Yesterday we spoke of the two types of treatments in ayurveda: tonification and purification. Purification therapies actually are split up into two categories: a more intense approach via Pancha Karma (which I will delve into next week), and palliation, which is more of a slow, gradual approach.
The purpose of purification is to rid the body of ama (toxins), which become trapped in the cells of the body. Pancha Karma jump starts this process of healing by stopping the doshas from flowing, expelling them, and removing ama from the body. This process however can feel debilitating and is not recommended for patients with low ojas or any forms of weakness. In order to build up to Pancha Karma, which sort of provides the body with a clean slate, or if Pancha Karma isn’t an option, we can use a slower, more mild approach known as palliation.
What does it do?
Mildly or gently purifies the body, ridding it of ama.
Who should do it?
Palliation is good for patients who have ama present but are too weak for Pancha Karma. Also great for those with Vata nature.
How does it work?
Depending on the dosha, there are many different factors. However, it largely depends on a diet consisting of kitcheree and takra.
Vata: 5-10 days
Pitta: 7-10 days
Kapha: 30 days
May cause vata vitiation if not monitored properly.
Vata: rest, oil the body, hot baths, walking, gently yoga, vata pacifying aromas, colour therapies, alternate nostril pranayama, chanting warming mantras.
Pitta: light, cooling oil therapies, gently yoga, a little time in wind, short warm baths, lunar pranayama, chanting air and ether mantras, meditation.
Kapha: moderately active, light kapha oil application, strong and dry heat therapies for 30-60 mins, stronger aerobic exercise, wind exposure, mantras of fire, ether, and air, solar pranayama, kapalabathi, less sleep.
Here are some links where I have discussed these practices in more detail:
Kitcheree is a wonderful and delicious food that provides the body with nearly everything in needs. It is made of rice, mung dal, spices, and vegetables. It is known by other names as well (Kichadi in South India) and can be made with couscous, noodles, all kinds of stuff. But let’s start here for now. When used as a mono diet, the benefits are thus:
– light diet
– easily digested
– contains complete protein
– is tonifying with proper vegetables
– provides nutrition
– low in calories
– high in fibre
– delicious, easy to make
Everyone should take a stab at making kitcheree! Here are some recipes for all three doshas:
Vata Pacifying Kitcheree
1 pt Basmati Rice
1 pt Mung Dal
1/2 tsp each of any vata pacifying spices (cumin, mustard seed, turmeric, cardamom, fresh garlic/ginger, cinnamon, bay leaf, anise…avoid drying spices)
4 parts vegetables – limit one part to root vegetables, and include greens (beets, carrots, leeks, mustard greens, okra, onions, parnsnips, shallots, acorn squash, winter squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes…avoid dry and cooling foods)
Pitta Pacifying Kitcheree
1 pt Basmati Rice
1 pt Mung Dal
1-2 tsp of pitta pacifying spices (cumin, fennel, coriander, mint, ginger, cardamom, turmeric…avoid hot spices)
4 parts or more of vegetables, with greens as at least 2 parts (sprouts, bell peppers, eggplant, corn, potatoes, spinach, carrots, bitter melon, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, leafy greans, squash, zucchini…avoid heating foods)
Add sunflower seeds to help reduce pitta even more!
Kapha Pacifying Kitcheree
1 pt Basmati Rice
1 pt Dal
1-2 tsp of kapha pacifying spices (mustard seed, cumin, black pepper, dry ginger, asafetida, cayenne, garlic, nutmeg, star anise, fenugreek, cloves, any hot spices… avoid too much salt)
4 parts or more of kapha pacifying vegetables, at least 2 parts greens (sprouts, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, carrots, celery, chilies, corn, leafy greens, mustard greens, onions, potatoes, radish, spinach, turnips…avoid heavy, dense, moist foods)
How to make Kitcheree
There are different ways to prepare kitcheree. The simplest ways are to soak your mung dal the night before, then cook all the ingredients together in one pot. Just check it now and again to make sure it is not burning, and once all the water has evaporated it is done (just like making rice). Crockpots probably work great too! If you are Vata or Pitta, you can get away with it being a little soupier if you prefer.
One small thing…
Since kitcheree is so good for you there has to be a catch…and there is. Since the caloric intake of eating kitcheree is so small compared to our regularly high calorie diets, you may feel hungrier than usual. Just eat more! As time goes on with kitcheree in your diet your appetite will change as most of us take in way too many calories. The stretch receptors in our stomachs are used to being taxed to the limit – it will take some slow steady reigning to regain a healthy appetite.
Takra is also another great addition to an ayurvedic diet. It is like a medicinal yogurt drink. You may have had mango lassi before – this is less culinary and more healthy. Basically you are combining plain yogurt, water, and spices, and taking it as a drink. Just put it all in a protein shake style bottle and shake it up! You’re good to go! Or mix it in a blender or by hand. The spices you use for each dosha are the same as with the kitcheree.
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup water
Vata pacifying spices, powdered
1/3 cup yogurt
2/3 cup water
Pitta pacifying spices, powdered
1 oz yogurt (2tbsp)
7 oz water (makes one cup)
Kapha pacifying spices, powdered
The key step in making a takra is to let it sit for a few hours. It is okay to make it, put it in your backpack, and head off to work to take it later on. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated so long as you consume it within 3-5 hours. Consuming it earlier than this will mean it will be more sour, the spices won’t have had enough time to penetrate the whole drink, and there will be less probiotic culture. Drinking it when cold also suppresses the agni (digestive fire).
Take note that building ojas when going through palliation is important. However, palliation is a reducing therapy, not a tonifying one. The diet specifically will not be building much tissue (which would trap in the ama anyway which is not what we want). But we can build ojas in other ways in the meantime.
Have a great weekend experimenting with some new recipes! Let me know how they turn out…I’m still waiting for my amma (mom) to come back from India to show me how she makes hers.