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12 Important Ayurveda Herbs - 30 June 2011
Ayurveda relies mostly on the essence of fruits, vegetables and   jadi-booties, which are nature’s gift to human. Jadi-booties are some of the rarely found wild plants and fruits, which are very effective in some diseases. In old age, students of Ayurveda were taught the classification of every single kind of plants exits; they used to give long time to find those jadi-booties in jungles, rocks & mountains. In modern age of globalization some of the companies and groups are doing that work collectively, so now it is easy for us to use those techniques, which were once very costly even for the kings.
 
Here are some Important Herbs and their Uses:
 
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), (Winter Cherry)
 
Ashwagandha
Traditionally, Ashwagandha has been used in many ways--as a sedative, a diuretic, a rejuvenating tonic, an anti-inflammatory agent, and as an "adaptogen" (endurance enhancer). Many Western herbalists refer to this herb as "Ayurvedic ginseng" because of its reputation for increasing energy, strength, and stamina, and for its ability to relieve stress. It is especially beneficial in stress related disorders such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, general debility, etc. It has also shown impressive results when used as stimulants for the immune system.
 
 
 
Amla ( Emblica officinalis), ( Indian Goosebery)
 
AmlaAmla contains the highest amount of Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid), Phyllembin, Phyllemblic acid, Gallic acid, Ellagic acid in natural form and Cytokin like substance identified as Zeatin, Zriboside, Z nucleotide, Tannins 30%. It is one of the strongest rejuvenatives in Indian pharmacopoeia. It contains 30 times the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges. Its antibacterial, carminative, hypoglycemic, stomachic, Hypotensive and astringent action prevents infection, helps in healing of ulcers, treatment of jaundice, dyspepsia and cough and controls hyperacidity. Alma is a good Cardio Tonic and its mild stimulant action on heart helps to control blood pressure. The use of Indian Gooseberry enhances the antidiabetic action of Karela. Phyllanthus Emblica is a very good hair tonic. 
 
 
Brahmi (Bacopa Monniera)
 
BrahmiAside from increasing intellectual and cognitive function, Brahmi induces a sense of calm and peace in its users. It is unique in its ability to invigorate mental processes whilst reducing the effects of stress and nervous anxiety. This makes Brahmi extremely applicable in highly stressful work or study environments where clarity of thought is as important as being able to work under pressure. Many people have the intelligence to perform to strict standards, but lack the composure and self-confidence to reach them. Additionally, Brahmi helps soothe the restlessness and distraction that nervousness causes. Brahmi is ideal for students and workers faced with this problem.
 
 
 
 
Shallaki ( Boswellia Serrata)
 
BoswelliaToday its major use is as an anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain, myositis, fibrositis, and osteoarthritis. Experimental and clinical usage of boswella indicates it has none of the side effects on blood pressure, heart rate of the gastric irritation and ulcers associated with many anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic drugs. It is now an approved herbal medicine in India for use against osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, soft tissue rheumatism, low back pain, myositis and fibrositis. In the United States,physicians are giving boswella high marks for effectiveness. Dr. E. W. McDonagh, a Kansas City physician, has reported success among some 350 patients suffering from a variety of advanced muscular and skeletal conditions for which other treatments had failed to help. 
 
Karela ( Bitter Gourd), ( Bitter Melon), ( Momordica charantia)
 
KarelaBitter Melon, also known as Karela, Momordica Charantia or Bitter Gourd is a herb that helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps body functions operating normally. It contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela's principle constituents are lectins, charantin and momordicine. The fruits have long been used in India as a folk remedy for diabetes mellitus. Lectins from the bitter gourd have shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activities.
 
 
 
 
Shilajit (Asphaltum)
 
ShilajitShilajit is one of Ayurvedas most potent and unique rejuvenatives. The ancient medical literature attributes many health benefits to Shilajit known as "conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness." It has been said that there is hardly any curable disease which cannot be assisted with the aid of Shilajit. Shilajit has been used historically for general physical strengthening, anti-aging, blood sugar stabilization, libido, injury healing, urinary tract rejuvenation, enhanced brain functioning potency, bone healing, kidney rejuvenation, immune system Strengthening, arthritis, hypertension, obesity and many other application for numerous conditions. 
 
 
 
Garlic ( Lasuna), ( Allium sativum)
 
GarlicThe platelet and hypolipidemic activities of Lasuna ensures smooth coronary function. Garlic is regarded as one of the most effective remedies to lower blood pressure. The pressure and tension are reduced because it has the power to ease the spasm of the small arteries. It also slows the pulse and modifies the heart rhythm, besides relieving the symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath and the formation of gas within the digestive track. It has an antiseptic effect and is an excellent remedy for infectious diseases and inflammations of the stomach and intestine. Human population studies show that eating garlic regularly reduces the risk of esophageal, stomach, and colon cancer. This is partly due to garlic's ability to reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds.
 
 
Triphala
 
Triphala, a cornerstone of ayurvedic medicine, is a composite herbal preparation containing equal proportions of the fruits of three myrobalans, Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula and Terminalia bellirica. When consumed for a long period, it helps reduce excess weight. It promotes good colon health and acts as a laxative without causing cramps or irritation. It gently stimulates the intestinal walls and restores tone to the colon, thus helping in the elimination process, providing a colon cleansing effect. When consumed for a long period, it helps reduce excess weight. It promotes good colon health and acts as a laxative without causing cramps or irritation. It gently stimulates the intestinal walls and restores tone to the colon, thus helping in the elimination process, providing a colon cleansing effect. 
 
Guggulu ( Bedellium), ( COMMIPHORA MUKUL)
 
BedelliumStudies show that a 14-27% of LDL cholesterol and 22-30% of triglycerides levels were reduced when guggul was given to men and women with high cholesterol for 12 weeks with no change in diet or exercise. Research with laboratory animals suggests guggul may help enhance thyroid function. Since the thyroid gland produces hormones that are needed to regulate metabolism, it can help in weight loss. Studies show guggul may change thyroid hormone metabolism, increase levels of circulating T3, or triiodothyroxine, a thyroxine metabolite known to raise overall metabolism, which in turn increases fat burning. Since guggul supports atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which may impede blood flow to and from the penis, guggul may possibly be the treatment for impotence many men are looking for.
 
 
Tulsi ( Holy Basil), ( Tulasi)
 
Holy TulsiTulsi has antioxidant properties, and helps boost the body's ability to fight off damaging free radicals, which have been linked to disease and aging. It is an adaptogen that helps the body fight the effects of ongoing stress and also balances the mind, nerves and emotions. Tulsi maintains the health of the throat chest and lungs. In fact, it helps protect the entire respiratory tract. It is an anti-inflammatory. A herb that promotes optimum respiratory support. Tulasi has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant properties and is useful in respiratory tract infections. It helps during respiratory stress. 
 
 
 
 
Neem (AZADIRACHTA INDICA)
 
NeemNeem effectively kills the bacteria that cause Acne and studies prove that Neem will reduce inflammation, even the inflammation produced by Acne. In the case of eczema clinical studies demonstrate that even the application of weaker Neem leaf extracts effectively cured acute conditions of eczema, what to speak of the fresh cold pressed oil with its high concentration of active ingredients.Modern clinical studies have identified a number of compounds in the Neem tree that effectively regulate immune system functions. Whether drinking a simple cup of tea out of the leaves or taking extracts of the Neem leaf, Neem significantly and consistently reduced insulin requirements for nonkeytonic, insulin fast, and insulin sensitive forms of Diabetes.The pain, inflammation, and swelling of the joints in arthritis can be greatly reduced by different compounds in Neem.
 
 
Arjuna (TERMINALIA ARJUNA)
 
ArjunaArjun improves cardiac muscle function and pumpingactions of the heart. Scientific studies have shown Arjun to be very effectivewhen used regularly over a period of time for the treatment of angina, coronary artery disease, heart failure, edema, and possibly hypercholesterolemia. Studies have also shown Arjun to have positive effects in the treatment of gonorrhea. Externally, this herb has been used to treat acne, blemishes, wounds, dysentery, and diarrhea.
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Ayurveda body types and food recommendations - 30 June 2011
Ayurveda recommends foods for people according to their primary body type. The reason for this is that it is believed foods can be both healing and the source of imbalance and difficulties. Eating foods according to our Ayurvedic body type helps accumulate less Ama or waste in the body.
 
In Ayurveda, people are classified according to three principles, vata, kapha, and pitta. But it's important to understand that although we may be dominant in one principle, we actually have all three present in our body. The others are less prevalent. Most people will actually be a combination of two of these principles, with the third only playing a minor role. However, since we all contain the three, any of them can get out of balance.
 
According to Ayurveda, there are seven body types: mono-types (vata, pitta or kapha predominant), dual types (vata-pitta, pitta-kapha or, kapha-vata), and equal types, (vata, pitta and kapha in equal proportions). Every individual has a unique combination of these three doshas.
 
Pitta
 
Characteristics of Pitta dominant body types 
  • determination
  • strong willed
  • good digestion
  • initiative
  • energy
  • passionate about many things
Ayurveda's Pitta constitution is calmed by cooling foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Bitter green vegetables like watercress, parsley, collards and most greens suit pitta. Fruits that suit pitta body types include sweet berries, sweet apples and apricots, coconut, figs, mango, sweet oranges and pineapples, plums, watermelon, pomegranates, and prunes.
 
Other cooling foods include most dairy products, though sour cream, hard cheeses, and yoghurt don't really suit pitta due to their being too high in fat, salt, or sour. However, dairy that suits pitta includes milk, cottage cheese, soft cheeses, and ice cream.
 
Grains that suit pitta body types include barley, basmati rice, and wheat (unless you are allergic or gluten sensitive).
 
Pitta body types generally like a lot of protein, and they probably need a little more than the other Ayurvedic body types. Spices that are cooling in nature are also important. These include coriander, cumin, mint, parsley, dill and fennel. Garlic should be avoided though because of its heat properties.
 
In terms of sweets, Pitta body types should use maple syrup, coconut sugar, barley malt, brown rice syrup, coconut syrup and honey that is 6 months or less old, preferably raw.
 
Things that can imbalance Pitta body types: 
  • excess heat, hot climates, and hot times of day
  • humidity
  • vacations and times when there is increased mobility
  • excess oil in the diet
  • too many hot foods, including spicy foods. But this can also mean too many cooked meals
  • excess caffeine, salt, red meat and alcohol
Vata
 
Characteristics of people with a dominant Vata body type
  • flexibility
  • quick mind
  • creative
  • always on the go - mentally and physically
Dietary choices that support vata aim at grounding this energy-in-motion. Routine is also very helpful, though not naturally something vata body type people will create! Vata people benefit from meditation, warmth, soothing music, taking breaks, and resting (again, not a natural vata inclination!).
 
With regards to foods, vata body types should include warming spices, including ginger and cloves, anise, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic, horseradish, caraway, mint, mustard seeds, parsley, cooked onion, paprika, rose water, vanilla, tarragon, thyme and rosemary.
 
People with the vata body type should minimize raw food, including salad, though salads should not be eliminated completely as they provide valuable nutrients. But vata should ground the salad with a dressing made from oil and vinegar, and be aware of the weather at the time of eating it. Being more sensitive to cold, vata's should have salads on warmer days.
 
Icy cold drinks are not balancing for vata - in fact quite the opposite. Sugar also throws vata types off balance, though vata are lucky in that they can enjoy other sweets.
 
Vata generally love fruit, and it suits their ayurvedic constitution. The exceptions are apples, pears, cranberries, watermelon and dried fruit. Vata types should go for sweet and moist fruit, like mangoes, nectarines, bananas, coconut, fresh figs, peaches, and strawberries.
 
Cooked grains like oatmeal, basmati rice, and brown rice, are very grounding for the vata ayurvedic constitution. Beans (legumes), on the other hand, are not! Beans are cold, dry, and heavy - not the attributes that support vata.
 
Things that can imbalance vata dominant body types include
  • a lot of travel, especially by plane
  • loud noises
  • constant stimulation
  • drugs, sugar and alcohol
  • cold climates (especially extremely cold ones) and cold food
  • frozen and dried food
Kapha
 
Characteristics of people with a kapha dominant body type:
  • strength
  • stamina
  • endurance
  • groundedness
  • calm
  • fluid
Kapha body types are not suited to a high protein diet like the Atkins diet. Not only should they avoid too much fat, but also, excessive heavy protein. The kapha quality is already heavy, and although this doesn't sound great, it is what provides Kapha body types with a wonderful stability and strength.
 
Kapha should have light and low fat protein. Beans, with the exception of soy and soy products, are great for kapha. Soy milk is preferable to dairy though, for kapha. Beans help move kapha's energy, and digestive system, a bit. Barley is also excellent. In terms of meat, chicken and turkey suit kapha.
 
Kapha body types should have plenty of vegetables, including bitter vegetables, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, corn cobs, peas, beets, and celery.
 
Dairy is heavy and cooling, and it does not suit the Kapha ayurvedic body type. Light and crispy food, like corn tortillas and popcorn, suit kapha. Kapha people should make sure they have variety in their diet, as kapha body types have a danger of falling into a rut more than others.
 
Asian and Latin American style meals are great for kapha. They are spicy and light, free of dairy, and have plenty of vegetables in them.
 
Things that can imbalance Kapha body types
  • inertia
  • too much fat in the diet, including oil we cook with
  • dairy products
  • not enough stimulation and challenge
  • not enough variety
  • not enough exercise
  • too much bread, iced foods and drinks, and sweets
 
References: Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai, The Ayurvedic Cookbook
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Viral Infections - A Seemingly Consistent Threat - 24 June 2011
The news about the bird flu virus that has been hitting around the world is becoming common. Just like people, birds get the flu. This virus infects birds like chickens, other poultry, and wild birds such as ducks. Thus far, the Bird Flu virus has been monitored to affect several species of birds. However, what is alarming about the said contagion is that it can also affect human beings.
 
H5N1 virions - A type of bird flu virus
H5N1 virions - A type of bird flu virus
 
The first Bird Flu case that infected a human, and clinically dubbed as H5N1, occurred in Hong Kong last 1997. Since then, there have been other reports of bird flu virus infections in Asia, Europe, and Africa. During an outbreak of the virus, people who have make contact with infected birds get sick. It is possible to catch Bird Flu by eating poultry that is not well-cooked or through contact with a person who has contracted the virus.
 
In recent news, Bird Flu cases have been on the rise and has caused worry among health officials. According to Dr. David Nabarro, the UN coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, several countries have made progress in containing the virus' spread, but there remain some problem areas. In Indonesia, which announced the death of the 91st victim and in Vietnam whose health department confirmed the spread of one of the strains of the disease to a sixth province. The ministry of Health of Indonesia announced a human death from infection of H5N1 avian flu. Last November 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that a 30-year old woman from Banten Province, Indonesia developed symptoms such as high fever, cough, and muscle aches last October 3. The woman was reportedly hospitalized on October 31t and died in the hospital last November 3. A WHO investigation has found out that several poultry deaths in the woman's neighborhood occurred in the days prior to the onset of her symptoms. Another case was reported involving a 31-year old man who died from the bird flu virus last November 10. A total of 91 deaths have occurred due to the outbreak, WHO officials said.
 
According to WHO, while research is still in the early stages, specifically in the conduct of tests with mice and other mammals in laboratory conditions in Switzerland, the US and Vietnam --- it has been determined that blood from survivors may hold the key. The organization is studying medical reports that antibodies from survivors may provide some form of protective benefit. This suggests possible developments in using blood transfusions or blood based cures in similar treatments for humans, but WHO officials warn the studies need further testing.
 
Of the few bird flu viruses that have crossed the species barrier to infect humans, the infection has caused the largest number of detected cases of severe disease and death in humans. However, it is still possible that those cases in the most severely ill people are more likely to be diagnosed and reported, while milder cases go unnoticed. In order to detect the bird flu virus in humans, a laboratory test is needed to confirm the virus in humans. Two main risks for human health from bird flu includes the risk of direct infection when the virus passes from the bird to humans, sometimes resulting in severe disease and the risk that the virus will change into a form that will be highly infectious for humans and spreads easily from person to person. Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from common human influenza like symptoms such as high fever, sore throat, cough and muscle aches, to pneumonia, eye infections, respiratory diseases, and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms may vary according to the specific virus type and strain that has caused the infection.
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