One of the things that makes Ayurveda so effective is that it understands each person as a unique individual. To make proper health recommendations, Ayurveda says that 3 things must be known:
1) THE UNIQUE NATURE OF THE PERSON
2) THE UNIQUE NATURE OF THE MEDICINE
3) THE UNIQUE NATURE OF THE DISEASE.
Once we know this, we can make appropriate choices!
So what does this mean? Let’s say you tend to run hot, meaning your primary dosha is pitta. You’re most comfortable in flip flops and shorts, even on cool days, and turn up the AC every chance you get. You may tend towards skin rashes, heartburn, red eyes, loose/frequent stools. You may also anger easily, be intense, focused, a bit critical. All of these symptoms can be due to one rather simple thing: you’re too hot! And your body and mind reflect it. Symptoms are simply our body’s way of telling you something is going on that needs to be addressed. Ayurveda is based on the laws of nature and teaches that to bring balance, you need to bring in opposing qualities. So what to do when you’re too hot? Cool down! No, not with ice – that can lead to other problems. With foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices that are energetically cool.
Let’s put this into practice. Let’s say you (a pitta person) eat spicy food and ended up with heartburn (hot person + hot food = too much heat!). You go to the health food store to look for a digestive tea. You find a whole selection of teas. Which to choose? How to decide?
To make a proper choice, you need to know the nature of the herbs – meaning, which will aid in digestion and do so in a more cooling way. This the knowledge that Ayurveda provides. If you were to choose a ginger tea, for example, you might find that it only makes the problem worse because ginger (especially dry ginger) is hot. So again, you would have added hot to hot and made more heat! Ayurveda teaches us which teas have a cooling nature and thus a better effect on pitta imbalances. So you choose fennel seeds to make your own tea (or a combination of cumin/coriander/fennel), mint (especially spearmint), or cardamom – all cooling digestives. See how it works? You learned the nature of the person (hot), the nature of the imbalance (hot – overheated digestion) and thus what do you need? Something cool! Voila, heartburn subsides.
And if you keep this up, and bring in other cooling remedies and lifestyle practices, other symptoms of excess heat will also tend to subside over time!
Stay cool this summer!
By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda