Chronic illness warrior and natural health coach and advocate, Gina helps others thrive beyond the challenges of chronic illness.
Ayurveda: The Science of Life
What is Ayurveda?
Simply put, Ayurveda is the science of Life. It is one of the world's oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems. It was developed thousands of years ago in India.
It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. However, treatments may be recommended for specific health problems.
The three Doshas
According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe -- living or not -- is connected. Good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.
For followers of Ayurveda, anything that affects your physical, spiritual, or emotional well-being can cause you to be out of balance with the universe. Some things that can cause a disruption include:
- Genetic or birth defects
- Climate and seasonal changes
How your body works to keep you healthy and your unique physical and psychological characteristics combine to form your body's constitution, or prakriti. Your prakriti is believed to stay the same for your entire life. However, how you digest food and eliminate waste can influence it.
Every person is made of a combination of five basic elements found in the universe:
These elements combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. The three doshas are:
- Vata dosha (space and air)
- Pitta dosha (fire and water)
- Kapha dosha (water and earth)
Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. One dosha is usually more dominant. Each dosha controls a different body function. It is believed that your chances of getting sick are linked to the balance of your doshas.
If you would like to find out what your unique Dosha is, you can find out here. Knowing what your Dosha is will also enable you to determine what essential oils are best for you, as well as the kind of diet you should be eating for the best digestive life experience.
Ayurvedic herbs, spices and minerals
Ayurveda and Ayurvedic herbs are being studied as treatments for many health conditions, including:
- Alzheimer disease
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- High blood pressure
- Parkinson disease
- Peri-menopausal problems
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Ayurvedic herbs combined with conventional medications may also be helpful for:
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Uterine fibroids
The treatments may include:
- Breathing exercises
- Diet changes
- Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and metals
- Plant-based oils and spices
- Lifestyle changes
Many years ago I started an Ayurvedic routine referred to as oil-pulling because I had read of the benefits of it. This oil-pulling was simply a swishing of oil around in the mouth for about 20 minutes, then spitting it into the trash. I found that it was helping with my gum health, in addition to my lung health, as it helped to pull mucous from my lungs. It also benefited me in other ways, such as alleviating the oral ulcers that sometimes developed and stopping the bleeding gums that had developed from lupus.
This ancient practice of washing out with your mouth with oil every morning, or even three times a day, has completely detoxified my body. This is a daily ritual, and an integral part of my lupus healing protocol, and one that I recommended to everyone with a chronic illness, or even those who just want a boost in their health.
Continue reading to find out what oil-pulling is exactly, and how easy it is to do.
Abhyanga is an ancient Indian Ayurvedic oil massage therapy for healing and detoxifying Body, Mind and Spirit. The purpose of Ayurvedic daily oil massage as part of the daily routine is to balance the nervous system, prevent physiological imbalances and to lubricate and promote flexibility of the muscles, tissues, and joints. Ayurveda texts state that daily massage promotes softness, youthfulness and luster of the skin. There are at least 1000 sensory neurons per every square centimeter of your skin, so if you were to massage your arm, you would be effectively soothing at least 1 million sensory neurons! That's powerful!
Read more about my experience with Abhyanga here:
My Abhyanga massage oil
How to do Abhyanga.
Medication is great to incorporate when doing the breathing technique. In fact, I can't do one without the other.
Ayurvedic breathing and Meditation
This technique is great not only for improving our breathing, but also for pain-management. This is one of the techniques that was mentioned by my Therapist. I was so proud to tell her that I was already practicing it.
Have you noticed how none of us really breathe Properly?
Not breathing properly can lead to various health problems over a period of time.
With Pranayama, or, yoga breathing, it is possible to increase the capacity of our lungs to inhale more oxygen, and supply to the body.
If you do yoga, you will notice that there are many kind of breathing exercises. Some are meant to increase your 'Agni' or digestive fire. A good example is kriyas like Ujjayi Breathing, or, Kapalbhatti.
Other breathing exercises like alternate nose breathing with Vishnu 'Mudra', also known as Alom Vilom can help center and calm you, increase your oxygen intake, and, help you with issues like Asthma, Stress, Insomnia, Headaches, Chronic Fatigue.
Prana literally means LIFE FORCE or 'chi'. By drawing the 'chi' or prana from our envirnoment, and breathing properly - we can increase our 'life' expenctancy.
Breathing exercises, or, Pranayama can reduce toxins, help digestion, increase metabolism, develop mental clarity and help achieve a state of deep relaxation and peace.
Ayurvedic breathing technique
DIY health and beauty products: You can make WHAT with essential oils?
DIY beauty products
There are thousands of chemicals in your products, many of which are being absorbed into your body. It's impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical, but you can do your part in limiting the amount of toxins your body is exposed to.
This is the reason why I make my own. I make my own toothpaste, in addition to so many other products like bronzing powder, sunscreen, bath and shower gel, shampoo and so much more.
You can read about my homemade toothpaste here.....in addition to getting the recipe.
This is the first cream that I designed for use on my face. I also use an essential oil blend that I call my Immortal blend. It is my secret for maintaining y
What if I told you there's a simple wellness trick that only takes five minutes a day, costs nothing, and helps cleanse your body, inside and out? Dry skin brushing has a number of health benefits and is so simple to do.
So how does it work?
Your skin, the largest organ in the human body is an organ of elimination. One third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin and dry brushing helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin.
To get started, follow the simple steps below:
1. Purchase a natural (not synthetic) bristle brush with a long handle so can reach all areas of your body.
2. Get naked and stand in a bathtub or tiled surface to catch the falling skin. (It's a bit gross, I know.)
3. Begin brushing by starting at your feet and moving in long sweeping motions toward your heart. Always brush toward your heart.
4. Brush several times in each area, overlapping as you go.
5. Take care as you brush over more sensitive areas, like breasts. Your skin will become less sensitive the more you dry brush.
6. Once you've brushed your entire body, jump in the shower. (I like to alternate between the hottest water temperature I can tolerate and the coldest. This stimulates blood circulation, bringing more blood to the top layers of the skin.)
7. After getting out of the shower, pat dry skin and apply a natural fruit oil like rose hip or coconut oil.
8. Continue to dry brush your entire body every day. Twice a day is recommended for best results. Remember to clean your brush with soap and water once a week. Leave to dry in a clean, sunny spot to avoid any mildew accumulation on your brush.
Try this for 30 days and see the results for yourself!
Some benefits of dry skin brushing:
1. You'll exfoliate dead skin.
Forget your in-shower loofah and body scrubs, this will ensure you have silky-smooth skin all year round!
2. It stimulates your lymphatic system.
Dry brushing your skin will kick start your lymphatic system, which helps you remove toxins from the body. The stiffer the bristles on the brush, the better the lymphatic stimulation you’ll create.
3. Dry brushing helps to reduce cellulite.
Cellulite is simply toxic materials that have accumulated in your body’s fat cells and are trapped, unable to be eliminated from the body. Forget lipo, dry skin brushing helps to break down any trapped toxins from within the body and help your body eliminate them through its usual elimination channels.
4. It unclogs pores and de-congests skin.
Dry skin brushing unclogs your skins pores and helps your skin absorb more nutrients. Daily skin brushing promotes healthy, breathing skin. It's a real treat for the largest organ in our bodies!
Benefits of Dry Brushing
I’ve been dry brushing my skin for years, mostly because it feels great and makes my skin softer, but there are other benefits as well:
- Lymphatic Support: The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally.
- Exfoliation: This benefit is often noticed the first time a person dry brushes. The process of running a firm, natural bristled brush over the skin helps loosen and remove dead skin cells, naturally exfoliating skin. I noticed much softer skin in the first few days and weeks after I started dry brushing and my skin has stayed soft. Dry brushing is one of the simplest and most natural ways to exfoliate skin.
- Clean Pores: The added benefit of exfoliating the skin, is clearing oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Though it isn’t recommended to dry brush the face unless you have a special, more delicate brush, dry brushing helps improve pores on the rest of the body.
- Cellulite Help: Though the evidence is anecdotal, I’ve found many accounts of people who claimed that regular dry brushing greatly helped their cellulite. There isn’t much research to back the cellulite claims, but dry brushing feels great and makes skin softer, so there isn’t really any downside to trying it!
- Increased Energy and Blood Flow: I wouldn’t recommend dry brushing at night because it tends to give me a rush of energy. One theory is that because it increases circulation, it also increases energy. Either way, dry brushing is part of my morning routine.
Dry brushing for lymph health
There quite a few herbs that I use in my fight against inflammation. However the first blend that I started off with was my FTGC blend. This was recommended to me by my Herbalist. It is an anti-inflammatory blend to help with the joint damage that could result from lupus. This blend contains Frankincense, turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper in a powder capsule form. These ingredients, on their own, have great anti-inflammatory properties. Together, they are a powerhouse. I have been using this blend now for about 4years. You can read more about this and my other herbs here.