Restoring Depleted Ojas
With the nuclear accident still unfolding in Japan, we wanted to provide information on the ayurvedic perspective of radiation exposure. This information is offered as an adjunct to governmental health recommendations being provided by national, state and local health authorities. These tips are not a replacement for the protective measures presently being suggested by health officials or a replacement for the advice of your physician. We have been asked to explain the ayurvedic understanding of radiation exposure and poisoning, and more importantly, ayurvedic modalities that help the body restore itself to balance. We asked Dr.'s Karin Pirc, M.D., Ph.D., a consulting physician at Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts; Dr. Jim Davis, D.O.; womens health expert and author Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D.; and Vaidya Siju Muraleedharan, the resident ayurvedic expert at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa to comment on this subject. All of them are experts in Maharishi Ayurveda.
Question to Vaidya Muraleedharan Siju, Ayurvedic Expert: What herbs, diet or Ayurvedic modalities would you recommend for balancing an aggravation of the doshas caused by radiation?
Herbs: Because this kind of exposure affects all three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, we recommend Premium Amla Berry, Maharishi Amrit Kalash tablets and paste, and Liver Balance. In addition, added to the diet if it isn't already there, we recommend using organic powdered turmeric in all cooked foods. Ayurvedic herbal formulations that help the body purify are also recommended, including Elim-Tox and Elim-Tox-O, Organic Genitrac, and Radiant Skin.
Ayurvedic purification programs: Panchakarma programs are known for their ability to restore ojas and eliminate environmental toxins. The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa offers these programs in the US. In fact, all of the 40 approaches of Maharishi Ayurveda are understood to be ojas-restoring, purifying and balancing to body and mind. These approaches include advanced meditation practices, gem light therapy, specialized yoga practices and others. For more information on various approaches, visit www.mapi.com.
Diet: The diet should strengthen ojas and overall be Pitta-pacifying. Favor grapes, boiled cow's milk, almonds, and foods that create bliss. Foods that contain more intelligence of nature convert most easily into ojas, the material equivalent of bliss. Ojas is the finest product of healthy digestion. It gives a sparkle to the eyes, glow to the skin, and immunity to the cells. Examples of ojas-producing foods are milk; ghee; whole grains; fresh, organic vegetables; and fresh, sweet, juicy fruits, like ripe grapes. Avoid foods that destroy bliss from the ayurvedic perspective: leftovers; red meat; "junk" food; and canned, processed, packaged or frozen foods. These types of foods are difficult to digest and create ama, the toxic waste product of incomplete digestion that underlies most disease, dullness and negative emotions. Rather than looking at the caloric content of food, make sure it is lively with nature's intelligence.
Question to Vaidya Siju, Ayurvedic Expert at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa: What are the effects of radiation on the body from an ayurvedic viewpoint?
Answer: Radiation exposure imbalances all three doshas, Vata Pitta and Kapha. The damaging effects of radiation on the body will vary depending upon the degree of radiation exposure. Because radiation affects the nervous system, this disturbance in the nervous system shows up in the doshas, and these dosha imbalances can be located in the pulse. Pulse assessment is the primary method of determining imbalances. According to ayurvedic experts, only a highly-experienced Vaidya can differentiate between a tridoshic imbalance caused by radiation and one caused by general effects.
The degree of imbalance, or dosha vitiation, varies depending on the exposure and the individual. The initial exposure causes a Vata imbalance, which progresses to the other doshas — Pitta and finally Kapha. In the end, it becomes a tridoshic imbalance — an imbalance of all three doshas. But, even with mild radiation, both Vata and Pitta will become aggravated. In the case of a high-level radiation exposure, the tissue destruction occurs on a large scale. In these cases, tissue destruction may happen quickly, even before the doshas are aggravated. This immediate tissue damage itself causes an imbalance to all three doshas, which ultimately leads to the destruction of all of the seven layers of tissues (rasa, raktha, mamsa, etc.)
Most importantly, perhaps, in determining the effects of radiation or any environmental exposure, ayurvedic experts look at a person's ojas. The main problem after radiation exposure is found in the quantity, quality and function of ojas.
Ojas, in the ayurvedic model of health, maintains our immunity. After exposure we can see three kinds of changes in ojas (referred to as ojo in this list), which indicate major ayurvedic side effects from radiation exposure:
- Ojo Kshaya,
- Ojo Vyapat and
- Ojo Visramsa
In the original ayurvedic texts, the seer Acharya Sushruta clearly says that the following causes vitiate ojas:
- Malnutrition / wasting diseases
- Unfavorable environmental factors, such as too much sun, air or water, etc.
In this regard, radiation exposure is found in the sixth cause, "unfavorable environmental factors." Other factors like stress, trauma, wrong food and starvation, can lead to a depleted state of ojas. Ayurveda categorizes these three states into three stages:
1. Ojo Visramsa: This condition can be explained as a disturbed state of storage of the ojas. This important substance is formed from the essence of all seven body tissues and is stored in the heart. However, due to various factors this storage is disturbed. The symptoms are:
- Flaccidity of the joints
- Weakness of the body
- Displacement of doshas
- Obstruction of activity
- Impaired function of the extremities
- Impairment of functions of the body, speech and mind
- Bouts of unconsciousness
- Horripilation (goose bumps)
- Low-grade fever
- Dull pain all over the body
2. Ojo Vyapat: This is the pathological condition of ojas, which occurs due to the imbalance of a dosha. Due to this, ojas loses its physiological or normal qualities. This kid of ojas depletion manifests through these symptoms:
- Heaviness and stiffness of the body
- Change in normal color of skin/complexion
- Deep and excessive sleep
3. Ojo Kshaya: This stage represents a significant loss of ojas or wasting of ojas and causes the following symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness
- Emaciation of muscles
- Wasting of muscles
Question: The tragedy and trauma in Japan is both frightening and saddening. What can I do about the worry and anxiety I feel?
Infuse Your Mind with Bliss. Tattvagyan, or transcendental knowledge of life, is the most important component of bliss. The Vedic texts state that when you know the transcendent, then bliss comes spontaneously, because the transcendent is a field of pure bliss. The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation® technique, which takes only twenty minutes twice a day. Many studies conducted in major research institutions all over the world have demonstrated that people who practice the Transcendental Meditation program experience increased happiness, better health, more harmonious relationships and an overall sense of well-being.
This is why the Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends two bliss-producing groups of herbs, mentioned in the ayurvedic texts. Ojaskar herbs are ojas-enhancing, and include Maharishi Amrit Kalash Nectar and Maharishi Amrit Kalash Ambrosia, the most cherished ojas-enhancing herbal formulas in the ayurvedic tradition. Research supports traditional claims that they promote balance and longevity.
The second type is called somanasajaya, herbs which support the coordination between heart and mind, creating more physical and mental bliss. Somanasajaya herbs are found in Blissful Joy, Worry Free tablets and Worry Free Tea, and Organic Rose Petal Spread.
Question: What does modern science understand about "radiation?"
Answer from Dr. Jim Davis, Osteopath: The question concerns ionizing radiation. This is a type of radiation that consists of particles or electromagnetic waves that are energetic enough to detach electrons from atoms or molecules, thus ionizing them. Direct ionization from the effects of single particles or single photons produces free radicals, which are atoms or molecules containing unpaired electrons, that tend to be especially chemically reactive due to their electronic structure. When a human is exposed to ionizing radiation, the damage that is done is due to the effects of these free radicals that are produced. The ancient science of Maharishi Ayurveda has given us an herbal compound called Amrit Kalash which has been found to be one of the most powerful free radical scavengers available. Research has shown that Amrit is 1,000 times more powerful than vitamins E or C. It is also a full-spectrum free radical scavenger, which removes all types of free radicals.
Question: Have ayurvedic herbs been studied for their ability to support tissue health?
Answer from Dr. Karin Pirc, M.D., Ph.D.: Many people are asking how to rejuvenate and support healthy tissues. This subject is not foreign to the natural health system of ayurveda.
Triphala, which is contained in Organic Digest Tone, is one of the most famous herbal compounds used in ayurvedic medicine. It consists of a combination of three fruits with health-supporting properties and a wide range of applications. This compound has been used successfully for millennia in ayurvedic health care.
A study (Food Chemistry Toxicology, 2002) showed that Triphala had an antimutagenic effect in vitro. This means that in this study, it showed the ability to repair damage in the dhatus (tissues). In ayurvedic terms, it suggests that these herbs may rebalance the mechanics of transformation from one tissue to another — an important concern. In other words, if a tissue forgets its connection to nature's intelligence, or is in some way damaged, Triphala appears to support repairing that connection. The researchers felt that this preliminary finding could have promising implications for fighting the growth of aberrant cells.
Another study (Phytomedicine, 2002) showed that Triphala had a radioprotective effect in mice exposed to gamma-radiation, the radiation which emerges with nuclear fission. In this animal study, Triphala delayed the onset of mortality and reduced the symptoms of radiation sickness in one animal group significantly more than the control group, which did not take the herbal mixture. This suggests the ability of Triphala to act as a radiation-protective agent when administered in the proper doses. While the results are encouraging, human trials on Triphala would need to be conducted in order to prove the same results for humans.
Question: Have ayurvedic herbs been studied for their ability to control free radicals?
Answer from Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D.: Radiation does its damage by creating free radicals, highly reactive substances that attack the body's tissues. While preventing radiation exposure altogether is the best strategy, antioxidants can squelch free radicals and may protect the body from the effects of ionizing radiation. The natural herbal formula, Amrit Kalash Nectar, has been shown to be over 1,000 times more potent than vitamin C or E.
About the Maharishi Ayurveda Experts:
Dr. Karin Pirc, M.D., Ph.D. and Psychologist, is the Medical Director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Bad Ems, Germany and Medical Adviser of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center Lancaster, Massachusetts
Dr. Jim Davis, D.O., teaching faculty of Maharishi College of Vedic Medicine, graduate of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
Vaidya Siju Muraleedharan, the resident ayurvedic expert at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa
Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., women's health expert and author
1. Kaur S; The in vitro antimutagenic activity of Triphala — an Indian herbal drug; Food Chem Toxicol; 2002 Apr; 40(4): 527-34.
2. Jagetia GC, et al; The evaluation of the radioprotective effect of Triphala (an ayurvedic rejuvenating drug) in mice exposed to gamma-radiation; Phytomedicine; 2002 Mar; 9(2): 99-108.
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.