Health & Healing

Ayurvedic Principles For Pubescence


Hatha yoga, exercise and a pitta-reducing diet: prerequisites for boys and girls during puberty.§

We have emphasized that exercise is very important for boys and girls going through puberty. Exercise is one of the main activities that stimulate the body to work normally and stay in good health, and is of two types. Hatha yoga, an organized form of asanas, or physical postures, will maintain healthy functioning of the muscles through stretching and contracting. Minimal asanas to perform daily are called Surya Namaskar. Done slowly, they exercise every muscle in the body and aid in proper respiration.§

The second form of exercise is called aerobics. Aerobics will raise the heart and respiratory rates, resulting in an increase in metabolism. Some of the best aerobic exercises are walking, jogging, swimming, running, calisthenics and team sports. The heart rate should be raised to 60% to 80% of its maximum (270 minus age) and maintained for about 15 to 30 minutes. After exercising there should be a cooling-off period to allow the heart and respiratory rates to return to normal. During puberty, team sports are beneficial for boys, helping them get through this period without excessive wet dreams and will help them to harness sexual fantasy and avoid carnal temptations.§

Acne can be a problem, due to a high pitta, or a fire humor condition. There are no good creams or other applications that can help, except for very advanced cases in which an antibiotic cream can be used. Keeping the skin very clean is important, and light exposure to sunlight is acceptable if a screening agent is applied to prevent burning. Still, most creams are nostrums.§

A pitta pacifying diet is necessary to overcome the excessive pitta influence. Acceptable foods are too numerous to mention, but a list of foods to avoid is given below as a guide. The emphasis during the years of puberty should be on bitter, sweet and astringent tasting foods. The time of the year, the freshness and variety of foods and how they are prepared may alter the effects of the diet. While preparing food, mothers should also keep in mind the health requirements of other members of the family. This may require making separate dishes for the various doshas, or individual bodily constitutions, and the different age groups within the home. Few fats or oils should be used for cooking, and should not be reused. Use heat-producing spices and vegetables very sparingly.§

Pitta-aggravating vegetables to avoid include beets, raw carrots, chilies, daikon, eggplant, olives, onions, peanuts, pumpkins, radishes, spaghetti squash, spinach and tomatoes. All fruits should be ripe and sweet. Avoid apricots, bananas, berries, cranberries, green grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, papaya, peaches, rhubarb and strawberries. Grains to avoid are brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, dry oats, rye and quinoa. Stay completely away from lentils, brown sugar, molasses and old honey. Other foods to steer clear of, especially if acne is present, are alcohol, chocolate, coffee, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, salt, tea and vinegar.§

Parents can help guide their growing sons and daughters into a happy, healthy, successful young adult life by keeping themselves informed and talking regularly and frankly with their youngsters about the natural, wonderful process called puberty.§

Ways to Soothe That Heartburn


Antacids, “H-2 blockers” and surgery have their place, but it’s best to adjust your lifestyle.§

Thirty percent of the American public suffers from it at least once a month and 10 percent suffer daily. Heartburn is a burning pain in the substernal (upper-torso) area or in the back at heart-level between the shoulders. The pain may be localized, but may also extend up to the throat.§

The usual cause is dietary indiscretion: overeating, overdrinking, too much coffee, alcohol or very spicy food. When one overeats or partakes of the wrong foods, there is a tendency for stomach contents to regurgitate into the lower end of the esophagus. This is especially true when one lies down to sleep. Pain results when the stomach acid irritates and burns the delicate mucosa lining of the esophagus. The cause of heartburn is malfunction of the valve at the lower end of the esophagus. It is most common in the older population. This simple form of heartburn can be readily treated with antacids (Maalox, Gaviscon, etc.) or H2-blockers (Tagamet, Axid, Pepcide, etc.)§

A recent study found that conventional antacids gave quick relief usually lasting two hours. The H2-blockers often took two hours just to have any effect–a good case for not spending extra money on such high-tech drugs. Manufacturers advertise that one should take medication before anticipated dietary indiscretions, which is really showing a seller’s bias. If the heartburn is only intermittent or occasional, antacids and H2-blockers can relieve the symptoms. But if it becomes a daily symptom, the condition should be looked into for more serious problems. §

Chronic heartburn is usually caused by a loose esophageal gastric junction (at the entry to the stomach) so that reflux (reentry of stomach fluids to the esophagus) is frequent. There are also times when herniation pushes the stomach into the lower thorax, allowing ready pouring of the stomach contents into the esophagus. Both conditions may require a simple surgical operation. Chronic heartburn must be diagnosed and treated. On very rare occasions it may be a symptom for heart disease and even cancer.§

Daily use of antacids may be harmful, due to their content of magnesium or aluminum. These metals cause problems when their level in the blood gets too high. Antacids containing calcium can disrupt the sensitive balance of the body’s minerals, leading to bone and joint problems. As safe as the H2-blockers seem to be, excessive dosage can lead to a dangerously low level of gastric acid–inadequate for proper digestion or absorption of vitamin B12 and possibly causing pernicious anemia.§

Dietary changes can reduce heartburn. Start by eliminating offending foods, such as caffeine, chocolate, tomatoes, citrus juices and fried, fatty or spicy foods. Have the largest meal at midday and limit the size of meals so that the stomach is not overdistended. Do not bend or squat after eating. Perhaps elevating the head of the bed will help. Eliminating aspirin and alcohol is desirable. Smoking should be discontinued. It has been shown that smoking only two cigarettes over twenty minutes reduces the strength of the esophageal valve by fifty percent and increases the stomach’s acidity. The simple Vedic diet, even though spicy, is ideal, and will usually not allow this symptom to occur.§

Stevia Rebaudiana: How Sweet It Is!


A little-known South American medicinal plant is 300 times sweeter than sugar.§

Stevia rebaudiana has been growing wild in upper South America for centuries and is now cultivated in China, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Malaysia, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico and USA. A member of the chrysanthemum family, it has been used by the Paraguay Guarani Indians since ancient times, primarily as a sweetener but also as a medicinal herb. It may seem too good to be true, but stevia is a noncaloric, nontoxic, natural sweetener that even has health benefits. The natural leaf is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar in the concentrated white powder form. §

This plant’s active ingredients are two glucosides, steviosides and rebaudiosides, the latter being somewhat better tasting. As a whole leaf, or liquid extraction, stevia has three major uses: flavor enhancer, herbal tea and medicinal. The common use is as sweetener and flavor enhancer. In Japan, where artificial sweeteners are banned by law, stevia has 41% of the sweetening market. Its use as an herbal tea, alone or with other herbals, is popular. Medicinally it has a beautifying effect on the skin, and benefits glucose levels in diabetics– blood–a stabilizing effect that can lower their blood sugar levels (but not in nondiabetic users). It never elevates blood sugar, allowing a diabetic to have sweets without adverse effects on his condition. Stevia also has mild antibacterial action, making it suitable for use in mouthwashes, tooth paste and cold or flu remedies–common traditional usages of the Guarini Indians. It is further used (in tea form) as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid and in weight management. Combined with ginseng and other herbs, the tea is thought to prolong a good life. Some reports say stevia could be used as a contraceptive; however, this has not been proved. It is generally accepted that the mutagenic studies (to detect for cancerous properties) done so far were not based on valid or proven assumptions; thus there is slight question of a possible mutagenicity, as is true of the artificial sweeteners Saccharine and Aspartame. With many years of use and no evidence of toxicity or side effects, scientists do not seem to think it is necessary to do further studies. §

Machinations of the US Federal Drug agency have not approved stevia for use other than as a nutritional supplement. It cannot be labeled as a sweetening agent, yet it is approved in most other countries as a safe, noncaloric sweetener. If labeled as a food supplement, it can be purchased in many pharmacies and most health food stores in the US ($9/oz. in one shop) and is generally available in the Eastern countries and Europe. For some years, importation of the plant to the US in any form was not allowed. But this was changed recently.§

Stevia is also stable in heat, allowing its use in cooking to replace sugar (one Tsp of stevia equals one cup of sugar). When used in cookies and cakes, it lacks a browning effect that sugar has, so adjustment in determining doneness must be made. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste if refined leaves are used in excess–less true with less refined leaves– and a hint of a licorice flavor (also a natural sweetener) that many desire.§

It seems that personal use of stevia will be permitted in the USA; but generalized use in the food industry to replace the less than innocuous Aspartame and Saccharin seems unlikely in the foreseeable future.§

Cures For BHP, the Older Man s Curse


Potent herbs, antioxidants and continuing abdominal exercises can relieve this affliction.§

BHP stands for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or enlargement of the prostate, a small, walnut-sized gland found in men at the base of the bladder. Encircling the urethra, it supplies the seminal fluid that transports sperm from the testes to the outside. In most men 40–50 years of age (sometimes beginning as early as 30) there is evidence of hyperplasia (enlargement) of the gland’s inner portion. The urethra is then encroached upon, causing difficulty with frequency and urgency of urination, distension of the bladder and discomfort such as backache due to the increased intraurinary tract pressure of the retained urine. The major symptom is an inability to properly empty the bladder, a feeling that there is always some retained urine. The sphincter, a muscle controlling urinary retention, seems to be spastic and does not relax enough to allow normal urination. In the condition’s early stages, sitting in a tub of hot water (Sitz Bath) will relax the sphincter somewhat, and urination should be attempted while in the bath. One of the complications of this condition, when untreated, is a backing up of urine into the kidneys, thus preventing proper urine production and possible deterioration of the kidney tissues. This leads to nonflow of urine and probable infection of the tract. Much kidney damage may be the result of this condition, which may necessitate emergency surgery. Irreparable damage to the kidneys may lead to death.§

Medical science is not entirely clear about this condition’s cause. Many believe it is due to a loss of testosterone level (and subsequent increase in estrogen level) that stimulates hyperplasia of the gland’s central portion. Some also claim it may be due to sagging of the abdominal organs due to inactivity of more mature males. There also may be a dietary contribution of low levels of zinc, vitamin C, E and other antioxidants.§

Several suggested surgical procedures should only be utilized if the disease process has become uncontrollable. Two prescription medications also available–but not suggested–are Proscar and Hytrin. Both may cause impotence, ejaculatory dysfunction or possible birth defects in male offspring. They are not very effective in reducing the swelling.§

Saw palmetto and pygeum are two effective herbs with no side effects. Dr. Julian Whitaket says in his Sept., 1993, newsletter, “The saw palmetto berry extract has been shown by scientific studies to be about three times more effective than the Merck drug Proscar for alleviating symptoms of prostate enlargement, such as poor urinary stream, urine retention and nighttime urination.” Pygeum has been used for centuries in Africa for all kinds of urinary tract problems in men. Combinations of saw palmetto, pygeum, zinc and other natural substances are available and recommended for prevention of disease in general as well as treatment of this condition. Taking the combination starting at age 45 and continuing in controlled doses past age 70 is advisable. Dietary advice is to eat plenty of tomatoes, tofu and other soy products, nuts and grains, leafy green vegetables and yogurt. A good exercise program to keep abdominal muscle integrity is essential. There is no connection between this abnormality and malignant tumor of the prostate, the most common cancer in men. §

BSE: The Ruminant Empire Strikes Back


Containment efforts for “Mad Cow Disease” fail to curb spread of the incurable illness.§

We have previously discussed Great Britain’s epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. BSE “Mad Cow Disease” belongs to the class of TSE’s (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) that also infect other ruminant animals, such as reindeer, elk, and in the lamb as scrapie. Herds in Great Britain have been scrutinized and thousands of cattle burned in an attempt to stop the disease’s spread. There has also been a ruling passed that no cattle feed should contain remnants of other animals which may carry the disease, specifically sheep, who may have scrapie. In spite of this, diseased cattle have been shipped to Europe, where officials believe there are more cases of BSE than are reported. According to Reuters, there are 214 reported cases in Ireland, 230 in Switzerland, 58 in Portugal, 27 in France, 5 in Germany, 2 in Netherlands and Italy and one in Denmark. It is undeterminable how many cases are not reported. Europe also has a trade in meat and bone meal, which is the ground bone and rendered leftovers from the slaughtering of cattle–so nerve tissue, which carries the infective agent, is also getting into the food stream.§

Sixteen cases of Creutzfeld-Jakob diseases–now called variant CJD–have been reported in Britain. Unanimous opinion says these cases resulted from eating infected beef. There is a serious problem containing the diseased animals, partially because there is no good way to diagnose the condition until symptoms appear. An unscrupulous herder may allow a diseased animal to enter the food chain without reporting the illness. Governmental agencies are not equipped to inspect every bit of feed for its compliance to the regulations.§

This is serious to the entire world, as there is no cure or treatment for BSE or CJD. It is always fatal. Any nation that has imported cattle from Britain in the past ten years may have BSE lying latent in the herds. Through ignorance of the disease and its manifestations, some sick animals may enter the food stream. Transmission through bovine gelatin (a protein obtained from animal skin, bones and tissues) is also possible. There is apparently no way to sterilize gelatin, which is used in so many food products. The UK has banned shipping gelatin to Europe; however it is still being imported to the USA and possibly other countries. There is no proof that gelatin can transport the disease, but there is also no proof that it cannot. Bovine tissue that is most likely to transmit the disease includes brain, spinal cord and nerves. Although these need not enter the feed or food stream, it has happened because of the methods of slaughter which allow fragments to scatter and be picked up in the meat stream. Officials are very dogmatic about BSE’s not being in the USA flocks. The FDA has recently revised its rules regarding ruminant feed. It does not allow the feed to contain animal protein from mammalian sources. However, this is just for ruminant feed, as they believe that hogs are not subject to this disease. What is to prevent accidental mixing of the feed?§

To prevent the possibility of CJD, it seems obvious that we should all stop eating meat and follow a purely vegetarian diet as told by the rishis of old. There is no good evidence that milk is able to transmit the disease, contrary to prior belief. §

Better Ways to Help Bn Overactive Child


Nature can solve “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” without drugs–side effects.§

When children are in adults presence or environment, many of them are fidgety, cannot sit still, whine and are an overall distraction to the adults. For some this may be perfectly normal, because what is important in the adult world is usually not important in the child’s world. For many this may merely be a lack of education, discipline and proper guidance from the parents. For others, however, it may be a symptom of a condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurological condition that usually sets in about age 6–7 (often as early as age 3) and may go into the teens, though rarely on into adulthood.§

Those with ADHD have a very short attention span, act impulsively, appear hyperactive and sometimes out of control of their physical movements and emotions. They do not take directions well and sometimes appear to not have heard the parents at all, which may even suggest deafness.§

This is a serious condition needing professional help. The help usually received from an allopathic doctor is a prescription for stimulant agents such as Ritalin, Dexedrone or Cylert. These are potent, with side effects such as appetite loss, stomach aches, nervousness and insomnia. There may also be some temporary growth retardation. Additionally, a class of drugs called beta-blockers are used for those patients who do not respond to stimulants.§

I recommend a different approach. The child or young adult should see a competent homeopath who can give a remedy specific to the person with ADHD. An ayurvedic doctor should assure whether the patient’s diet and lifestyle is balanced and appropriate. Parents should not “bribe” their children with sweets, especially white sugar–although not causative in this condition, it often aggravates ADHD, much like pouring gasoline onto a fire. With so much energy released, the child is unable to cope and “goes off the deep end.” Misbehavior is not his fault, and he should not be punished for it, as some parents do. There may be a need for counseling of both parents and children to bring a true understanding of the multiple sources of ADHD.§

I recommend a powerful antioxidant as a dietary supplement, along with Beta Carotene, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin E, EsterC, selenium and Ginkgo Biloba. That antioxidant is pycnogenol–a patented, registered, maritime pine bark extract supplied in two forms: Pycnogenol (plain pine bark substance) and Pycnogenol Plus (pycnogenol supplemented with the above vitamins.)§

The dosage is not difficult, but must be followed faithfully with both Pyc and Pyc+ twice daily, preferably with meals, in an amount according to the patient’s weight. There may be no relief of symptoms for a period of 10–39 days or until saturation has been achieved. After this, a maintenance dosage is used and slowly decreased as the symptoms come under control. The dose is from 2–8 Pyc+ pills and 1–8 regular pills twice a day for ten days or until saturation.§

Maintain saturation for two months and then, perhaps after symptoms have subsided, slowly withdraw the pycnogenol. If symptoms are still present, continue treating for another couple of months. This eliminator of “free radicals” will gradually bring about more responsive and civilized behavior of the ADHD patient.§