During any change of season there is a higher chance of catching a bug, cold or flu. This is nothing new, but there are some things you can do to help stay healthy and well. I thought I’d share some ayurvedic tips on diet and lifestyle that can help you avoid getting sick as well as some things that can help you to boost immunity or bounce back quicker if you do pick something up. Read on for more…
Ayurveda looks at digestion as the main cause or fixative for most illnesses and disease. Therefore, when your digestion is working well and there is little accumulation of toxins in the body, there is less of a chance of getting unwell. To help reduce toxins and ensure your digestion is firing at its best there are a few things you can do, but firstly, how do you know if your digestion is working at its best?
How do you know if your digestion is working well or not?
If your agni or digestive fire is working well, you should feel full of vitality. Your sleep will be undisturbed, and you wake up feeling refreshed and rested ready for the day ahead. You eliminate wastes with ease and regularity each day, prior to eating and without the assistance of stimulants like coffee. You feel full of energy, your mind is balanced, and your mood is calm. You also have hunger before each meal and eat at the same times each day.
When the digestion is impaired you may experience feeling sluggish, foggy, lethargic or lack energy. You may have cravings for sugar or coffee to boost energy or have the 3pm slump. Your sleep could be broken, or you may feel tired when you wake. You may have irregular bowel motions, bloating, gas, or experience IBS symptoms; your hunger is most likely irregular, absent or you get ‘hangry’ and your mood or emotions may be dull, erratic or intense.
Cleansing the Channels
It is recommended that at the change of any season, or whenever you feel dull, unwell or sluggish to do a cleanse. Ayurvedic cleanses help boost immunity, reduce toxins in the body, clear the channels and re-ignite the digestive fire. If you are interested in doing an ayurvedic cleanse, there are a few out there in internet land. Be a little cautious of some as they may be a bit extreme and not really support you. I have listed below some information on ayurvedic cleanses as well as a guide to some things that you can do from home to boost immunity. Ayurveda individualises treatments and therapies based on a person’s unique make up, taking into account things like their age, the season and their current imbalance. You won’t find extreme juice fasting or starving, it’s all about support and balance. As with any cleanse, it is best to be guided by a professional for the greater results. Please speak to an ayurvedic consultant and/or a doctor before undertaking any cleanse, especially if you have any health concerns.
The best ayurvedic cleanses out there, by far, are panchakarmas, they are the most superior of all. This is because they are undertaken by ayurvedic doctors (vaidyas) in clinics or hospitals and are generally around 21 days in length. Panchakarmas cleanse through 5 different actions. Your imbalance will determine which of the cleansing actions are taken. Generally, all 5 are not done during your panchakarma, but a combination of them unique to you. It varies depending on a persons health, their needs, the amount of impairment to the channels/body/disease and the season.
Panchakarma is a rejuvenation process for the body, mind and soul. They often include relaxing therapeutic treatments like abhyanga (massage with medicated oils), shirodhara or takradhara (medicated stream over the forehead), and steam (bath or sauna style with herbs to eliminate toxins from the skin). They also have deeper cleansing and sometimes less comfortable therapies such as bastis (medicinal oils that are held either externally or internally, the internal ones are also known as enemas), and nasya (smoke and/or oil in the nasal passages). Panchakarma also generally includes being given herbs and food in accordance with your imbalance however from my experience this can also differ based on the facility.
As the panchakarma process is undertaken over a few weeks, it involves a number of technicians to do the treatments, as well as a physician, food and accommodation. There are very few places outside of India that do them, so an overseas trip is also often on the cards. This means they can be costly. In Australia, there are some doctors that offer mini panchakarmas at home and a clinic in Perth that does a non-residential service. To my knowledge, these are also quite costly, and due to Australia’s laws, some of the more beneficial treatments like internal bastis are not able to be conducted.
What can I do from Home?
There are ways you can help boost your immunity and digestion from home that are cost effective and easy to implement. Some simple things that you can introduce into your daily lifestyle to help with building immunity all year round, but especially at the change of season are:
- Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season for your particular location – local/homegrown and organic/chemical free are best. Check out your local farmers market, this is generally the best indication of seasonal produce.
- Eat cooked and warm foods
- Avoid raw and cold foods
- Avoid heavy foods that are fried, processed, take-away
- Avoid refined oils and use good quality oils with a high smoke point for cooking – ghee and coconut oil are great options to use for cooking
- Avoid alcohol
- Drink hot water regularly
- Scrape your tongue in the morning upon rising, after brushing your teeth
- Self-massage with herbal oil
Herbs support cleansing the channels, shifting toxins and support digestion. Some great herbs that you can find in your kitchen cupboard to use when cooking are cumin, ginger, turmeric and fenugreek. Other herbs can be brewed up into a cleansing tea and taken after meals it to help aid digestion. A great one is CCF tea – combine equal amounts of cumin, coriander seed and fennel with water, boil, strain and sip after eating. If you would like stronger herbs to support and boost immunity there are a number that can be prescribed based on your specific needs. There are some great basics that most people can take all year round like shodana vati and dhatu powder. These are formulations from the Raju family, who are specialists in panchakarma. Their herbs are high quality and are family formulations that span 13 generations of ayurvedic doctors. I would also recommend people use herbalised nasal oil and body massage oil on a regular basis as well.
If you are not keen on doing a panchakarma and want something more than the at home recommendations given above, then a supported cleanse could be just what you are looking for. As with any cleanse, it can be difficult to stay on track when you are doing it yourself. There may be temptations, mind challenges and at times erratic moods playing a part, or you just don’t know what to do. A short-term, at home cleanse may just give your body and mind the boost you are after.
If you want to get your digestion firing and boost your immunity, feel lighter and less foggy, or wake up in the morning feeling full of energy, check out the Pure Radiance Ayurvedic Cleanse. The Cleanse goes for 7 days, it can be done at home or work and starts with a consultation. We discuss your imbalance, lifestyle and the dates you would like to do the program. You will then be sent out a cleanse pack containing herbs, personalised medicinal oils for self-massage, a tongue scraper, nasal oil, some recipes to follow and the guidelines for the cleanse. It is fully supported, meaning I check in on you regularly, and you can contact me with any questions or if you just need someone there to guide and support you, keep you on track.
- If you are interested in doing a supported cleanse with me, please use the booking link in my services page to book your consultation.
- If you’d like to order ghee, herbs, a tongue scraper or individualised herbal oil, please contact me. I make the ghee to order and blend herbal oils to order based on your imbalance and the season.
- Cleansing or taking herbs (other than kitchen herbs) is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.