KUNDALINI SYNDROME: The Dangers of Unpreparedness

Kundalini in yogic theory is a primal energy, or shakti, located at the base of the spine.

Different spiritual traditions teach methods of "awakening" kundalini for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment. Kundalini is described as lying "coiled" at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened.

Many individuals whose Kundalini has been unexpectedly unleashed do not know what is happening, and the prevailing social ignorance about this multidimensional transformative process makes it hard to find medical or alternative health practitioners or spiritual advisors who recognize the symptoms, particularly when they are strongly physical.
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Ayurvedic Herb-Drug Interactions

It is always a concern for Ayurvedic and other holistic health care practitioners to be fully informed by their clients as to what pharmaceutical substances, either prescription or over-the-counter medications, they may currently be taking. Nutraceuticals and herbal medicines are also of concern if one is to safeguard against the possibility of adverse events in the form of drug-herb interactions. I routinely ask clients to either produce a list of such substances that they are taking (or have taken within the preceding 6 months) or, better, bring in the actual containers with the substances to their initial consultations so as to eliminate any error on their part in transcribing the names and potencies of their medications.

While such interactions are relatively rare and usually of a mild level of intensity, this is not universally the case. I was taken aback not too long ago when I leaned that one instructor in an Ayurvedic training program had informed her students that Ayurvedic herbs in general, and the herbs that she had taught in her first year course in herbology in particular, had no side-effects, cautions or potential drug interactions. Those herbs included the following, amongst others.
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Herb of the Season: VAMSALOCHANA (Bambusa arundinaceae)

Ayurvedic energetics:
Rasa (taste) – Madhura (sweet); Kshaya (astringent)
Vipaka – Madhura (sweet)
Veerya – Shita (cooling)
Doshic signature – KPV- / K+ in excess
Gunas – Laghu (light, easy to digest), Rooksha (dryness)
Dhatus affected: Plasma, Blood, Nerve
Srota entered: Respiratory, Nervous
Other Names: (Hindi), Vans Karpoor, Vans Sakkar, Tavaksiri (English) Bamboo Manna (Mandarin) Tian Zhu Huang

Bamboo grows all over India, especially Assam. Although all parts of the plant are now used, actual Vamsalochana itself, the most medicinally active part of the plant is silica-like paste secreted into and collected from inside the hollow internodes of bamboo. Vamsalochana means bamboo eyes which is eye-like crack in the bamboo plant. Vamsalochana plants are deep rooted and tall so it is difficult to harvest but it is very common grown although, owing to difficulties in harvesting, it is commonly adulterated and produced synthetically. The genuine natural substance is a white, crumbly product.
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Dealing with Respiratory Infections Ayurvedically

It’s now nearly half-way into the school year. The holidays are behind us, homework is keeping everyone up too late, the weather is getting cooler and the season for upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, coughs, colds and even influenza is indisputably here. It’s been an unseasonably warm fall overall, but still pediatricians are warning parents to be especially vigilant.

Upper respiratory infections (URIs) are the most common acute complaint seen in the ambulatory health-care settings and are also the syndrome most consistently mismanaged by primary care providers. Variably described as homely, prosaic and plebian in the medical literature, the topic is rarely perceived as exciting or controversial. Nonetheless, it is clear that physicians continue to overuse antibiotics in the treatment of URI and that this "prescriptive promiscuity" has directly contributed to the widespread emergence of antibiotic resistance.
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Book Review: Ayurveda Revisited

Ayurveda Revisited
by Sharadini Rahanukar & Urmilla Thatte
Popular Prakashan Publishers Ltd. (1993)

Indians have always been rightfully proud of their rich heritage, a vast legacy of medical knowledge in Ayurveda, our traditional medicinal system. Today, however, Ayurveda in India does not enjoy the same status in the scientific world as it did during the years of Sushruta and Charaka. There are several reasons for this: the canonical language in which it was written (Sanskrit), the fact that certain claims made and teachings enunciated by Ayurveda are not backed by experimental proofs which are essential in today’s science, and the fact that Ayurvedic therapies are considered by many if not most Allopathic Physicians to be alternative medicine to which the conditions that modern medicine has failed to treat are relegated.

Paradoxically, one finds that Ayurvedic drugs and treatments are widely prescribed in India and her neighboring countries today, indicating that Ayurveda has never been uprooted and still enjoys wide popularity. It has been very difficult to get a contemporary view of Ayurveda because Indian doctors, most of whom are trained in Allopathy, are so westernized in their approach to medicine that they have lost touch with the deeper meaning of Ayurveda. At the same time, most contemporary commentaries on ancient Ayurvedic texts have been written by Ayurvedic physician-scholars who, with a few notable exceptions, have little training outside of their discipline and whose works have the disadvantage of being written by people closely involved in the subject, thus lacking a degree of “arms-length” detachment and objectivity.
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Herb of the Season: Sahijan (Moringa olifeira)

Ayurvedic energetics:
Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Madhura (slightly sweet)
Vipaka – Katu
Veerya – Ushna (hot)
Doshic signature – KV=P+
Gunas – Laghu (light, easy to digest), Rooksha (dryness), Teekshna (strong, piercing)
Other qualities: Kshara – Has alkaline properties; Shobhanjana – Very auspicious tree; Teekshnagandha – Strong and pungent odor

Other Names: Munaga (Hindi), Munagai (Tamil), Nugge Mara (Kannada), Nugge kayi (Kannada), Sahijan (Hindi), Sahjna, Saijan, Saijhan, Sajna

Sahijan (Moringa) is a plant that is native to the sub-Himalayan areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan but currently is also grown throughout the tropics. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root are used to make medicine. Traditionally, Moringa is used for “tired blood” (anemia); arthritis and other joint pain (rheumatism); asthma; cancer; constipation; diabetes; diarrhea; epilepsy; stomach pain; stomach and intestinal ulcers; intestinal spasms; headache; heart problems; high blood pressure; kidney stones; fluid retention; thyroid disorders; and bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections.

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Using Ayurveda to Tame Gastric Reflux

Acidity is related to heartburn (also known as ‘Reflux’ or GERD) and gas formation in the stomach. In acidity, acid reflux or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or as it is known in Ayurveda urdhva gata amalpitta, there is a movement of gastric juices from the stomach into the lower esophagus. This is a condition which is caused when the highly acidic contents of the stomach (mostly hydrochloric acid) move upward into the esophagus through an improperly closing valve.

In Ayurveda this condition is considered to be caused by the aggravation of pitta dosha which is responsible for the burning sensation felt in the chest region.

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Ayurvedic Treatment of Varicosis (Varicose Veins)

Ayurvedic Treatment of Varicosis (Varicose Veins)

Varicosis, or varicose veins, caused by weakened valves in the veins of the legs, refers to a condition in which the veins of the legs become varicose, i.e. they appear swollen and bulging and can be discerned beneath the surface of the skin. Varicose veins may be dark in color or may retain their original color, ranging from a light purplish-red to an almost navy blue. They are nearly always painful. In case of prolonged varicose veins, they could be accompanied by skin peeling and skin ulcers may be seen to develop.

Varicose veins are caused due to excessive pressure brought to bear on the legs or the abdomen. These are brought on by advancing age, obesity, pregnancy, hormonal changes and a host of other factors, which may include genetic or epigenetic factors as varicose veins often run in families. Standing for long periods of time increases pressure on leg veins and promote varicose veins.

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Book Review: American Veda - From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

American Veda - From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West
by Philip Goldberg
Three Rivers Press/Random House (New York 2010)

“…In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness …”

With these words, Philip Goldberg begins his monumental work, American Veda, a fascinating look at India’s remarkable impact on Western culture. This eye-opening popular history shows how the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga have profoundly affected the worldview of millions of Americans and radically altered the religious landscape.

What exploded in the 1960’s actually began more than two hundred years earlier, when the United States started importing knowledge as well as tangy spices and colorful fabrics from Asia. The first translations of Hindu texts found their way into the libraries of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson. From there the ideas spread to Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India’s “science of consciousness” and wove it into the fabric of their lives.

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Book Review: Ayurveda Unmasked

Ayurveda Unmasked
by Ranganayakulu Venkat Potturu, Ph.D.
Pangea Publishers (India, 2015), Kindle E-Books edition

This is an important book that should be read by anyone concerned with the future of Ayurveda, although when I began reading this book I did so with a pre-existing bias: I disliked its title intensely. If something is to be “unmasked” that more than implies that it is wearing a mask, that it is presenting a false version of itself to the world, and hiding a true face that is unsuitable for public viewing or in some fashion unacceptable.

To be sure, Dr. Putturu, a physiologist on the faculty of the Sri Venkateswara Ayurvedic Medical College of Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh, has many criticisms to make of Ayurveda as it is contemporarily taught and practiced in his homeland. Some of his criticisms are valid and well-taken, particularly as they relate to a system of Ayurvedic education that he sees as corrupt, stagnant and overly-emphasizing Ayurveda’s literary canon and Sanskritic tradition while sorely wanting in scientific substance and methodology. Others are not so well-founded and in a few instances are simply factually incorrect.

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