Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion School
Blood is the keystone of beauty, vigor and vitality. But, how can a person maintain healthy blood from day to day? Is there a model for assessing the health of your blood at home without expensive machines and equipment?
One of Ayurveda's biggest advantages is a simple model for home assessment and correction of blood level imbalances with diet and lifestyle techniques. With Ayurveda, you can improve your well being by addressing and correcting the blood.
Good blood brings vitality to the whole body and enables your body to heal. Quality blood is key to preventative health as well. Knowing these techniques, you will be able to optimize your health, wellness and athletic performance. In this article you will learn this method. You'll start by learning the four main types of imbalances in the blood, and how to fix them. Then, you will also learn some specific techniques for blood health and wellness.
Rakta consists of red blood cells. It warms and energizes every part of the body with prana as it carries oxygen throughout the whole body. Just as a fire needs oxygen to burn, your metabolism is a chemical fire that requires oxygen to burn. People who are anemic tend to feel cold because they can't transport enough oxygen to their tissues, so their "fire" is low.
Your blood plasma (rasa) carries food and nutrients to your cells after digestion is finished. Since rasa is full of nutrients, it is known as the essence or juice of the organism. It also acts as the protector, containing white blood cells and antibodies. Rasa also plays many other roles, including removal of waste from the body as it transports carbon dioxide to the lungs and other waste products to the kidney.
Rasa is soothing and nurturing. It is mostly sweet but contains trace amounts of the other five tastes as well. Rakta, on the other hand, is hot, sharp, sour and penetrating.
As rakta is hot, sharp and penetrating, it becomes imbalanced when your diet contains too much of these same qualities - think hot, spicy foods. Rakta is already hot by nature, so taking in a heating diet will throw it out of balance. The proverbial chef who spends too much time in a hot kitchen becomes irritable due to overheated rakta. Similarly, spending too much time out in the hot midday sun will also overheat the blood.
Rasa, the blood plasma, becomes deficient if you are dehydrated from not taking in enough liquids or as a result of vomiting or diarrhea. Rasa is also imbalanced by sleeping too much, eating a diet that is excessively heavy or light, and by too little or too much electrolytes. Environmental and chemical toxins such as cleaning products, skin and hair care products, car emissions and air pollution will all pollute the plasma and blood.
In Ayurveda, another main source of a blood imbalance is digestive toxins, known as ama. These toxins accumulate in the GI tract, and can build up to such levels they eventually spill out into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the entire body. Ama can cause an array of disorders, including a variety of blood imbalances.
When balanced, the passions are directed towards their proper goal. A person will desire what is good for them, and the strength of emotions will be adequate but not overbearing. Balanced blood brings balanced emotions. Balanced emotions show the meaning of events, without undermining reason or ability to think.
Blood not only affects emotions, but emotions affect the blood. If a person is betrayed, or circumstances trigger strong emotions, a flood of hormones will be released that disturbs rasa. Rakta will "heat up" with anger, or "cool down" with depression. In our clinic, we frequently see clients whose health problems that started during a stressful and emotional life event. After an emotionally stressful life event, we recommend seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner to rebalance the blood.
Ayurveda's approach to blood assessment is based on the (gunas). This method of using the gunas takes about an hour or two to learn, but brings lifelong benefits. The gunas not only show how conditions in the blood are related to diet and lifestyle, it also makes it easy to identify remedies.
In this type of imbalance, there may be systemic inflammation. The liver, or immune system, may be weakened or overwhelmed. Or, possibly an infection may be involved.
The cause of hot blood is an excess of fiery Pitta dosha due to improper lifestyle habits and eating heating foods that aggravate Pitta. An excess of sour foods, too much red meat, cigarettes and alcohol aggravates the liver and makes the blood (rakta) hot.
In this type of imbalance, the blood is generally thick, oily, congested and stagnant due to an excess of Kapha dosha. Sweet blood can lead to conditions including high blood pressure, poor circulation, fatigue, and high cholesterol. The thyroid, heart, and pancreas are typically involved, since these regulate metabolism and blood sugar levels.
Sweet thick blood is caused by eating Kapha provoking foods such as excess sweet, oily, fried foods and a sedentary lifestyle.
"Dry blood" is an imbalance typically associated with Vata dosha and deficiency (low ojas). The person may have anaemia and low blood pressure. The kidney is often involved, since the kidney regulates both the volume of water and electrolyte concentration in the blood.
Dry, thin blood is typically caused by strict dieting, not eating enough foods, or eating foods that are light in nature. A person with dry blood should avoid eating Vata provoking foods, especially those that are diuretic.
The blood is supposed to be warm and invigorating. However, in some individuals, the blood can actually be too cold. Some signs of "cold blood" include cold extremities, inability to warm up, low energy, pale skin (perhaps even turning slightly purple or blue) and weak digestion.
A person can feel cold for many reasons, such as when rasa is deficient (dry) or congested (sweet). However, these cases are simply complications of the above patterns. Cold blood, in this case, refers to a condition where rakta is cold. This is often due to anemia. The oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is diminished because there is a lack of red blood cells. Or, the circulation of the blood is diminished due to weakness of the heart, atherosclerosis, low metabolism, or other factors. Cold depresses metabolism and circulation, and a person with cold blood lacks umph.
Strength building herbs such as ashwagandha or a cup of warm and sweetened golden milk nourish dry, deficient blood. If digestion is weak, bone broth soup is an easy to digest option that replenishes vital minerals. Demulcents such as licorice root help rehydrate the body in dry, Vata conditions.
Small amounts of pungent herbs and spices will warm up and stimulate cold, stagnant blood. Fresh ginger clears cold from the body and invites warmth into the blood, increasing peripheral circulation. It also clears toxins (ama) from the blood. Turmeric may be used to invigorate the blood. It has a stimulating effect on the liver, increases blood flow and helps purify the blood. Hot, pungent and light, it stimulates circulation and warms the blood. Turmeric also protects red blood cells, reducing anemia.
Warming and nutritive, chyavanprash rejuvenates and builds cold blood by increasing haemoglobin and white blood cells. It also has a heating energy (virya) that combats coldness, stimulates circulation. Also, chyavanprash is considered a heart tonic, benefiting circulation. Pungent and light, saffron has an invigorating effect on rakta and helps warm up cold blood.
Ayurveda offers a practical theory of classifying blood disorders by qualities - like hot, cold, sweet and dry - so the root cause can be corrected. With the right lifestyle, diet, and herbs, you'll be able to strengthen and cleanse the blood, bringing vitality, vigor and balanced emotions to your life.
Find Ayurvedic health tips In these main areas:Water Regulation