The Process and Factors of digestion part 1
Review of Digestion
Food goes inside mouth, Bodhak Kapha starts acting on Aahara (food) when we chew food – we understand digestion from the taste of food, that triggers other digestion, we swallow, the bolus mixes with kledhak kapha, mixes and moves to Grahani, stays with the Samana Vayu for appropriate time mixes with agni
– Tikshna agni (sharp digestion)starts working immediately
– Manda agni (slow digestion) takes much longer.
Food gets digestion, breaks into 2 categories
– Nutrients/saara taken to the heart and then all the dhatus. The heart because that is the home of the rasa dhatu.
– Then Kitta (waste) is sent down with Apana Vayu and split to malas. Aahara Rasa sent then to all dhatus and replenish them and produce malas and upadhatus (secondary tissues).
Seven Tissues and time of replenishment with nutrients (this has been proven with Western research)
Rasa dhatu (essence) – replenished in 1 day
Rakta dhatu (blood) – replenished in 7 days – day 2-8
Mamsa dhatu (muscle) – days 15
Meda dhatu (fat) – days 22
Asthi dhatu (bone) – day 29
Majja dhatu (nervous tissue) – day 36
Shukradhatu (reproductive tissue) – day 43
This is important because treatments will take as long to start affecting as the replenishment of the dhatus take. Some items like milk immediately starts replenishing shukradhatu, and some herbs are like that as well. It’s a specific quality of those particular herbs to act immediately or faster on the body and an affinity to certain tissues. The effect, for an example, of mercury, high in vishada guna, which moves very quickly to the brain. Bhasma – ash, when prepared properly should be light enough to float on the surface of water. If it sinks in not light enough. Rasa Kalpa – Fast Acting Treatment – Mercury or Diamond or Arsenic Bhasma (Bhasmaka is a disease that turns everything in the stomach to ash – Pitta condition makes very difficult to add weight.)
Grahani the disease happens when the Grahani the organ doesn’t hold food long enough in the grahani (small intestine). (think about what juicing does to the digestive system here)
Mineral therapy – people in india are taking in lots of minerals all their lives in great quantities. Kilos of minerals in their lives – they still alive and working much better than before. Wilson’s disease (a degeneration of the liver cells)- copper toxicity of the liver, This is when consuming impure form of copper, liver gets afflicted. In Ayurveda, we have Tamara Bhasma/copper ash which is used to cure certain liver disorders. Copper used in ayurvedic treatment is different – goes through processes and is processed with garlic to have certain actions. Can’t be measured chemically by Western methods, but has a different reaction than non-treated copper.
Yes, the levels of these minerals will increase in your body when you take them, but is it harmful or not? Are you taking stuff from this blog and just haphazardly and ignorantly starting to use them and is it like licking copper pipes or swallowing pennies or are the metals and minerals treated ayurvedically? Caveat, not all of the products out there that say they are ayurvedic are actually ayurvedic, most are not. Are you willing to take them without knowing how they were treated or produced just because they say ayurveda on them?
This is what we need to understand – what is the effect on the body? We have to ask has there been consumption of certain things – like water through old lead pipes, or already taken lead bhasma.
Anupana (carrier vehicle) can be churnas. Anupana is a substance that is used to bring the medicines to the proper place. There are also 11 different times that medicines can be taken for the proper results of where they need to go or tissues etc involved. It is never like you just take an herb because it is good for something. that is Western herbology, not at all Ayurveda. A single herb can be taken with different anupanas for different results as well as at different times. A single herb can also be added to different other herb to produce a completely different result. This is way beyond anything the western herbology has any idea of. So is turmeric really good for the obesity, heart, blood, and skin (and more)? How are you taking it and with what and what time and, and, and…..
Rasa Kalpa because of their quick-acting position can be used as an anupana for other herbs to get them across the blood/brain barrier quickly. Combinatory chemistry studies the order of taking herbs in particular sequences and ways. This is also applicable for modern western pharmaceuticals and the Ayurvedic doctors have been practicing that for millennium. Very important to put dravya (substances) together in particular orders to get effects that are more than the sum of its parts.
Ayurveda is not a mystic science, it’s a very practical science for understanding the human life. When ayurveda came to west originally was sold and hyped with a mystique to make it more desirable. It is so far from true and this is the down fall of Ayurveda in America. Ayurveda doesn’t always cure everything (but it has diagnosis to understand the level of disease and the person to say confidently and responsibly that it can or not), and in state of emergency response, Western drugs can act quicker but with side effects due to focus on symptomatic treatment. There are co-relationships with Western medications that are effective, but not as though ayurveda is only good in chronic and not acute conditions. There are ayurvedic herbs that act nearly as fast as western, but use what is the best to heal the patient. Hira Bhasma (diamond ash) good for cancers and heart disease. Ardhanarinateshwar – mineral stored in cobra’s head, then head chopped off, burned with mineral and then given as a rasa kalpa to cure cancer (nervine action). Any kind of liver disorder can only be treated by Ayurveda and certain Chinese herbs. There is no western treatment for liver disease. In India, allopathic doctors use the Ayurvedic treatment Liv 52 (by Himalaya Herbs) to treat liver conditions. Allopathy treats the symptoms (jaundice, fighting secondary infections) but not curing the liver. Digestion is the bread and butter of Ayurvedic medicine. Unless we understand the whole scenario we cannot understand the field of Ayurveda at all. One must learn Ayurveda from the original texts with teachers, there is no other way to really learn Ayurveda properly. The rest becomes watered down and much is lost.
To be a panchakarma technician (a person giving the treatments) 2 weeks can be enough training, but to be a PanchaKarma practitioner “must” be an ayurvedic doctor. It takes the education of the doctor to be able to put a panchakarma treatment together for a patient. It is detailed and not as is taught in the West superficially.
Different oils for different prakruti – This has become a big thing in the West. It is bogus. Coconut oil is cold and it will increase vata. Can use to bring down “excessive” pitta, but the best thing is to use sesame oil with herbs that will balance – Chandanbalalaxsadi is a great oil to help with pitta conditions. You do not ever see the oils being sold here in America as Vata Pitta and Kapha oils in India. It does not exist in Ayurveda.
Dosha Gati/Dosha Marga – what are the routes that vitiated doshas go?
Vyadhi Hetu – Basic Causative Factors (of disease in the body)
Asatmyendriyarthasanyoga – Asat – not habituated to/not used to, endriya – sense organs
Every sense organ has certain subjects, if we use those sense organs for things we are not habituated to, that will cause disease. Or, indulgence in unhealthy subjects of sensory organs.
Ex. A goldsmith looking at a small flame for long periods of time can be harmful for the eyes. Looking for a short period of time as an exercise can be a good thing. Listening to music that is too loud and fast. This has a lot to do with how we live in community as well, social experience, and our culture (our paradigm). Build yourself in the best way to overcome the modern influence of sensory overload.
India has less cases of cancers and autoimmune diseases than in rest of modern world. Not because of Ayurveda, but because the modern human body is showing its responses to EMF, lifestyle, Vata increasing work. Now this too is changing due to the change of the culture to a more modern world with money being brought to center of importance and the businesses that have started like call centers etc.
Shrotrendriya – Organ of Hearing, the ears – our ears are so used to a particular decibel level. Trying to listen beyond this capacity or even less than this, will be harmful. When a lot of ambient noise, our ears get affected. Criminals used to be kept in rooms with a lot of noise and then the mind becomes very disturbed and interrogation works better. Excess amount of sound waves can disturb the mind and can cause disease.
Mithyayoga – beyond the capacity, wrong things – for the ear, this would be listening to violent or angry messages/noises. Music that increases your desires and appetites disturb your minds. Listening to wrong speech. Oversensitivity to sound can happen when Rasa Dhatu is disturbed – shabdasahishnuta (speak + intolerance). Rasa dhatu is connected to sound. So agni of rasa dhatu is disturbed and needs to be increased – taking Guduchi is best for this issue. The herb takes care of the symptom AND fixes the root cause. Can make some adjustments to accommodating different input, but
Atiyoga – doing excess, beyond capacity
Hinayoga – doing less, not to capacity
Mithyayoga – doing wrong – improper use of sense organ
Sparshanendriya – what we perceive through touch is different kinds of gunas (kara – rough, Sandra – thick liquid nearly solid, Mridu – soft, etc.)
Atiyoga – cutting yourself with a knife, too hot or too cold to the touch – atiushna – extreme hot, atisheeta – extreme cold.
Mithyayoga – sunbathing or going to tanning booth. Doing 2 extreme things at same time like being in steam room then taking cold shower. Tattooing is treating skin in wrong manner – injecting dyes into the skin. Cosmetics, perfumes, sunscreens – technically a mithyayoga of the sparshanendriya, but the body tries to digest and accommodate. If someone has presence of Aam or fever in the body, application of abhyanga is mithyayoga, but for another its chikitsa. Drybrushing the skin for certain conditions – in very rare conditions could be good. It acts as a Rakta Mokshana (bloodletting), Menstruation is a way blood leaves the body and it benefits women, donating blood for men can help relieve certain blood conditions.
Marking nut/Bhallatak – so hot that if you touch it, your hand will be swollen. This oil used in ayurveda for a few special cases. Very hot oil used as a vehicle lubricant in Siberia. Different medicines in Ayurveda and used as a rasayana – two or three drops in a glass of milk to improve agni of every dhatu. Good for almost every prakruti because of the milk, could add a little ghee for Pitta prakruti person.
Shatavari – increases bulk of muscle, helps to build rasa dhatu primarily.
Ashwagandha – increases both bulk AND agni of the mamsa dhatu, and used for sarvadehika and shukra dhatu and ojas development for both the sexes.
*Sesame oil, neem oil is a good sunscreen.
Chaksurendriya – the eyes. Any kind of excessive brightness or glittering or very bright to the eyes can be atiyoga. Too much computer, glare, strobe lights.
Hinayoga – looking through a microscope too much, straining your eyes to its limits. Looking with too little light. Using glasses doesn’t fit into either of them, but if you have glasses and stop using them and start straining can be bad for eyes. Eye exercises are good for eyes.
Eye surgeries actually considered mithyayoga, but because beneficial in the immediate moment may take a while to know. Surgery for cataract in Sushruta Samhita is the same method is being used now in modern ophthalmology. Mithyayoga – looking at a solar eclipse. In texts, they talk about retinal detachment in the future. Sun watching at noontime is atiyoga. How much glare is coming onto your eyes is important. If you stare at the sun for a long period of time. Any “extremes” will disturb the mind and the majja dhatu itself – migraines, seizures etc. It all causes disease, any extreme.
Atiyoga would be eating excessive amounts of any single taste.
Hinayoga not eating enough of a taste, avoiding a taste like bitter, or saying NO CARBS. In India, diabetes is increasing tremendously but those people have started a habit of going for exercise in the morning, great but there are different kinds of juices out in the marketplaces – juice, cold things. It has become popular to drink bitter gourd juice – eating too many bitter things triggers a vata reaction which feeds the kapha prakopa. Dahl is astringent in taste, but not compared to Alum. That much however is sufficient for the body to receive astringent taste in body. Dahl and Ghee can be sufficient if rice and sugar aren’t tolerated. Mithyayoga would be eating wrong food combinations – extreme tastes at a time, very spicy and very sweet even simultaneously.
We don’t want to merely cook ayurvedic foods based on V, P, K., This is not Ayurveda at all. There are so many factors that must be taken into account as far as the medicine of food. We should eat differently and better.
Patya/Apatya – Recommended/Not Recommended – not universal – will change based upon many factors. Some foods like green mung is Nityuga – always Patya. Gritha/ghee- less in spring or if person is Kapha prokopa. Certain substances are called hitka ahara – always or generally advised. Mung is one of them. Goat meat is good for all 3 doshas. But dependent on individuals agni of course.
Patya is that which makes wholesome the pata –the road/journey the channels/srotas. Changes depending on the human being consuming it. Dosha, guna, season, area they live in (dry or wet), etc. – CS, SS, Ch.25, Shloka 247
Patya is that which is not harmful to the path of the body/srotas. One has to decide what would be the patya for the individual. And is also according to the liking – if your food grosses you out, already the channels are closed, that is the very reason food grosses people out. Can’t eat stuff that is good for you foodwise if you don’t find it pleasing. If this is so, they are already toxic.
Medicine/Aushadhi is different from aahar – works stronger.
Mercury is penetrating to all dhatus – any medicine potentiated with mercury quickly acts on the body. – Rasa Kalpa.
Patya is desired by us and must meet the mind and the body both.
The various foods have their effect based on quantity of food, time eaten, method of preparation (ex. Cold wheat served with sugar, fruit, and cold milk is toxic (doesn’t digest) and totally different from heating it (would digest easier).
Where are you living/Bhumi (desert environment may not even want mustard seed and in the amazon even pitta needs ginger), body of subject/Deha (natural constitution), according to dosha (what vikruti (imbalance) is now). Healthy eating according to the ritu (seasonal variations), if one is not healthy, they may eat according to the disease. So if in prakopa (doshic aggravation), may have a different eating plan depending on avastha – stage of life (pregnant – parthiv, aap things).
One desirous of beneficial effects should take into account patya and apatya. Pay attention to these in your bodies. Rather than following a chore list of food for a person, watch what you are eating and figure out patya/apatya.
First factor that influences patya – Matra/Quantity
Very classic understanding is that food eaten in excess becomes poison – aggravates all 3 doshas, forms aama, then aama builds up and becomes poison and toxicity. Poison/Visha eaten in right dosage becomes Amrita (divine nector) when used in right Matra (quantity). Do you feel comfortable after eating, and do you digest that matra easily (including elimination) and that it doesn’t take longer than normal to digest.
The problem with eating too much is that it aggravates all doshas. Look at the Western culture. Gluttonous and excessive in intake as well as what it takes in in all ways…… more is better.
The problem with eating too little is that it aggravates Vayu and that creates a class of disease. Causes death faster than eating too much.
Sutrasthana, Ch. 8 – Matrashitiya Adhyaya – partaking proper quantity of food.
Hinaatimaatra Dosha – too little food causes vayu to build up like a balloon and then channels close up, can’t burp or fart and this causes heart issues. One must literally digest the vayu. Aalasaka. Visucika is too much vayu causing violent expelling in both downward and upward direction (vomit and diarrhea). This shows up in starving people, distended stomachs. This then can throw Pitta out of whack and can cause fever, diarrhea, thirst, burning sensation. Also is pushed out of koshta (torso) and into side channels and get Dadakalasaka (like rheumatism but lots of vayu going on – happens to people who don’t eat). Results in very stiff limbs and inability to move.
When Vayu goes up, pain in the stomach, body achiness, mouth dryness, dizziness, vertigo, vishma/fluctuating agni, low back pain, stiffness. When Pitta, feverishness, yellow diarrhea with lots of sound bringing it out, hot dry thirst, vertigo, mental confusion. When Kapha, vomiting can begin, tastelessness, ajirna/cannot digest, internal fever – feel cool to touch but hot inside, tiredness and heaviness to body. Because first agni when it has food eats food, when it doesn’t eat food eats dosha, then dhatu, then prana. This is the reason one can live in starvation for a long time. Once agni has eaten the pancaprana (five pranas), you die. This is why we don’t do langhana (fasting) to the tune of full on no water, no food in Ayurveda because we don’t want to aggravate vayu/prana, this even means in kapha people too. Ayurveda is about understanding and following health and what is beneficial.
Proper matra will activate agni. If you drink hot/warm water, you will activate agni (digestive fire). If cold, you put out digestion unless of pitta prakruti with strong digestive capacity in the proper season. Not snacking, but eating in proper matra will activate agni appropriately. Naturally matra will change depending on one’s agni, whether pregnant or not… etc. Vishma Agni requires discipline and consistency with time to correct. But all is personalized, this is why it makes no sense Ayurvedically to have these hard and fast rules like 8 glasses of water, this amount of protein, etc. and all these other ideas of what is healthy in the Western view. From this view that template cannot actually work for anyone. there are too many variables at play. This is why Westerners have diets and are consitently changing wat is found by research to be healthy. the food pyramid has changed 9 times since its conception in 1942 and will continue to change.
Yukti/Rational science looking at food.
Kala/Time – can be age, ritu/season, time of day. Ideal times to eat – if you wake up and have to eliminate and are hungry, evacuate first, then eat. Do not put this off. If you do not eliminate, eat lightly until you do, warm water at least. For Pitta digestion, may go multiple times in a day – not abnormal for them. Not necessarily a pathology.
After evacuation body is light, if there is belching, there is no taste of food. The heart is not heavy or under pressure, not sleeping, vayu is moving normally (having stool, urine, flatulence), normal appetite is there (not too little or too much), agni has flared up again – this is a good sign. Charaka has emphasized that you have to eat at right time, so that you can have right health. The Agni time is more important than clock time though. Eat when agni is present. If a drink, only spiced milk for dinner, go to bed at 10 so that you do not get hungry. You can have milk later than normal because it’s a mild laxative.
An interesting experience is when one starts to feel their digestion. In my experience, Westerners do not experience their digestion, they experience their desires. A student of mine was with me all day and we were not able to have lunch at the proper time. We had breakfast together and then were busy. Lunch time rolled around and we were not in the orientation to stop what we were doing and eat. I had asked him several hours earlier if he felt hungry and continued every hour. By lunch time we could both feel our agni. By the time we sat to eat, both of us were not hungry anymore. I advised him to eat much less. This experience was profound for him.
Do not give consideration of time, only pay attention to evacuation, and hunger etc. then you eat. If you eat constantly while you do not clear, it only adds to the bulk of the body. – Bhava Prakasha
Time in terms of after you’ve eaten. Wait for 3 hours (1 Yama) to eat again or Rasa Dhatu will be disturbed because Aahara Rasa is being formed. If you eat within 3 hours, the chance of disturbing the formation of the Aahara Rasa increases. Snacking creates so many problems. So does water – anything you eat or drink activates agni. But the rule overrules – if you are starving, then eat. If you are used to eating, if it’s a habit, don’t eat.
Don’t go longer than 6 hours without eating because it depletes the bodily strength. Except when sleeping (when sleeping agni is also sleeping/low).
According to Sushruta, if the previous meal is not fully digested and you eat, you will eventually extinguish your agni – manda agni develops. To be practical first and then come to an understanding with your inner timing so that they can come to balance with each other. Follow your own bodily timing. “When in the winter the nights are longer, eat only once a day when the sun is out.” Of course you can’t do that, but its an ideal recommendation. In a healthy person eating a healthy meal at 10:00am in the winter and that is it. Summer, 2 meals. Follow roles of sun and moon – moon is more, more soma, more liquid. More sun, more dryness, more heat. Not rules we can necessarily follow in this day and age of kali yuga, but important to understand role and concept of sun and moon and time and aahara.
Srotas are light lotuses that bloom during the daytime under then sun. Our srotas are like that in the daytime and when the moon comes they start to close. That is why we should eat in the daytime and not try to digest late at night. When you wake up in the morning, our dhatus are relatively fresh and less tired and less polluted by chintamani (thoughts) (this is a really big and subtle concept to be further unraveled at a later date). At night they are full of mind thoughts and we have to be even MORE thoughtful about our food. Our dhatus have interacted with worry, stress, thoughts. – CS , SS, Chapter 14, 238-243
That food eaten on time is the cause/root foundation of health. Even this time must change according to season, agni requirement, state of disease. – CS, SS, Chapter 24, Shloka 14
Nityaga – based on season, Avastaga, age (childhood, middle age, elder)
When stomach feels soft and follows elimination, you can eat again. – SS, Ch.8, Shloka 54/55
No concept of 3 meals a day – just one meal or two meals. Village life made sages sick – too much food, causing disease. This means that a very measured amounts of food is needed if one is eating 3 X day. If you are having strong agni, eat 2 times per day. Arthritis and aama related disorders are associated with too much food. If you have 4 meals, then make sure its right amounts and good quality. Weight-training diets of eating 6 meals a day are too much. Build Kapha to be healthy – it is responsible for ojas, and all the dhatus except rasa and rakta. When we started taking too much vayu increasing foods.
Leaky Gut syndrome is a breakdown not of just the structural makeup of the area. But also aama forming at the level of the dhatu and dosha themselves.
Prime causes of disturbing agni and forming aam (they say all 3 cause death or give rise to disease) – CS, SS, Ch.8, 31-33
Samshana – consuming suitable and unsuitable foods together – Ex. spiced milk followed by cheetos. Clean out body of bad food before starting with good food. Slowly introduces good food. Hitkara – good for you, Ahitkara – not good for you. Don’t start doing food that is not good for you in a single meal. Ex. Glass of whiskey with mung dahl.
Adhyasana – eating before the previous meal has been digested. This is individual and has to be assessed.
Vishamasana – eating wrong matra at wrong time. Eating the entire kitchen in the nighttime and then not eating during the day. (something is greatly wrong with this person anyway) At least if you overeat, do it during the day.
Amalaki – Pitta balancing, mild laxative, tridoshic.
More Aahar – don’t eat ice cream just cause you’re pitta. Its wrong oversimplified knowledge that hurts. (this is much of all of the vedic knowledge being sold in America) Kapha people should not overdose on cloves and black pepper either because they can have a Pitta reaction.
Wheat for example is so good for kapha because it builds muscle and bone without adding aap when roasted. (think about this)
Ayurveda is not self help you need a well educated professional to guide you and educate you. It is definitely not one list of do’s and don’ts.
Better to have pizza than starve unless they have a big amount of aama. In this case, it could be better to be empty unless its been 6 hours. Weight loss cannot happen with starvation, ever. Just tissue depletion. Unhealthy. Always. Ayurveda is about slow healthy and lasting changes that we make over time with consistency.
To be continued…