In the first blog in this series, we saw that herbal remedies must be compatible with the body type, seasons, and intake time to be effective. We also discussed how you can tailor herbal remedies to your body type.
Even with the most compatible herbal remedies, you may only experience temporary relief from the symptoms of the disease. What explains this? It’s because the underlying cause, the source of the disorder is not removed.
Remove the cause
Nidan parivarjanam is the most fundamental and indispensable treatment in Ayurveda. Thus, nidan parivarjanam refers to the diagnosis and elimination of causal factors. Nidan means cause or symptom, and parivarjanam means “avoid or eliminate.”
The Causal Factors
These causal factors can be anything – incredibly gross or subtle; mental or physical. For example, an unnatural suppression of the urge to vomit may trigger multiple skin disorders like spots, wrinkles, erysipelas, etc. Charak Samhita also mentions that suppression of natural sneezing urges may lead to facial paralysis or migraine!
The subtle mental factors, on the other hand, are intangible. Nevertheless, they affect the body more profoundly, and the resulting treatment is more potent.
For example, stress is scientifically proven to lower natural immunity.
It is one of the leading causes of most lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalance, etc. Stress can also trigger and aggravate autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
The placebo effect is a mental trait that can help you heal your body. Stronger the belief or faith in the treatment, the stronger the impact of the placebo. And people have healed severe disorders like cancer with the help of the placebo effect.
Why Removal of Cause is so crucial?
Interestingly, the word nidan has two meanings – cause and symptoms. In modern medicine, a physician aims to remove the symptoms of a disease. However, Ayurveda has a broader perspective.
To understand the importance of nidan parivarjanam, let us consider the example of a flowing river.
Let us assume that a garbage inlet pipe pollutes the river constantly. The most effective way to clean this river is not to collect garbage, but to close the garbage pipe. Once you close this garbage pipe, the river itself will flush away the garbage present in it. Like a river, our body is a dynamic system. And once you stop putting garbage through the wrong diet and lifestyle, your body will flush away all toxins and clean itself.
Nevertheless, if you continue to accumulate toxins in your body, you may not reap the benefits of the most powerful and compatible medicine. This is the importance of nidan parivarjanam or the elimination of the cause.
What are the types of Causal Factors and how to remove them?
Primarily, there are two types of causal factors in Ayurveda –
Because there are three planes of existence – physical, mental, and spiritual; there should be three categories of causal factors. But, on the spiritual plane, there are no disorders.
The physical causes have two primary categories –
We are made of the food we consume. That is why, right food leads to health, whereas wrong food results in disorders.
Wrong food is a powerful and persistent polluting factor. Even if you take the most effective medicines, the wrong food can nullify their effect. For example –
If you have a severe cold and cough during the springtime, and you consume coconut water or ice cream, then even the choicest medicine cannot help you. Multiple factors are working in this case.
- Springtime is the season when the body suffers from annual kapha dosha imbalance or prakop.
- Imbalance in kapha dosha causes cold and cough.
- Anything cold (like ice cream) or coolness-inducing (like coconut water) further aggravates the imbalanced kapha dosha.
In the above situation, the wrong food will consume the power of medicine. And you will hardly experience any relief. That is why the concept of parahej or prohibited food guidelines is crucial in Ayurvedic treatment.
How to correct the dietary causes of disorders?
For speedy and effective treatment, you must stop eating the food that triggers disease-causing factors. And this practice is a fundamental step in Ayurvedic treatment. It is called parahej or prohibited food guidelines.
Prohibited food depends on multiple factors. However, the critical ones are –
The Dosha condition
For example, if a person is suffering from joint pain (vata imbalance), then she should avoid foods that aggravate vata imbalance. Some examples are green leafy vegetables, green peas, cabbage, cauliflower, etc; cooling food like ice cream, cold drinks, junk food, etc.
The Body type
For example, a pitta dominant person suffering from peptic ulcer must not consume pitta aggravating food like red chilies, excessively oily and spicy food, or very hot food. It is pertinent to note that pitta dominant people are most susceptible to peptic ulcers.
General health condition and Digestive capacity
For example, a weak kapha dominant person with a history of indigestion must avoid cold, heavy, and oily food.
Ideally, a meat-based diet is an excellent remedy for general debility. However, Charak Samhita prohibits meat consumption for a feeble person, because this person may have a low rate of metabolism. He may not be able to digest and absorb the nutrition in the meat. Rather, heavy fat may cause weak digestion to overload and produce toxins.
There are many other factors like age, gender, etc. that define the appropriate food choices.
Lifestyle based causes
Food is a crucial factor for health, but lifestyle is equally significant. Lifestyle includes factors like daily routine, exercise or physical activity, sleep duration and quality, level of stress, exposure to electronic gadgets, addictions like smoking, drinking, etc.
All these factors contribute significantly to health. Ayurveda says that even nutritious food fails to nourish the body if you eat it with a tired body and a stressed mind.
The dosha has a natural biorhythm that forms the circadian rhythm of the body. To stay healthy, you must follow this natural rhythm. For example –
Kapha dosha governs the first phase of the day (sunrise – 10 am approx.). Therefore, any warming, rigorous activity can help to balance the heavy, cold, and moist kapha. Therefore, the morning is the most suitable time to exercise. However, it may not be the right time to have a heavy breakfast!
As the day progresses, the rate of metabolism also increases. Midday is when the metabolism is at its highest. This is the ideal time to have food. Therefore, lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day.
The bottom line is that if you align yourself with the natural physiological flow, you can effectively prevent and heal almost all disorders.
Sleep time is the only rejuvenation opportunity for the body. During sleep, the body repair or removes damaged cells, reproduce new cells and eliminates metabolic toxins. A sleep-deprived person would not only face multiple disorders, but she would also age faster.
Normally, addiction signifies smoking or drinking. However, there are many types of addictions and all of them are abnormal activities that bring imbalance to the body.
Most people are aware of the hazards of smoking and drinking. However, today we have children addicted to electronic gadgets, cartoons, violent movies, social media, and so on. This is a more dangerous addiction as it catches us off-guard.
- Obesity is nothing but a direct result of an innocuous addiction – food addiction. Food is a source of nutrition for the body. But many people treat it as a source of stress relief. Binge eating has become a norm, and so has obesity.
- The bottom line is that lifestyle upgrade is a crucial part of Ayurvedic treatment. For example, if you do not stop smoking; then the herbal remedy for breathing problems will never work for you.
- If you do not stop binge eating, you may experience zero results from weight loss remedies
- Lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension, etc., may not be controlled by medicines alone if you do not engage in any physical activity.
Ayurveda says that without removing the causal factors, you cannot get any permanent cure. However, once you get rid of the causal factors, you enable the body to heal itself. Moreover, removing the causal factors enhances the effects of herbal remedies.
There are two types of causal factors – physical and mental. The physical factors are of two types – dietary and lifestyle-based. Ayurveda says the correct diet is medicine, whereas the wrong diet is akin to poison. Also, once you remove the disease-causing lifestyle factors like smoking, lack of sleep, etc, you can enhance the effect of the right food and medicine and achieve a lasting cure.
In future blogs, let us discuss more the mental factor and how it can make or break your health.