Strengthen Your Digestion to Enhance Natural Immunity
Excerpts from an Interview with Dr. Paul Dugliss, Maharishi Ayurveda physician
Q: Tell us a little about immunity.
Dr. Dugliss: The whole immune system fascinates me, and the subject is very, very broad. I see the immune system as the key to preventing much in terms of illness. Even disorders such as cancer — I think that from an allopathic standpoint we're beginning to recognize that the immune system plays a key role in the prevention of cancer, and probably will play a key role in terms of real treatments for it. Of course, in ayurveda, there's the whole concept of Rasayana theory, or "that which gives life and strength to an individual."
Q: An ayurvedic Rasayana refers to the coming together of herbal and other ingredients to offer strength, health and immunity?
Dr. Dugliss: From the ayurvedic perspective, what hinders the immune system is the build-up of toxins. When digestion isn't 100% complete, when digestion isn't 100% perfect, then there's the build-up of toxic matter called ama that gets deposited in the body. A formula such as Amrit, therefore, from the ayurvedic perspective, is something that restores the ability of each aspect of digestion. The understanding of metabolism and digestion in ayurveda is very deep and there are various aspects that are enumerated. Amrit contains herbs that are targeted toward each of these levels of digestion and metabolism. And so this is one ayurvedic formula that is very good in terms of restoring digestion and thereby enhancing immunity. Amrit works because it targets an area of the physiology that's overlooked often in Western medicine, and that's the importance of digestion. It allows the proper transformation of food into bodily tissue. Without this mechanism being proper, the body builds up toxins, and the immune system has to work in overdrive to eliminate these toxins and often gets overwhelmed.
Q: Do you personally take Amrit?
Dr. Dugliss: Yes, I have been taking it for several years. I also prescribe it regularly for my patients. Not every patient — certainly there are individual considerations and the problem that he or she brings to me. I really try to look at the individual and his or her needs, and I monitor very closely his or her response to things I recommend. So often I see people back sooner and more often than other physicians generally do, because I think that it is experience, positive experience, which builds the trust that eventually enables them to get greater control of their health. I don't have a certain rule or pattern for prescribing Amrit. I do know that I tend to prescribe the Nectar paste more often than the Ambrosia tablets.
Q: What do you think are the advantages of the paste over the tablets?
Dr. Dugliss: I think the paste has a slightly more direct effect on the digestive tract. I like the balancing effect of the ghee and the fact that it tends towards a liquid type of concentrate. It is something that I find people often enjoy more, so there is more motivation to take it. I find there is a more quick impact with patients taking the paste.
Total Health News: For what conditions or to what kind of people do you prescribe Amrit?
Dr. Dugliss: I prescribe it often for people who are suffering from chronic fatigue or people with problems that are related to weakness in digestion. Once ama starts to get deposited in the body, these toxins can manifest as many different types of symptoms and problems. And just using a formulation like Amrit that improves digestion is something that can help alleviate many, many different types of problems. Certainly in my experience Amrit is beneficial for people with chronic fatigue or people with fibromyalgia, or with food allergies.
Q: How do you think Amrit has worked for your patients?
Dr. Dugliss: I think it works in many ways. Many of my patients who have taken Amrit have noticed a change in energy level fairly quickly. In terms of problems with energy and problems with digestion, I think it works very well. While I often prescribe it to patients with some type of problem, just because of the nature of my practice, it is also something I would recommend for prevention, to keep digestion balanced and energy levels high. The most common comment that I get from people taking it is that it helps their energy levels, that they have more energy after they start taking it. It's something that most people tend to notice very quickly. Last week I had a patient in my office complaining about getting frequent colds of late. She had been so healthy for so many years, and this was her sixth cold this year. We starting exploring her digestion, and found that there was indeed something there that she needed help with. The benefit of Amrit is that it acts holistically on the digestion as well as immunity.
Q: Can you talk about other people in your practice who have benefited from taking Amrit?
Dr. Dugliss: There are so many people coming in to see me whose digestion is "off" that there are many examples I can think of. One patient of mine, whom I saw today, had been suffering from chronic fatigue and not being able to sleep properly; she also had irritable bowl syndrome. I got her started on Amrit, and within a week her energy level was transformed. Over time, she was able to lose a significant amount of weight, her energy came back, bowel movements became normal again, and Amrit is something that she now says she couldn't do without.
Q: Did her family also notice the changes?
Dr. Dugliss: Yes, as part of the changes that we put in place, she started to explore different things in terms of diet and lifestyle. At first there was a little bit of questioning from her family, but they could see how much better she was doing and that this was working. She had been struggling with this problem for about seven years, and going from doctor to doctor, without getting resolution. Her family saw the changes ayurveda and Amrit brought for my patient, and eventually they joined in.
Q: What would you say about the amazing ability of this Vedic tradition to put together a formula like Amrit — a synergistic formula consisting of 38 different herbs and having such a wide-ranging impact on the body and mind?
Dr. Dugliss: If you look at Vedic tradition, there are two things that really stand out. First, this is knowledge that has stood the test of time. When you look at the types of medications that we are introducing today, for a medication to be on the market for twenty-five years is considered a long time. These ayurvedic formulas have been in existence for thousands of years. So there is a certain safety in knowing that there is a long-standing tradition behind a formula like Amrit. Second, that this knowledge came out of the cognition of people who were very wise or enlightened. They knew intuitively what kind of synergies to put together. Hardcore scientists have a little difficulty with this, but these formulas are still helping people 5,000 years after they were first introduced.
Q: You told us earlier that you take Amrit personally. Can you enlighten us to as to your own personal healthcare and the role Amrit plays in that?
Dr. Dugliss: I have used Amrit for several years. It was quite stressful going through residency — the last couple of years of medical school are tough. You are routinely exposed to many illnesses and germs and viruses, and you don't have the luxury of having the healthiest of routines. We know that when one is not able to have a regular routine or exercise regularly, it can throw digestion off, and that can set the stage for ama-related illness. Amrit was a great benefit in getting through those stressful times.
Q: What have you noticed in terms of positive health as you have been taking Amrit over the years?
Dr. Dugliss: I think the thing I notice the most is increase of energy. Amrit frees up the intelligence of the body to do what it knows to do. And the freeing-up process releases energy. It is really a great benefit for my patients to be taking this formula.
Q: Do you find that Amrit is equally valuable for balancing all the three doshas — Vata, Pitta and Kapha?
Dr. Dugliss: One of the beauties of this formula is that it is a very balanced formula, so it can be appropriate for all three.
Q: What about the ghee and sugar in the paste? Is that a deterrent in your experience?
Dr. Dugliss: I find that there are people who are very afraid of taking any ghee-based product like Amrit. It usually takes about five minutes of talking with them to allay their fears and to help them realize that usually it is a misconception that all fat is bad. There are good fats and bad fats. Ghee is clarified butter; it has very interesting properties: it is composed of a short-chain fatty acid with only four carbons, as opposed to the very long chain of fatty acids composing other oils. So when it gets incorporated into a cell wall, for example, being short-chained, it is able to move around, making the cell more flexible, which allows it to survive longer. So there are benefits in taking ghee in moderation; just don't overdo it.
Q: What sort of changes do you see in the pulse when someone has been taking Amrit for a month or longer?
Dr. Dugliss: Typically what I see is that there is more clarity in the pulse, no clump-up, not as much ama. And sometimes, increased energy.
Q: Thank you, Dr. Dugliss, for taking the time to talk to our readers about ayurveda and Amrit.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.