The Cover STORIES
Ayurveda is an Indian medicinal system that has been preserved for over 5,000 years and is still practised widely in India and Sri Lanka today alongside allopathic medicine. The word Ayurveda means “ Science of Life” and this ancient practice gives us much needed advice on how to achieve mind and body balance in our hectic modern lives.
The importance of ‘Agni’ (meaning Digestive Fire in Ayurveda) is something that is often overlooked when people first embark on discovering Ayurveda.
There is so much talk and focus on the Three Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). As an Ayurvedic Practitioner I work with patient to heal a number of disorders ranging from skin conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis to hormonal issues (fertility, imbalances, menopause) through to arthritis, IBS, ulcerative colitis, insomnia, anxiety, weight gain and many more acute conditions.
So often people continue to suffer while taking long-term medicines that only serve to cover-up symptoms (while often producing unwanted side-affects) and do not address the root cause of the illness. While every patient that comes to see me is an individual with a unique set of circumstances that will have led to the manifestation of whatever symptoms they are suffering from, one part of the treatment protocol always remains the same: Balancing the Digestive Fire.
I have made this the title and focus of my upcoming book with Ebury Press “Balance Your Agni - An Essential Guide to Ayurveda”, because it is the foundation stone of any effective treatment plan in Ayurvedic medicine and I want more people to understand the very simple principles behind it and how they can look after and balance their own Agni at home.
While the book goes into more depth about this, home remedies and simple daily practices to incorporate Ayurveda in general - my friends at Code8 beauty have asked me to put together some of my top tips for balancing your Agni at home.
1) Eat warm and cooked food: In order to take care of your digestive fire it is important to only fuel it with food that is already cooked and ideally warm. When we consume raw foods the digestive fire has to work so much harder to convert these into either nourishment for the tissues of the body or waste (to be expelled by going to the toilet or through sweating). When we eat raw foods it puts pressure on the digestive fire resulting in less nourishment and more toxins. A build up of these toxins will eventually lead to symptoms and illness. You can see this in something like eczema, for example. Consuming the wrong kind of foods and having an imbalanced digestive fire means the toxins are not expelled through the usual channels and instead they stay in the first tissue level where they present as dry, itchy redness. We often find removing certain foods from the diet - especially raw foods such as carrots and tomatoes and balancing the digestive fire with Ayurvedic herbs, soon clears up the eczema.
2) Culinary spices: Using spices in your cooking such as cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom are all great ways to not only improve the taste of your food (and feel more satisfied) - but they also help to ‘cook’ the food so that it is even easier to digest.
3) Warm drinks: Try and avoid putting ice into your drinks or having them straight from the fridge. If you think of your Agni as a little flame in your stomach - you can imagine what happens to that when we pour ice-cold water over it! Instead opt for plain warm water or with a little root ginger. If you can’t manage this then at least try and have water at room temperature.
4) Listen to your body: Our digestive fire can be in many different states. Most often it is either working too slow (sluggish and slow - producing bloating and wind) or too high (acidity and needing to eat often). Both are incorrect states for the Agni. Check in with yours - ask yourself what you have been eating and see if you can make some small changes. Following the above guidelines is a good place to start. If you wish to explore Ayurveda in more depth or are looking to heal a particular disorder through this natural holistic practise it is always best to seek the guidance of a qualified Practitioner.