I hope everyone had a good holiday break! We are back at it in class, and after having finished my midterm, I am feeling pretty confident in the future.
Today, I would like to add to the topic of digestion.
I’ve spoken in past blogs about how diseases manifest and how digestion is affected by on’es diet and lifestyle. Diet and lifestyle can be hard to change, and most of us will keep doing what’s unhealthy and want the quick pill to fix our manifested problems.
It’s important to think of digestion as follows:
Management of digestion will help prevent disease from happening.
We often talk about “preventative medicine” as opposed to “curative” medicine. Ayurveda teaches us that the origin of all disease (that is not caused by external injury) is in the digestive system. So really, all preventative medicine is simply managing one’s digestion. When we fail to manage it, then stronger symptoms start to occur – but the origin is always the same. The foods you eat, how and when you eat them, your lifestyle – these are the things to manage.
Our body always gives us signs of trouble, and the signs start in the digestive system.
For Vata, we start with constipation and gas.
For Pitta, we start with burning indigestion and loose stools.
For Kapha, we start with sluggish digestion and nausea.
If you have any of these symptoms, you won’t even consider them a symptom! That’s the tricky part, they will be so mild and we are so used to living with these that we assume it’s “normal for us”. But normal means you have none of these issues. Anything else means you have problems that are accumulating.
From there, if we do nothing, our bodies continue to give us feedback:
For Vata, we experience systemic dryness, cold, and fatigue.
For Pitta, we experience burning mucous membranes, general warmth/heat and intensity.
For Kapha, we experience swelling and lethargy and paleness.
But even these symptoms we will chalk up to just being what’s normal for us. They will still be mild. We can live with them without too much complaint.
But this is our body screaming at us to fix our diet and activities!
Only after things get much worse do we ever do anything. Too often what we do is we just find a pill to cure us. Here, the symptoms vary and can be anything, because the growing disease in us has now found a new home in the body. It has been carried from the digestive system via the blood and lymph to other parts of the body, often where we are weakest.
Ayurveda is both curative and preventative.
If you have waited too long and need to manage symptoms, Ayurveda can help. Just as in western medicine, not everything is curable however. Some diseases may have progressed too far, and all we can do is alleviate your pain.
But the beauty of Ayurveda is that we can look back and trace the origin of the disease to the same symptoms every time, and we can treat those symptoms. Treating them requires the help and wisdom of an Ayurvedic practitioner. The gist of it is that we use opposite qualities to treat the doshas:
Kapha imbalances are heavy and moist – they need movement, heat, dryness.
Pitta imbalances are hot – they need cooling.
Vata imbalances are always light and moving – they need stability, heaviness, grounding.
Do you see how basically each dosha needs another dosha to balance it? It is more complex than I can explain in any blog, but that’s basically where we start. An ayurvedic practitioner can help you learn what foods and activities will help you in the prevention of disease.
If you want to live a healthy life, it will never be enough to just treat symptoms as they arise. You will always be struggling, and they will continue to occur. Healthiness starts in the digestive system. The magic formula for being healthy is to have proper diet and lifestyle.
As always I wish you good health.