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 medicine around the world. Sonica Krishan, a doctor of Ayurveda therapy, provides an overview of Ayurveda and looks at how it can help those suffering from obesity and diabetes.

‘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 perception.

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

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 at all.

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 themselves, 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 triceps muscle

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.

Ayurveda therapy

Note: Any Ayurveda therapy should be carried out under the guidance of a qualified Ayurveda practitioner.


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 the mind
● Many yoga exercises have been specified for weight loss. There are also certain breathing exercises or ‘Pranayaam’, which can be used to accelerate weight loss
● 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 helpful
● 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 morning
● 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 supervision.

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.

Yoga positions and deep breathing techniques

Bhastrika Pranayaam

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.

Kapal bhati

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. Jalaneti 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.

Trikon asana

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 direction.

Surya mudra

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 in Ayurveda.

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 warm water. ● 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 empty stomach.

Ayurveda therapy

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 the knees.

Other beneficial Yoga positions are: Shavasana, Paschimottanasana, Yogmudrasana, Sarvaangasana, Utaanpadasana and kandharasana.

Ayurveda recommends

● The patient should refrain from the intake of sweet foods, fruits as well as juices.
● Carbohydrate rich substances like rice, wheat flour, potatoes etc. need to be restricted. ● Daily walks and exercises should be practiced.
● Vegetables like bitter gourd and fruits like jamun and bilva should be used regularly in diet plans.

Avoid injury

Diabetic patients should take care to avoid any injury, because their wounds heal slowly.

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: or visiting the website:


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 authors.

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 traditions.
● Automatic self-transcending, characterised by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions.

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 on meditation.

“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.”

Study shows acupuncture relieves pain

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.

“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 conditions.

“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 weight loss.

ate of upload: 25th Sep 2010

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