Improving bone density through Ayurveda

bone densityWith age, our skeletal system becomes brittle, due to loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures and a compressed spinal column, thereby affecting posture and resulting pain in the back and the spine. This is especially true, with older women.

Ayurveda considers this deficiency disorder to be dominated by the air humour of vata. When this condition worsens, it can even impact other functions and organs in the body, causing some associated symptoms of osteoporosis, such as breathing difficulty, anxiety, nervousness, constipation, forgetfulness, physical and emotional instability, degenerative arthritis, low back pain, loss of height, insomnia, bladder and kidney weakness, frequent urination and dental problems.

According to Ayurveda, bone density can be improved through wholesome nutrition, herbs, healthy activities, and with some good home therapies, without depending on drugs or hormones. In fact, osteoporosis is considered to occur due to the same causes as impairment of vata dosha, which contribute to menopausal disorders in women.

Some of the nourishing herbs recommended by Ayurveda for this condition, and to maintain good hormonal balance in the body are, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Dashamula, Triphala, Safron, Gotu kola, Brahmi, and Amalaki.

Few other common herbs that can boost hormonal system are horsetail, nettles, ginseng, Siberian, hawthorn, berries, dandelion root, motherwort, milk thistle, ginger, sage, raspberry leaves, and valerian.

These herbs can be had either in single, or can be combined and used in the form of tea, wherein one tablespoon of the herb can be boiled in two cups of water. Allow to steep for ten minutes, before straining, and drinking after meals. Add a dab of honey if desired.

Other general ayurvedic formulations recommended are Balarishta, Vadagajankuja Rasa, Vadha vithvamsini Rasa, Yogaraja Guggulu, Vadha Rakshasa, Navagrahi sinduram, Loha soveram, Swarna vadha rakshasa, Bhaskara lavanam, Maharasnathi kwatha churanam, Panjathiktha gugglu kritham, and Brihachakalathyam krutham.

Abhyanga or selfmassage using sesame oil, and Dashamularishta are good for vata pacification. The Ashoka bark which has sodium, silica, phosphate, potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium, is also considered good for improving bone density and uterine disorders in menopausal women. However, these preparations should be taken on consulting an Ayurvedic physician.

Some other measures to be adopted to improve bone density are:

Eat calcium-rich foods such as organic dairy foods, green leafy vegetables and bean, foods high in Vitamin D such as organic dairy foods, and trace minerals manganese (mostly found in oatmeal, pineapples, nuts and cereals) and boron (found in nuts, soya beans, fruits, and honey).

As far as possible, stick to whole foods, rather than supplements and avoid all refined foods, refined sugar, iodised salt, excessive caffeine intake, antibiotics, alcohol, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some foods that are particularly recommended for improving bone health are: dairy foods, cereals (particularly oatmeal), whole grains, leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels, cabbage, sprouts, beans and urad dhal, black gram, chickpeas, mung, soya, fruits such as pine apples, apples, oranges, and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, seaweeds, and honey.

Chewing a handful of sesame seeds daily in the morning provides natural calcium.

Practise yoga, meditation, exercise regularly and use vata pacifying essential oils on regular basis.

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Ayurvedic treatment for fractures

Fracture treatment in AyurvedaFracture of a bone can occur at any time to anybody, during a fall, or an accident, and at times due to osteoporosis, and bone cancer. Whatever the case, it requires immediate attention. The Ayurvedic term for fracture is Bhagna. Ayurveda offers effective treatment for rejoining bones and restoring them to their original form and strength.

Generally, bone being a living tissue, constantly builds and hence rejoins and nourishes. Ayurveda is quite popular in its methods of treating fractures, with the treatment practices for bone fractures being centuries old, starting from the age of Susruta, the first-ever surgeon in the history of medicine.

In Ayurveda, bone fractures are classified into two types – dislocation and fracture. Ayurveda adopts the ‘touch and analyze’ method for diagnosis. The diagnosis is made by touching and analysing the appearance of the affected part. The treatment methods adopted are bone setting, medicines, therapies, splints or slings, as required. Splints are made with bamboo pieces in different shapes and thickness.

There are traditional bone setters and Kalari masters, the martial art practitioners in Kerala, who are experts in this field. They have sufficient skill in manipulating bones and aligning it in the right manner, which is vital in management of bone fractures, than medicines taken internally.

In fact, bone setting is a special art that requires practical knowledge. It involves pulling and adjusting the bones gently, back to their original position. Thereafter, herbal medicines in the form of pastes are applied to rejoin the splints and the bones. When joining, the bones, muscle, ligaments and tendons are also healed.

One of the main advantages of ayurvedic treatment for bone fracture or dislocation, is its external and internal use of herbal medicines in various forms, which shows great results in reducing pain, healing wounds, and joining bones. Some ingredients used when making such medicines are egg white, wheat flour, milk, ghee and sugar, along with herbal pastes such as Kasamarda and Kumari.

Oil massage therapies are also a popular method adopted in Ayurveda, in shaping the bones back to their original form. Methods such as steaming, and application of herbal pastes, also reduce pain and inflammation. Depending on the condition of the patient, Panchakarma Therapy is also done.

In cases where fracture has occurred on marma points (vital areas), special attention is required. Only expert Ayurvedacharyas can manage and treat complicated multiple fractures.

The main aim of the treatment process in fractures is to restore functional abilities of the individual. In cases of bone problems occurring due to old age and chronic diseases, treatment is difficult and may take longer time, but, the process of healing is quicker in young people.

The duration of rehabilitation also depends on the type of fracture, and associated soft tissue involvement, location of fracture, and method of stabilization. Depending on the stability of fracture, motion exercises may be recommended for adjacent joints, followed by strengthening exercises. Once, the healing is restored completely, the individual can continue with regular activities of daily living.

Top ten ayurvedic tips for migraine relief

Migraine is termed as Ardhavbedhak in Ayurveda. Migraine headaches are terrible pain that mostly strike on one side of the head, wherein intensity of pain increases with every passing hour. Such migraine attacks can recur every week or once a month in some people. Sometimes, migraine headaches are accompanied by nausea. The reasons for migraines could be many, including heredity, slow metabolism, varying blood pressure levels, and stress.

Ayurveda recommends shamana chikitsa during an attack of migraine, and nirvana chikitsa after the attack. According to

Ayurveda, strengthening the nervous system is the best remedy for migraines.

Migraine relief in AyurvedaHere are some of the best Ayurvedic tips for migraine relief:

  • Varanadhi Gritham (grithams are medicated ghee), Kalyana Gritham and Ksheerabala are recommended in dosages prescribed by the physician. Also Varanadhi Gritham and Ksheerabala 101 can also be used in the Nasya procedure. They can also be used for the head massage or for dhara procedure.
  • Mix boiled tuar dal with milk, and drin after dinner regularly.
  • The extract of medicinal plant Vaatham kolli can be inhaled for relief.
  • Make a small ball with crushed black jeerah (black cumin seeds), tied in a muslin cloth, and inhale it as often as possible.
  • Dry ginger and the root of koovalam plant (also known as ‘bael’ in Hindi, and ‘golden apple’ or ‘stone apple’ in English with Aegle marmelose as scientific name) can be ground together and applied on the forehead.
  • Mukkutti (Biophytum sensitivum) can be ground and applied on either sides of the forehead.
  • Herbs such as Moovilaveru (pseudarthria viscida) Orilaveru (desmodium gangeticum), can be applied on either sides of the forehead in the form of a paste, and can also be used for inhalation through the Nasya procedure.
  • Balahatadi, Surasadhi, and Ksheerabala oils can be used as massage oils, as recommended by the physician before bathing in the morning.
  • Use Brahmarasayana, Chyawanprash, Agasthyarasayana, and other such medicines for effective migraine relief.
  • Performing pranayama regularly can help considerably in relieving migraine attacks.
  • The extract of the plant Poovam Kurunnila (Ash coloured fleabane or ‘Vernonia cinerea’) can be effective, if used for local application, and massaged on the head.

Consult an ayurvedic physician, and find out the exact herbal oils to be used before bath, as they can provide considerable relief for migraine and sinusitis conditions. Meanwhile, take care to avoid excessive cold foods, non-vegetarian food, napping during the day, and taking bath in cold water. However, apart from all this, it is very essential to take recommended dosages of medications as prescribed by your physician.