Dr. Sarita Shresta
Ayurveda has been practiced in the U.S. for only about thirty years, yet it is one of the systems of medicine native to India and is thousands of years old. Readers are invited to submit questions for “Ayurveda Q & A” to
Q: I'm a pitta (fire element) person working to restore balance including establishing an exercise routine geared for weight loss. I love a vigorous workout, but I have read that pittas should not engage in exercise that produces too much heat. What kind of exercise would you recommend?
A: To fully answer this question, it would be helpful if you had mentioned your age and gender. In general, Yoga and regular exercise are good for all Ayurvedic body types, all types of prakruti. You need to choose the specific exercise according to your prakruti (innate constitution) and vikruti (state at the moment). To lose weight you need to practice regular exercise and Yoga including strong asana (physical postures) you maintain for one to two minutes. Yet don’t exercise to the point of becoming overheated. You might want to think about choosing milder Yoga practices combined with regular light jogging. Swimming would be a wonderful way to obtain strong exercise without increasing pitta.
Incorporate pranayama (breath techniques) and simple meditation into your life as the mind has a great relation with the body and its function. Pranayama helps to develop stamina as well as physical and mental immunity. The fire breath can help with weight loss. After you learn it from a qualified teacher, start slow and try working up to 120 rounds.
Regular self-massage and monthly massage with a massage therapist can help strengthen muscle tone and restore balance. Diet is an important aspect of losing weight and increasing stamina. Good food choices for you include: sprouts, soups, fruits, fruit juice, green vegetables, grains and some dairy. If you are not vegetarian you can include turkey, fish and chicken. Avoid or reduce: too much sugar, unhealthy fats (be sure to get enough healthy oils) and white flour. Make a habit of eating regularly, every four to six hours. Drink plenty of fluid: six to eight glasses of room temperature or hot water per day.
I wish you sound health.
Q: My mother is in her sixties and underwent a thyroidectomy last year after being first diagnosed with hypothyroidism which later turned into hyperthyroidism. She has been on Eltroxin for many years now, although the dose has been reduced after surgery. Since surgery, she finds herself helpless against symptoms of acute irritability and anxiety. And even before the thyroid problem was detected she was always excitable and easily startled. Some of her older sisters also suffer from similar symptoms, although only one of them was diagnosed with thyroid problems. I have read about T3 / T4 supplements as a solution, but her surgeon does not believe in their efficacy.
We're afraid we are losing our mother to these symptoms as they seem to be getting more intense daily. I'd like to express my gratitude in advance for any advice you'd like to suggest.
A: God bless you. Anxiety and irritability are common in thyroid conditions. Turmeric can be helpful in such cases so let her have some regular intake of turmeric, like one-half teaspoon in one half-cup of warm milk along with one-half teaspoon of ghee. Or if she doesn’t take dairy products, she can also take turmeric with warm almond milk at bedtime. Adding a few (two to three) strands of saffron can potentiate the effect.
A cup of brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) tea in the morning and a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime can also be helpful. Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) can help reduce irritability and the herbal jam chyavanprash (made from amalaki, ghee, honey and other herbs) is good for deeply nourishing the mind and body. Essential oil of jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) can be calming. Add jatamansi essential oil to ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) - bala (Sida cordifolia) oil for self-massage. A mixture of one-half ashwagandha-bala oil with dashmoola (ten roots) oil for daily self-massage can be calming.
Massage brahmi oil in the hair and scalp every week to pacify vata (air and ether or space elements) and calm the mind and brain.
A few drops each of essential oils of: jatamansi, tagar (Valeriana sitchensis), sandalwood, rose and vitex or chasteberry (Vitex agnus chastus) blended together can help reduce irritability. Spray on pillows or in the room, use in massage oil or in a diffuser every day or every other day.
Practicing a series of pranayama five times a day including alternate nostril breathing and chanting Aum along with slow and deep breathing can be calming.
Avoid all cold raw and vata-aggravating food and life-style. Include two tablespoons of healthy oil or ghee in food daily. Use flax seed oil or flax seeds for healthy oils and to keep the bowels regular and clear. Triphala tea at bedtime can also be helpful. Wishing her peace and sound health.
Q: My mother suffers from slight hearing loss in her right ear and occasional dizzy spells because of she was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma earlier this year. The tests showed a tumor bigger than half a penny and advised against surgery for now anyway. She has been in physical therapy twice a week since then and doing balancing exercises. When she walks, she feels like she is tipping over. Could you elaborate on Ayurvedic treatments to help with her balance and possibly restoring her hearing in her right ear?
Additionally, I read an answer you in the June issue of LA YOGA about blood impurities. I was enlightened to hear that aloe, neem, and brahmi tea would be good for cleansing her blood (to address skin irritation she had recently on her nose) and mild to severe mood swings.
A: Thanks for showing your concern to your mother. God bless you. The acoustic neuroma is creating pressure-related symptoms leading to dizziness and hearing impairment. There are wonderful treatments available for such conditions and you need to find an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner to treat her. Some of the Ayurvedic remedies include the following.
One cup of tea in the morning: tulsi, brahmi (Bacopa monniera) lemon ginger, cinnamon and licorice. Doing all in one day is too much, so choose among them.
Drinking one cup of triphala tea at bedtime can help prevent the formation of further clogging factors to add to the neuroma.
One guggulu (Commiphora mukul) pill in the morning and evening with half cup of warm milk or almond milk with one-half teaspoon of raw honey is often recommended. There are different preparations of guggulu, specific to different situations, so obtain a recommendation from a qualified practitioner.
Sesame oil with one drop of frankincense rubbed behind the ear lobe.
Massage the scalp with bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) and brahmi (Bacopa monniera) oil.
Karna puran (herbal oil in the ear) and nasya (herbal oil in the nasal passages) administered with head, scalp and face marma (powerful pressure points) massage with sesame oil and a drop of sandalwood oil (sustainably harvested) under the advice of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
It would be helpful for your mother to avoid heavy and clogging food like yogurt, cheese and heavy animal fat and meat like pork.
Favor light grains, soups, green and root vegetables and fruits. To make salad greens more balancing, add lemon and olive oil with cumin, coriander and black pepper.
Regular Yoga or exercise that includes the head moving back and forth gently along with neck stretches done to her capacity and taught by a qualified teacher as well as mild back bends can be helpful.
Chanting Aum can be helpful. Pranayama (breathing technique) practice, specifically alternate nostril breathing, bhramari (bee humming sound when exhaling) and ujjayi (warming breath with the throat slightly constricted). Learn these practices from a qualified teacher.
For the skin, yes, aloe and neem can be helpful. Brahmi tea is traditionally used with great success for mood swings.
She needs to be followed closely by an Ayurvedic practitioner. Since the size of the tumor is not too small to ignore, there should be some progress within two weeks and significant progress within six otherwise she should continue to be evaluated for surgery.
I wish her a good recovery.
The information provided here is for educational purposes only. Before using any Ayurvedic remedies, consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare provider. This article represents the opinion and recommendation of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health magazine.
Dr. Sarita Shresta BAMS, MD (Ayurveda) has taught and consulted for twenty years in government institutes, hospitals, and international clinics and has presented at many international conferences. Dr. Shresta has received awards and special recognition as the first woman Ayurvedic physician and obstetrics-gynecology specialist in Nepal. She is the founder-director of Devi Ma Kunja Hospital in Sidapole, Nepal. Proceeds from her programs support this hospital which provides traditional Ayurvedic care to all according to their means: saritashrestha.org.
Dr. Shresta will be in Southern California, July 9 -15, giving private consultations and teaching a workshop on women’s health July 11 - 12. For more information, contact Carla Levy at (760) 268 – 0560 or
Information about Incorporating Healthy Oils
Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill
By Udo Erasmus
Sustainably Harvested Herbs and Supplements Including chyavanprash
Sustainably Harvested Essential Oils
Ayurvedic Herbal Oils
Ashwagandha-bala and dashmoola oils
Traditional Ayurvedic Preparations, Oils and Body Care
Sarada Ayurvedic Remedies
Ayurvedic Herbs in Vegetarian Capsules
Natural Ayurvedic Care
California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine
National Ayurvedic Medical Association