Geriatrics Means Rejuvenation in Ayurvedic Medicine
By Dori Ahern
The ancient science of Ayurveda has eight branches, similar to the branches of allopathic medicine. However, the Sanskrit term for Geriatrics is rasayana, and it means rejuvenation.
Some readers may be familiar with the three Ayurvedic mind/body types: vata, pitta, and kapha. These three humors, or doshas in Sanskrit, are derived from the basic elements: space and air-forming vata, known as the air or wind dosha; fire and water-forming pitta, known as the fire dosha; and water and earth-forming kapha, known as the water/earth dosha. These governing principles are active in every constituent and process in our physiology.
The longer we live, vata dosha tends to increase in the body. This is the air element, and it governs all movement, including the movement of thought, of mechanical and sensory nerve signals, of blood through the veins, and of food through the digestive system. When vata increases, the symptoms may be memory or cognitive problems, circulatory problems, constipation, joint or other pain, depression and osteoporosis (air pockets in bones).
So the primary culprit in what we know as aging is vata dosha. We experience dryness in body and mind like we are losing the “juice” of life. Vata is light, dry, moveable, and cold, so we use warm, heavy, stable, wet oil to reduce it. Oil massage is liberally prescribed in Ayurveda to prevent and reverse aging, as well as oil enemas. The massage can be done as part of our daily routine. In “oil pulling,” which is known as kavala in the Ayurvedic texts, oil is used to prevent and treat dental problems.
The rejuvenative diet includes lots of healthy fats, including ghee, sesame oil, coconut oil, avocados, and raw nuts, with consideration of individual doshic-type and medical conditions. Avoidance of nonfood substances like chemicals and artificial ingredients, often found in our food today, is imperative. Read your labels. Sweet juicy fruits with the skins (only if organic) help increase the juiciness of the body.
Sleep is a pillar of rejuvenation. As Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Ayurveda recommends that we slow down after 9pm to “catch the angel train” by 10pm, which makes waking before the sun come naturally.
Between the hours of approximately 10pm and 2am, the liver is busy cleaning out gunk in our blood. If we have overloaded it with too much food, or chemical toxins of any kind, it can react and complain, waking us.
An entire branch of Ayurveda focuses on reproduction. Specific remedies for rejuvenating the female system include medicated ghees, herbal drugs, and mineral medicines, which can reverse long-standing conditions almost miraculously. A rejuvenated wife goes a long way toward rejuvenating a man, but Ayurveda has specific medicines for the fellas as well.
Ayurveda literally means “knowledge of extension of lifespan.” In my next article, I will go deeper into this science of rejuvenation, to discuss the panchakarma process.
“Introduction to Ayurvedic Medizine”
By Dr. Dori Ahern, BAMS
Wed, Apr 4, 2-4pm
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