Browsing Category

Ayurveda

0 In Ayurveda

Elderberries: Not Just for Insulting Invading Hordes

First off, who gets the reference in the title?  And if you get it, can you NOT think of Monty Python when someone mentions Elderberries?!  I know I can’t.  For those not in the know, please see this classic clip from Monty Python & The Holy Grail below:

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Elderberries for real.  And how they can be a great tool in your anti-cold arsenal.

I can hear you saying it now though: ‘Katie, aren’t Elderberries from Northern Europe?  How can they possibly be Ayurvedic?”

That’s an excellent point/question and first, you’re correct.  Elderberries originate from Northern Europe but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have Ayurvedic properties.  In fact, EVERYTHING has Ayurvedic properties so we can view anything and everything from the lens of Ayurveda.  Remember, Ayurveda is simply a practice of bringing your doshic imbalances back into balance (to keep you healthy) so whatever works, right?

So, what’s so great about Elderberries?  In short, they’re cute little berries that pack quite a punch.  Quick summary:

Elderberries are high in antioxidants, specifically, polyphenols, carotenoids and flavonoids.  These all helps protect our cells from damage (self-imposed or environmental).  They’re also high in vitamins A, C and E.   All good things for fighting off colds and keeping you healthy.

Ayurvedically, they balance all three doshas.  (hint: this is good!)  More Ayurvedic nerdery here (courtesy of Blue Lotus Ayurveda):

“Effect on Dosha: VPK=
Taste: berry-sweet, sour, bitter/flower-slightly bitter, pungent
Energy: berry-neutral to cooling/ flower-cooling
Post Digestive Effect: berries-sweet/flowers-pungent

Tissues/Dhatus: plasma, blood, muscle, fat
Systems/Srotas: respiratory, immune, digestive, circulatory, urinary
Properties: antioxidant, immune tonic, astringent, expectorant, diaphoretic, digestive, carminative, relaxant.
Indications: coughs, colds, sore throat, tonsillitis, congestion, respiratory infections, asthma, fever, flu, gas, allergies, abdominal discomfort, inflammation, high cholesterol, poor eyesight.
Preparations: infusion, tincture, syrup, winter cordials, medicated wine, food preparation.

Precautions: None for flowers. According to the Botanical Safety Handbook* the unripe and raw fruit contains sambunigrin, which may cause nausea, vomiting or severe diarrhea. Avoid elderberries that are red in color. The fruit is commonly cooked to avoid digestive upset and possible toxicity or the fresh fruit. Sambucus nigra is the variety most commonly used in herbal medicine and is considered to be relatively safe, especially when cooked.”

So good, right?  And if you’d like to make your own Elderberry Syrup, check out the recipe below:

Homemade Elderberry Syrup (InstantPot)

(they say the spices are optional but if you to maximize Ayurvedic goodness, don’t leave them out!)

And, as always, I would never recommend forgoing flu shots or ignoring your doctor’s advice for what’s best for you and your family.  This recipe is a great supplement to all the other evidence-based measures you’re already deploying! <3

0 In Ayurveda/ Life

Happy Summer! Now, chill out.

Happy Summer to you and yours!   At least, I think it’s summer here in the Norther hemisphere?  Where I live, it’s been cold enough to merit fuzzy socks and flannel pajamas at night but I keep hoping that we get some warm weather here soon.  Although, who am I kidding?  As a predominantly Pitta person, I live for brisk chill days…the heat makes me crazy!

If you’re like me and need some relief from hot summer months, I’ve got some good information and recommendations for you here!   Grab yourself a cool drink and settle in…

Q: What is Pitta and why does it get (h)angry in the summer time?

A: Pitta is one of the three doshas (basic constitutions) and is made up of fire and water.  It’s responsible for transformation.  Think of it as the spark that lights the fire.  The catalyst.  It’s also responsible for digestion and the seat of Pitta is in the stomach.  

So, why do Pitta-predominant folks tend to (kinda) dread summer?  Well, we don’t need any help in the fire department.  We’re spicy enough on our own! 🙂  So, in order to have a cool, calm, chill summer, we need to keep our Pitta fire in check.  Give it something to gnaw on so it doesn’t take over in the form of acid reflux, angry outbursts (emotionally), skin rashes, etc.  

My personal recommendations:

  • If you’ve wanted to try a raw food diet (or incorporate more raw foods into your existing diet), summer is the perfect time to do that.  Just be careful.  Sometimes, raw food can cause indigestion because you’re not pre-digesting the food by cooking it.  But if you’ve got strong Pitta and great local produce, go raw!  So much easier to do in the summer than in the winter.
  • Switch up your moisturizer and just use coconut oil.  Coconut oil is great for summer months and Pitta-predominant folks because it’s lighter than the traditional moisturizers used in Ayurveda (like sesame or jojoba oil).  Add some lavender essential oil for a delightful pre-sleepy time moisturizer or a citrus essential oil for morning pep.
  • Nadi Shodhana:  Ok, I’m cheating here.  This breathing exercise is good any time of year but if you find yourself being more impatient in the summer heat, your Pitta likely needs some help chilling out.  Nadi Shodhana will do that right quick!  Learn how HERE.

Other resources:

What to Pack for a Balanced Vacation

Pitta Pacifying Diet 

The Best Pranayama for Your Dosha

Happy Summer! <3

0 In Ayurveda

Anxiety & Physical Pain: It’s Not In Your Head

You know the feeling.  That feeling when your adrenaline begins to climb.  Your heart rate speeds up.  Your breath becomes shallow.  Your jaw begins to clench.  You begin to sweat…but remain chilled to the touch.

This is our old pal anxiety and if you’re like the nearly 40 million people in the US suffering from chronic anxiety, you know what I’ve described all too well.   

But did you know that chronic anxiety is often responsible for physical pain that usually lingers FOR YEARS?  

Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Migraines, and Back Pain have all been connected to chronic anxiety and, after years of neglect, severing of the mind/body/spirit connection, and just ‘getting through it’, people are often left needing powerful pharmaceuticals, or worse, self-medication with alcohol just to simply exist.  

My intention is not to scare you…it’s to put the connection between anxiety and physical pain in very blunt terms.  There’s no way to get around it: your chronic anxiety is likely responsible for your physical aches and pains.  And it’s hurting you on more than a physical level.

So, what to do?

Ayurveda classifies anxiety as a Vata imbalance, meaning there is too much air and space in the pranic body.  My Ayurveda mentor, Dr. Vasant Lad, once said ‘Space is freedom’ and what he meant by that is…space is possibility but it is also ambiguity.  

Ambiguity can be scary so we will  fill that space with negative self-talk, mindless mental chatter, and what I would call ‘pacifiers’.  Anything to save us from the discomfort of ambiguity and space.  This leads to anxiety and physical pain because it is not a sustainable way to live.  Your adrenals will become exhausted and your body will begin to believe that chronic adrenal spikes are normal.  

Thankfully, there is much we can do to bring Vata back into balance and it starts with first loving on yourself and acknowledging where you are at this very moment.  Release the ‘could have/should have’ guilt of past choices and simply see your body and mind where it is in this very moment.

Begin to notice the pain signals your body is trying to get you to pay attention to.  Where is the pain in your body?  Breathe into that.  

Nourish your body with healthy food, give yourself a warm-oil massage, begin a meditation practice.

These are all natural pain relievers but will also begin to re-train your brain and adrenal system so that proper function may be restored.  

Shocker: we are not meant to live in Fight/Flight our entire lives! 🙂  

If you are someone with chronic anxiety and physical pain, I hear you.  I acknowledge that your pain isn’t ‘all in your head’.  Ayurveda does not subscribe to the idea of separation between body, mind, and spirit.  All are one and intimately connected (and impacted) by one another.

If you would like to learn more about the connection between anxiety and physical pain (from an allopathic perspective), I encourage you to visit the Anxiety & Depression Association of America’s website.

And if you would like to explore how Ayurveda can help you reduce your anxiety and heal your chronic pain, I encourage you to reach out to me.  You can book your FREE 60-Minute breakthrough session HERE.

Much Love & Namaste,

Katie