Ayurveda begins at home: How simple, traditional remedies lead to a healthy life
For many people, an Ayurvedic lifestyle brings up images of an austere life with mountains of rules about what one can and cannot eat. However, much of this is a misconception, since Ayurveda is very inclusive of various types of foods as part of a healthy diet.
Indeed, an Ayurvedic lifestyle doesn’t even have to be wholly vegetarian, as sections of the ancient texts describe the healthy way to eat various meats. Even more, these texts don’t turn their noses up at alcohol either. When one hears that certain kinds of foods such as curd, fish, fruits or tamarind are not allowed in an Ayurvedic diet, it’s important to remember that such prescriptions are made for people with particular health conditions.
The word Ayurveda comes from “ayu” meaning life and “veda” meaning science. Thus, Ayurveda is a science of life and is meant to be incorporated into our everyday lives.
Ayurveda in our daily lives
We may not always realise it, but Ayurveda is already part of many of our lifestyles in various ways. One branch of Ayurveda derives from household knowledge, which has been passed down through several generations. While we might think of many of these as simple home remedies, in following them, we are already following many of the principles of Ayurveda without realising it.
Such simple acts as getting up early in the morning, eating only when we feel hungry, using specific spices to treat different common health concerns, and preparing simple but healthful decoctions using household ingredients, all involve following sound Ayurvedic principles. One of the best examples of that is haldi doodh, turmeric milk, which had a wide range of health benefits, from improving our mental health and sleep to improving digestion.
Ayurveda and food
Food plays a major role in Ayurveda, and is known as Mahabhaishajyam or the greatest medicine. While specific medications are prescribed for different conditions, Ayurvedic treatment also involves suitably modifying the diet of a person to counteract illnesses. In that sense, most ingredients we already have in our kitchens have medicinal value. In particular, the various spices used in traditional cooking such as cloves, cardamom, ajwain, jeera, mustard, asafoetida, honey and salt play a significant role in bringing the body to equilibrium and promoting good health.
Simple remedies to kick off your Ayurvedic journey
Living healthily according to Ayurvedic principles doesn’t require complicated medicinal combinations. There are simple remedies we can start practicing today to begin our journey towards a healthful life:
• Eat mishreya (saunf or fennel) after food to improve digestion.
• Drink a decoction of ela (cardamom) to ease cases of vomiting.
• Drink teas or decoctions of lavanga (clove) to ease respiratory conditions such as colds and throat pain.
• Eat foods rich in turmeric to help with intestinal worms, diabetes, etc.
• Eat sugar or jaggery as a remedy for acidity, heartburn or migraines.
• Apply turmeric to fresh wounds to prevent infection.
• Apply turmeric mixed with coconut oil on skin to treat skin disorders such as excessive itching.
• Reduce tanning by applying a combination of besan and turmeric with milk or curd.
• Apply a mixture of ground methi and curd to cure dandruff.
• Soak and grind masoor dal to create a highly effective face pack.
• Massage the skin with sesame oil or apply coconut oil regularly to improve skin health.
Ayurvedic remedies don't always need rare herbs or complex medicinal combinations. Many of the ingredients in our own kitchens can serve to improve our digestion, nutrition and health. An ayurvedic lifestyle can begin right at home today.
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