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REMEDY BLOG | ANCIENT HEALTHCARE LESSON
Ancient Healthcare Lesson
July 6, 2018 | Chad Hildebrand
Its “summertime and the living is easy” … except when it’s hot… and not. Whether those words remind you of Ella Fitzgerald or Sublime, sometimes summer isn’t so easy. The East Coast of the United States is in the midst of an historic heatwave and sprinting between air conditioned buildings is only fun for so long. So, when modern technologies aren’t enough, where do we turn? How about to the ancient cooling practices from the archives of Ayurveda?
Emerge from The Pitta Despair
What is Ayurveda? It has been translated to mean, “the knowledge of long life.” Or if we break down the word from its roots, it simply means the science of life. But that sounds like a Tony Robbins talk on the mastery of wealth. And it is, I checked. But thousands of years before Mr. Robbins was doing TED Talks to sold out crowds, the sages of India were crafting a system to treat illness. Their doctrine was based on two simple principles, 1) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2) nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. Importantly, Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health, and knowing your mind-body type allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, and all other aspects of your lifestyle.
You may not know your mind-body type yet, but let’s start with the obvious. Ayurveda tells us that we should eat a colorful, flavorful diet, get abundant restful sleep, exercise (tune into your body), strengthen your digestive power, take it easy, and be in tune with nature [not surprisingly my favorite]. It may sound very similar to what your doctor tells you at each check-up. And that’s because it is. We weren’t going to throw away centuries of progress just because we have a few more surgical procedures and an abundance of prescription medications.
According to Ayurveda, summer is the season of pitta. Pitta is composed of predominantly fire and water energies, and its main qualities are oily, sharp, hot, and light, which means you must maintain a pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle. So, next time you are feeling the heat of summer, put some of these Ayurvedic-based practices to the test.
1) Eat watermelon
2) Curled tongue breath-work (for those that practiced this as a child)
3) 20 ounces of morning hydration first thing each day
4) Aloe vera… eat it, drink it, rub it
5) Avoid inflammatory foods
6) Shoulder stands or legs up the wall
For more information on these solutions, click here.
Re-organ(izing) the Body
A few months back, an exhibition entitled “Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine,” at the London Wellcome Center, came to a close after much fanfare. The purpose of the exhibition was to encourage visitors to explore different ways of understanding and visualizing the human body. Based on the exhibit, it becomes clear that the Ayurvedic body differs significantly from that of “Western” medicine, which is based on dissection; whereas the Ayurvedic body is a body of systems. According to theory, by attending to imbalances between the systems of the body, health might be promoted and illness avoided. Sounds pretty straightforward to me.
So, how have we come to a dominant form of healthcare that seems to contradict these principles? It’s not that one is correct or the other incorrect. Or that we can define which is more or less accurate. The best way that I have heard it described is as “a plurality of understandings through time.” Or the modern term of Integrative Medicine. Today, the picture we create of our bodies is largely built up from dissection and, more recently, x-rays and various other scans. Yet in practice, we understand our bodies as a changing system.
I’ve spent the better half of my career as a pharmacist working in the field of oncology. My father passed away from lung cancer at the age of 56 and I have immersed myself in the field ever since. I’ve learned everything that I could… wondering if I could have stopped the inevitable. Was there some new, undisclosed cure that was being tested? What more could we have done as a family to support his nutrition, his immune health? The problem is that no matter how much we think we know, there is always more to learn in medicine. We do our best.
To elucidate my point, it was just this past March that scientists identified a new organ, the interstitium. The new organ is a network of fluid-filled spaces in the body's connective tissue existing between the skin and the body organs, including muscles and the circulatory system. So... our bodies are (in fact) connected by a body of systems. I guess better late than never and certainly having a better understanding of how our bodies work is never a bad thing. Scientists speculate that the interstitium may be allowing cancerous cells to spread throughout the body. Therefore, we have a new weapon in the fight against cancer.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, please join Remedy Hike this upcoming week as we partner up with Harmony Yoga to bring you the “5 Elements of Ayurveda” with Asrael Zemenick. We will be embracing the energy of the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda by exploring movement, guided meditation, and the sacred teachings to remind us that we are all a part of nature and not separate from it. Because when we are in tune with nature, we are in tune with ourselves. We look forward to seeing you there.
Friday Fun Fact
Ayurveda has been practiced in India for over 5000 years.
We will always be disappointed that a group of squid isn't called a squad.
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