Weight Control for Obesity— Some Ayurveda Insights

There are two conditions of the body—excess leanness and overweight. Both of these conditions are described in one of the classical Ayurvedic texts, Caraka Samhita, Su. XXI. Some consider leanness a condition of poverty (too little in life) and obesity a condition of wealth (too much of the life). Both have their causes and complications.

Caraka describes the features of obesity as: appearance of pendulous buttocks, abdomen, breasts, slow metabolism and low energy. Complications of obesity as eight-fold: shortened life, impaired movement, restricted sex function, debility, foul smell, excess sweating, excess hunger, and excess thirst. Its causes are over-eating, excess heavy, sweet, cold, fatty diet, day sleep, excess in exhilaration, lack of mental work, and genetic defect. Caraka explains the causes for each of these defects as: from excess and accumulation of only fat (not the other tissues) thus life is shortened; because of laxity, softness, and heaviness of fat there is impaired movement; there is lack of semen and blockage of the seminal ducts, etc from accumulation of fat there, leading to sexual debility; because of disequilibrium of the formation of tissues there is debility; foul smell arises from defect and nature of fat; excess sweating arises from fat tissue and being associated with kapha, its oozing nature, abundance, heaviness, and intolerance to physical exercise; because of excess agni/digestion and vayu in the abdomen there are excess hunger and thirst. Vayu accumulates in the abdomen because its movement is obstructed by the accumulation of fat. Accumulation of vayu is described metaphorically as a blowing wind contained in the stomach causing excess digestion or burning of food. This leads one to eat more frequently and a generalized increased body heat results. This result/condition has many severe complications, including: diabetes, renal failure, hypertension, slow metabolism, sluggish thyroid, depression, lethargy, glaucoma, congestive heart failure, respiratory congestion (asthma or emphysema)., and more. Caraka says compared to the too-thin the obese condition is more problematic as there are more complications from it.

Caraka describes the treatment of obesity as follows: Generally, one has to be managed with bulk-reducing or lightening measures: dietary measures which reduce vata, kapha, and fat, including rough, hot sharp enema, rough oleation/massage (udvartana), guduci, devadaru, musta, triphala, takrarishta, and honey are recommended. Vidanga, Âun¦»h² (ginger), yavakshara (alkali of barley), and black iron bhasma with honey, barley powder and amalaki are good. Bilvadi pancamula with honey, and shilajita (mineral pitch) and juice of agnimantha are recommended, too. Diet should include prashatika, kangu, shyamaka, yavaka, barley, jirna, kodrava, green gram, kulattha, makushtha, adhaki, with fruits of patola and amalaka. Following meals one should drink honey water, and arishta (fermented decoctions) which reduce fat, muscle and kapha. One should gradually decrease sleeping, increase sexual activity, physical exercise and mental work.

Desaturation is of three types—lightening, lightening with digestives, and Dosha elimination. Lightening is for those cases involving weak doshas. In this manner agni and vata are increased which dries up the little Dosha as in wind and sun drying up a little water. Lightening with digestive therapy is used when doshas are of medium strength. In this manner the excess Dosha is dried up as with sun, wind, and some absorptive dust sprinkled on it. In the case of heavy Dosha only elimination of Dosha is suggested. There is no remedy for overflowing of a small pool except by breaking down the walls. Thus works the therapy of elimination of doshas (Ca. Vi. III.41-44).

Four Therapies of Use in Obesity

Lightness—whatever produces lightness in the body is known as langhana Ca. Su. XXII.9-42

Roughening—that which produces roughness, coarseness, and clarity/non-sliminess is rukshana

Scraping—that which produces emaciation, lightness, scraping

Sweating—that which produces sweat and alleviates stiffness, heaviness and cold is svedana

Some Simple Guidelines

  1. Avoid sleeping or napping during the day
  2. Eat only if hungry
  3. Eat only at regular meal times = never snack
  4. Never eat cold food or beverage
  5. Chew food thoroughly before swallowing
  6. Sip hot lemon or lime water with meal
  7. Eat main meal at noon, lighter foods and less quantity of foods in evening meal
  8. Avoid carbohydrates, starchy foods (sugars, pastas, grains) in the evening meal
  9. Eat evening meal more than three hours prior to bed time
  10. Fast on a liquid diet one or two days per week
  11. Try to avoid eating breakfast
  12. Supplement diet with EFA minutess = 1t per meal
  13. Consider Ayurvedic supplement—Chandraprabha 1-2 tablets 3x per day after meals
  14. Take 1-2t triphala at night before bed
  15. Do full-body, brisk bare-hand, vegetable brush, raw silk glove hand massage each morning
  16. Regularly get to bed before 10PM and arise before 5AM
  17. Walk for 30 minutes minimum each morning prior to (optional) breakfast
  18. Drink 1 pint water upon rising and stay hydrated during the day; drink 8 oz. water 30 minutes before meals

Copyright 2001 Michael S. Dick All Rights Reserved