Tuesday
Feb182014

Testosterone (T) Therapy: increase the risk of getting heart attacks many fold

Natural Approach to Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Virender Sodhi, MD(Ayurved), ND

Lately television has been bombarded with low testosterone ads. Hearing these ads it seems every male in the whole world have low testosterone. An upsurge in media attention recently regarding the so-called "male menopause" has left many men rushing to their doctor to treat symptoms they believe may be related to low levels of testosterone. Testosterone therapy has been used for many years for low T, and its side effects are also known for many years. Recent studies shed another dark side of testosterone therapy. When testosterone was given to males, it increased the risk of getting heart attacks many fold, regardless of the age.

Testosterone is an essential hormone that helps to serve the health and well-being of both men and women. Testosterone is known for supporting development of sexual organs, maturation of muscles and bones; it is also being recognized for its positive effects on mood, vitality, and improved quality of life. .Testosterone is an androgen sex hormone that dominates in males, as opposed to an estrogen which pre-dominates in females. Androgen receptor’s are found on many organs, including heart, brain, muscles, bones, prostate, liver, etc. Therefore, normal functional capacity of all these organs depends on normal circulation of Testosterone. As men age, they experience a natural decline of testosterone at the rate of 1-2% each year. This is a result of normal processes of aging, testicular dysfunction, or regulatory problems in hypothalamus and pituitary glands. By 80 years of age, 50% of men have testosterone levels below clinically acceptable normal values; this earns them a diagnosis of “hypogonadism, also referred as andropause or low T, which is equivalent to menopause in females”. Testosterone deficiency has wide range of signs and symptoms. These include1:

Physical/Mental symptoms

Sexual symptoms

Anemia

Low libido

Diminished bone density

Erectile dysfunction

Diminished muscle mass

Low sperm count

Diminished energy and sense of vitality

Abnormal sperm develop-ment and activity

Fatigue, mental fog

Low Sperm counts

Diminished cognitive process

Decreased penile sensation

The prescription for Testosterone therapy has been growing greatly in the past two decades. Sales of testosterone has grown 500% from 1993-2001 and number may have tripled since the ad campaigns targeted towards male patients. According to the American family physicians, testosterone therapy is indicated when the above symptoms are found in association with low physiologic values of testosterone on lab tests. Researchers have investigated and found specific benefits that are attributed to Testosterone therapy; these include:

  1. Of course, there are the sexual benefits of testosterone therapy, which include improved sexual desire, improved erection, better moods, vitality, and sense of well-being. Testosterone therapy also promotes lean body mass.1

  2. A 16 year trial on elderly men with low bone mineral density (BMD) found that receiving testosterone therapy help to elevate BMD to normal levels. Over the course of the 16 years – testosterone therapy was associated with maintenance of BMD in a significant majority of men. These changes may attenuate the risk of fractures among these men.2

  3. In another study done among type II diabetes patients, 200mg testosterone injection given every 2 weeks was beneficial.in lowering insulin resistance, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and visceral fat and serum cholesterol levels.3 Authors concluded that these benefits are helpful in lowering the risk of heart disease associated with diabetes.

The cardio-protective effects mentioned above seem promising however, contradicting data emerges when investigating the effects of testosterone levels and testosterone therapy on the Cardiovascular health. The table below outlines cardiovascular effects of both high and low testosterone.4

Effects of Low Testosterone

Effects of high Testosterone

Increase Blood pressure

High blood pressure

Low blood vessel formation (angiogenesis)

Arrhythmia (heart flutter or palpitation)

Increase dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid levels)

Chest pain

Plaque formation in the arteries (atherosclerosis)

Heart failure



 

 

In a cohort study of over 55,000 men receiving testosterone therapy, researchers looked at both elderly and young men receiving testosterone therapy. The health history of these men was tracked before the testosterone prescription and followed up to 90 days after testosterone therapy was initiated. Researchers found that both groups, young and elderly men with prior history of heart disease, developed a two-fold greater risk of having a heart attack within 90 days of starting the testosterone therapy.5

In another study on cardiovascular risk of testosterone therapy versus placebo, researcher started out with 209 men 65 years of age or older. Patients were given either testosterone gel or placebo to be applied daily. The study was stopped early because 23 of 106 men receiving testosterone therapy experienced adverse cardiovascular events, compared to 5 of 103 men receiving placebo.6 This dramatic example has drawn a lot of attention from the media. In response to the risks highlighted in the last two studies, the FDA has opened an investigation to assess the cardiovascular risk of testosterone therapy and to develop safety guideline for applying testosterone therapy.7

Ayurvedic medicine offers a unique holistic model towards building of testosterone.When hormones are naturally produced in the body, it is controlled by the natural intelligence, honoring natural balance, which keeps diseases of excess and deficiency at bay.

Ayurvedic Model of Tissue Development:

Ayurvedic texts describe seven physical tissues that are supported by our food and nutrition. These are tissues are called Rasa (plasma and secretions), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscle), Meda (fat), Asthi (bone), Majja (marrow and nerves) and Shukra (sexual fluids/hormones). The essential nutrition needed to make all the tissues is derived from proper digestion of food in the intestines and efficient absorption of nutrition into blood stream and lymph system.

The subsequent tissue development occurs in a similar fashion to the cascading fountain seen in the image. As the vessel at the top of the fountain fills, excess contents flow into the next vessel in step, and so on until the contents from the first vessel reach the bottom vessel. In a similar fashion, after being absorbed, food is first converted into Rasa (plasma and secretions) that circulates in the blood stream. Rakta (blood) is formed in next step of the fountain; Mamsa (muscle) tissue is the third tissue to be formed, and so on until Shukra (sexual fluids/hormones) is produced at the end of digestive process. This step-wise synthesis of body tissues ensures that each tissue receives adequate nutrition, to be nurtured and kept healthy from the grossest to the subtlest levels. Deficiency in a given tissue may result from lack of adequate nutrition, unhealthy digestion, mental and emotional stresses. Therefore, Ayurvedic medicine offers a vast variety of foods that can nurture tissues at different levels of the fountain or tonify the whole being. Ayurveda also offers herbal supplements, yogic breathing, yoga and exercise regimen to help create balance in catabolic and anabolic axis, that support healthy development of normal testosterone.

Cascading Fountain

Use of Testosterone therapy directly, bypasses the natural method of tissue development. As a result, it may prove to be stressful for the body and create unwanted side-effects. Additionally, when Testosterone is added from external resources, the body begins to shut down its natural capacity to produce testosterone. In this way, individuals may ultimately become dependent on hormonal therapy. The Ayurvedic approach gains efficiency by complying with natural mechanisms of tissue development; additionally, it allows the body to regulate the amount of testosterone being produced. We will discuss nutritional support, herbs, breathing exercise, yoga and exercise, that have been utilized by Ayurvedic physicians towards nurturing the Shukra (sexual fluids/hormones), which support testosterone production.

Nutritional support for increasing Testosterone:

Cut down sugar and carbohydrate load in your food. In a study on 74 men between ages of 19-74, were given 75 gram load glucose tolerance test, fasting serum glucose, insulin, total and free testosterone, LH, SHBG, leptin and cortisol were measured at 0, 30, 60,90 and 120 minutes. Glucose ingestion was associated with a 25% decrease in mean testosterone levels at 120 minutes Leptin levels also decreased from baseline at (P < 0·0001).

Add lean meat, like beef, bison, chicken, turkey, fish, and folks who are vegetarian add whole beans. All of these are good source of amino-acids, especially arginine which support testosterone production.

Eat lots of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables contain indoles, which have been shown to remove the bad estrogens from our body.

Ensure that you’re getting an adequate intake of healthy fats such as fats from, organic butter, ghee, coconut oil, raw olive oil, nuts, avocado, fish oil and lean animal meats. This will ensure that there are high enough levels of cholesterol to support proper testosterone production functioning. You need cholesterol and healthy fat to manufacture testosterone in your body. Eat 1-2 handful of nuts and seeds per day, should be raw, unroasted and unsalted.

Cut down your intake of alcohol (especially beer) as alcohol consumption definitely has a negative impact on testosterone levels, not to mention your waistline.

Xenoestrogens are everywhere, in our plastic, toothpaste, on our foods (that’s why it’s important to eat organic wherever possible), shopping bags, cleaning products, and even in our water. Xenoestrogen is a chemical that imitates estrogen in the body. When we are exposed to too much of this estrogen-imitating chemical, our testosterone levels can drop significantly.

Eat lots of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables contain indoles, which have been shown to remove the bad estrogens from our body.

Have 2-3 servings of fruit every day. Fruits like bananas, dates, figs are specially good for production of testosterone.

Exercises help to boost testosterone:

Do interval exercises, short high intensity exercises, weight training, exercises that are associated with larger muscle groups have been shown to increases testosterone? Keep your training sessions to 45-minutes, or less, when you start getting beyond 45-minutes of intense training, your cortisol levels start to elevate significantly, dropping your testosterone levels.

Stress reduction increases testosterone:

High level of stress increases cortisol, and when cortisol is high, then testosterone is low.

Putting some stress-management processes in place will help you keep this under control. Yoga and breathing exercises are very helpful. Alternate nostril breathing exercise is very helpful in balancing right and left brain functions and creating tranquility.

Sexual frequency:

Have sex more often, at least couple times per week, sex decreases stress and increases testosterone.

 

Herbal Approaches to Restoring Testosterone levels:

Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera: This is one of the most famous herbs from the Ayurvedic tradition. Its great reputation arises from its application in wide range of health conditions. In the classical tradition, Ashwagandha is called a Rasayana herb, which regenerates the Rasa (plasma) tissue that represents the first vessel in our cascading fountain model. The nourishment of the Rasa tissue, described as Rasayana in classical tradition, is attributed to an anti-aging therapy. The main function of Ashwagandha as a Rasayana is to rejuvenate the anti-oxidant enzymes of the body – this controls the oxidation-related damage to all tissues of the body.8 Studies on Ashwagandha have also shown that it improves Rakta (blood tissue), by improving hemoglobin and red blood cell count. Its benefits on the muscular and skeletal system are seen through improved seated posture, muscle strength and restoration of calcium in nails.9 On the nervous system or Majja tissue, Ashwagandha has been shown to have regenerative effects on nervous system, helps bifurcations of neuron and also have anti-depressant, anti-anxiety effects comparable to standard drug treatments.8 In this way, the effect of Ashwagandha have been shown to trickle down from Rasa-Rakta-Mamsa-Meda-Asthi-Majja until it reaches the final tissue, Shukra. On this level, Ashwagandha has been shown to prevent diabetes related impairment in the testicles,.10 prevent premature aging of the sexual organ. Additional look at clinical effects of Ashwagandha revealed that when given to men with low sperm count, Ashwagandha increased sperm count by 167%, semen volume by 53%, and sperm motility by 57%.11 Ashwagandha also has shown to lower cortisol by 30%, increase testosterone by 30% and DHEA by 32%. We can begin to see the pattern of how Ashwagandha promotes normal function at all tissue levels, ultimately restoring sexual function and vitality.

Gokhshura, Tribulus terrestris: This herb has gained some notoriety for its positive effects on infertile men. This herbs is described as Vrishya in Ayurvedic medicine. Vrishya herbs has aphrodisiac effects. Researchers observed that Tribulus extract has the capacity to raise levels of Luteinizing hormone; testosterone, DHEA, and dihydrotestosterone.12, 20 Elevation of all these together indicates that Tribulus induces production of Testosterone through its effects on the Nervous system or Majja tissue, that represents the vessel immediately before the Shukra (Sexual fluid/hormones) tissue. Such induction leaves opportunity for the body to regulate hormone levels within normal limits, thus preventing fluctuation of hormone levels that may accompany testosterone therapy. Clinical studies back up the effectiveness of Tribulus. In one study, researchers showed that Tribulus improved sexual desire and erectile function within 30-60 days of regular use.13 A follow-up clinical trial demonstrated that Tribulus extract can help to restore sperm levels in men who experience infertility due to auto-immune destruction of sperm.14 In a study done in Italy combination of Tribulus increased testosterone almost three fold in sixty days where as Tadalafil ( Cialis) has no effects on testosterone levels. 15

Atmagupta, Mucuna pruriens: is an herbal ally that has the potential to revolutionize neurological medicine because of its beneficial effects on the Majja (marrow/nerve) tissue. More specifically, Mucuna has gain notoriety through its application in treatment Parkinson’s disease in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Parkinson’s disease, called Kampavat in Sanskrit, was first described Ayurvedic text as far back as 600 B.C.15 Despite its efficacy described in classical texts, Mucuna has been tested and proven its capability of improving a wide range of Majja (marrow/nerve) tissue disorders. This activity of the herb is attributed to its unique contents of neurotransmitter dopamine, as well as powerful anti-oxidants NADH and Coenzyme Q-10.16

How does this nervous system activity translate to improving testosterone level? One theory maybe that Mucuna helps by reducing physiological stress. In an extension of the Parkinson’s research, Mucuna has been shown to have significant anti-oxidant and metal chelating activity.17 These actions of Mucuna can help to reduce physiological toxicity, to restore normal function in the whole body. This effect is expressed on the Rasa (plasma) tissue level, which is the top vessel of our cascading fountain model. On the other hand, Mucuna may also provide its benefit by reducing psychological stress. In a study of infertile men with psychological stress, Mucuna supplement was given for 90 days to observe clinical effect. Mucuna supplement was found to reduce psychological stress, in addition to oxidative stress, ultimately resulting in improvements in sperm count among infertile men.18 In a comprehensive study of hormonal effects of Mucuna, it was found that the herbal supplement has the capacity to improve communication between the hypothalamus-pituitary gland (brain) and testicles (gonads). This was indicated by global elevation of hormones including regulatory Luteinizing hormone, androgens like testosterone and DHEA, as well as neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenalin, and noradrenalin in response to Mucuna supplementation in human subjects.19 Thus, Mucuna is yet another example of an herb that fits the cascading fountain model of tissue regeneration and restoration.

Ayurvedic model is to help boost your natural production of hormones rather than getting it from endogenous sources, which burden the natural mechanism, exhausts the receptors, and creates lots of side effects. When natural sequential strengthening is done, it is controlled by the natural intelligence, which has automatic on and off switches. This does not create any side effects. Altogether, these Ayurvedic herbs, in combination with dietary, life-style, exercise, and spiritual therapy make Ayurveda the complete rejuvenative system of medicine.


 

References:

  1. Margo K, Winn R. Testosterone Treatments: Why, When, and How? American Family Physician. May 2006; Vol. 72(9), Pg. 1591-98.

  2. Behre HM, et al.; Long-Term Effect of Testosterone Therapy on Bone Mineral Density in Hypogonadal Men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, April 1997; Vol 82(8), Pg. 2386-90.

  3. Kapoor D. et al.; Testosterone replacement therapy improves insulin resistance, glycaemic control, visceral adiposity and hypercholesterolaemia in hypogonadal men with type 2 diabetes. European Journal of Endocrinology, 2006; Vol. 154, Pg. 899–906

  4. Ruige JB, et al. Beneficial and Adverse Effects of Testosterone on the Cardiovascular System in Men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, November 2013; Vol. 98(11), Pg. 4300–10

  5. Finkle WD, et al. Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men. PLOS ONE, Jan. 2014; Vol. 9(1), Pg. 1-7.

  6. Lowry F. Increased CV Events Halts Testosterone Trial in Older Men. Medscape Medical News, July 2010; Online Article: <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/724463>

  7. O’Riordon M. FDA Now Investigating CVD Risks With Testosterone Therapy. Hearwire News Alerts, Jan. 2014; Online Article: <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820053>

  8. Singh G, et al. Biological Activities of Withania Somnifera. Annals of Biological Research, 2010; Vol. 1(3), Pg. 56-63.

  9. Uddin Q, et al. Phytochemical and Pharmacological Profile of Withania somnifera Dunal: A Review. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 2012; Vol. 2(1), 170-175.

  10. Kyathanahalli CN, et al. Oral supplementation of standardized extract of Withania somnifera protects against diabetes-induced testicular oxidative impairments in prepubertal rats. Protoplasma, February, 2014.

  11. Ambiye VR, et al. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.

  12. Adaikan PG, et al. History of herbal medicines with an insight on the pharmacological properties of Tribulus terrestris. The Aging Male, 2001; Vol. 4, Pg. 163–169.

  13. Tomova M, et al. Steroidal saponins from Tribulus terrestris L. with a stimulating action on the sexual functions. In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of Chemistry and Biotechnology of Bioactive Natural Products, 1981; Vol. 3, Pg.298–302.

  14. Stanislavov R, Nikolova V. Tribulus terrestris and human male infertility: immunological aspects. Presented at the European Meeting of Immunology and Reproduction, Rome, Italy, 28–29 October 1999.

  15. Owallat S. et al. The History of Parkinsonism: Descriptions in Ancient Indian Medical Literature. Movement Disorders, 2013, Vol. 28, No. 5, Pg. 566-68.

  16. Manyam BV, et al. Neuroprotective Effects of the Anti-parkinson Drug Mucuna pruriens. Phytotherapy Research, 2004; Vol. 18, Pg. 706–712.

  17. Dhanasekaran M. et al. Antiparkinson Drug – Mucuna pruriens shows Antioxidant and Metal Chelating Activity. Phytotherapy Research, 2008; Vol. 22, 6–11.

  18. Shukla KK, et al. Mucuna pruriens Reduces Stress and Improves the Quality of Semen in Infertile Men. eCAM, 2010; Vol. 7(1), Pg. 137–144.

  19. Shukla KK, et al. Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonadal axis. Fertility and Sterility, Dec. 2009; Vol. 92(6) Pg. 1934-40.

  20. Gauthaman K, et al. The hormonal effects of Tribulus terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction – an evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat. Phytomedicine, 2008; Vol. 15, Pg 44–54.

  21. Caronia LM et al, Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):291-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04486.

  22. Iacono F, Prezioso D, Illiano E, Romeo G, Ruffo A, Amato B., Sexual asthenia: Tradamixina versus Tadalafil 5 mg dailyBMC Surg. 2012;12 Suppl 1:S23. doi: 10.1186/1471-2482-12-S1-S23. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


 

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Sunday
Apr282013

What we see in the mind today...we see in the body tomorrow. EWOP - Tri-doshic, low calorie glasses

The power of the mind on our well being.

Let's reflect for a moment on a time where your state of mind impacted how you felt physically. Negative, sad news, which stopped your digestion and ceased your hunger. Frustration and anger that resulted in red eyes or a rash. Subtle transitions of thoughts and emotions that manifest into physical conditions. The complexity of our emotions and how they translate into the tissues is something that Ayurveda addresses through divine presence, breath, yoga and daily practices which cleanse and nourish the senses and calm the nervous system.

As we look for ways to move gracefully through this life, we seek the lense which provides us with the view that allows us to accept, let go and relieve desire.

Yoga Nidra, Meditation, restorative practices which open our mind to uncluttered thought, relieved from judgment and critical thought. Sometimes it can be as simple as the power of suggestion.

My friends daughter launched this project last year. EWOP Vision

Helping us all see that "Everything is Working Out Perfectly" 

From the website:

The EWOP Vision Glasses: To aid us in times of need, when we can't see EWOP, (like getting a flat tire, losing a job or spilling catchup on a new dress), special glasses were developed which help the participant to see that all is in fact perfect. 

How they work: When something is happening that is not desired, simply take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, put on the EWOP Vision glasses, open your eyes and pause, in a few moments ponder why the situation at hand may be in fact for your personal best interest. 

>

State of mind ~ we can manage this in many ways, but first we must set the intention and then we can grow the practice of a healthy state of mind that can aid us in overall physical wellness. A healthy state of mind creates the foundation for all healing.

Saturday
Dec082012

Body Renewal: the Lost Art of Self Repair by Jay Glaser, MD

In a recent interview with Dr. Jay Glaser, Diana Lurie asked the author, educator, physician and role model, many interesting questions about how Ayurveda has entered and evoloved with his personal pursuit of health sciences.

(The interview is published in the Light on Ayurveda Journal, Vol. XI, Issue 1, Fall 2012)

The Light on Ayurveda Journal is a peer-reviewed and published quarterly by the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Dr. Jay Glaser has been active on the editorial board of Light on Ayurveda Journal since 2004 and on the board of directors for Light on Ayurveda Education Foundation since its inception. This publication is the foremost Ayuvedic resource in the United States and provides the Ayurvedic community, world wide, with current day relavance to this ancient science. There are four publications a year and the call for papers is published at www.loaj.com

Dr. Jay Glaser is board certified in internal medicine, and a member of the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Glaser practices hospital medicine at UMass HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominister, Massachusetts and he received his medical training at Dartmouth College, the University of Colorado School of Medicine and McGill University. One of the first Western physicians to study and practice Ayurvedic medicine, he has authored numerous original research studies on the physiology of meditation and Ayurveda. His recent book, Body renewal: the Lost Art of Self Repair (Lotus Press), oriented to practitioners and health consumers alike, has received high critical acclaim.

When Diana asked Dr. Glaser about how Ayurveda was received by his medical school in Colorado, upon his first submission of a journal of his experiences with Ayurveda, Dr. Glaser stated that his paper was applauded as a fine historical presentation of a quaint but vestigial art that lacked modern relevance. An animated debate ensued when he countered that Ayurveda was exactly what was missing from the modern curriculum. Dr. Glaser has noted that he was almost thrown out of his obstetrics rotation when he advocated for breastfeeding, a practice that at that time was discouraged in modern hospitals. Dr. Glaser then decided to not make waves promoting Ayurveda and to wait for the medical community was more open-minded.

Dr. Glaser feels that Ayurveda is part of an extended family of Vedic sciences that offer the patient and provider an integrated vision of humankind and its connection with the universe. Dr. Glaser notes that other systems lack consistent theoretical principles or are lone souls unrelated to other sciences of healing. If you study the Vedic sciences you can find disciplines describing your spiritual nature from different perspectives, your relationships with the other plants and animals, the foundation for the rules of right conduct which provide a basis for bioethics including how to make life and death decisions.

Within Dr. Glaser's book, Body Renewal: The Lost Art of Self-Repair gives many examples of successful Ayurvedic approaches to modern ailments. He also addresses how many chronic conditions respond to a well-conceived set of treatment strategies aimed at the underlying pathology of the disease and at the relief of symptoms. Dr. Glaser acknowledges where emergency allopathic medicine has its place with treating acute illnesses like appendicitis, heart attack and pneumonia. Dr. Glaser conceived the Body Renewal book to address the chronic diseases nearly everyone eventually gets because other books on Ayurvedic practice mostly describe how a vaidya in a village in India might deal with an acute condition like a bloody cough. He states that most traditional books do not address the relevant problems a Western Ayurvedic practitioner encounters in their daily practice. In Body Renewal he describes how you can continue your antihypertensive medication while you are introducing into your life evidence-based Ayurvedic strategies for reducing blood pressure such as meditation, yoga, dietary changes, exercise, and herbs, thus permitting you to cut back and eventually discontinue your medication. Dr. Glaser notes that when chronic disorders have a strong psychological or behavioral component, they are even more amenable to Vedic approaches and more resistant to Western ones, including obesity, addictions, depression, and functional digestive problems.

Dr. Glaser does feel that Ayurvedic practitioners should learn Sanskrit to memorize and understand the important slokas, but this should not be imposed by the government. He states that if serious practitioners continue to study Ayurveda and other Vedic sciences properly, and if they meditate, practice yoga and live an integrated Vedic life, they will never be lacking in Rogi (patients).

Dr. Glaser has recently chosen to cease seeing individuals for either standard medicine or for consultations in Ayurvedic medicine so that he can put his knowledge and skill he has accumulated into three new channels:

  1. Publishing and giving seminars
  2. Doing original research
  3. Bringing the principles and ethics of Vedic medicine into the mainstream medical system

You can learn more about Dr. Glaser on his website: http://bodyrenewalbook.com/ayurvedamed/

Book information: http://bodyrenewalbook.com/

 

Monday
Jun182012

Healing the Mind

 

One of my larger adventures in Ayurveda has included the exploration of the manas - the mind - and how our thoughts, feelings and experiences impact our physical being. Every piece of pathology has the aspect of where the mind plays into the disease. One of my favorite lines, "What we see in the mind today, we see in the body tomorrow," can be truly profound IF you are tuned in. When we are tuned in to the signs and symptoms our body offers as messages of imbalance we quickly see this impact, but when the senses are dull and unattended or misused, we miss these indications.

The goal of life is simply becoming healthy and happy. Mindfully feeding our body, mind and soul. Healthy thoughts, laughing with friends, contributing to this world with love and compassion. Cosmologically we are handed on a path that can be influenced and altered on some levels and how we view this opportunity will aid us in the process of having a healthy mind.

This past weekend I spent some time with Dr. Sarita Shrestha as she reviewed the Ayurvedic view on allergies and immunity. I was prepared for the discussion to define the samprapti (pathology) of vata pushing kapha and the imbalance of the dhatus (tissues) that contributes to the susceptibility to allergies as a physical body. What I was not expecting to digest was the aspect of fear and phobias that drive the physical response of allergies in the body. The impact of how the mind is the driving force to allergic states. I immediately challenged this with an example of my friends daughter who from an early age had severe asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock from exposure to peanuts. Where is the phobia or fear for a small child? Why peanuts for this child and lactose for that child? This is not a short answer of course. My Western scientific molecular upbringing caused me to want more information. What is the chemistry behind our thoughts, fears/phobias? It was clear by the environment of this workshop that I needed to walk away with these questions unanswered. This is something for me to unpack through this science of life. Simply placing this concept on the table to view in my Rogi (clients), teachers, friends and relatives. I'm looking forward to this next journey with Ayurveda.

Wednesday
Jul132011

Hot Yoga

 

HOT YOGA? Maybe not - What is YOUR appropriate yoga practice?

 

Don't get me wrong, I love yoga, but we have lost the core structure of this ancient sister science of Ayurveda. Bringing ourselves to the root knowledge of our unique selves will help enable us to find the appropriate yoga practice.

The book Yoga for your Type, Dr. David Frawley, outlines the many methods for a custom yoga practice based on the laws of the universe and the inner process of cosmogenesis that holds the keys to all our unique transformations. The two systems of Ayurveda and Yoga have maintained a long and intimate history, interacting upon and enhancing one another up to the present day.

Begin with researching what your body needs. By knowing your constitution (Prakruti), what are your imbalances (Vikruti) are and connecting with this chemistry will allow you to make better decisions about your yoga practice.

Things to consider:

  • Body Type
  • Time of day for yoga practice
  • Yoga style
  • Temperature of room

Once you have dertermined your personal element/doshic balance, you can begin to custom design your practice. Selecting a yoga teacher that is educated in Ayurveda will ensure your practice provides modifications for not just physical injuries or limitations, but also for your personal body type needs.

Ayurvedic Yoga Video Options:

Madhuri Phillips offers an Ayurvedic overview and custom guidelines on her video: An Ayurvedic Yoga Practice

Madhuri's video covers: 

  • An introductory lecture on Ayurveda and how it is relevant to you!
  • A 10 page booklet including a dosha checklist to analyze your own Ayurvedic constitution
  • 3 different yoga classes for vata (to de-stress and relax), pitta (to cool and calm), and kapha (to invigorate and energize) 
  • Pranayama breathing practices suited for each dosha
  • Chanting and meditation for all doshas 
  • This DVD is suitable for all levels 

Another great option by Juliet Jivanti: Ayurvedic Yoga For Your Body Type

Juliet's video covers:

  • This DVD has three sequences: one for each body type (dosha), Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The Vata sequence is rejuvenating and grounding, the Pitta sequence is cooling and soothing and the Kapha sequence is energizing and uplifting
  • Each sequence is approximately 30 minutes long
  • These sequences are for all levels of yoga practitioners

 

One of my teachers, Mas Vidal, also has a new Ayurvedic Yoga video: Mas Vidal's Optimum Yoga & Ayurveda

Mas's video covers:

  • Air - Fire - Water element based series
  • Each series if focused on the unique qualities of a Vata - air - Pitta - Fire - Kapha - Water
  • Appropriate for all levels of yoga practice

 

Hot Yoga Soap Box:

Hot Yoga most certainly can provide some benefits for some body types. Here are some lovely benefits that can be found on many Hot Yoga practice websites(along with some added Ayurvedic commentary:

"The heat has many benefits ..."

The heat means we can get into postures more deeply and effectively (Great for Kapha body types, possibly causing injury for Vata body types) - plus the benefits of the postures come quickly (take a look at a bell curve on progress and consider the downside of fast burnout). Like thousands before you, you will find that practising yoga in the warm room creates a satisfying and almost addictive feeling of achievement. (For some Kapha and Vata body types, depending on current imbalance state - the addictive feeling is called an imbalance)

The benefits are many:

  • Your body burns fat more effectively, fat may be redistributed and burned as energy during the class. It is common to lose centimetres of shape in a very short time (for a Kapha body type this is acceptable, for Vata and Pitta this can be quite disruptive to cellular health and metabolism)
  • The heat produces a fluid-like stretch allowing for greater range of movement in joints, muscles, ligaments and other supporting structures of the body (Correct, but it also may be vitiating for Pitta predominates)
  • Capillaries dilate in the heat; more effectively oxygenating the tissues, muscles, glands and organs and helping in the removal of waste products (True, but this can be achieved without the addition of external heat, through the asana practice itself).
  • Your peripheral circulation improves due to enhanced perfusion of your extremities (Also achieved through a yoga practice which does not have increased external heat)
  • Your metabolism speeds up the breakdown of glucose and fatty acids (Correct, this is not a result of the hot room though, it is from the yoga asana practice)
  • You benefit from a strengthening of willpower, self control, concentration and determination in this challenging environment (State of mind, yoga asana provides this without the heated room)
  • Your cardiovascular system gets a thorough workout (Great! same same)
  • Your muscles and connective tissue become more elastic and allow for greater flexibility with less chance of injury and improved resolution of injury (Yes! Just as any non-heated yoga practice provides)
  • Sweating promotes detoxification and elimination through the skin - which is the body's largest eliminating organ (It sure does, but some Pitta body types perspire enough on their own and may experience dehydration from a heated practice)
  • Just as when your body raises its temperature to fight infection, the raised temperature in the room will assist in improving T-cell function and the proper functioning of your immune system (Also achieved with a standard yoga practice in a non-heated room)
  • Your nervous system function is greatly improved and messages are carried more efficiently to and from your brain (Because of a heated yoga practice? I am pretty sure that message is, "If you are a pitta predominant, you are going to be light headed and nauseous very soon.")
  • Metabolism improves in your digestive system and in the body's cells (that is food in the gut and nutrients in the cells) (Once again, this is not due to a hot room while practicing yoga. This is the natural physical response from a proper yoga asana routine). 

With the current day world of yoga that we live within - it is important to know that there are many patented versions available to us that might be worth exploring. The best way to begin is by knowing your personal needs and chemistry. Ayurveda will provide this knowledge for you and allow you to safely proceed with your yoga journey. Explore your personal body type through one of the many wonderful books we have today (recommended reading section of this website) or see your local Ayurvedic ND/ARNP/MD/BAMS/Practitioner.