Sunday, 9 June 2013

Monsoon Season Is Good For Flushing Out Toxins

Ayurveda is a 'science of life', which has always laid more stress on preventive rather than curative treatment. 

The motto of Ayurveda is:



“Swasthasya swasthya rakshanam
Aturasya vikara prashamanam dha”


The meaning of the above shloka is to safeguard the health of a healthy individual and to cure the illness of an ailing person. For this purpose Ayurveda has prescribed a daily itinerary for all the individuals and some variation in the same depending up on the season. Since monsoon is fast approaching, it is apt to describe what are the dietary and lifestyle changes that person needs to make during this season in order to stay healthy. Charakacharya, the ancient seer and physician, compares our body to a vehicle, which requires routine cleaning and occasional servicing. The former is compared to dincharya or the daily routine that one needs to adopt and the latter comparesto the riutcharya or the seasonal variation that one needs to observe. In ayurvedic literature the year is divided into six ritus (seasons) – grishma (summer), varsha (monsoon), sharad (autumn), hemant (winter), shishir (late winter), vasant (spring)
Unlike the western countries, monsoon season is well demarcated in the tropical countries. Some scholars also regarded ‘pravrut’ as a season, which falls between summer and monsoon. However, these scholars have not recognized ‘shishir’ as a season keeping the number of seasons constant. The text do not only describe the changes one has to make it diet and lifestyle but is also describe the changes in nature and atmosphere one may notice at the onset of every season. Acharya vagbhat states that during monsoon the western winds flow over the land. The sky is covered by garyish blue clouds, which make it appear dull and gloomy. Rivers are overflowing and fields are lush green. There are thunders and lightening and land remains wet for a long time. From time to time one experiences showers.
During this period the water is slightly acidic in nature and tends to increase the pitta dosha. Due to the dryness of the preceding summer season the vata dosha accumulates in the body of those individuals who do not follow the summer regimen described in Ayurveda. However, since the vata has the characteristic of being cool and summer being a hot season the symptoms of accumulated vata do not surface in an individual. But with onset of monsoon the temperature drops and various symptoms of elevated vata might be seen in affected individuals.


Cleansing regimens: To combat any health hazards from elevated vata and pitta dosha one might resort to cleansing procedures like basti (medicated enemas) and virechan (purgation). Once the body is cleansed it is then important to keep it healthy through proper diet and lifestyle.



Diet during monsoon: It is important to bear in mind that the water available in the reservoirs during monsoon is comparatively heavy to digest and also the metabolism is sluggish during this period. An individual is likely to experience loss of appetite, cough and cold, aches and pains in different parts of the body, etc. To avoid this one needs to make following changes in their diet:

  • Keep your diet as light and fresh as possible. Always have the meal when it is warm. Do not reheat the food or eat stale food
  • Include cow’s ghee, lean meat, lentils, green gram, rice and wheat in daily diet.
  • Always consume small piece of ginger with rock salt before every meal.
  • Water should be boiled and filtered before consuming. Other electronic purification methods may also be used to purify water. Drink at least one glass of water with honey daily. However, avoid drinking excess of fluids at this further slows down the metabolism.
  • Onion, lean meat and vegetables may also be used in soups.
  • Avoid leafy vegetables during monsoon.
  • Those individual who are not accustomed taking liquor may take drakshasava. It is a kind of wine made from grapes by adding various herbs, jaggery, etc. It acts as a good appetizer.
  • Maintain a balanced diet comprising of foodstuffs of the six tastes but increase the intake of sweet, sour and salty food in the first half of the season and bitter, astringent and pungent food during the later half of the monsoon season.
  • Avoid curds, red meat and any foodstuff, which takes longer time to digest. One may have buttermilk instead of curds.

Lifestyle changes: Healthy diet is very important but may not provide desired benefits unless supported by a healthy lifestyle. The important changes that one may need to make in one’s lifestyle are:
  • Go for an oil massage regularly and have warm water bath daily. Oil massage is good for health during all the seasons for most of the individuals including women, children and aged people. Only persons unfit for an oil massage are the ones who may be suffering from acute illness like fever, dairrhoea, or any other infection
  • Avoid sleeping during day. Again this rule is applicable to most of the individuals for all season except summer. Especially during monsoon sleeping during the day hampers digestion and slows down the metabolism
  • Avoid swimming in natural water bodies like the lake, rivers, or ponds as these may be infested by snake, scorpions or other reptiles
  • Keep sexual activity and exercise to minimum or avoid it altogether.
  • Avoid moving out in afternoon sun.
  • Avoid getting wet in the rains
  • If you happen to get wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible to avoid getting infections as immunity is low during this season. Also due to continuous dampness one is more susceptible to fungal infections.
  • Seasonal outbreaks of diseases caused by mosquitoes are common during this period. Maximum cases of malaria, filarial and dengue are reported just during or immediately after monsoon. So keep the surroundings clean and hygienic. Avoid stagnation of water as stagnant water is breeding ground for mosquitoes. Considering the day and age one may also use pesticides to disinfect the water.

Bhavaprakash states that consuming ‘haritaki (terminalia chebula) in every season is beneficial to health. ‘ haritaki’ may be consumed with following accompaniments during the following seasons:
  • Grishma (summer): consume with jaggery
  • Varsha (monsoon): consume with rock salt
  • Sharad (autumn): consume with sugar
  • Hemant (winter): consume with dry ginger
  • Shishir (later winter): consume with ‘pippali or long pepper
  • Vasant (spring): consume with honey
Consuming haritaki thus, helps increase the quality and quantity of life
Ayurvedic masters also state that when seasons are changing and an individual changes his/her lifestyle and diet to suit that particular season, the change must be gradual over a period of 15 days. Slowly try to give up the initial lifestyle and adopt new one. It the changes are brought about drastically the body may not be able to cope with them and this could lead to problems


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