Some Special Substances
Section I: Water
Water forms the basis of evolution and it is an essential factor for the existence of life. A minimum quantity of water is necessary to maintain the metobolism in our body. It is also important as a vehicle (anupaana).Water symbolize cleanliness and purity.In Ayurvedic it is paaneeyam praaninaam praana vishwamecha tanmayam nahi taddhi vina vruthi swasthasya(water is the life line of all living beings without no growth or development is possible).
Qualities of Water
Water is described as life giving, beneficial to the heart, happiness and intellect. It has an unmanifested taste, it is cool, light and comparable to nectar. (Ash.Hru.,Sut. 5/i)
Classification of Water
1. Gngaambu or Ganga jalam : Water falling from the sky through rays of sun, moon and wind to earth.
2. Samudhrajalam : All other forms of water other than the one described above.
The rain water has different properties according to seasons. (Cha. Sam., Sut. 27/204 - 208)
Rain water during rainy season is heavy (guru)—abhishyandi and madhura and is called new or nuthanajala. Rain water during autumn is light and not abhishyandi. Early winter rain water is snigdha, vrushya, balavardhaka and guru. The rain water of late winter is lighter than that of the early winter and is kaphavaathanaashaka. Rain water of the spring season is kashaaya and madhura in taste and is very rooksha in quality. Summer rain is not abhisyandi.
The water of untimely rain or rains during rithu viparyaya is very much dosha vitiating and is the cause of all janopdhwam n savyadhis (epidemic diseases).
Sources of Water
: It has 8 types based on its source (Ash.San., Sut. 6/13 - 16).
1. Koopajalam :The salty well water called pitthavardhaka and sweet is agnideepana.
2. Sarasajalam : Lake water.Trishnanaashaka (relieving thirst) balavardhaka (strength giving).
3. Thadaagajalam :Heavy tank water and vaathavardhaka (increasing vaatha).
4. Chowndajalam : is pitthavardhaka (increasing pitiha) and agnideepana (increases digestive fire).
5. Prasravanajalam : Water from water fall.Light and good for heart, is doshashamaka (controls the doshas).
6. Oudbhiddhajalam : This spring water and pitthashaamaka (controls pittha).
7. Vaapyajalam : Pond water. sweet, light and vaathanaashaka (alleviates vaatha).
8. Nadhijalam : River water. - it is vaathakara, dry and pungent.
Purification of Impure water
There should be some method to purify water because the water becomes impure due to urbanization and modernization.The methods method should be simple and reachable by any common man.Five methods of purification are mentioned by Vaagbhatta and Sushrutha which are as follows (Ash. San., Sut. 6/26 - 28 and Sus. Sam., Sut.45/12).
1. Filtering the water through thick cloth.
2. Dipping or soaking certain drugs or substances like parneemulam (darbha grass), bisagranthi (roots of lotus), muktha (pearls), kathakam (tetankottoi), vasthram (cloth wicks), gomethakamani (topaz) etc.
3. Boil the water.
4. Exposure to sunlight.
5. Dipping of heated sand or bricks or red hot iron ball.
Intake of Water
1.Water can be taken in by five types:
(i) Kevalam - just water alone
(ii) Soushadam - with medication,
(iii) Pakwam - boiled water,
(iv) Aama - with medicine but without boiling,
(v) Ushnam - hot water.
These types should not affect intake or maathra.
2.Water should not be taken until water from another source taken earlier is digested fully. (Ash. San., Sut. 6/28).
3.After the digestion of unboiled water only the boiled water should be taken.
4. Water should not be taken in large quantities as it may cause the vitiation of kapha and pittha doshas and cause the formation of aama, heaviness of the body, agnimaandyam (loss of power of digestion) etc. (Ash. San., Sut. 6/33 -34).
5. One should not take unboiled water, with vaathaadi dosha vikruthi (vitiated condition of the vaathaadi doshas).
6. Water should be taken in small quantities.
7. Even the healthy person should take only limited quantity of water in all the seasons except sharad (autumn) and greeshma (summer) because excessive water in the stomach in the other seasons inhibits digestion. (Ash. San., Sut. 6/38 - 40).
8. Water after food is advised for lean persons and for the obese before food.
Section II: Honey
Honey is used both as food and medicine.When it is taken with milk, increases the body weight and with luke warm water, reduces weight.It is used as a first aid in burns and also have bleaching effect. A spoonful of honey every day would keep a person healthy.
What is Honey
We know that it is an animal product, but actually has its origin in the plant kingdom.The honey bees collect the sweet secretions from flowers and it undergoes certain changes in its body and is emptied into the bee hive. The honey differs by the quality of flowers and by the bees collected them.
Madhu or honey is cooling, light, tasty, dry, astringent in action, scrapping (corrosive), good for the eyes, increases appetite, improves voice and youth, cleanses wounds. It is pleasure giving, improves intelligence, complexion, taste, is useful in skin ailments, piles, cough, haemorrhage, urinary problem (including diabetes melitus) caused due to kapha, fatigue and helminthiasis, obesity, thirst, nausea, difficulty in breathing, hiccups, diarrhoea, constipation, burning sensation, injury and pthysis.
Importance of Honey
Honey is the best yogavaahi substance. That is, a substance which associates with any other substance with a peculiar guna and enhances the quality of the latter.
Charaka and Sushrutha have explained the term yogavaahi as follows
: “Yogavaahi is that which completely takes over the qualities of the substance with which it combines and also the combined action is greater than when the substance is used indiviually (Yogaat yogino gunam vahatheethi yogavaahi). Also it has the ability to exert both types of action on combination (samyogaat ubhayaarthakrut).
How to use Honey?
1. Honey is fatal when taken hot.This is because during it is collected, gets contaminated with poisonous materials from bees and plants.(Cha. Sam., Sut. 27/246)
2. Honey should be taken in small quantities because it is heavy, unuctuous, astringent and cold in potency
3. There is nothing as troublesome as the aama caused by the improper intake of honey. Heat is considered to be wholesome in the case of aama but is not so in madhwaama (aarna due to improper intake of madhu). Cold is conducive to madhu but not to aama.
As honey is collected from many flowers it has many latent therapeutic powers and effects.The latent therapeutic powers of honey manifest themselves by virtue of its association with drugs having homologous properties and also due to its prabhaava which plays the most important role in this connection.
The two major properties of honey viz, unctuousness and astringent taste are because the bees which collect them from the flowers.It can remove the obstruction in joints and blood vessels.In all kapha predominant diseases, honey is to be given after aamapaachana.One significant contra indication is in Diabetes Mellitus, as it is sweet and contains lactose and glucose which would increase sugar level in the blood. But along the Ayurvedic lines, madhumeha being kaphaja prameha and prameha itself being a santarpanoiha vyaadhi, honey would be useful as a kaphahara and lekhaneeya aushadha (scrapping or cleansing).
Some useful indications of Honey are
1. To avoid the ill effects of abhishyandhi guna of curds,honey is added to it.
2. Honey is widely used as a anupaanam in kaphaja and pitthaja diseases.
3. Honey is an essential ingredient (added as a final touch) in all lehyams or avalehas.
4. It is used as an ingredient in kashaaa vasthi (ununctuous enema).
5. Honey is the.first food that is given to a newborn being a part of the swarna praashan - i.e. rubbing a piece of gold in a few drops of honey which is fed to the infant.
Section III: Ghee / Ghrutham
The allopathic practitioners opine that ghee is a highly fatty substance and is difficult to digest and also increases cholesterol and is contra indicated for people who are above 40 years, who are prone to have an increased blood cholesterol level. However the Aachaaryas do not mention any such contra-indications. On the contrary ghee being vaatha-pitthahara is more useful in late youth and old age.
Properties of Ghrutham
Ghrutham can be of many types which depends on the milk source as goghrutham which is the ghee of cow considered best, ajaghrutham from goat, aavighrutham from sheep which is worst or not very wholesome, inahishaghrutham from buffalo.
Goghrutham or ghrutham is auspicious, sheetha by veerya, madhura by taste and vipaaka. It alleviates vaatha and pitthha doshas. It promotes memory, intellect, power of digestion, semen, ojas (smruthi, buddhi, agni, shukra, ojas) and medas.
Uses in diseases
It is helpful in visha (toxic conditions like poisoning due to snake bites), unmaada (insanity), shosha (consumption) and jwara (fever). Sushrutha (Sus. Sam., Sut. 45/96) adds a few more properties like sowmya, guru, mrudu, alpa abhishyandi and it is said to be rakshoghna-dravya. It increases intellect, memory, jataraagni, strength, life span, semen, eye sight and is useful in the young and the old. It is also useful for people who are keen on having progeny, lusture, youthfulness and a nice voice. It is useful in wounds/injury, emaciation, visarpa (crysepalas), shasthra karma (surgical procedures like chedana, bhedana etc.), in burns and after agnikarrna (cauterization). It cures vaatha vikaaras, pittha vikaaras, unmaada (mental diseases), shosha (pthysis). Chrutha is the best among all the snehas (the unctuous substances). It is of sheetha veerya and also helps one to stay young!
Qualities of Puraana Ghrutharn
Old Ghrutham which is a ghee between 1 year and 100 years old is very useful in madaroga, (intoxication), apasmaara, (epilepsy), moorcharoga, (unconciousness), shiroroga (diseases of the head), karnaroga (car diseases), nethraroga (eye diseases) and yonirogas (diseases of the genitals). Old ghrutham is generally used as abhyanga and abhyanga is done using it over the chest and sides. It cures hrudroga (heart diseases), vaathika kasa (dry cough), shwaasa roga (difficulty in breathing) and paarshwashoola (pain in the sides). When applied on the forehead and palate it brings down fever and incoherent speech (unconsciousness). The colour/appearence of old ghee is like wax (ye1lowish). However the older the ghee the better are its qualities.
Ghrutha is actually made of two parts. The granular part or the “khanabhaaga” which settles down or the “mandabhaaga” which is the clear part. The clear part of the ghee is called as ghrutha manda, which is sweet in taste. It cures pain in the yoni, ears, eyes and the head and is used in treatments like vasthi, nasya and akshi purana or akshi tarpanam.
Ghrutha which is one of the four Mahasnehas viz. sarpi, thailam, vasa and majja is prepared in the following way Gomaahishyaadeenaam dugdhaat tajjdadhnova snehasaara roopena ghrutham pruthag bavathi navneetasyaagni samskaarena ghrutham jaayate (Ash. Hru. Sut.5/37) i.e. from the curds made from the milk of the cow, buffalo etc, the fatty part is churned out which is navaneeta, and the agni samskaara of navaneeta, converts it into ghrutha.
Uses of Ghrutham
In the preparation of food it helps to give a nice fragrance and flavour and increases snigdhatwam. In the preparation of medicine, due to its yogavaahi guna, it is used as an efficient medium for medication, which helps in the administration of the different drugs.The idea is that ghrutham in smaller quantities is enough to alleviate pittha dosha but it is necessary in larger doses to alleviate the vaatha dosha.
Mode of action on Doshas
Sheethyaat pittham jayet, snehaat vaatham jayet - Yoga samskaaraataha kapham jayet (Ash. San. Chi 2).
It controls pittha due to its “sheetha” quality and vaatha due to its snigdhatha. It promotes kapha, by samskaaras it also controls kapha i.e. to say-in combination or if prepared with drugs with kaphahara gunas like patolaadigana or tikthaskanda dravyas, it would help in alleviating kapha-pittha or pithha-kapha diseases.
Ghrutham the best among Snehas
Ghrutham is the most “laghu” out of all the four mahaasnehas and thus can be administered even in conditions where the agni is not too efficient. Ghruthaat tailam guru, tailaatvasaa vasaayaascha majja guruhu (Ash. San. Sut 25/). Vaagbhatta says (Ash. San. Sut 25/5-6) “Majjaavasaatailebhyo ghrutham samskaarasyaanu varthanaat, maadhuryaat vidaahaatcha shrestam.
Caution in the use of Ghrutham
Though ghrutha is pittha shaamaka, sometimes ghrutha paanam may cause (excessive) thirst or trushna due to snehapaanam (Ash. San. Sut. 25/60). So one should not advice ghruthapaana in kevala pittha and especially if it is “saamapittha”. Because the pittha in saama condition, taking the help of ghrutha, spreads all over the body and causes disorders in the whole body it may prove harmful by impairing the consciousness.
Section IV: Milk and Milk products
Next to water, milk is very important. Milk has always been considered a sacred food and also of saatvic guna.It stands for purity,strength and health.Milk in Ayurveda also, has found a very important place. Both Charaka and Vaagbhatta have described milk to be the best among the drugs used as Rasaayana (i.e.) Ksheeram Jeevaneeyaanaam.
Qualities of Milk
Milk is sweet, unctuous, cool, lactogenic, refreshing, nourishing, libidinal stimulant, useful for intelligence, strength giving, useful for mental faculties, invigourating and fatigue dispelling. It is wholesome for all living beings and is an alleviator and eliminator of doshas. It also increases appetite. (Cha. Sam., Sut.
Uses in Diseases
It can cure dyspnoea, bronchitis,rakthapittha (bleeding from different parts of the body), heals wounds, and quenches thirst. Useful in ksataksheena (phthisis), paandu (anaemia), amlapittha (hyperacidity), sosha (consumption), gulma (abdominal tumour), udara (ascites and other abdominal diseases), atisaara (diarrhoea), jwara (fever), daaha (burning sensation) and especially in shwayathu (oedema),diseases of female genital tract, male reproductive fluid, oliguria and hard stool.
Types of Milk
There are various types of milk described by Ayurvedic texts, viz., cow’s milk which is the best for daily uses, buffalo’s milk is useful in insomnia and rapid digestion, camel’s milk is useful in krimi (parasitic infection), piles, cough and diseases due to vaatha and pittha., goat’s milk is used in in shosha (wasting disease) and kaasa (cough), sheep’s milk, human milk is given to newborn an d infants and to cure conjunctivitis, and milk of animals with single hoof like horses, donkeys etc.
The quality and property of each type of milk depends on
1. Colour of the animal :Milk of a black cow is vaathahara and is more useful, yellow cow’s milk is pilthavaalhahara. White cow’s milk is kaphakara and heavy to digest. (Bha. Pra. Nig., Dugdavarga, Sh. 9 - 10)
2. Condition of the animal (Particular stage) :Milk of a freshly calved cow and that of a cow whose calf is full grown are very different from each other.
3. Food of the animal :The milk of a cow fed with a little amount of food along with fodder is heavy, kapha producing, strength giving and highly aphrodisiac in action, whereas the milk of a cow which is fed with hay, husk, cotton seeds and grass is beneficial as a diet for weaker people and those who are unwell. (Bha. Pra. Nig., Dugdavarga Sh. 13-14).
4. habitat : The milk from the cows, grazing in the dry lands, the wet lands and hilly areas arc heavy in the ascending order. The hilly areas are rich in pastures and the cow gets a lot to eat. The fat content increases with the increase in the quantity and quality of the fodder and the increased fat content or snehaamsham makes the milk heavier or more guru.
5. Time of Milking :The milk which is milked in the morning is comparatively more guru and cooling than that milked in the evening.
6. Processed Milk :According to Bhaavamisra there are two types of processed milk. One is the churned milk itself and the other is the froth which appears on churning. The milk of a cow or a goat is light to digest, aphrodisiac, antipyretic and controls all the doshas if it is well churned and luke warm. The frothy part of the milk of cow or a she goat controls the tridoshas, is an appetizer, strengthening, improves digestion and quality of the semen, gives immediate satisfaction and is light.
7. Time of intake : Milk in the morning is good for tissue building and digestion, in the afternoon it controls kapha and pillha and in the night it purifies all the doshas and is good for the eyes. In childhood milk helps growth and in old age it helps to protect the semen.
Uses of Milk
1. In emaciation.
2. To avoid burning sensation due to food take a glass of milk at night.
3. With honey it cures sleeplessness.
4. Milk mixed with honey given during the stages of labour shortens the labour and freshens the tired mother.
5. Milk along with tender coconut cures urinary tract complaints.
6. Milk along with a pinch of turmeric and pepper powder at night helps to cure sore throat, noseblock, cold, dry cough and also enlargement of the tonsilar glands.
7. A decoction made by boiling milk with dry ginger is useful in dysenteries and diarrhoeas.
8. A glass of hot milk along with a table spoon of ghee helps to cure hiccups.
9. Milk along with jaggery and butter is the best supplementary food in paandu (anaemia)
What type of Milk should be avoided?
Vivarnam virasam chaamlam dughdham grathitam payaha varjayedamlam lavamayuktham kushtadikruthayatha
Milk with the following qualities should be discarded:
1. Varied colours - discoloured
2. Change in taste - sour or salty
3. Bad smell
4. Granulated or containing sediments
Milk as a Drug and Vehicle
Milk can be used as a medicine to give relief. In adhogatha rakthapittha goat’s milk can stop bleeding and recoup the patient. Milk is used as a vehicle (medium) in administering many medicines especially for small children. Also it is an anupaanam in many preparations like lehyams and rasaayanams.
By Products of Milk and their qualities
1. Cream (Santhaanika) :Cream is heavy, cooling,aphrodisiac, satisfying, growth promoting, unctuous, increases kapha, strength and semen.
2. Curd (Dadhi) :To increase digestive power,strength,semen,pittha,for raktha disorders,inflammation,muscle fat and kapha.
3. Takram : It is obtained by churning curds with eight times its quantity of water. Buttermilk is laghu when compared to curds and is also not abhishyandi. It is kashaaya and amla in taste. To improve digestion, controls vaatha and kapha doshas, abdominal disorders like ascites, grahani (sprew), piles, anorexia, scanty urination or obstruction of urination, diseases of spleen, symptoms of excessive intake of snehas (oily substances) like ghee, in gara (artificial poisons) type of poisoning and anemia . Should not take buttermilk in conditions of urakshata (injury in the chest), injury in any other part of the body, in hot seasons, weakness, giddiness, fainting, burning sensation, hemorrhages or any disease of the raktha dhaathu and pitthaja rogaas
4. Navaneetham (Butter):Butter is sheetha in veerya, sweet, astringent or sour in taste depending on the taste of the curd used and is useful in emaciation, piles, facial paralysis, hemorrhages and diseases of raktha pittha and vaatha.
Section V: Anna
Anna” by itself is free of doshas, as it is “anindya” and “dosharahitha” i.e. it is devoid of any abuse or faults. But the different doshas of anna creep in due to the carelessness during its preparation.
The eight doshas in anna are
1. Aasrutha : The rice which has not been strained well. causes all kinds of diseases in a person who takes it.
2. Picchilla : Overcooked rice.When taken agni becomes weak.
3.Ashuchya : Unclean food. causes arochaka (anorexia-distaste) and athijala sraavam (increased secretion of saliva).
4. Kwathitha : Small amount of rice in more water. It brings about certain abnormalities of the mind.
5. Sushka : By dry rice.Causes indigestion
6. Dagdha : Burnt rice due to over heat. causes the depletion of dhaathus (body tissues like blood, muscle etc.)
7. Viroopa : When the rive is not cleaned properly. causes reduction of life span, strength and potency.
8. Anartuja : Very old rice.Causes sleep, drowsiness, lethargy and weakness.