4 Simple Ways to Use Ayurvedic Medicine to Improve Your Life
It’s surprising how simple, and seemingly obvious, Ayurveda medicine theories are – the idea that eating nutritious food, sleeping well, meditating and listening to your body’s cues can make you healthier. So much of the lessons of Ayurveda medicine are the same ones your mom may have tried to teach you, from “eat your vegetables”, to “stop and take a breath, first.” For thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine has made people healthier, and today, science has proven many of them correct. Here are four simple ways to use Ayurvedic medicine to improve your life, and possibly make you healthier.
4 Simple Ways to Use Ayurvedic Medicine to Improve Your Health
- Go to bed earlier
- Listen to your body
- Take a breath to calm down
- Drink water when you wake
What is Ayurveda Medicine?
Before there were peer-reviewed journals and modern medicine, in India, it was recognized that wellness is more possible when you focus on prevention through a lifestyle that includes nutritious foods and herbal medicines, movement and meditation. Yoga and massage are commonly practiced aspects of Ayurveda medicine in North America. So many aspects of Ayurveda medicine are things your mom might have said to you as a child, good advice that always helped you feel better, from taking time to focus on rest, to eating nutritious foods. Science has confirmed many of these theories of wellness to be effective, including the importance of an early bedtime, to the value of plants in improving health, including ginger.
Why You Should Go to Bed Earlier
Despite the appeal of watching just one more episode of your favourite show, it really is a good idea to go to bed earlier. It’s natural for us to want to rest when it’s dark out and be active in the light. The advantage to going to bed earlier is it improves the likelihood you’ll be asleep when your body naturally rejuvenates – the most restorative sleep tends to happen before midnight, according to sleep experts. When you look at electrical lights at night it delays your natural internal clock. This interrupts your body’s natural adjustments to the changing seasons, most notable around daylight savings days, or when you travel (jetlag). If you’re struggling to reset your sleep patterns, consider spending the weekend camping – the lack of electronic lights at night helps get back in touch with your natural internal clock, according to researchers.
Humans and all living things have an internal biological clock, called the circadian rhythm, that helps us anticipate and adapt to the rotation of the planet. The Nobel Prize was awarded in 2017 in the fields of physiology and medicine, to researchers who found the molecular mechanisms behind how our body adjusts its physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day. The circadian rhythm alters metabolism, hormones, behaviour, sleep and body temperatures. If there is a temporary mismatch between this internal clock and the external environment it affects our wellbeing. You may have experienced this and called it “jet lag”. Ginger is just one tip to better sleep and less anxiety.
Why it’s Healthy to Listen to Your Body
There’s recognition in Ayurveda medicine that everyone’s body is different, and that if you listen to your body, it tells you when these are out of balance. Feeling unwell is thought to mean there is an imbalance in the body’s doshas, three different energies (Vatta, Pitta, Kapha).
The chronic mismanagement of our lifestyles, not listening to our internal clock, is linked with an increased risk of illness. Growing scientific evidence points to insufficient sleep’s impact on our health and wellbeing, showing links with poor mental health and increased risk of chronic diseases, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer and unhealthy blood fat levels, which is a known risk of cardiovascular disease.
Taking a Breath to Calm Down
Mindfulness is at the root of wellness in Ayurveda medicine. If you have ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed, and taken the moment to breathe deeply, you know that breath has the power to transform your mind and body. Symptoms of anxiety, from racing thoughts to an upset stomach, can dissipate by practicing deep breathing. The mind gets the chance to refresh itself, allowing you to have better awareness, slow your heart rate and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Breath control can change your life and science agrees.
Why it’s Healthy to Drink Water When You Wake
During the night, as you sleep, you exhale, inhale and sweat. All of these actions use up water in your body, so by the morning, you are dehydrated. Dehydration is a state in which the body cannot function optimally. One of the ways you can use Ayurveda medicine to make you healthier is to incorporate the practice of drinking a glass of water in the morning. It can help you rehydrate. Being dehydrated is linked with headaches, poor mood and low energy. Insufficient hydration can also lead to more serious issues such as trouble with the eyes, brain (consciousness) or heart (tachycardia). Ayurvedic medicine sometimes mentions drinking a cup of warm water in the morning, to support hydration and introduce heat to your body. The idea of heat comes from an important aspect of Ayurveda. The digestive system is said to be a fire that is cooking, transforming and assimilating nutrients. When you wake, it’s great to get your internal fire going, helping turn on the digestive system. Of note, ginger root is a warming food in Ayurveda medicine.
Modern science has looked extensively at the ability of ginger, an herb commonly used in Ayurveda medicine for its ability to relieve nausea. Studies have found significant evidence that ginger does reduce the frequency of vomiting and nausea, and relieves nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy, and improves chemotherapy-induced nausea.
The Ayurveda Medicine, Ginger
Ayurveda medicine has used ginger or ginger tea for thousands of years as a health-promoting herbal medicine. Scientific studies and research confirm that ginger has effective health benefits including:
- Promote the recovery of muscle strength after intense exercise
- Reduce migraine attacks
- Lower fasting blood sugar, and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio
- Weight loss
- Cold and Flu remedy
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Allison Tannis MSc RHN: Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s books and articles are read around the world by those curious where are the most nutritious (and delicious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.