Fasting cures and Ayurveda
More and more people are discovering fasting cures as a way to relieve body and soul from “old waste” on a regular basis. Purification, weight reduction, regeneration, a strengthening of the body’s own defences and an increase of the energy level … these are the intended results of fasting cures. Those who take a closer look at the topic will soon find out that there are many different forms of fasting cures, and they can differ considerably from one another.
Does Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, also use fasting cures?
Eugen Lüchtefeld: Before asserting anything, I have talked to my Indian colleague, the Ayurveda physician Sujai Krishnan. He at least said that classical Ayurveda medicine does not use fasting cures in the form practiced here in Europe. There are only naturopathic circles in India in conjunction with the Yoga movement who carry out fasting cures. But, this does not comply with the classic Ayurveda ideas.
As a matter of principle, fasting in Ayurveda is done no longer than for a day and only if the digestive fire is extremely bad so that nothing can be digested anymore. Sometimes it is also recommended in the case of a very high fever.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, what happens during fasting, i.e. when abstaining from solid food ?
Eugen Lüchtefeld: Definitely, the doshas will be upset by fasting, so that the Vata dosha rises too much.
Fasting is not necessary for cleansing when the patient decides in favour of a Panchakarma treatment.
How does cleansing work by means of the Panchakarma treatments?
Eugen Lüchtefeld: During the Panchakarma treatment specific preparations are used to actively get Ama moving in the tissue and to transport it into the intestines by way of the lymphatic system. Subsequently, laxatives, such as castor oil and the so-called Shodana bastis (cleansing herb enemas on a water basis) are used to remove the Ama from the body. As the case may be, a lot is moved in a very short period of time.
The movement principle, however, is the Vata. Almost all chronic diseases are caused by an increased Vata. For this reason, fasting is contra-indicated in the Pancha course of treatment because fasting causes not only the Vata to rise, but also weakens the digestive fire. A weak digestive fire leads also to the fact that even less of the released Ama can be digested.
The meals we offer here, however, are highly digestible. And, the digestion is assisted additionally by our serving patients a digestive drink before the main meals. The lightest meal is a thin rice soup. Fat, meat, fish and all milk products are excluded from the diet during treatment.
What may a patient expect, except rice soup, easily digestible food, castor oil and enemas, when he or she comes here for a Panchakarma treatment?
After the preparatory days with the intake of Ghee (intake of medicated concentrated butter) and after the laxative day with castor oil, synchronous massages will be applied, of which a lot is reported about in the yellow press nowadays, as well as the forehead oil flow treatment, which are described again and again in articles on Ayurveda. Moreover, depending on each patient’s individual condition, our Ayurveda experts will apply targeted treatments. Weak nerves require more head treatment beyond the normal forehead oil flow treatment with a lot of oil to reduce the Vata or with good herbs in order to control the Pitta (inner heat). In case of rheumatic diseases, the joints in particular are mobilised with the vital point massage, the marma therapy or with the Pinda Sweda on the basis of small rice bags.
Overweight, which hardly anyone can retain here (a normal side-effect of the Panchakarma treatment), can be treated even more effectively with the metabolic massage of Udhvartana.
If the eyes are irritated or a patient’s eyesight is getting weaker, the special eye treatment of Netra-tarpana can be applied. Migraine patients, people suffering from chronic sinus diseases and other problems which are situated above the shoulder region, react well to the so-called Nasyas, a treatment of the nose with medical oils.