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Ayurveda and Chronic Pain

Read about some Ayurvedic strategies to fight inflammation and chronic pain
2 min

“You are what you eat” is an old adage but it’s definitely true when it comes to chronic pain.
A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation. Inflammation has a good-guy/bad-guy role in your health. When you are injured or get infected, your body signals the immune system to send white blood cells to the affected areas to repair the injury or fight the infection.

When the injury heals or the infection goes away, inflammation normally goes away too. However, sometimes your immune system gets turned on and stays on after the "crisis" has passed. Over time, this can damage healthy cells and organs and cause constant pain in muscles, tissues, and joints. Chronic inflammation also can raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and even Alzheimer's disease. According to Ayurveda, inflammation is the root for any disease from the common cold to cancer.

And since the goal of Ayurveda, is to find the underlying source of a symptom and not only to treat the symptom itself, that would mean that every choice we make, everything we do, can be either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. In other words, it can either contribute to chronic pain or reduce it.

Inflammation can be due to any number of triggers from stress and trauma, the quality and choice of foods we eat, water intake, lifestyle and emotional state as well as sleep and exercise routine.

Inflammation is a very important signal, red flagging us to pay attention. If you notice inflammation in your body, here are some ways to reduce it.

1. Avoid Fire-provoking foods.
Inflammation is hot, so it makes sense to reduce adding more heat to the fire. Pitta (fire) provoking foods includes nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes, salty, hot and fermented foods, fried and fatty foods, alcohol, processed and sugary foods.

2. Include cooling foods in your diet.
With all the symptoms stemming from excessive heat in the system, it will be essential to begin to routinely take in more cooling food choices. Foods that help decrease heat and inflammation include ghee, coconut (oil and water), cilantro, cucumbers, cooling spices like coriander, fennel, fresh ginger and cardamom, bitter greens like kale, collards and dandelion, sweet juicy fruits such as apples, avocado, red grapes, ripe mangos, coconut, pomegranates.

3. Perform regular oil massage with Pitta Oil.
Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic oil massage, is a routine practice for self-care and stress reduction. The Pitta Massage Oil is a cooling oil blend of coconut and sunflower oil that has been infused with numerous cooling, anti-inflammatory herbs and essential oils. But even simple coconut oil can work wonders. Massage the entire body before bed each night. Make sure to bring some extra attention to the main areas of pain and inflammation as well as the scalp, forehead and feet. Leave on the skin for about 30 min before rinsing off with water or keep overnight.

4. Drink Ginger-Turmeric Tea each day.
Ginger and turmeric are highly beneficial for treating inflammation, boost digestion and promoting detoxification in the body. Boil 3 cups of water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add a 1.5 inch cube of grated fresh ginger and 1inch cube of grated fresh turmeric (can be replaced with 1/2 tsp of dry turmeric). Add some honey once the tea has cooled to a drinkable temperature (never heat honey ). Drink 1-3 cups of this tea blend each day between meals. Or, alternatively, have your Golden milk cup before bed.

5. Know your stressors and reduce stress.

Toxic relationships, stress from work and even violent movies and T.V. shows can all release stress hormones, leading to inflammation. Toxic emotions are just as bad as toxic foods as they feed the brain. When you know exactly what stresses you out, you will know what needs to be changed or what preventive measures to take. Meditation, yoga, setting intentions, pranayama and breath centered awareness are great ways to be better prepared to face challenges and avoid drama.

Try these simple things. When your soul, senses, and mind are content, you will be healthy.

About the author

Irina Bachvarova

Yoga Guru

Master in Sports Pedagogic and director at Bulgarian Ashtanga Yoga Academy.

Irina is the author of the first Bulgarian book for Ashtanga Yoga and trusted Yoga Guru for TV series, produced by Bulgarian National Television.

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