feel better. You can read the suggestions in the article below and try them yourself if you get sick. We hope you feel better sooner rather than later! (NaturalNews) Being someone who used to suffer from sinus infections, I can attest to the disruption they cause – the breathing difficulties, the pressure, pain, and congestion. It’s awful, but nothing started to change for me until I mentally got serious about reducing the inflammation and fungus in my body and assisting the function of my mucous membranes and mucus flow. Hydration is essential When the sinus cavities are inefficient at removing pathogens, mold, chemicals, dander, pollen, or dust, then congestion, pressure, and infection can manifest. Sinus cavities become inefficient for many reasons. One of the reasons they become inefficient is because the body is not properly hydrated. Adequate intake of water can help thin the mucus in the sinuses, helping eliminate irritants that get trapped in the cavities and inflame the sinuses. If the sinuses are properly draining, the irritant drains into the throat and is ultimately neutralized in stomach acid. Forcing pathogens beyond mucous membranes retrains the immune system and suppresses the membranes’ ability to respond to future threats Ineffective mucous membranes could also be caused by vaccines and the consistent retraining of how the immune system responds to pathogens. When pathogens are introduced directly into the muscle tissue and into the blood, the mucous membranes and exocrine system glands are bypassed. When multiple vaccines are administered throughout a person’s young life, the mucous membranes go unused to a certain degree. The immune system is retrained in the process. By method, vaccines suppress our body’s natural ability to filter out and eliminate pathogens in real time. This suppression of a vital defense mechanism is an underlying cause to sinus infections and allergies later in life. Systemic inflammation of the tissues renders mucous membranes ineffective Another reason the sinuses become inefficient is due to systemic inflammation of the tissues and the mucous membranes. The mucous membranes are present in cavities throughout the body and they surround internal organs. The mucous membranes are important filters in the nose because they stop pathogens and dirt from entering the body. They also regulate hydration in the tissues and produce mucus when needed. This natural protective mechanism of the human body must be encouraged and strengthened. To reduce inflammation and to speed up the recovery of mucous membranes, one must look to the plant based medicines that do just that. Plant-based substances that restore the function of sinuses and mucous membranes Anti-inflammatory substances that also promote tissue repair can be found in: turmeric root, astaxanthin, ginger root, boswellia, pineapple, and devil’s claw. Plant-based medicines that help make the mucous membranes more effective include: marshmallow root, hyssop, and mullein. These can be combined in a tea. Manual stimulation and massage therapy of the forehead is often necessary to relieve pressure. The massage technique should start around the temples, move across the forehead, and work its way down in-between the eyes. Aromatherapy is important too. Essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, oregano, rosemary,...

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Stopping Sickness with Ayurveda

Posted by on 8:23 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Cold and flu season is in full swing. There are a lot of things we have all most likely resorted to doing in the fall and winter to prevent sickness like taking vitamins, getting enough sleep, and getting the flu shot. However, have you ever thought about how ayurveda, a practice we know and love, can help prevent getting a cold or the flu? Read up on the six tips in this article and try them yourself! The key to true mind-body balance? Understanding your body’s natural needs—how to eat, cook, cleanse, and heal—through each season. In our upcoming online course Ayurveda 101, Larissa Carlson, former dean of Kripalu’s School of Ayurveda, and John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa.com and best-selling author, demystify yoga’s elemental sister science. Sign up now—winter session begins Dec. 5th! Cold and flu season is here, but in addition to eating a balancing, seasonal diet, there are many Ayurvedic practices that can help you stay healthy throughout the winter months, says John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa.com and the co-leader of Yoga Journal’s upcoming online course, Ayurveda 101. The best part? Several of these quick and easy techniques can be done in the shower, so they don’t make a big mess. Here are his 6 best tips for avoiding bugs and feeling your best this winter. 1. Make a turmeric paste. Turmeric, which is harvested in the fall for the winter, is an immune-boosting spice. Just take equal parts organic turmeric powder and raw honey and mix it into a paste. At the first hint of a cold, take 1 tsp of the paste every two hours until you’re feeling better. To make the formula more potent, mix 16 parts turmeric to 1 part black pepper and make a paste with equal parts ghee and honey, and you’ve got a pretty amazing cold remedy. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has many studies showing its immune-boosting properties. Adaptogens help people cope with stress, and since holiday stress can be immune-compromising, [taking Ashwagandha] is a good strategy for staving off colds and flu. Take 500 mg of the whole organic root three times a day after meals when under stress or to prevent winter colds and flu, Douillard recommends. (Editor’s note: consult your doctor before taking any supplements.) 3. Give yourself an Ayurvedic self-massage every day. The skin has millions of sensory neurons on it, so the nervous system is exposed. You can calm and de-stress the nervous system by using your skin as therapeutic access to the nervous system. Self-massage with immunity-boosting oils like sesame oil dampens and calms the nervous system on your skin and allows you to handle stress better, which directly relates to immunity. Plus, the oil helps prevent eczema and rashes, and it’s great for skin health and radiance. Learn how to do abhyanga. 4. Start a neti + nasya routine. Using a neti pot with a saline or saltwater solution cleans out the sinuses, but the saltwater can leave the skin on the dry side. When the skin gets dry, it reacts by producing mucus, which is a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Doing nasya can help. Nasya is a nasal-lubricating technique that involves sniffing herbalized oils in the nose to moisturize the sinuses and thus prevent dryness and any reactive mucus production. Two to four drops sniffed into each nostril...

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A Possible Aid in Asthma Treatment

Posted by on 9:23 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It is likely that you know someone who suffers from asthma. If you personally do, you know how uncomfortable you can be during an attack. Besides inhalers, there are not many other options for treating asthma. This is where essential oils have stepped in. Essential oils bring many benefits for a wide variety of health-related problems. This article highlights how they might be the next best holistic method to help people breathe more clearly. Asthma is a long-term lung disease. The airways in the lungs become inflamed and swollen, causing the airways to tighten. This makes it difficult for air to pass through and for the person to breath. According to The American Lung Association, nearly 26 million Americans have asthma, including more than 7 million children. It is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children. There is no cure for asthma at present, but there are many treatment plans that can help people lead normal lives. Although there is a variety of asthma medicines on the market, some people prefer more natural treatment options. Many people looking for a natural and more cost-effective treatment option have turned to essential oils. This article will look at the use of essential oils to treat asthma, along with other treatments for the condition. What is asthma? Asthma makes breathing difficult, which can lead to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. This sequence of events is referred to as an asthma flare-up or an asthma attack. It is not known what causes asthma, but some people are more at risk of developing the disease than others. It is not uncommon for asthma to run in families and for environmental factors to play a role. Exposure to dust, chemicals, or irritants in the workplace can increase the risk for asthma. Damage from respiratory infections during infancy or early childhood as well as bad allergies can lead to asthma. An asthma attack can happen at any time and anywhere. There are certain situations where people are more likely to have an asthma attack, however. These cause the following types of asthma: Exposure to any type of irritant can cause allergies to flare up or simply irritate the respiratory system, triggering an asthma attack. Natural essential oils for asthma The therapeutic capabilities of essential oils are nothing new and may be helpful for some people with asthma. The following oils have some evidence to suggest a health benefit for people with asthma: Peppermint: One of the common causes of asthma attacks is exposure to allergens that trigger the release of a compound called histamine. Peppermint can help to stop the release of histamine in the body. A substance called methanol is present in peppermint and can relieve stuffy or blocked noses, which can help people with asthma to breathe better. Lavender: This essential oil is used for a variety of things. It has natural sedative and anti-inflammatory characteristics that may help people with asthma fight inflammation. Eucalyptus: Research suggests that eucalyptus oil may have anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil: This essential oil helps by reducing inflammation. In doing so, tea tree oil can help reduce the body’s allergic response. Roman chamomile: Another essential oil with anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help part of the lungs called the bronchus to...

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Mindfulness Meditation Benefits

Posted by on 8:11 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

More research has been done on mindfulness meditation, further showing that there are positive health outcomes that can come about. This study from Michigan State University has found that negative feelings and emotions can be subsided through mindfulness meditation. Read the full article below to learn more about the study and its results. Anyone looking for a way to control their negative emotions might benefit from some mindfulness meditation, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The University of California-Berkeley define mindfulness as: “Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” A Harvard Help Guide tells us that: “Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arising in your awareness at each moment.” Mindfulness has gained popularity in recent years. Rooted in religious practice and prayer, and especially in Buddhism, proponents claim that it can benefit the immune system, improve attention and memory, and increase the density of gray matter in the brain. It is said to enhance compassion, to ease relationship behaviors, to help people to overcome addiction, and to reduce stress. The search for neural associations that underlie mindfulness Now, researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have found neural evidence that mindfulness helps to control negative feelings, not just in people who are naturally disposed to be mindful or well-practiced in meditation, but in anyone. On the basis that mindfulness can help to regulate the emotions, the team wanted to know whether someone who is not naturally mindful can enter a “mindfulness state of mind” through a decision to do so, or by undertaking a focused, deliberate effort. The team of psychology researchers, led by Yanli Lin, an MSU graduate student, invited a group of 68 native English-speaking females, who had not practiced mindfulness meditation before, to participate in the study. Analysis showed that participants came to the experiment with different levels of natural mindfulness. Each participant wore an electrode cap, to enable EEG recording. They then took part in one of two 18-minute activities. Some listened to a guided meditation, while others were exposed to a language-learning presentation. Immediately after the meditation, they were shown some disturbing pictures – for example, a blood corpse. The researchers used the EEG to record their brain activity while viewing the images. Meditation appears to help tame emotions The participants were instructed to view the pictures either “mindfully” or “naturally.” After this, they completed a questionnaire. Results indicate that, whether the participants had high or low levels of natural mindfulness, the brain was able to control negative emotions to the same extent. Exposure to the meditation session appeared to help the emotional brain to recover quickly after seeing the photos, suggesting that meditation enabled participants to tame their negative emotions. Some participants were also asked to view the images “mindfully,” while others were not, but this did not appear to affect their ability to control emotions. It would seem that meditation could be more helpful in achieving emotional control than just telling people to “be mindful,” says Jason Moser, MSU associate professor of clinical psychology and co-author of the study. “If you’re a naturally mindful person, and you’re walking around very aware of things, you’re good to go. You shed your emotions quickly. If you’re not naturally mindful, then meditating can...

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Finding Your Dharma from Within

Posted by on 8:02 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The word, inspiration, comes from the Latin root word “spire” meaning spirit and the prefix “in” which means “within”. Thus, inspiration is what happens when we get in touch with the spirit within us. To be inspired is our natural state of being. To feel inspired is to feel the joy, excitement and enthusiasm that come with feeling connected to a greater purpose.   What is a greater purpose? It is a purpose greater than one’s own selfish pursuits. It is a purpose for a higher motive, a greater cause or calling. It is what happens when the Divine speaks to you and prompts you to take action. This Divinely motivated action is sometimes called “dharma” in Hinduism.  What’s your dharma? What’s your higher purpose? Each person has a dharma.  Some learn it through a vision. Others hear a voice. It is a Divine experience to realize one’s dharma. The good news is that everyone can discover the dharma. To do so, there are only two things necessary. 1. Be still.  It is in the stillness that the Divine speaks to you. This occurs in meditation or a moment of Divine reflection. It can happen in your living room or on a mountain top. 2. Surrender: This is the hardest part. You have to be willing to surrender to your dharma to receive a clear vision of your dharma. The Divine speaks to those who are ready to listen, not just hear. What will you do if you don’t like your dharma? What if it’s hard work? What if it will be fraught with challenges? Will you still surrender and serve?  The only answer that will do is “YES!” Without a yes, you have not surrendered and your own ego will get in the way of listening to the Divine. I am reminded of my own vision when surrendered my life to a high power…..All I wanted was to serve. All I wanted  clear direction. When the vision came, it was big. It was large. And, it was scary. But it was also so incredibly exciting and the prana (energy) that surged through me was greater than anything I had previously experienced. I have tried my best to surrender and serve that vision ever since.  You be still and hear the universes-May you have the courage to surrender to what you...

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Chronic Pain No More

Posted by on 8:52 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As this article states, “In any given year, around 100 million adults in the United States experience chronic pain”. There is no need to explain what chronic pain is because there is a very good chance either you or someone you know has suffered from it. There is new research showing that yoga and acupuncture help to bring relief of pain, and we love hearing that! Yoga, tai chi, and other complementary health approaches are effective in helping to alleviate some chronic pain conditions, concludes a new study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health. Lead author Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and colleagues publish their findings in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. In any given year, around 100 million adults in the United States experience chronic pain – pain that persists for at least 12 weeks – of whom around 40 million have severe chronic pain. While there are medications available to help ease chronic pain – such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – they are not always effective. “For many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, medications may not completely relieve pain and can produce unwanted side effects,” notes Nahin. “As a result, many people may turn to nondrug approaches to help manage their pain.” The NCCIH note that American adults spend around $30 billion each year on complementary health approaches – such as yoga and acupuncture – and the most common reason is to help ease pain. However, the research team says that to date, there has been a lack of robust evidence to suggest such approaches are effective for pain management. “Our goal for this study was to provide relevant, high-quality information for primary care providers and for patients who suffer from chronic pain,” says Nahin. By analyzing the MEDLINE database, Nahin and team identified 150 randomized, controlled U.S. clinical trials conducted over the past 50 years that looked at the effects of nondrug approaches on chronic pain. Specifically, the researchers assessed the safety and efficacy of complementary health approaches for the treatment of five of the most common pain conditions: back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and severe headaches and migraine. Fast facts about yoga Around 21 million adults in the U.S. practice yoga Yoga is practiced by 1.7 million children in the U.S. Back pain is the main reason why people practice yoga Learn more about yoga A treatment was considered effective if it led to improvements in pain severity and pain-related disability and/or function that were statistically significant, when compared with a control group. The researchers found there was strong evidence to suggest that yoga and acupuncture are safe and effective for back pain, while acupuncture and tai chi might benefit people with pain caused by osteoarthritis of the knee. Results also suggested that massage therapy is safe and effective – particularly if administered in 1-hour sessions two to three times weekly – for short-term alleviation of neck pain. Furthermore, there was evidence to suggest relaxation techniques – such as stress management and relaxation training – are safe and effective for the treatment of severe headaches and migraine. There was some evidence to suggest that people with back pain might benefit from spinal manipulation, massage...

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Say Goodbye to your Heartburn!

Posted by on 8:52 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

So many people experience heartburn on a regular basis. Besides medicine, there are other alternatives to alleviate symptoms like avoiding certain foods. This article also shows that holistic medicine can aid many conditions like heartburn. We offer many treatments at Optimal Wellness that can help with conditions such as heart burn or sinus pain, but if you are looking for quick relief from heart burn this article will help! Heartburn is a medical condition in which the contents of the stomach move backward and upward into the food pipe. Heartburn is also known as gastrointestinal reflux. The diaphragm and a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter usually prevent heartburn. However, this muscle can sometimes relax and leave the food pipe unprotected from stomach acid. Heartburn is experienced when stomach acid comes into contact with the lining of the food pipe. This can cause the following symptoms: A feeling of burning behind the breastbone, neck, and throat Taste changes Coughing Voice hoarseness that is made worse by eating, leaning forward, and lying down The discomforts of heartburn can last for several hours and may progress into a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD can cause frequent heartburn, food sticking, damage to the food pipe, blood loss, and loss of weight. 10 simple remedies for heartburn relief There are some things that people can do to prevent and treat the symptoms of heartburn. Not all remedies work or are safe for everyone, however. It is important for people to speak with their doctor about the best remedy for them. Simple remedies for heartburn relief include: Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke Wearing loose fitting clothing to avoid unnecessary pressure on the stomach Considering prescription medications: People with heartburn should also speak with their doctor to see if the use of prescription medications is right for them. Losing weight: People who are in need of losing weight or are obese may want to consider a diet and exercise weight loss program. Each person reacts to these changes differently, however. It is important to speak with a healthcare provider about losing weight. Raising the head of the bed: There are many ways to raise the head of the bed to allow gravity to reduce the symptoms of heartburn. Placing blocks under the top bedposts, raising the bed by around 6-8 inches may work. Foam wedges can also be placed between the mattress and box spring to raise the angle of the head of the bed. Pillows are not effective in reducing heartburn symptoms. Trying over-the-counter medications: People with heartburn should speak with their doctor about over-the-counter medications to relieve their symptoms. They may be recommended to try antacids, acid reducers like famotidine or ranitidine, or acid blockers such as lansoprazole and omeprazole. Using herbal preparations: The use of certain herbal preparations may also be useful. The Mayo Clinic report that licorice, slippery elm, chamomile, or marshmallow could help in treating the symptoms of GERD. It is important for people to speak with their doctor about potential side effects and drug interactions before starting any herbal supplements. Trying acupuncture: Although there is limited evidence to support its use, acupuncture may be beneficial in relieving the symptoms of heartburn in some people. Relaxing: Stress and tension can wreak havoc on the body. Relaxation...

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Insight on An Aspect of Ayurveda

Posted by on 9:06 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

We practice Ayurveda techniques at Optimal Wellness, and there is a lot of history behind Ayurveda. Did you know the spice tumeric can be used in this system? This article points out that our skin can benefit from it in many ways. Along with being a great contributor to many entrees, you can now understand how it has medical powers too! You’ll find it in curries, you’ll find it in salad dressings-you’ll even find it in teas and lattes. Turmeric is right up there with kale as one of the trendiest foods around right now. Turmeric, though, is nothing new-especially not to the South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. As a spice, turmeric is a staple of Indian cuisine, and it’s used as a dye in both foods and fabrics. Ayurvedic healers have also been using turmeric as a medicinal plant for at least 2,500 years. [Read Related: “Haldi-Doodh Turns Into Hipster Trend with Turmeric Lattes“] But what is turmeric? Turmeric is a close relative of the ginger plant. Though native to southern Asia, the plant is now cultivated throughout the world in India, China, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean. Turmeric has broad, dark green leaves and brilliant pink flowers, but the plant is chiefly prized for its root or rhizome. Initially, the rhizome was used to preserve food. Archaeologists have discovered traces of turmeric in pots that date back to 2500 BC. Turmeric began to emerge as an important medicine in Ayurvedic healing around 500 B.C. The spice was most commonly used to purify the blood and skin, but it was also used to treat conditions as diverse as epilepsy, diarrhea, and urinary infections. Ayurveda is a traditional healing system that’s still practiced widely throughout India today.  Its name is derived from the Sanskrit words for life (“ayur”) and knowledge (“veda”). According to Ayurveda, the system has three doshas, or energies, corresponding with human physiological systems. Vata is aligned with the nervous system, pitta with the digestive system, and kapha with the lymphatic system. Only when these three energies coexist harmoniously will a person enjoy good health. Turmeric plays a reoccurring role within this system. Powdered turmeric was frequently used as an insect repellant. Turmeric pastes were used to alleviate skin conditions like eczema, ringworm, and other parasitic skin conditions. Turmeric juice applied topically was believed to help heal wounds, and turmeric poultices were applied to help relieve the swelling and pain associated with ankle sprains. A popular cold remedy consisted of milk simmered with turmeric and sugar. Turmeric was also used in Ayurvedic beauty routines. For centuries, Indian brides owed their glowing complexions on their wedding days to the use of a traditional Ayurveda turmeric facial mask. Many of these routines-both medicinal and topical-are still practiced in India. In fact, the multi-faceted uses for turmeric are being acknowledged and applied the world over with so many modern day studies with scientific data supporting its power. Modern day scientists have identified a number of chemical compounds in the turmeric rhizome, many of which have powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, curcumin is a chemical that blocks an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2, which appears to be implicated in the growth of many types of tumors. Animal studies have shown that curcumin may successfully block the development of skin...

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