Early Spring Detox
In most homes in India, there is an engrained and embodied knowledge of segments of Ayurveda. Common kitchen spices contain natural antiseptics, antibiotics, sedatives, digestive stimulatants, anti-asmatics, and antacids. Indian kitchens used to be the place of the pharmacy. In my family, my grandmother passed on two beautiful hand-written cookbooks of sweets, chutneys, and main dishes and her love wet my taste buds for more unspoken knowledge of a past that was largely changed in our family through evangelism and the influence of British rule in India. Ayurveda outlasted foreign rule and was a knowledge maintained more purely in rural village families, as a way of surviving and thriving in the elements of nature.
Ayurveda as a science is more than 5,000 years old and dates back the the ancient Vedas. The trinity of three great vaidyas, who’s work was written as classical texts are Sushruta (a great surgeon), Caraka (who was a wandering genius physician and believed largely in preventative medicine), Vaighbat (one of the greatest classical healers and writers of ayurveda). These physicians made the early connection between digestive health, emotional health, and immune function. In fact, ayurveda is so old, so profound, that you can see in this sutra its branches and scope.
|Vaghbat. Sutra. 1|
This sutra indicates that there was internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, ENT, toxicology, surgery, geriatrics, and virilization as the eight branches of ancient ayurveda in which treatment of disease was explained.
Today, ayurveda is slowly becoming a section of alternative complimentary therapy. My teacher, Dr. Vasant Lad, encourages working alongside western medicine as he admits that all systems of medicine have their limitation; “That is the beauty of it!, “he says. Whereas western medicine is excellent for its use of technology in diagnosis and treatment of acute and emergency conditions,
ayurveda is also brilliant, especially in the realm of preventative medicine and the deep healing of chronic conditions. Ayurveda and has profoundly changed my life by healing chronic illnesses like eczema (and therefore insomnia), enabling me to let go of the topical steroids, which only mildly treated the symptoms of a painful decades-long problem. One of the great gifts of ayurveda is that it gives attention to time, place, hereditary- predisposition, prior illnesses and susceptibility to repeat ailments, diet, lifestyle, and mental condition when treating any individual. And there are some preventative recommendations that can be made across the board.
Ayurveda understands that detoxification is a part of life, not only at the time of illness. It is commonly understood that at the change of the season, it is a good time to detoxify the body. Now in March in Baltimore, the heavy, dense, sticky, dull qualities of earth and water element (kapha) predominant in winter weather begins to melt at the turn of spring and this is the time when spring allergies, common colds, and even more serious respiratory ailments begin unleash. At this time each year, in this 20 day period where the weather shifts between cold and warm, it is a good time to take a few days to a weeklong fast of mung dal kitcheree, or for Pitta and Kapha constitution especially a once a week juice fast, to give the body time to reset and strengthen. While fasting, increasing time in meditation or pranayama practice can be useful, and refrain from overloading the senses with disturbing images and sounds. Kitcharee can be binding so it is useful to drink plenty of stimulating herbal teas, prune juice, psyllium husks, or triphala at bed as directed by an ayurvedic consultant. Take it easy at work and get plenty of rest. The best spices for the kitcheree are included in the recipe below, which is offered on the website of the Ayurvedic Institute.
|Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains. This is one kitchari recipe that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest. Options
One of my personal favorite recipes for eating simply is a Indian specialty called Upma. I’ve added carrots. You can improvise as you like! It uses semolina or toasted wheat, but is very light to digest and simple. This pre-toasted wheat does not always aggravate those with gluten allergies. Check it out at your local Indian grocery. I have found this dish excellent for clearing toxins particularly related to Vāta dosha in the colon. If your tongue looks like it is coated with sticky white stuff in the morning, in the back portion of the tongue, add more ajwain seeds and this is especially for you! It’s quick, only takes about 15 minutes to cook.
– 1 cup semolina/sooji/rava (fine variety)
– 1 medium sized chopped onion
– 1 green chili, chopped
– 1 tsp urad dal
– 2.5 cups water
– 1 tsp black mustard seed
– healthy chunk of fresh ginger
– 1/2 tsp cumin seed/ jeera
– 4-5 curry leaves
– 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
– 1 cut carrot
– 1 juicy lime
– 1 tsp minimum ajwain seeds
– 2 tbsp oil or ghee (sunflower or ghee for pitta, sesame or ghee for Vāta, mustard or olive for kapha)
– himalayan rock salt or sea salt
Prep all ingredients. Chop onion, green chilies, fresh ginger, coriander, carrot.
Heat pan, using ghee or oil and put tsp of urad dal. Add ginger, onion, mustard seeds until they pop.
Then add chopped carrot, salt, and water. Cook till soft.
Add semolina and mix together until water is absorbed.
Put on lowest flame and cover, cooking about 5-8 minutes with frequent stirring. Add sprinkle of water if necessary.
In separate pan, roast curry leaves and ajwain seeds in small amount of oil or ghee.
Add to top and mix.
Add coriander leaves and squeeze lime to finish.
For Vāta or Kapha constitution, can be served with tsp of hot lime or green mango pickle.
For Pitta, coconut chutney.