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Ayurvedic Principles



Pathyam and Apathyam (Diet Restrictions)


Strict diet restrictions are followed in traditional medicinal system and that is called "pathyam". It is defined as "pathi hitham pathyam" meaning, beneficial to the path or channels. Pathi stands for body channels,digestive system, circulatory syaytem i.e. the annavaha srothas the rasaadi dhaathu vaha srothas and all other srothases

Pathyam is for all

Pathyam can be followed by both heathy and also person by vyaadhi(disease). It also differs from person to person with different constitution and dosha.
It is very essential that medicines and food should be benefical to the srothases because, their pathology is a major contributing factor for disease. The drugs and regimen which do not adversely affect the body and mind are regarded as wholesome - pathyam, i.e pathyam pathonapetham yadyacha uktham manasaha priyam" that which is not pleasing and have an adverse effect on the body and mind are considered to be unwholesome.

In general it cannot be accepted .Because the drugs have different qualities based on dosage,its components,habitat,preparation method.This has to be ascertained before achieving the desired effect.Pathyam or wholesomeness is not limited to the physical symptoms, also depends on the likings of the individuals. Thus pathyam is a thing that does not adversely affect the body and mind.

The wholesomeness or otherwise of drugs etc. depends upon various other extraneous factors like dose etc. Judging from the various conditioning factors, even the most tasteful of objects (sweets) might turn out to be unwholesome and vice versa. If taken in proper quantity and a proper time even poisons are useful as medicines (C/ia. Sam., Sut.1/126).

Pathyam in disease

Charaka has said Vinaapi bheshajaihi vyaadhi pathyaat eva nivarthathe, na thu pathya viheenasya bheshajaanam shathaihi api. If Pathyam is followed properly many diseases can be avoided without medicines. There is a saying "pathyesathi gadaarthasya kimoushada nishevanaihi patheye asathi gadarthasya kimnoushada nishevanaihi'. 'aahaara or vihaara (food and regimen) which is saatmya and anukoola and protects the body tissues and controls their excess or vitiated conditions and also helps in their growth and development is called pathyam.On the other hand any food or regimen that is not beneficial to health is called as apathyam.

General Pathyam and Apathyam

General Pathyam

The substances for pathyam can be taken at anytime as it is not harmful.Eg. shaali (red) variety of rice, mudgarn (green gram) among cereals, rain water, saindhava lavana (rock salt) among salts, - jeevanthi (Leptadeni reticulate) and patola (Trichosanthes dioica), among vegetables, deer meat, among birds laava, among fish rohita, cow's ghee and milk, thila thailam (seasame oil), fat from pig, among roots - ginger, grapes in fruits, wheat and amalaki.

General Apathyam

Apathyam is nothing but the food substances which are unwholesome. They are yava (Hordeum vulgare), kalaaya (Pisum sativum), river water during rains, saamudhra lavanam (salt from the sea), cow's meat, black duck, chilichima fish, flesh of frog, milk and ghee of sheep, oil of kusumbha seeds, fat from buffallo, crocodile and elephant, mulakam (Radish)(Raphanus sativus, panasam (jack fruit)-(Artocapus integrifolia) and phanitam (a thick syrup like by product of jaggery formed in the process of making jaggery from sugar cane juice). These should not be taken regularly.

Pathyam for various diseases

Pathyam and Apathyam for various diseases

We shall now discuss certain pathyam and apathyam, aahaara and vihaara.

Arshas - Piles

Pathyam Aahaara - Lasoona, butter, ghee, milk, whey, cashew, carrots, sugar, radish, peas, fenugreek, greens, spinach, jack fruit, cor riander dry grapes, thila.

Vihaara - Rakthamokshana (blood letting), thailaabhyanga (oil application), bath in a pond or a fast flowing river, walking in fresh air and cleanliness of one's body.
Apathyam Aahaara - Fish, curds, maida, black gram, ripe mangoes (fruits), guru (heavy to digest) padaarthas, increased intake of water, oily foods.

Vihaara - Control of natural urges, sleep in day time and staying awake at night, sit tin in one seat for a long time, roaming in the sunlight.
[Note In bleeding piles one should also follow the pathyam-a pathyam as given for Rakthapittha]
Rationale Piles or arshas is a disease which is directly related to the power of digestion. The severity of the disease increases if the agni bala of the person diminishes and the condition improves if the agni bala increases. Hence the agni bala should be protected in piles. (Cha. Sam., Chi. 14/244- 246). So the aahaara and vihaara prescribed for this condition should be agni deepana, light to digest etc. so that the agni bala is maintained and slowly improved.


Pathyam Aahaara - old shaali rice, green gram, horse gram, thoor daal (pigeon pea), wheat, maize, patola (Trichosanthes dioica), brinjal, fenugreek, bittergourd, tender radish leaves, whey, lasoon (garlic), lime fruit (jambeeram), hot water, aasava arishta preparations, goniootra and all bitter food substances.

Vihaara - Virechana, swedana, langhana, sneha paanam.
Apathyam Aahaara - Curds, meat, jaggery, black gram, buffalo's milk, contaminated water, viruddha anna, heavy and kapha increasing food, alkaline substances.

Vihaara Exposure to easterly winds, irregular food habits, control of urges, waking in the night
Rationale Aama vaatha being a disease due to aama dosha and vaatha dosha, one suffering from it is advised not to indulge in habits of food and regimen, which would encourage either of them. The food and regimen useful in this condition are aamapaachana and vaathahara.

Karna Rogas - Ear diseases

Pathyam Aahaara - Old shaali rice, wheat, maize, pulses like "moong" (black gram) and thoor (pigeon pea), meat of deer and hare,patola (Tricosanthes dioica), cucumber, ghee.

Vihaara - Swedana, virechana, vamana, nasya, raktha mokshana, dhoomarapana, celibacy, mouna, boiled and cooled water.
Apathyam Aahaara - Kaphakara and guru aahaaras and also abhishyandi substances.

Vihaara - brushing the teeth, head bath, exercise.
Rationale In all diseases of the ear one should take light food and as it is in the the location of kapha sthaana, kapha shaamaka aahaara vihaara are useful. Having head bath is to be avoided as water may enter into ears and may worsen the condition.

Bhagandara - Fistula

Pathyam Aahaara - old shaali rice, black gram, chanaka (chick pea) horse gram, wheat, flesh of wild animals, patola (Tricosanthes dioica), fenugreek, bitter gourd,yam (sooranaha Amorphophallus campanulatus), small amounts of potatoes, plantains, seeds of jack fruit, radish, butter and ghee, sweet- meats, fresh and dry grapes, honey.

Vihaara - bath in a lake, walking in fresh air, langhana (periodical) and keeping the stomach clean.
Apathyam Vihaaraa - Excercise, indulgence in sex, fighting (wrestling) travelling on elephants, horses etc.

Amlapittham - Hyperacidity

Pathyam Aahaara - old paddy,wheat,maize,green gram, bitter gourd, patola, grapes, curry made from plantain flower, amalaki, chutneys made of pomegranate and lime, boiled and cooled water, dates, cow's milk, ghee, honey.

Vihaara - Vamana and virechana.
Apathyam Aahaara - very sour, bitter, heavy and oily food stuffs, curds, sesame seeds, lentils like thoor daal, black gram, peas, goat's milk, carrots, new (fresh) jaggery, salt.

Vihaara - Control of urges like vomitting, sleep, exposure to sunlight.
Rationale Amlapittha is a disease caused due to vitiated pittha, vaatha and as the name itself implies, it is due to the amlatha of pittha dosha. Thus to control the disease it is essential to avoid all ushna, amla, teekshna, and guru foods. Also other activities which would increase the formation of the paachaka pitiha (digestive juices) should be avoided.

Kaasa, Shwaasa - Cough and wheezing

Pathyam Aahaara old shaali rice, old grains of wheat, maize, horse gram, green gram and arhar daal, udad daal, lasoona (garlic), warm water, alcohol, brinjal, cardamom, grapes (fresh and dry), honey, milk, gomoothra, maamsa rasa of wild animals, food that is vaatha and kapha naashaka, braahmi (Bacopa monnieri), aasavas, arishtas.
Apathyam Aahaara Contaminated water or cold water, fish, tubers, mustard, heavy foods, sweet and sour foods, whey, curds, maida.

Vihaara - Easterly winds, control of urges like mala mootra and vomitting, sleeping in the day, vasthikarma (enema), nasya.
Rationale We find in general that the pathyam aahaara and vihaara are that which do not vitiate kapha and vaatha - they are kapha and vaatha shaamaka. Whereas the apathyam list is full of kapha and vaatha kara aahaara and vihaara.


Pathyam Aahaara Plantains, green gram, bengal gram, thoor gram, yam (soorana), ash gourd, bitter gourd, onions, coriander, coconut, plantains, sweet porridges made of milk and coconut, goat's milk.

Vihaara - Swimming, massage with shatha dhowtha gritham application of cool pastes like sandal paste, cool breeze, strolling in cool gardens, mild purgatives/laxatives, wearing silk clothes, bath in boiled and cooled water.
Apathyam Aahaara - Thila (sesame), brinjal, mustard, maasha (black gram), viruddhaahar, new jaggery, oils of mustard and seasme, paa pads, kusumbha thailam, kulatham (horse gram), dry, sour, bitter, and alkaline substances.

Chardi / Vamana Roga

Pathyam Aahaara - Shaali rice, laaja (puffed rice) chapathis made of old wheat and maize, udad dal/black gram, fresh coriander, spinach/paalak, lime (lemon), pomegranate, fresh cold water, sugar, alcoholic drinks, aasavaas and arishtaas, grapes (both fresh and dry), lavangam (cloves), ripe mangoes, sharbat made from khus-khus (poppy seeds).

Vihaara - Vamana, virechana.
Apathyam Aahaara - Unappetising food, hot water, viruddhaahaara, garlic, snehapaanam (intake of unctuous substances).

Vihaara - Nasya, swedana (fomentation), blood letting, gaping at the sky, fright, sunlight, exercise.

Sthrirogas/pradra/ yonirogas

The Pathyam and apath yam for raktha pradaram (menonrhagea) is same as that followed in Rakthapittha.

Pathyam Aahaara - Plaintains, patola, honey, grapes, more of ghee, bengal gram, cooling substances.

Vihaara - Abhyanga with kasturi, chandana, karpoor, khus etc. Taking bath may be reduced and bath may be taken only with hot water.
Apathyam Aahaara - Sour foods, peas, chillies, heavy foods, and teekshna dravyas, fish and salt in large quantities, alcoholic drinks.

Vihaara - Exposure to heat, lifting heavy weights, climbing up and down - talking loudly, control of urges of defaecation and micturition, staying awake at night.

Garbhinisthri pathyam

Deepo bhakshayathe dhvaantham khajjalam cha prasooyathe; yadannam bhakshayennith yam jaayathe taadrushee prajaa.The lamp (which is lighted) eats away the darkness and gives rise to the black soot. In the same way the nature of the food taken by the (parents) people will be reflected in the offspring.
The pregnant women is special in many ways as she bears another life and also as she nourishes the unborn baby. So her diet and regimen must be chosen with all care and concern. In case of any illness one should take the advice of a vaidya on treatments.

Pathyam Ahaara - Vegetables like brinjal and raw plantains wheat, shaali rice, fruits, patola, milk, butter.

Vihaara - Thaila abhyanga, bath, soft beds, lepana with sandal paste, camphor, one should satisfy her mentally and she should never be made to feel sad. Treat ment like virechana, Ianghana or any other drastic treatments should not be done without proper medical advice.
Apathyam Ahaara - Very hot foods, very sharp and heavy to digest foods, administration of kshaara.s - sowvarchalam and yavakshaararn.

Vihaara - Swedana (fomentation), vamana (emetics), virechana (purgation), staying awake at night, control of vegas, indulgence in sex, anger fasting, misery.

Foods in Pregnancy

There are some do's and don't's.The food should be eaten moderately to avoid difficult delivery because of large foetus.

The south indian reports that certain foodstuffs such as custard apples are avoided since it is too 'hot' and could cause abortions. The Bangladesh study notes that in general hot foods are given for increasing fertility and cold foods for decreasing fertility. The cravings for sour foods such as tamarind and green mangoes during pregnancy have also been widely noted. Andhra Pradesh study says pumpkin,banana,brinjal, gongura, guava and papaya , hot foods in general should be avoided.

According to ayurveda, take foods having madhurarasa, more fluids. The understanding regarding strong likes and dislikes and conflicting feelings about some foods is that a pregnant woman possesses two hearts (one of her own and an other of the foetus) in fact she is called as douhridini which literally means -"she who has two hearts". Hence it is said that she may have conflicting or fluctuating feelings as per the dictates of her desires as well as that of the foetus.


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