Āyurveda, diet, and psychosis

Āyurveda, diet, and psychosis

After my recent post on Vegetarianism and Ayurveda, I received a question from a reader, who was curious about why I said that in Āyurveda, there is scant reference to the preferment of a vegetarian diet as a therapeutic tool, except for the disease of unmāda (psychosis). To explain myself better, I want to provide a little background on the disease to provide some more context. The term unmāda is derived from the Sanskrit root words ud, meaning ‘upwards’, and mad, which refers to the capacity to ‘excite' or ‘exhilarate’. According to Āyurveda the life force called prāṇa is received by the body not just through the lungs and digestive system, but also through the top of the head. This prāṇic energy descends downwards to guide the formation and maintenance of our bodies, connecting through our feet to the earth, from a state of etheric potentiality to one of physical manifestation. This energetic flow is symbolized by the downward-pointing triangle, representing the feminine principle … [Read more...]

What is Paleo-Ayurveda?

What is Paleo-Ayurveda?

Several weeks ago I was asked to do an interview on the subject of the “Paleo-Ayurveda” diet. I guess as one of the few in the Āyurveda community that utilizes the Paleolithic diet as a therapeutic tool, and also as someone who is outspoken on the issue of vegetarianism, it made sense in the interviewer’s mind to combine these modalities. Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule, I was never able to follow through on the interview, and so I will address my thoughts on this now. For decades now I have been inspired by the teachings of Āyurveda. As a therapeutic tool there is no modality that speaks to me as clearly, but it is not the only modality that I employ in my practice. My background also includes training in Western and Chinese herbal medicine, as well as clinical nutrition. This diversity is reflected in my practice, in which I make use of a large range of medicines, from hand-made herbal pills (guṭikā and vaṭī) that I import from Nepal, to ethanol-based tinctures and percolati … [Read more...]

Food As Medicine begins October 8th!

The fall semester for 2015 begins in one week! Here's a little preview of the Food As Medicine program: … [Read more...]

Vegetarianism and Ayurveda

Vegetarianism and Ayurveda

In my blog last week, I addressed the mistaken belief held by some in the Āyurveda community that sufficient vitamin B12 can be obtained from plant-based foods. Unfortunately, this mis-perception is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the all-pervading belief both within and without the community of Āyurveda, that it is (primarily) a vegetarian-based system. Considering the decades of knowledge that we have accumulated on the very real issue of vitamin B12 deficiency, the notion that vitamin B12 can be obtained in plant foods is really nothing more than wishful-thinking, typically expressed by those who believe that eating meat is morally wrong. Normally, what someone personally believes isn’t my concern, but when this belief obscures the practice of Āyurveda, denies the basic science, and puts the public health at risk, it is important to speak out. As painful as it may be for some to hear, the very real truth is that Āyurveda is not, and never was, a vegetarian system. The … [Read more...]

Ayurveda and vitamin B12

Ayurveda and vitamin B12

This past week I received a newsletter from a notable physician of Ayurveda that frequently travels from his home in India, to share his knowledge of Ayurveda to the world. I have met and worked with this fellow, and respect both his knowledge and experience in the field of Ayurveda. In his newsletter I noticed a post on the subject of vitamin B12, and it caught my eye, because I have long been aware that India has a very high rate of vitamin B12 deficiency.  Much to my disappointment, however, the post was little more than a collection of mistruths about vegetarian sources of vitamin B12, and a diatribe against non-vegetarian practices. Needless to say, I was both disappointed and a little disturbed that a respected physician could write such a biased piece, particularly when trying to promote himself to a global audience. But in truth I am not surprised, because his perspective is all too prevalent among physicians in India these days, who have chosen to forfeit the integrity of A … [Read more...]