Complementary & Alternative Medicine
– an age-old treatment for modern lifestyle diseases
Ayurvedic medicine has been practised in India for
millennia. Having withstood the test of time it is
becoming increasingly popular as an alternative
the world. Sonica
Krishan, a doctor
an overview of
looks at how it
can help those
‘Ayurveda’ is a combination of two words –
‘Ayush’ denotes life and ‘veda’ means
science. Thus Ayurveda is, in the authentic
sense, ‘the Science of Life’.
Three key points constitute and differentiate
this holistic therapy from all others.
● Firstly, in Ayurveda the very first principle
in treating a disease is to do away
with the basic cause of the disease. No
new ailment should emerge as a consequence.
This means that the root of
disease is eradicated.
● Secondly, Ayurveda affirms that medicine
is to be centred on the patient, rather than on the disease. Mind, body
and soul are considered a tripod and the
entire world is sustained by their amalgamation.
● Thirdly, as Ayurveda deals with preparations
only from herbs and natural
resources. It is essentially a non-detrimental
mode of treatment with very few
or no side effects. And this is precisely
what is demanded of our times.
The importance of Ayurveda is acknowledged
by the fact that a whole Veda has
been dedicated to it.
Vedas are ancient Indian scriptural wisdom written by the Sages and wisdom
Gurus that are known to us since times
immemorial. There are four Vedas or
knowledge chronicles by the names Riga
Veda, Atharva Veda, Sama Veda and Yajura
Veda. Of these Atharva Veda has been
proclaimed as the bequest to Ayurveda
This ancient wisdom is undoubtedly the
absolute base of practical wellness and
lifestyle-oriented comprehension preached
by India’s seers thousands of years ago. This
is borne out by every verse written
millennia ago which remains true today. Charka, the preacher sage of Ayurveda,
long ago emphasised the significance of
acquiring, as well as maintaining, natural
wellness. This, according to him, needs to
be our prime concern as this alone lays the
foundation of a healthy and long life.
Ayurveda therapy validates the physical,
psychological and spiritual wellness of an
individual. It provides a well organised
system of traditional health care, both in
preventive as well as curative spheres – and
this has won it wide acclaim.
Undeniably, Ayurveda is age-old and
time-tested. Since time immemorial this
system of medicine has been in use and has
proved to be result-oriented and correct.
The same drugs and formulations that had
been used for hundreds of years are still in
use and there have been few or no replacements
Obesity and diabetes
Ayurveda alleviates obesity
Obesity is a condition where the body has
an excessive amount of stored fat, which
results in a decrease in the quality of life.
The overall health of the individual suffers
from this condition. It is now one of the
most common illnesses to affect humanity.
A variety of factors are responsible for a
person becoming overweight or obese.
These include a sedentary lifestyle (or lack
of exercise) and unhealthy dietary habits.
Furthermore, an obese person remains at
risk of developing more serious complications
such as diabetes, hypertension and
joint pain. In addition, many physiological and psychological ailments manifest
further deteriorating a person’s
quality of life.
Unfortunately, most popular weight-loss
techniques do not work. Crash diets, shortterm
exercise and appetite suppressants are
often merely just a temporary fix and the
weight lost returns quickly when these
weight loss exercises are stopped. This tends
to discourage overweight patients to try to
lose weight again in the future.
Obesity is termed Aatisthoola or Medho
vridhi in Ayurveda, which means the accumulation
of fat in the body. Ayurvedic practitioners
believe that the actual cause of
obesity is the impairment of the gastric fire
or Agni, which is essentially responsible for
breaking up of the molecules of fat.
Obesity can be characterised by:
● Excessive body fat and weight
● Fatty and bulky body stature
● Lethargic, inactive person
● Increased skin fold thickness over the
Lifestyle change is a must
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that an
overall change in lifestyle is the key to
success in reducing excessive weight.
● Eating habits need to be assessed and
modified. Emphasis needs to be placed on
eating less fattening and more nutritious
meals. Food items like sprouts, fresh
salads, vegetable soups are recommended.
● Water intake needs to be increased
considerably. At least 10 glasses of water
a day is a must.
● Seasonal fruits and vegetables that provide adequate fibre and nutrition to
maintain energy levels should be
included in the diet.
● Mental relaxation is required and can be
easily achieved with at least half an hour
of quiet meditation or brisk walking.
This aids in developing a positive attitude
towards overcoming obesity.
● Regular exercise in any form is to be
made a daily habit. Ayurveda recommends
Yoga and Pranayaam – the deep
breathing technique for this purpose.
Note: Any Ayurveda therapy should be
carried out under the guidance of a qualified
Obesity can be treated by some simple
suggestions and principles laid down by
India’s ancient scholars. Patience and perseverance
are two key elements that are
required to help achieve the goal of physical
fitness and optimum weight.
● To reduce excess body fat or the ‘Medha dhatu’ it is essential to practice daily
exercise not only of the body, but also of
● Many yoga exercises have been specified for
weight loss. There are also certain
breathing exercises or ‘Pranayaam’,
which can be used to accelerate weight
● Sweet foods should be reduced in the
daily diet and at the same time the
intake of bitter and sour tasting food
should be encouraged
● Foods like oats, barley, honey, pulses
such as moong and arhar and herbs like
dried ginger, bitter gourd, aamla, soy and
so on, help remove excess body fat
● Dry massages and enemas can prove
● A glass of lukewarm water along with a
few drops of lemon juice and half a
teaspoon of honey should be taken on an
empty stomach first thing in the
● Some Ayurvedic drugs like Trifla
churan, Mandoor bhasm, Swarnmakshik bhasm, guggul and
shilajit are available in the markets and
can prove quite beneficial. Medicinal
formulations like ‘Medhohar guggul’,
‘Triushanaadi loha’ are generally
prescribed. These should be taken
under a qualified Ayurvedic doctor’s
Managing obesity with herbal remedies
● Trifla churana (powder of three
myrobalans – a combination of three
herbs harad, baheda and aamla, which
are pounded together in equal proportions.)
is to be soaked overnight in water.
This is taken on an empty stomach first
thing in the morning.
● Half a teaspoon of honey mixed into a
glass of warm water along with a few
drops of lemon added to it is to be taken
in the morning.
● Pure guggulu is to be taken in a dose of
approximately 15 grains two or three
times a day along with hot water.
and deep breathing techniques
First sit comfortably in an easy asana position,
like sukhasana or the padamasana,
and then the breathing technique is
performed. Here, the breath is inhaled
deeply into the lungs and then exhaled
through both nostrils. It may be repeated
a number of times.
This technique is believed to create a glow
on the forehead. While sitting in an asana
position, the breath that is being exhaled
is made to puff out with force. Also the
stomach moves in automatically as the
breath is being released.
Previously warmed salty water is made to
enter that nostril through which the breath
is being inhaled. For this purpose a small
kettle like vessel is generally used. The
water is made to enter from one nostril and
the head is tilted to the other side to enable
the water to flow from the other nostril.
Lie on your stomach keeping both the hands below the shoulders while the feet
are joined at the back. Then slowly breathe
in and lift your waist upwards and backwards
as much as possible, this asana creates
the shape of a snake with the body.
Standing straight, keep a distance of
approximately two feet between the legs.
Then first turn to the left side with the right
arm stretched over the head and touching
the right ear. Try touching your left foot
with the left hand. Then repeat
the same process in the right
Here, the ring finger is
made to settle at the
root of the thumb,
with the thumb
exerting a little pressure
on the ring finger.
As this alignment
tends to increase
warmth in the body
systems, it is generally
recommended to be
practiced for fifteen to
twenty minutes daily.
Diabetes in Ayurvedic medicine
Diabetes is termed Madhumeha or Prameha
Twenty types of ‘Prameha’ have been
specified in Ayurvedic texts.
● Born out of vitiation of Vatta or the air
body humor, there are four varieties
which are considered incurable.
● Born out of vitiation of Pitta or the fire
body humor. There are six varieties of
which are only difficult to cure.
● Born out of vitiation of Kapha or phlegm
body humor. There are ten varieties
which are considered to be curable.
Ayurveda herb remedies
● Seeds of bitter gourd are pounded and
the powder is taken twice daily with
● Juice, extracted by grinding fresh bitter
gourd, is an excellent cure. It works
better when taken on an empty stomach.
● Tender leaves of neem and bilva are to be
taken first thing in the morning on an
There are a number of classical Ayurvedic
medications that have been used to treat
diabetes. However, this does require access
to the Ayurveda herb formulations and
patience and perseverance on the part of
the person being treated. It should also be
noted that it is easier to combat diabetes in
the early stage of disease.
Although lifestyle changes – ensuring a
healthy diet and pursuing an active life – are
imperative, classical Ayurvedic medicines
like Basant Kusumakar Rasa, Shilajitvadi
Vatti, Madhumehari churan and
Chanderkala vatti are some of the timetested
remedies which may be taken under
the supervision of an Ayurveda physician.
Yoga therapies for diabetes
Anulom Vilom Pranayaam
This is a type of alternate deep breathing,
where the nostrils are closed one after the
other. You start by first pressing your right
nostril with your right thumb and
inhaling through the left nostril.
Subsequently, the left nostril is pressed by
the ring finger and middle finger of the
right hand while the breath is exhaled via
the right nostril. The same process is then
repeated with the left nostril.
Lying on your stomach and with your arms
outstretched over your back, hold the
ankles of your feet with your legs folded at
Other beneficial Yoga positions are: Shavasana, Paschimottanasana, Yogmudrasana,
Sarvaangasana, Utaanpadasana and
● The patient should refrain from the
intake of sweet foods, fruits as well as
● Carbohydrate rich substances like rice,
wheat flour, potatoes etc. need to be
● Daily walks and exercises should be practiced.
● Vegetables like bitter gourd and fruits
like jamun and bilva should be used regularly
in diet plans.
Diabetic patients should take care to
avoid any injury, because their wounds
● Dr Sonica Krishan has a doctorate in
Aryuveda therapy. She has also
completed advanced studies in Yoga
and Naturopathy at Punjab University.
Based in Chandigarh, India, she works
as an Ayurveda and Natural lifestyle
healer and consultant. She has written
several books including ‘Herbal
Healers’ and ‘Home Remedies’ and
writes for several Indian and international
publications. She may be
contacted by emailing:
firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting
Are all meditation techniques the same?
As doctors increasingly prescribe meditation
to patients for stress-related disorders,
scientists are gaining a better understanding
of how different techniques from
Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions
produce different results.
A new paper published in
Consciousness and Cognition
2010.01.007 discusses three categories to organise and better understand meditation:
● Focused attention – concentrating on
an object or emotion;
● Open monitoring – being mindful of
one’s breath or thoughts;
● Automatic self-transcending – meditations
that transcend their own activity
– a new category introduced by the
Each category was assigned EEG bands,
based on reported brain patterns during
mental tasks, and meditations were categorized
based on their reported EEG.
“The idea is that meditation is, in a
sense, a ‘cognitive task,’ and EEG frequencies
are known for different tasks,” said Fred Travis, PhD, co-author, and Director
of the Center for Brain, Consciousness,
and Cognition at Maharishi University of
Management, Iowa, United States.
● Focused attention, characterised by
beta/gamma activity, included meditations
from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist,
and Chinese traditions.
● Open monitoring, characterised by
theta activity, included meditations
from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic
● Automatic self-transcending, characterised
by alpha1 activity, included
meditations from Vedic and Chinese
Between categories, the included meditations
differed in focus, subject/object
relation, and procedures. These findings
shed light on the common mistake of averaging
meditations together to determine
mechanisms or clinical effects.
“Meditations differ in both their ingredients
and their effects, just as medicines
do. Lumping them all together as “essentially
the same” is simply a mistake,” said
Jonathan Shear, PhD, co-author, professor of philosophy at Virginia
Commonwealth University in Richmond,
and the author of several books and publications
“Explicit differences between meditation
techniques need to be respected when
researching physiological patterns or clinical
outcomes of meditation practices,”
said Dr Travis. “If they are averaged
together, then the resulting phenomenological,
physiological, and clinical profiles
cannot be meaningfully interpreted.”
Acupuncture eases pain in the limbs
because it releases a natural molecule
called adenosine, international neuroscientists
reported 4 July 2010 in the prestigious
journal, Nature Neuroscience. The
study, which was funded by the US
National Institute of Health as well as the
New York State Spinal Cord Injury
Program, discovered that acupuncture
resulted in more pain relief when
compared to any painkiller in market.
“There is enough evidence in history
and modern clinical trials that acupuncture
is the best remedy for any sort of pain.
Last year alone, we have treated more than
819 women with severe migraine and more
than 4910 patients who were treated for chronic back pain with only a course of
acupuncture” said Dr Xiaoling Li, Head of
Alternative Treatments at Dubai
Wellbeing Center, Chaslu.
Acupuncture is increasingly being
given more serious attention in main
stream medicine. A positive indication of
this is that several insurance companies
in the region now cover treatment with
“Acupuncture has been a mainstay of
medical treatment in certain parts of the
world for 4,000 years, but because it has
not been understood completely, many
people have remained skeptical,” said Maiken Nedergaard of the University of
Rochester Medical Center in New York,
who headed the research.
The World Health Organisation says
acupuncture is effective for specific
“Acupuncture is particularly effective
for depression, fertility problems,
migraines, back pain and insomnia,” Dr Li
said. “Combined with a specific diet, we
have seen that people can lose significant
amount of weight since it works to suppress
hunger up to 19 hours.”
Acupuncture is based on the theory of
meridian pathways – there are 12 major
meridians that run through the body. They
connect organs, muscles, tissues to areas
on the skin where doctors can access them
which are acupuncture points.
One of the acupuncture specialties at Chaslu, Dubai Wellbeing Center is
meridian-based lymph acupuncture which
is effective for pain management and
of upload: 25th Sep 2010