Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Ayurveda for Psoriasis
As though overnight, patches of my skin began to become flaky. Literally, I woke up and started finding patches of scratchy skin, more of them each day. What was worse, they grew. More and more of my skin, day by day, became a scratchy source of flaky consternation.
Not being in a relationship, I wasn’t so concerned about the look of it, but it was terribly uncomfortable. It had me worried, and in my worry, I wondered — what is this? Would it just go away?
So I did what any self-respecting millennial would do: I researched online. Several vague, unanswered questions later, I sought out a real doctor.
The first doctor gave me a misdiagnosis. The second did too. Here’s an approximate rehash of our conversation after the labs came in:
“The lab results came back, and I’m sorry, but it looks like it’s cancerous.”
“Your mole is cancerous.”
“… I didn’t have a mole tested.”
“… Give me one moment please.” A long pause. “Sorry, wrong person. Your test shows psoriasis.”
I was relieved not to have cancer, but troubled to have psoriasis–psoriasis is apparently an incurable issue. The dermatologist’s treatment options were bleak: There is no cure, but we can give you steroid injections to reduce the symptoms. Frustrated, I declined. Most of my online research at the time also suggested that there wasn’t a total cure or even a complete understanding of the cause of this skin condition.
The doctor who recommended Ayurveda
Discouraged, I saw a third doctor, a family friend, who referred me to Ayurveda. He said that Ayurveda has a great approach to dealing with skin issues.
While I was relatively familiar with Ayurveda, it was my first time relying on Ayurveda to help me manage an acute condition. While Ayurveda is not formally recognized as a medical practice in the US, abroad it has thousands of years of history of being used for preventative care and relief.
I saw an Ayurvedic expert who told me that the root cause of my skin condition lay in my digestion. He suggested that by altering my food habits and adding a few natural herbs and buttermilk to my diet, I could find relief.
Can Ayurveda help psoriasis?
I ordered the herbs and waited eagerly for them to arrive, trying desperately not to scratch all the while. It was winter, and it seemed to me that the cold climate only dried my skin further and worsened my condition.
But I waited.
Once the herbs arrived, I quickly started taking them. I also made a few key changes in my diet. I cut out pitta-inflaming foods, like tomatoes, oranges, chips, and spicy food. I started drinking more buttermilk and eating more fresh leafy greens, as I’d been advised.
The results astounded me. Within a couple of weeks, the condition started clearing up. Not only did I feel lighter and more refreshed, but my skin looked more clear and less itchy.
The best part is that the results lasted.
Since then, I’ve continued learning about Ayurveda and incorporating it into my life, and I’ve done a few seasonal Ayurvedic cleanses to maintain my digestive health. I’ve also adopted many parts of an Ayurvedic nutritional plan that is tailored to my own personal constitution, or dosha.
For years now, I’ve had my psoriasis under control. Occasionally, it will still flare up, when the winter gets very cold or I don’t eat right, but it always returns to rest. I haven’t had to worry about the pain, the itching, or the look of flaky skin, as long as I take care of myself.
I feel extremely grateful to Ayurveda. If you haven’t explored Ayurveda yet, I encourage you to consider it, especially if the quality of your skin concerns you. Once understood, the principles are simple and useful, the cleanses feel amazing, and the practice supports an active, mindful lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This article is written from a personal experience. It makes no claims and is not designed to diagnose or treat disease or offer medical advice.
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Ayurvedic Recipes: Sauteed Greens
Ayurveda calls collard greens sattvic. This implies that they support peacefulness and purity of body, mind, and spirit. Collard greens possess bitter, astringent, light, dry qualities. Their digestion is aided with spices, healthy fats, and substances rich in digestive enzymes and stomach acid boosting abilities.
Enjoy collards as a side dish, a main dish with protein rich nuts, seeds, and beans or, in a soup. Read on to discover more about the greatness of these greens and the ingredients by which they are accompanied in February’s recipe.
The ‘personality traits’ of the ingredients
- Collards Greens are packed with fiber and are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins A , C, E, K, folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium. Their bitter taste aids in de-stagnation of the liver and enhances bile flow.
- Tamari contains digestive enzymes and provides that “umami” taste.
- Apple Cider Vinegar will give your stomach acid a boost and supports healthy blood sugar.
- Ginger enkindles the digestion fire, keeps us warm, and detoxifies unhealthy fat from the body.
- Ghee-the butyric acid in ghee nourishes the gut and provides a great source of healthy fat.
- Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds provide protein, are mineral rich and protect against free radicals.
Sauteed Greens with Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds
- 1 cup water
- About 10 cups washed, dried, and chopped fresh collard greens
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger
- 1.5 tablespoon ghee
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1/4 c. toasted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c. toasted pumpkin seeds
1. In a large deep skillet, on medium heat, sauté the ginger until soft and slightly golden.
2. Add the collard greens and mix well.
3. Add the water, cover and reduce the heat to low and cook until the collard greens are tender.
4. Turn off the heat and stir in the tamari and raw apple cider vinegar.
5. Transfer to serving bowl and stir in the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
Wellness, Naturally: Balancing Pitta in Winter
In Ayurveda, there are three types of energy, including pitta. Pitta is a building block of the world, and can be found in everything and everyone. It’s closely related to digestion and intelligence, and is regarded as “fire energy.” Pitta individuals are typically athletic and tend to gain weight evenly. The pitta individual is typically success-oriented, energetic, quick witted and has a great capacity for achieving balance. However, an excess of pitta can overheat the body and mind.
Signs of pitta imbalance
There are typical manifestations of pitta imbalance that can signal as an imbalance of the mind and body. These manifestations include anger, irritability, overall discontent, acid indigestion, heartburn, inflammation and heartburn. Pitta can become imbalanced when one doesn’t get enough rest or eats spicy foods.
Here are three easy ways to bring pitta back into balance.
1. Drink a cool glass of milk. Milk cools the fiery energy of pitta.
2. Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day.
3. Take regular breaks. When pitta is high, there is a tendency to focus and dive in. This can be useful, but it must be balanced with occasional breaks. This will help refresh your spirits and keep you cool and relaxed. This way you can work without letting the work overwhelm you.
Understanding how to feed your fire
If you have a pitta constitution, it’s wise to avoid pungent, salty and sour foods. Reduce sour fruits like grapefruits, and stick to sweeter fruits like mangoes, pineapples, grapes and melons. Avoid veggies like tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers. Instead, favor veggies like cucumbers, green beans, potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli.
Pitta individuals should use seasonings that are cooling and soothing. These include clove, cilantro, cardamom and fennel. Hot seasonings, such as cumin and mustard seed, should be used sparingly. And if you’re a non-vegetarian, chicken and turkey are better than beef and seafood. Dairy can help balance the heat of pitta and should include things like butter and milk.
Keep your cool
Balancing Pitta also includes lifestyle. Allow for some free time every day, so you can balance rest and activity. Don’t skip meals and wait till you’re famished. Spend time in nature. Take a stroll in the woods and keep plants and fresh flowers at home. Most of all, make sure to laugh a lot every day. You may even want to consider performing a daily massage with cooler oils like coconut. Take in some aromatherapy with mint, lavender or sandalwood.
At the Art of Living Retreat Center, we provide guidance on how to keep your pitta in balance. We offer a sense of connection, inner peace and rejuvenation. Nestled on scenic mountaintop in the Blue Ridge Mountains, our center is the ideal location for Ayurveda and personal transformation. Everyone is cared for like family.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
Wellness, Naturally: Balancing Kapha in Winter
When you learn to look at the world from an Ayurvedic perspective, it won’t be long before your view on achieving and maintaining your own personal sense of wellness will become not only clearer, but also attainable in ways that you may not have thought possible. In this post, we’ll be focusing on the various techniques for balancing Kapha through the cold months of winter.
Know your dosha
One of the first steps toward gaining clarity and control over your own health is understanding the three dynamic energies known in Ayurveda as doshas. These are Vata, Pitta, and the one we’ll be focusing on specifically in this post, Kapha. Doshas are, put very simply, the biological energies that make us who we are as individuals. They are not one size fits all! Your dosha is not only as unique as you are – it is what makes you so unique.
What does it mean to be kapha?
Each of the three doshas project both mental and physical attributes that will reflect the elements related to them. The elements related to the kapha dosha are earth and water. This manifests in people who are thought to have a dosha balance dominated by Kapha as both a solid physical frame, as well as a strong, calming presence and grounded personality.
Kapha in winter – losing your balance
When you fail to take care of yourself properly, your doshas can become imbalanced. This will be noticeable both in the way you feel physically and mentally, but also in the way that you interact with others and even how they respond to you. If you find yourself feeling “off” or “unsteady”, chances are good that your doshas have gotten out of proportion.
Kaphas who allow themselves to be too sedentary in the winter months will suffer the consequences, and often find themselves experiencing some of the following negative effects:
● Weight gain
● Depression and lethargy
● Poor circulation
● Respiratory issues
● Oily skin
Balancing kapha: 3 easy ways to feel lighter in winter
Ayurveda is all about keeping your doshas balanced. Fortunately, when you become aware of an imbalance, there are a lot of ways to make balancing Kapha again a cinch.
1. Get Moving! – Regular physical activity is key for balancing Kapha . Bundle up and take an invigorating winter walk around your favorite park or better yet, use the chilly months to give hot yoga a try!
2. Keep Your Diet Light – It’s easy to fall into a routine of eating more in cold months, no matter what your dosha is, but Kaphas often tend to have a slow metabolism anyway. Be mindful of your portions and don’t let yourself go overboard, especially on rich, heavy foods. Which brings us to…..
3. Avoid Kapha-Rich Foods – Foods that increase Kapha will tip your balance, so you’ll want to take a pass on that big slice of gooey pecan pie, and anything else that is overly salty or sweet. Heavy foods will only weigh you down, but try taking inspiration from the pitta dosha until spring comes, with lots of warm, light veggies (think green beans, yellow squash, or zucchini) and oats, quinoa or basmati rice. And be sure to have lots of ginger and lemon hot tea!
If you’re new to Ayurveda, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by information – but don’t forget that intuition and self-awareness about how you feel mentally and physically play a big part in living an Ayurvedic lifestyle. It will soon become second nature and the benefits to your overall health are worth it!
Wellness, Naturally: Balancing Vata in Winter
Seasonal changes affect our lives in many ways. They play a role in a person’s very nature, something known as a dosha in Ayurveda. The winter season can affect and imbalance a vata dosha, or constitution, so balancing vata is important during this season.
Vata is one of the three constitutions in Ayurveda. Associated with the air element, it expresses itself in attributes like cold and dry skin, feeling restless, having a thin body, talking a lot, and gravitating toward a warm climate.
It’s important to be mindful of how a dosha imbalance happens. Once you understand this, you can focus on preventing it or bringing yourself back into a state of balance. Some factors that imbalance vata include sleep problems, high-pressure work situations, a lot of worry and stress, and an abundance of talking or traveling. During the winter season, cold and windy climates can throw off a vata constitution. Winter is generally hard on a vata type, because of their cold and dry skin, cold hands and feet, and overall difficulty handling cold weather.
These problems are particularly pronounced when a person’s vata is unbalanced. Some things that indicate an imbalanced vata include problems with the joints, body pains, restlessness, and trouble sleeping.
A vata constitution will feel much better when in balance. You’ll feel healthier and happier, with a more calm state of mind. You’ll sleep better, feel less pain, and have a more stable and focused mental state. And throughout the winter, you’ll feel warmer and experience healthier skin and circulation. While there are numerous steps you can take to balance vata, try these three methods this winter:
Follow a daily schedule
Create a better routine that provides balance. Your schedule should help manage your workload and personal responsibilities by breaking them down into smaller steps and allocating enough time. This way, you can reduce stress and still remain productive. Plan ahead of time for personal care and meditation. Make an effort to get to sleep earlier by making your nighttime routine more calming. Try to find motivation in getting more sleep, such as noticing the difference in how you feel, both mentally and physically, when you go to sleep earlier.
Help yourself achieve a better state of calm by cutting down on stimulants. This includes caffeinated beverages like coffee, as well as processed sugar that creates a quick sugar high and then an energy crash. Instead, find more stable sources of energy through complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and proteins. Meditate and use other methods to calm and rejuvenate yourself, rather than reaching for stimulants.
Follow a vata diet
Rejoice in winter comfort foods. Foods that are cooked, warm and soft will be good for you, so enjoy stews, macaroni and cheese, and similar comfort foods. Take in healthy oils and a lot of moisture through foods and beverages. Some ideal vata-balancing foods include olives, dairy products, avocado, nuts, seeds and wheat. Also, choose salty, sweet and sour tastes like fruit, yogurt and kimchi instead of bitter, pungent and astringent ones like radishes, kale and legumes. Fried dishes and overeating can cause problems to vata, while rich yet nourishing meals help balance this constitution’s lightness.
Ayurvedic Recipes: Beet Soup a la Poland
Food blogger and yoga teacher Kasia Fraser specializes in healthy, delicious food with a flair for vegan and raw cuisine. Here Kasia shares a recipe for one of her favourite winter meals – beet soup a la Poland! Beets are a wonderful Ayurvedic winter food, due to their ability to cleanse the liver and rejuvenate the blood.
Beet soup a la Poland
- 2 organic beets with the leaves intact
- 1 organic potato
- 1 organic carrot
- 1 organic parsley root
- 1 small celery root
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- half of a lemon, juiced
- fresh dill
- salt and pepper
- Cut all veggies, and cook in the hot water with a bit of salt. Once soft, add olive oil, black pepper, and lemon juice.
- Add chopped beet leaves and turn the heat off. Keep covered for 3-5 minutes.
- Spoon into a bowl, and garnish with fresh dill! Enjoy with a spoonful of vegan yogurt and wheat-free warm toast.
Check out more of Kasia’s amazing recipes at hellodelicious.info!
Ayurvedic Recipes: Carrot Currant Salad
Yes, carrots are good for the eyes and so much more!
This popular root vegetable has an interesting “personality”. Ayurveda tells us that substances with a sweet taste have a cooling energy. Although the carrot is mainly sweat in taste (rasa), it has heating energy (virya). This makes the carrot a great seasonal vegetable for winter.
Rich in Vitamin A and antioxidants, the carrot is a salad superhero and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Immune-boosting qualities, the ability to bring down blood pressure and protect the liver, act as a diuretic, improve appetite, and treat IBS, are just a few of it’s superpowers!
The other ingredients in this salad are great sidekicks that help this dish pack the perfect punch! They are nourishing, grounding, and unctuous, making this a welcoming, wonderfully warm winter recipe.
This is a raw salad that I suggest be warmed before eaten, or at least eaten at room temperature to aid in digestion.
Carrot Currant Salad
- 1 cup of currants, raisins, or chopped dates
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 tbsp tahini
- 3/4 tbsp maple syrup or jaggery
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
- 3-4 cups grated or shredded carrots (about 4-6 medium carrots)
- Optional: about 1/4 cup fine toasted coconut flakes for garnish
- In a small bowl, soak the currants, dates, or raisins in the warm water for five minutes. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the soak water.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, except for the carrots and coconut.
- Stir in the carrots until coated well with the dressing.
- Warm before serving, and garnish with toasted coconut.
Serves four as a side dish.
Ayurvedic Recipes: Sweet Carrot Halwa
As the winter weather is upon us and the holiday season beckons, it’s easy to accidentally over-indulge in unhealthy foods. Fortunately, the Ayurvedic approach to healthy living has proven tactics that will help get you back on track for 2018. So what does Ayurveda suggest for the winter months?
If you want to ward off the cold and feel more nourished and energized, Ayurvedic wisdom suggests you should supplement your diet with seasonal root vegetables. With the right type of food, you can improve your digestive tract, experience optimal health, and find the balance you need to live a healthy life when the new year begins.
Carrots: an Ayurveda winter classic
During the winter, we want to avoid getting sick at all costs, which means that you need to reconnect your body with nature’s cycles. One of the ways to do this is to eat seasonal vegetables, such as beets, potatoes, and carrots. These root vegetables are dense, rich in fiber, packed with vitamins, filled with minerals, and of course, loaded with antioxidants to help you get through the winter.
Carrots are an easy to digest vegetable, which makes them perfect for stimulating your system, increasing your energy, and purifying the blood. Did you know that carrots can even have a relaxing effect on your eyes? From helping your complexion to improving your vision and reducing inflammation, carrots are a must-have vegetable for many Ayurvedic winter recipes.
Unless you live in the tropics, during the winter we often feel as if our body is shriveling up in the colder temperature and drier air. Unfortunately, as our skin begins to dry, our sinuses also begin to dry out, which can lead to unwanted infections, colds, or the flu. Even our joints begin to feel as if they’re dry, and creaking all of the time. This is why this Ayurvedic recipe is the perfect thing for the season.
This nourishing dish can be served as a side course or for dessert.
Sweet Carrot Halwa
- 2 cups finely grated carrots
- 1 tablespoon filtered water
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons of ghee
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/8 cup finely sliced almonds
- sweetener of your choice, to taste (favor natural sweeteners like raw cane sugar or stevia)
- Soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon of water for 10 minutes.
- Melt the ghee in a large pot over low heat. Once the ghee is melted, add the carrots.
- Stir and cook the carrots until they become fragrant. After approximately five minutes, the carrots should become slightly brown.
- Add the milk, spices, and soaked saffron to the carrots.
- Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Be sure to stir frequently to keep the halwa from burning or sticking to the pan.
- Serve in small dishes, topped with sliced almonds.
This winter, make sure that you stay healthy and balanced with a diet that features the right types of foods, courtesy of delicious Ayurvedic recipes.
Wellness, Naturally: Preparing for Winter with Ayurveda
Winter has finally arrived. Everywhere you look, the world is going dormant. Now is the perfect time to examine and redirect your energies. One way to make winter more enjoyable is to apply the principles of Ayurveda to your daily life.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest forms of medicine. This ancient practice originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. Ayurveda focuses on the mind-body connection, and is more than just a way of treating illness; it is a science of life.
According to Ayurvedic principles, everyone has three energetic forces of nature, or doshas — pitta is the energy of digestion, vata is the energy of movement, and kapha is the energy of lubrication. When these three doshas are out of balance, it can wreak havoc on health and wellness. The rhythmic cycle of the seasons affects the doshas, causing them to go out of whack.
Following an Ayurvedic lifestyle will help you stay healthy and vibrant. By making just a few lifestyle adjustments this winter, you can keep your energies in balance. This will help you feel vibrant all season long!
Nourish your Body
During the winter, your digestive fire is the strongest. Your body needs more fuel to stay healthy and warm during the winter months. The cold weather helps ignite your digestive capacity. Your body needs a more nutritive, substantial diet this time of year. A winter diet will help give your body warmth, comfort, and hydration. Here are our favourite tips to nourish your body this winter with Ayurveda.
Avoid processed foods
Although you might be tempted to eat processed foods, especially during the busy holidays, avoid doing so. Processed food can contain pesticides and chemicals that affect well-being. Choose natural foods that are closest to their natural form.
Choose foods higher in fat
Your body needs more fat during the winter due to greater digestive capacity. Try to choose foods high in healthy fats, like coconut and olive oils.
Drink warm beverages
Avoid chilled or iced drinks in the winter. They can aggravate vata and kapha energies. Instead, choose warm teas, milk, and other drinks. You can try adding ginger, cinnamon, and clove to your warm tea — this will improve circulation and heat, and help clear out your nasal passages. Combine cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger with a cup of warm milk — this soothing recipe will help you feel warm and comfortable no matter how cold it is outside. Drink warm water throughout the day to help remove toxins from your body.
Choose hardy vegetables
Nutrient-dense root vegetables like onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes are more dense and rich in vitamins and antioxidants — which is perfect for boosting your immunity throughout the winter.
Add some spice
Spices like cayenne, nutmeg, chili, black pepper, and ginger are an important part of a winter Ayurveda diet. These spices help you feel full and raise your inner temperature. They keep the body and soul warm and balanced during the bitter cold months.
Nourishing your body with the proper food and drink will help keep your doshas in harmony this winter. When your doshas are balanced, you’ll feel a greater sense of well-being and peace.
Wellness, Naturally: Balancing Kapha in Late Winter
During the weeks before the advent of spring, kapha begins to awaken. Ayurveda teaches us that our bodies mimic what takes place in the ebb and flow of nature’s seasons. In late winter, we may find ourselves beginning to notice the qualities of kapha (earth & water) in ourselves that are abundant in the upcoming springtime.
The heavy, wet qualities of spring rain and melting snow are reflected in our bodies, and we may feel out of balance as we try to adjust to the new season. We’ve put together a few tips for making the most of this transitional time, so you can live your life feeling energized and empowered.
This list offers a brief psychophisiological profile for the kapha dosha and energy.
Elements: Earth & water
Qualities: Heavy, solid, hard, cool, inert, wet, dull, sticky, soft
Balancing qualities: Dry, light, mobile, hot, clear, subtle, spreading, sharp
Organs: Stomach, lungs, pancreas, head chest
Digestion: Slow/sluggish bowel movements
Balanced traits: Sweet, trustworthy, intelligent, loyal
Imbalanced traits: Overweight, apathetic, sedentary, depressed, greedy, attached
Tastes: Sweet, sour, salty
Balancing tastes: Bitter, astringent, pungent
Time of Day: 6-10 AM, 6-10 PM
Tips for Balancing Kapha
1. Turn off all screens one hour before bed, to allow your body to adjust. Screens mimic daylight, and therefore trick your body into wakefulness.
2. Try to be in bed by 10PM, and rise by 6AM. These particular sleeping hours are beneficial to your body’s natural circadian rhythms, and you’ll experience a much better quality sleep that will help you sustain your energy level and digestion throughout the day.
3. Avoid coughs, colds, and the flu by keeping your digestive fire (agni) stoked properly. A cup of ginger tea and lemon every day kindles this digestive fire, which burns off toxins and unhealthy types of fat.
4. Eat well, favoring warm, juicy, and well-cooked food, which is beneficial this time of year. To maintain a healthy weight, consider your climate, constitution, and personal habits when making food choices. Avoid snacking, and explore how much food you need at each meal to feel satisfied. Implement the use of spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom, to stimulate warmth and circulation at this time of year. Eat in a calm, relaxed environment.
Interested in the healing power of Ayurveda? Join us at one of our Ayurvedic retreats!
Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.