Ayurveda Day 98: Heart Disease

Heart disease is a  serious problem in North America. It is the cause of almost 25% of deaths in the United States, and is the leading cause of death for both men and women!

It’s often overlooked for funding in favour of other illnesses for whatever reason – but Ayurveda can help us to understand it better.

So how do we treat heart disease if it’s such a serious risk to so many of us? How can we prevent it? The great thing about Ayurveda is that the answer is always the same regardless of the disease, as you will read more on in a moment. But let’s take a look at heart disease from an Ayurvedic perspective first.

According to the Madhava Nidanam (an ayurvedic text), heart disease is caused by impure lymph that returns to the heart and causes chest pain.

There are also several psychological components that go with this disease.

Vata

Causes:

Grief, excessive exercise, ignoring natural urges (urination for example), and a vata vitiating diet (drying foods).

Symptoms:

Sense of emptiness, trembling, cramps, feeling of being torn

Treatment:

Soothe and fill the emptiness – this means taking warm and moist foods, tonifying herbs (best are bala and arjuna) in medicated ghee or oil, bastis (enemas), vamana (induced vomiting), and oleation (under supervision of a CAS).

Pitta

Causes:

Stress, alcohol, anger, over-exposure to sun, and pitta vitiating diet (heating foods: spicy, fried, greasy)

Symptoms:

Burning chest pain, thirst, giddiness, perspiration, bitter taste in mouth

Treatment:

Cool and calm the intensity – cool substances and foods, tonifying herbs (best are bala and arjuna) in medicated ghee, induced diarrhea, bastis (enemas), and vamana (induced vomiting) if necessary (all under the supervision of a CAS).

Kapha

Causes:

Sedentary lifestyle, excessive sleep, inadequate mental exercise, kapha vitiating diet (heavy, dense, rich, moist foods)

Symptoms:

Heaviness in chest, slow heart beat, anorexia (loss of appetite or taste), stiffness, drowsiness

Treatment:

Relieve the stagnation – a diet of light, dry, and warming substances, increasing downward energy, cleansing the body via urination and sweating, herbal churnas (arjuna and triphala), vamana (induced vomiting), virechana (induced diarrhea), and basti (enemas) (all under the supervision of a CAS).

You may notice a common thread in a lot of treatments in Ayurveda. Often, for multiple pathologies, the treatment is the same. Why is this?

Although the herbal formulation may vary for symptomatic relief, in the end the doshas are the doshas.

Every disease has a vata version, pitta version, and kapha version. We always treat vata, pitta, and kapha, from the same perspective.

Vata disease is caused by dryness in the body and too much movement in the mind.

Pitta disease is caused by too much heat in the body and intensity in the mind.

Kapha disease is caused by stagnation in the body and not enough mental exercise.

But this a blessing. It means that knowing your doshas, knowing the doshas of the disease, and knowing the doshas of the treatment allow us to help you to heal in the fullest way possible as well as the simplest.

No matter what disease you have, we are always going to work on a vata’s dryness, or a pitta’s heat, or a kapha’s stagnation. It’s just that simple. We just have many different tools to accomplish this.

So in preventing heart disease or any other disease for that matter, it’s always about getting your doshas in balance. This is ultimately what will make you healthy and strong to lower your risk factors across the board.

With gratitude,

S

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