7 Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Injuries and Prevention

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A new year has started and with each new year come resolutions of being more active, getting in shape, picking up a new gym membership or doing Yoga every day. Though these are great plans, sometimes the body isn’t quite ready or conditioned to pick up a new exercise routine without signs of muscle fatigue, spasms and cramps, or we may even walk away with a torn muscle or a sprain.

No pain, no gain is the philosophy our society has adapted to with little questioning. In circles of sports and exercise it seems that the ultimate goal is to achieve more in less time by training harder, longer, faster, more intense, and more explosive, all times of the day.

This attitude, or philosophy, also gets applied to Yoga. We have Fitness Yoga, and Yoga with weights, which focus mainly on the fitness component. But even traditions like Ashtanga Yoga or Hot Yoga are quite physically strenuous.

In the Yoga Sutras the sage Patanjali suggests to practice ahimsa, non-violence. The first Yama, or yogic guideline, wants us to do no harm against others, and ourselves. But accidents can happen, and if they do we want to recover as quickly as possible.

Here are seven home remedies to help relieve muscle pain and the discomfort of minor soft tissue trauma.

Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Injury

1. Turmeric and Bromelain

Combined, these two can help speed up recovery. The combination of Bromelain and Turmeric is known for it’s natural blood thinning and pain relieving properties and is often used for menstrual problems as well as and anti-inflammatory for painful joints. Though the use of Bromelain may not be traditional Ayurvedic treatment, Turmeric is used in many cultures as an anti-inflammatory agent, taken internally and often applied externally to reduce swelling.

2. Golden Milk

A great way to add more injury treating and preventing Turmeric to your diet is with an Ayurvedic remedy called Golden Milk. Though nearly every Ayurvedic practitioner will have a slightly different version of this drink, this is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp unprocessed sugar cane or Succanat

1 Tbsp Ginger juice

1 Tbsp Turmeric powder

1 cup water

½ cup of Milk, Coconut-, Rice-, or Almond Milk

Directions:

Add the sugar cane or Succanat to the water and simmer until melted. Add the Ginger juice and Turmeric and simmer until ½ cup of liquid remains. Add your choice of milk and enjoy hot.

3. Ginger

Just like turmeric, ginger has strong anti-inflammatory benefits. When nursing an injury I like to increase the use of ginger in my daily habits. I add fresh ginger to my cooking and prepare a tea of 2 inches of fresh ginger, 1 tsp Lose Green Tea (or 1 teabag of organic green tea), 1 liter hot water, a squeeze of fresh lemon and raw honey to taste, in the morning which I keep warm in a thermos and sip throughout the day.

Another use of ginger is to add a few slices in your hot Epsom salt bath or put a couple of tablespoons of ginger juice in your bath. If you have sensitive skin please be careful as raw and dry ginger has a hot quality and can irritate your skin.

4. Castor oil

Castor oil packs are great in alleviating pain and help heal injuries as well as lessen the appearance of old scars. Warm a teaspoon of castor oil in your hands and massage into the area you want help with. Cover with a dishcloth or a couple of sheets of fleece to prevent staining. Then put a warm water bottle or heating blanket on top and leave on for 20-30 minutes so the oil can absorb into your skin.

Again, if you have sensitive skin do a small “patch test” first to make sure you don’t react to the castor oil.

5. Cool it

If you have a fresh injury you can apply an ice pack to counteract inflammation and swelling. Wrap the ice pack in a dishtowel so you don’t apply direct ice to your skin. Applying ice to a fresh injury can be really helpful as a first response. It will reduce blood flow to the area and numb the pain receptors. Keeping ice on the injury for too long however can hinder the healing process. So make sure you use cold treatment wisely and in alteration with heat to flush out the tissue. There are different hot-cold applications suggested for different types of injuries.

6. Pineapple and Pomegranate Juice

Both juices contain an enzyme that acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, which speed up healing. When you feel you’ve overdone your practice and have a new pain or ache that doesn’t feel right, power up on anti-oxidants and said enzymes to support the healing process. Make yourself a juice or smoothie with lots of fresh pineapple and/or pomegranate, then add a little ginger and turmeric while you are at it.

7. Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom salt is a great help with recovery after a vigorous practice. Epsom Salts have been found in experimental studies to relieve pain and muscle cramps, relax the body and calm the mind, increase blood flow, and help muscles and nerves function properly. A twenty-minute bath with plenty of Epsom salts has been found to be equally effective as a 45-minute deep tissue massage.

Injuries are best treated when fresh. Don’t wait two days before applying heat or cold, or before starting to increase your intake of injury reducing anti-inflammatory foods. The best time to apply treatment, even self massage of the area, is right away before internal scarring of the tissue occurs and the injury settles in. When in doubt, always seek professional advice.

Please note that the above are suggested home remedies that can be very effective, yet you may need other means of physical adjustments. If you have an injury that doesn’t go away or at least get noticeably better after twenty-four hours please see a physician or sports therapist to get your injury assessed and take appropriate action.

Prevention is always better than treatment. Honor your body, know where you are, leave the ego off the mat, and if your teacher asks you to move in a way that doesn’t feel right to you, know that it’s okay to listen to your instinct and move accordingly. Pushing too far can mean a long time away from the mat and the practice you love so much.



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An Ayurvedic Elixir for Total Rejuvenation

The Vedic sutras and ayurvedic texts, describe a sacred drink called soma rasa, said to beget eternal life. Soma rasa, also called amrita, is a Sanskrit word meaning “nectar of immortality.’’ Like the legendary “Fountain of Youth,” there are many speculations regarding the origin and location of soma rasa. The mythic stories of soma rasa describe its literal power in the human body. Soma is created internally within natural physiological processes, and harvested externally from plants and herbs. The correct utilization of soma rasa via meditation, diet, ritual, and yoga results in total rejuvenation of the human form.

The tantric systems in India, teach that soma rasa is made from moon’s waters. The moon is sometimes referred to as a cup the gods drink soma from to maintain their immortality. Every evening all the gods dip a finger into the moon-cup and drink the soma until the moon is empty.[i] Rituals described in the Vedic texts, still practiced in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, make soma from a plant harvested in the Himalayas. Some researchers theorize this is not the soma plant referred to in the Vedic texts, and believe soma is an unidentified, hallucinogenic plant, that grows in northern India and Nepal.[ii] The 9th Mandela in the Rg Veda, called the Soma Mandela, devotes 114 hymns to the purification of Soma, which is said to bring those who drink it to ecstasy. Other scholars hypothesize that soma is a bhasma, a type of ayurvedic medicine made according to rasashastra.[iii] Rasashastra is a type of alchemy medicine native to India, and involves the purification of metals and gems through a process of alternate heating, cooling, oxidizing and crushing, until a fine pure ash of consumable medicine is left, called a bhasma. Mercury, one of the primary metals used in rasashastra preparations, is thought to make the body perfect. Rasashastra is still practiced today, and takes years of specialized study under a master alchemist. Taking rasashastra preparations from untrained or unknown sources can be dangerous, and possibly life threatening.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika teaches that meditation, specifically a practice called the kechari mudra, where a devotee inverts his tongue to touch the far recesses of his throat, and holds the posture for a period of time, will clear a membrane, and allow the secretion of soma to consistently drip from the sahasrara chakra.[iv] Meditation is taught to perfect the body so the practitioner can focus on gathering his internal winds, and bring the soma from the base of his spine up to the crown of his head, where the sahasrara chakra secretes soma rasa.[v] When soma rasa is secreted, the practitioner will experience bliss and immortality.

In the Sushruta Samhita, a classic Ayurvedic text, soma is described as having several plant origins, extracted in an elaborate ritual, that require building a house made of three chambers, where the center chamber is dedicated for the soma practice. The devotee begins with a series of specific mantras, pricking the bulb of the plant with a golden needle, and collecting its milky substance in a silver vessel, and drinks it. He then experiences soma’s effects over a period of four months, marked by distinct physical changes and practices, that include moving to different chambers for set days, applying and ingesting specific herbs, taking baths, and receiving specific massages. By the end of the fourth month, he is renewed physically, attains mastery over cosmological knowledge, never meets a failure in life, and is infused with divine spirit.[vi]

Soma has both, a metaphysical and physical means of transference. The substance of soma is pure love, and gives waves of bliss through our consciousness when it is ingested or produced. Exposure to the full moon, far away from city lights increases internal soma. It can also be cultivated in healthy lifestyle habits, extracted from plants, and produced in meditation. It requires a level of systemic function to be fully utilized, and therefore, cannot be accessed by sheer whim. Intentional support, facilitated by rejuvenation practices that restore digestive strength and detoxification, enable the extraction and proper assimilation of soma rasa.

Physically, soma is secreted by the glandular system. It is a finite manifestation of our immune system, and life force. The ancient Vedic texts indicate the place of soma secretion is the pineal gland, and some theorize that soma may actually be the powerful antioxidant called melatonin.[vii] As it is consumed, the body’s tissues become more elastic, and regain strength. The heart beats with a youthful vigor, and the mind sharpens. The shared teaching of the soma legend says, that immortality is not living forever, as we understand it, it is having enough physical strength and health, that the body is not an impediment to self-realization. The Vedic texts teach the desire to live forever is only worthy in order to completely actualize one’s full potential. The yogic and ayurvedic practices rejuvenate the body and restore vitality, so that we can ultimately transcend our physical body and reach enlightenment.

Moon’s Soma Drink

This is a drink that enhances soma production within the body and mind. It is best enjoyed after an evening meditation practice while basking under the light of the full moon.

Ingredients:

  • ½ C Macadamia Nuts
  • ½ C Brazil Nuts
  • 4 C Purified Water
  • 4 Thai Coconuts
  • 1 T Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Pink Pepper
  • ½ tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1 Vanilla Bean Pod
  • ½ T Shatavari Root Powder

Directions:

  1. Soak macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts in a bowl with 4 cups of purified water. Strain and discard water.

  2. Put nuts in a high speed blender with 4 more cups of purified water. Blend at a high speed. Strain through a nut milk bag and set aside.

  3. Crack open coconuts and pour coconut water into blender. Scrape out meat and add to blender. Blend at high speed until liquefied.

  4. Add macadamia and Brazil nut milk back into blender with coconut milk.

  5. Slice vanilla bean pod and scrape seeds into a small bowl. Blend into nut milk with the remaining ingredients. Pour into glasses and serve at room temperature.

References:

[i] Cashford, J. (2003). The Moon: myth and image. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows.

[ii] Jay, Mike. (1999). Blue Tide: The Search for Soma. New York: Autonomedia,

[iii] Mishra, L. C. (2004). Scientific basis for Ayurvedic therapies. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

[iv] Aiyangar, M. (1949). Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā of Svātmārāma Svāmin ((3d ed.). Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House.

[v] Fenner, Edward. 1(979). Rasyana Sidhhi: Medicine and Alchemy in the Buddhist Tantras. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.

[vi] Dash, S., Padhy., & Sachidananda. The soma drinker of ancient India: an ethnobotanical retrospection. Journal of Human Ecology, 19-26.

[vii] Bhatnagar, S. S., & Isaacs, D. (2009). Microchakras: innerTuning for psychological well-being. Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions.

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