When a malaise comes up in our lives, it can be overwhelming, and not to mention draining, to test out seemingly endless products in hopes of finding a solution.
But according to Vasant Lad in The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, the answer lies within your body’s inner ecology and comes from a lack of balance. This philosophy stems from the ancient healing science of Ayurveda, which is living in harmony with the laws of nature. “Our life is a relationship,” Lad said. “We are related to the earth, the moon, the sun, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat.”
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This holistic system believes that we all have our own prakruti, or individual genetic compositions made up of the five elements (space, water, air, fire and earth) and three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), which can be disturbed by outside factors, like our environment or diet. “Illness does not suddenly appear,” Lad said in his book. “There is a direct causal link between the factors that influence us and the effects they produce.” He continues, “Health is the effect of a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits; disease is the ‘three’ sprouted from unhealthy habits.”
So to live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life, we should be making constant adjustments to ensure we stay well-balanced. To help start you off, here are five Ayurvedic home remedies for common discomforts and ailments.
Whether or not you’re doing heavy lifting or just spending most of your time hunched over at a desk, back pain is hard to ignore as you complete your day. Taking one tablet of yogaraj guggulu three times a day, or one tablet of kaishore guggulu two or three times a day can help provide relief. You can also apply mahanarayan oil on your back right before dipping into a hot bath that’s supplemented with equal parts baking soda and ginger powder. Because back pain is associated with excess vata, cutting down on beans and raw, cold salads is recommended.
As most people know, thinning hair is hereditary. But it can also be from various diseases like diabetes, and deficiencies in calcium, magnesium or zinc. Drinking about a third of a cup of aloe vera three times a day for three months can help improve the health of your hair. Other foods that feed your hair are sesame seeds, yogurt, daikon and white radish. If the cause for hair loss is stress, Lad recommends an anti-stress tea using jatamamsi and brahmi.
Many people experience the unpleasantness of tossing and turning at night, only to be a zombie throughout the rest of the day. Dietary remedies for insomnia range from a cup of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg before bedtime to a cup of tomato juice with some nutmeg as well. If you’re more of a tea person, Lad recommends chamomile tea. A hot bath at night also helps your vata, which in turn promotes a deep sleep.
Overeating, especially if we are doing it out of emotional impulses, can become dangerous for both our physical and mental health. To help keep our emotional eating under control, Lad suggests meditating whenever we have the urge to eat without being physically hungry, and then drinking a glass of warm water. Another idea is to go for a 20-minute walk outside so that the fresh air can help clear our heads—and cravings.
Irritated throats can be a nuisance during your day, and also while you try to sleep at night. Luckily, there are easy remedies to relieve your poor throat. Gargling hot (but not boiling) water that’s been mixed with turmeric and salt can help provide soothing relief. Tea that’s made of ginger, cinnamon, and licorice is also beneficial for your throat. You can drink this tea up to three times a day. It’s also a good idea to avoid fermented and dairy foods at this time.
Illustration: Marie Guillard