Ayurvedic Health Care Tips for Monsoons
Monsoons are the perfect time to enjoy the pleasant weather with a cup of hot masala chai and pakodas (deep-fried fritters), steaming hot momos, or a roasted bhutta (corn on the cob). And yet, this weather brings with it a spate of unwelcome guests in the form of infections like diarrhea, dysentery, cold, fungal and bacterial infections, etc. ruining the mood for you. There's nothing wrong with indulging once in a while to please your palate as long as you keep your regular eating habits and lifestyle in check. In fact, Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of good health recommends following the appropriate Ritucharya, which is nothing but changing our diet and lifestyle patterns according to the changes in seasons. So we waded through all the guidelines suggested by Ayurveda and squeezed out the most basic and important healthcare tips for you to breeze through the monsoons without a hitch.
To begin with, let's understand the logic and science behind this concept of Ritucharya. According to Ayurveda, the year is divided into 2 solstices based on the position of the sun to the North or South of the earth's equator.
- Uttarayan (Northern solstice): This consists of 6 months called adan (taking away) kala as the strong, ascending sun and winds during this period takes away the cooling qualities of the earth and diminish the energy of its creatures. The 3 seasons of the adan kala are Shishir(late winter), Basant (spring) and Grishma (summer) and they last for 2 months each.
- Dakshinayan (Southern solstice): The 6 month-period of this solstice is called the visarga (sending forth) kala. As the sun descends, the moon becomes dominant and cools the earth with lowering of temperature, clouds, rain and cold winds and discharge or send forth energy to the living beings. The three seasons during this visarga kala are varsha (Monsoon), Sharad (autumn) and Hemant (winter)
So, the monsoon season, which comes immediately after the draining summer months, brings back life and energy to the Earth. However, since varsha ritu is the first season of the Visarga kala, it is a transitional season and the bala or strength of all creatures is yet quite low. According to Ayurveda, it is characterized by vata prakopa (aggravation) and pitta sanchaya (accumulation). This imbalance in the doshas affects the digestion process and makes it slow and sluggish. And when your digestion and metabolism is affected, immunity is compromised. This brings about various ailments such as body ache, acidity, pain in the joints. flatulence, indigestion, loss of appetite, cold and cough.
The cool and damp environment is an ideal incubator for fungal and bacterial growth, which cause many air-borne and water-borne diseases like diarrhea, gastroenteritis etc.
Therefore, it is a crucial time to work on our immunity and change our dietary patterns and lifestyle according to what Ayurveda prescribes (Varsha Ritucharya). This will not only strengthen our immunity but also help us combat monsoon-related diseases effectively.
1. Keep that belly light. Our digestive fire in the rainy season is quite low and it takes more time to digest even the food that you would normally eat without a problem. Over-eating and indulging in rich food is a complete no-no if you want to prevent indigestion, flatulence or bloating. Completely avoid very spicy, oily, sour and acidic foods like pickles, chutneys etc. as they may cause acidity. As a rule, have a couple of pieces of ginger sprinkled with rock salt just before your meals. This will help improve digestion.
2. Eat Natural, not raw. Avoid foods that are cold, dry or raw like salads, juices, soft drinks etc. as they further slow down the digestive process. Opt for lightly-cooked or steamed foods only. Raw foods are not only difficult to digest but have a high risk of carrying bacteria and other pathogens which can cause stomach infections like vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Intake of leafy vegetables and non-vegetarian food like meat and fish should preferably be given a miss during the rainy season for the same reason. Avoid processed foods loaded with unknown, harmful fats and preservatives and include old grains like wheat, barley, rice, green gram and lentils in your daily diet
3. Home-cooked meals are the best. Avoid eating out and try to eat freshly-prepared food at home as far as possible. We know street food is absolutely tempting, but even if you are sure of the hygiene standards maintained while cooking it, the food is still susceptible to germs and bacteria due to its being sold in the open for long periods of time.
4. Eat warm. Increase intake of warm foods like soups and sip warm water throughout the day. This will help boost metabolism and keep you hydrated. Warm, sour and salted vegetable, meat and dal soups help increase immunity.
5. When and how you consume food is as important as what you consume according to Ayurveda. You may consume buttermilk instead of curd but only during the daytime. On the other hand, milk should not be taken during the day but one can have a glass of hot turmeric milk at bedtime. Cow milk is lighter to digest and should be preferred over buffalo milk.
7. Cook light using light vegetable oils like olive, sunflower or ghee instead of heavier ones like mustard and groundnut oils or butter.
8. All that's bitter is gold. Bitter-tasting vegetables like karela (bitter gourd), fenugreek, neem and turmeric offset the effects of aggravated pitta and help in keeping pitta-related issues away. Bitter foods also have antibacterial properties which can help you combat many illnesses in the rainy season.
You can begin your day by boiling some neem leaves and half a teaspoon of fenugreek (methi) seeds in a glass of water. Add a bit of grated fresh turmeric to it. Reduce water to half its quantity and add a squeeze of lemon and a dash of honey. And voila! your immunity-boosting tea is ready to consume.
1. Stay Dry and Safe: Avoid getting wet in the rain. But if you are unable to resist the temptation to dance in the rain or get caught in a shower involuntarily, change into dry clothes as soon as possible. A damp body is an open invitation for bacterial and fungal infections. As a general practice, add a few drops of Parama Naturals' Turmeric Essential Oil in a mug of water as a final rinse post shower or bath. It acts as a natural disinfectant and an antiseptic which will protect your body. You can also use a natural anti-bacterial soap like Parama Naturals' Neem-Turmeric soap for extra protection.
2. Heal naturally: During the rainy season, one is prone to slipping, injury or fungal infections due to increased humidity. Apply a few undiluted drops of Parama Naturals' Turmeric Essential Oil immediately on scratches or minor injuries. KEEP IT HANDY!
3. Watch your step: Feet coming in contact with contaminated water on water-logged streets during the rainy season are highly prone to serious bacterial infections like leptospirosis. Protect them by washing them immediately once you reach home by washing them well using an antibacterial soap like Parama Naturals' Neem-Turmeric soap. Drying thoroughly and apply an anti-fungal cream like the Parama Naturals' Solid Deo Butter in the webbing between the toes. Apart from preventing fungal infections, this helps to keep the feet feeling fresh and soothes sensitive skin.
4. Beat the rainy day blues with a massage or self-massage: Oleation is a very important part of the Panchakarma treatment prescribed by Ayurveda, especially during the monsoon season. Massaging your body with warm herb-infused oils carries the medicinal ingredients to each and every cell of the body, nourishing them and flushing out the toxins locked within effectively. It makes your skin supple and strengthens and invigorates muscles, bones and joints and relieves vata.
Even if you do not have the time for a full-fledged Panchakarma treatment, a daily self-massage with natural oils can be extremely beneficial for you. Use the Parama Naturals' Turmeric Moisturizing Hand & Body Oil infused with antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptic Turmeric to keep your body nourished, healthy and safe during the season. Or the Parama Naturals' Turmeric-Lavender Hand & Body oil with uplifting lavender too. Or if the rainy season is leaving you with the moody blues and you feel very lethargic, use the ginger-infused Parama Naturals' Zingiber Body Oil which will re-energize you for the whole day, and bring back a zing in your step.
A light massage over the abdominal area, especially with Ginger-powered Parama Naturals' Zingiber Body Oil, also powers up sluggish metabolism that is quite common in the rainy season.
Apply the non-staining, non-sticky, no-mess oils every day after bath to protect yourself from infections caused in this season. A weekly massage with these lightly and naturally fragranced oils can also work as an aromatherapy session for you to relax you after a tiring week and re-energize you to take the ensuing days.
1. Lubricate those joints: The rainy season can be a nightmare for those with joint or muscular pains. Almost everyone wakes up feeling stiff or low on energy, especially the elderly or athletes, as the pain gets aggravated in the cold and damp weather. A foot massage and application on specific problem areas before sleeping with Parama Naturals' Zingiber Body Oil loosens up the joints, makes the muscles more pliable and you wake up the next morning feeling fresh. This anti-inflammatory oil with ginger and turmeric re-energizes the body and provides relief from stress, stiffness and pain. If the condition is intense, apply on the affected areas or even the whole body post the shower / bath in the morning.
2. Feed the cold some ginger: Cold and cough is another common ailment that people are prone to in the rainy season. Coughing is actually your body's natural way of expelling out unwanted, infection-causing particles in our respiratory system. So, it is actually better to make it easier for the mucus to flow and clear out the respiratory system in its natural process. The discomfort can be mitigated using Ayurvedic remedies that provide relief and fasten the healing process. Building your immunity by having wholesome, nutritious and warm foods is the first step towards fighting symptoms of cold and cough.
To clear cough and congestion, sip on a herbal tea made by boiling Ginger, Tulsi, Turmeric, and black pepper powder in a cup of water and sip on it throughout the day. For incessant cough, mix a couple of tablespoons of ginger juice with some honey and swallow this frequently to soothe your throat.
At the onset of congestion, apply a few drops of Parama Naturals' Zingiber Body Oil inside your nostrils using your little finger or a Q-tip for relief.
Ginger paste and even ginger powder, along with Sesame oil and medicated ghee, are recommended in Ayurveda as Nasya Therapy for nasal or sinus congestion. Ginger has anti bacterial and antiviral properties and is useful in decongesting and drying out mucous or phlegm build-up in your sinuses, nasal passage and chest, thus providing relief and preventing infection.
You can also add a few drops of Parama Naturals' Turmeric Essential Oil to a pot of boiling water and inhale it to ease congestion in blocked sinuses and relieve headache.
3. Don't let the Mosquitoes bite: These small bugs are not just a harmless nuisance but known to be vectors of many serious diseases like Dengue, malaria, Chikungunya, zika virus etc. And the monsoons are the time for them to breed and multiply as they lay eggs in stagnant water--the pools and puddles created by the rains. So, it would be wise to keep your surroundings clean and not let water collect in or around your house, especially in pots or containers lying out in the open. Cover as much skin as you possible can with long-sleeved shirts and trousers for minimal exposure to mosquito bites.
Turmeric and lavender essential oils have insect-repelling properties. This is an added advantage in this season where bugs and mosquitoes are rampant. Using Parama Naturals' Turmeric Essential Oil in the bath water or applying the Parama Naturals' Lavender-Turmeric Moisturizing Hand & Body Oil give a protective coat to the body, acting as mild insect repellents. Even if bitten, turmeric and lavender will soothe the skin surface and prevent excessive itching. For extra protection from mosquito bites, add a few drops of citronella essential oil to the moisturizing oil as a natural insect repellant.
To summarize, you don't need to take the joy of enjoying the rainy season by worrying about the ailments it brings. With just a few tweaks to your dietary and lifestyle habits according to the varsha ritucharya as prescribed by Ayurveda, you can stay safe and healthy and enjoy the rains to the fullest. Step out to walk or even dance in the rain!
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