(The writer is a Medical Officer (Ayurveda), North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM), Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at email@example.com)
"AS TIME PROGRESSES, HEALTH DECLINES, BUT IT IS UP TO YOU TO SPEED UP OR SLOW DOWN THE PROCESS"
A living person is the product of time. Diseases occurring to the persons are also considered to be caused by time. The whole universe is under the control of time. Hence time is the cause everywhere. Ayurveda has given great importance to the kala (time) for the swastha (healthy) as well as the athura (disease) to its chikitsa (treatment). All the factors depend on time. Time (kala) can be considered as the change and it is only one but many for the different presentations and the calculations; it is expressed as dina (day), masa (month) etc. Time (kala) is that which controls both life and death of the individual. It is a continuous process like chakra (wheel) which does not stop even for a moment and joins both sukha (happiness) and dhukha (sadness) to the life of the individual.
RITUCHARYA: Ritu means season and charya means following or discipline. Ritucharya in simple words means seasonal routine, the lifestyle & diet that need to be followed according to the particular seasonal requirement to maintain hormonal balance in our body & to be fit and healthy. Ayurveda divides the whole year into two kaals on the basis of position of the sun:
* Aadaan Kaal (Uttarayan): During Uttarayan, the sun and the wind are powerful which takes away the people strength & cooling qualities of earth.
* Viserga Kaal (Dakshinayaan): During Dakshinayaan, the sun releases the strength, moon is more powerful & earth regains its coolness through clouds, rain & cold winds.
The six weathers are also the part of these kaals as summer, Spring & Cold seasons forms the Uttrayan Kaal & Rainy, Autumn & Winter season forms the Dakshinayaan Kaal.
The six seasons along with their properties are shown as below
LIFESTYLE MUST BE MODIFIED ACCORDING TO THE SEASONS:
Hemanta Ritucharya (Winter): During this season, people gain strength, having powerful digestive fire.
* One should consume food predominant with sweet sour and salt tastes. A person feels hungry early in the morning due to longer nights.
* One should resort to Abhaynga (oil massage), especially on scalp and forehead with oils. Mild massage of the body is recommended. After this, oil is washed off with astringent powders and bathing.
* Food prepared with wheat flour, black gram products of sugarcane and of milk, food prepared from freshly harvested corn, muscles, fat and edible oils should be partaken as food.
* Thick sheet made of cotton, leather, silk, wool or bark of trees that are light in weight should be used during sleep.
* Exposure to sunlight and fire should be resorted to, judiciously.
* Foot wear should be worn always.
* Persons who spend their time residing in houses kept warm by fire, in inner most apartment encircled with others, or in underground chambers, will not be affected by diseases due to cold and dryness.
* Overall, in Hemantha Ritu, the strength and digestion power are more. Hence one can exercise, undergo oil massage, eat heavy foods and may have sex.
Sisira Ritucharya: Even in shishira Ritu, the above regimen should be adopted with more intensity as there is severe cold and more dryness in this season.
Vasanta Ritucharya (Spring): In this season the digestive fire (Agni) is diminished and gives rise to many diseases because of which Kapha should be controlled quickly, by resorting to strong emesis therapy (Vamana Panchakarma procedure), Nasya (Nasal medication) and other therapies.
* In order to balance the Kapha, avoid hard to-digest, cold, fatty, sour & sweet food along with sleeping during day time.
* Food should also be chosen to mitigate Kapha, which is easily digestible and dry (moisture-free, fat-free).
* Physical exercises, dry massage and little physical work out should be done.
* The person should take bath along with the paste of karpura (camphor), chandan (sandalwood), aguru (Aquilaria agallocha), and kumkuma (saffron).
* Have one-year-old barley, wheat and honey as food.
* Drink the juice of mango fruit mixed with fragrant substances, in the company of friends, thereby producing satisfaction.
* Beverages can be taken such as asava & sidhu (fermented infusion), arista (fermented decoction), mardvika (fermented grape juice), or sarambu (extract of trees such as asana, chandan etc.) or water mixed with honey, or water boiled with jalada (musta – Nut grass).
* The main thing to be noted here is that Vasant is the period of Ritusandhi when the weather changes. It becomes necessary for our body to adopt itself to the new conditions. That's why Hindu Navratras & even Muslim's Ramzan comes during this period and fasting is done. The scientific reason behind it is that body needs detoxification & cleansing this time. Pitta reduces which weakens the body's appetite and body can digest only light food.
GREESHMA RITUCHARYA (SUMMER): In Greeshma (summer) the sun rays become powerful and appear to be destructive. Kapha slowly decreases and in turn Vata starts increasing, hence avoid use of salt, pungent and sour foods, heavy physical exercises and exposure to sunlight, during this season. Wrong thing which people do during this period is the poor diet and intake of more cold water in its place which not just weakens the body but also lowers the digestive agni which in turn causes digestion related disorders. Water should be taken at room temperature. Antioxidant food items must also be taken so maintain good appetite & health.
* Food: which are sweet, light (easy to digest), fatty, cold and liquid should be taken, take corn flour mixed with cold water and sugar after taking bath in cold water.
* Madya (wine) is strictly avoided during this period. If very necessary, taken in very little quantity or diluted with more quantity of water. If wine is taken in large doses, it will cause inflammatory conditions, it will make the body fragile and weak, increases burning sensation and causes delusion.
* During summer, boiled rice, which is white in colour, (like full moon) should be eaten along with Moong daal khichdi, green vegetables like cucumber, Tinday, Pumpkin & other mineral rich food that are easy to digest.
* Various soups, juices, nuts, dry fruits and other liquid items must be eaten which are full of vitamins & minerals.
* One must also include good herbs in their food like Amla which are cool in nature as their use will help the body in keeping strong appetite, itself healthy & maintain its temperature.
* At nights, one should sleep in the comfortable atmosphere in cool environment but it doesn't mean to sit in AC as it is harmful for health.
* Sexual activities must be avoided.
* People should wear very light and cotton cloths so as to remain comfortable & sleep with ease.
Varsha Ritucharya (Rainy): In rainy season, the agni (digestive activity) is weak. It is already debilitated by summer; it undergoes further decrease and gets vitiated by the Doshas. The Doshas get aggravated by the effect of thick clouds full of water, cold wind having snow, dirty water because of rain, warmth of the earth and sourness. Due to the poor strength of digestive activity, the Doshas start vitiating one another and cause many diseases. Hence, all general measures to mitigate imbalanced Doshas and to improve digestive activity should be adopted.
* One should undergo Panchakarma therapies & administered asthapana basti (decoction enema therapy).
* One should use old grains for food, meat juice processed with spices etc., soup of pulses, wine prepared from grapes and fermented decoctions, which are old or mastu (whey, thin water or curds) processed with more of Sochal salt and powder of panchakola, should be used.
* Well boiled and filtered water should be used for drinking.
* On days of no sunlight at all, the food should predominantly sour, salty and unctuous, dry, mixed with honey and easily digestible.
* Person should not move about on foot (move only on vehicles) should use perfumes, expose his cloths to fragrant fumes, dwell in upper stories of the house, devoid of heat, cold and snow.
* River water
* Beverage prepared with flour of corns mixed with ghee
* Daytime sleeping
* Sexual indulgence
* Exposure to the sun.
Sharath Ritucharya (Autumn): The person becomes accustomed to the cold of rainy season. When he gets suddenly exposed to the warm rays of the Sun, the pitta, which has undergone increase in Varsha (rainy season) becomes greatly aggravated during Sharath (autumn).
* In order to get over it, tikta ghrita (medicated ghee prepared with bitter herbs)
* Purgation therapy and Mokshana (blood letting) should be resorted to.
* When hungry, the person should take foods which are of bitter, sweet and astringent tastes.
* Easily digestible such as rice, green gram, sugar, Amla, Patola, honey.
* Meat of animals of desert-like lands.
The importance of this season is that Sharath is also the period of Ritusandhi like Vasanth when the weather changes. It becomes necessary for our body to adopt itself to the new conditions. That's why Hindu Navratras and even Muslim's Ramzan comes during this period and fasting is done. Scientific reason behind it is that body needs detoxification & cleansing this time. Fire element increases this time, temperature is already increasing which leads to increased pitta.
* Pitta accumulated during the whole year need to be removed from the body & it is done through Virechan (Panchkarma therapy).
* Snehpan is also done to mitigate the increased pitta.
* Proper detoxification & cleansing of the body is very necessary through herbal medicines & Panchkarma therapies.
NOTE: Ayurvedic medicines and treatments should be taken under Qualified Ayurvedic Doctor/Physician. The drugs described in this article are for general information/educational purpose only. Anyone should not use these without consulting a qualified Ayurveda doctor/physician. The dose and duration of the treatment may be decided by the physician according to the condition of the patient.