Holistic Living - Lifestyle changes for the monsoon
by Suma Varughese
Alternative health practitioners offer tips to stay on top of monsoon malaises
Staying healthy while it rains sneezes and fevers all around you can be a breeze if you take necessary precautions. We asked a battery of alternative health practitioners for tips to stay on top of monsoon malaises and this is what they said.
Common monsoon ailments include rheumatism, asthma, gastroenteritis, coughs, colds and fever, fungal infections, food poisoning from eating out, and depression caused by the cloudy weather.
I recommend avoiding non-vegetarian food. The monsoon impairs the digestive system. Strengthen it by having a little ginger juice and honey every day. When suffering from diarrhoea, have one teaspoon of this mixture three to four times a day. The Trombidium pill is good for gastroenteritis. Have three pills of 30 potency every four hours.
Include two green bananas, cherries, peaches, plums and pears to your daily diet and beat the cold and flu syndrome this monsoon. Should they befall you, however, make short shrift of them with a combination of two parts honey to one part lemon juice. Sip one teaspoon of this mixture five times a day. Ladyfinger soup is excellent for sore throat. Boil ladyfinger and strain. Drink the clear liquid.
Intake of three to four dry figs a day will prevent asthma. If you do succumb, Netrum Sulph is a good remedy. Have three pills of 30 potency every four hours. Combat rheumatism by massaging the affected areas with heated mustard oil and also the chest. Use mustard oil as your cooking medium. Additionally, take the following pills: Dulcamara: three pills of 30 potency three times a day; and Rhus Tox, same dosage.
The monsoon weakens the digestive system and also generates a number of illnesses. This season creates kapha, which needs to be balanced. It is therefore necessary to moderate one’s diet scrupulously.
Have boiled water only and avoid cold drinks. Coconut water can be in moderation. Stay away from all junk food and fermented and oily foods as well, as these can throw the kapha and pitta doshas out of sync. Eschew curds and stale food. Heavy beans like channa and rajma should be avoided for they can cause formation of gas. Moong beans, either whole or as dal, can be safely consumed. Steer clear of milk products and sweets made of milk like shrikhand, basundi and ice- cream for these can cause cough. Say no to your milky bedtime drink too.
Sour foods like tomato and tamarind can raise pitta and are therefore to be avoided. You can’t go wrong with a basic diet of dal, rice, vegetables and chapattis. In dals, prefer moong and chowli to channa, urad and masoor. Soya beans can be had in moderation. Have chapattis made of nachni, jowar and bajra instead of wheat. These are healthier, and bajra also generates heat.
During the monsoon, bathe in warm water. Drink warm water or, better yet, water with a little ginger powder boiled in it, and get to bed by 9.30 to 10 p.m. to prevent accumulation of gas. Do not wash your hair every day. Twice a week will suffice.
If caught wet in the rain, have a hot cup of ginger tea. Every morning, crush the following leaves and have the juice mixed with honey: tulsi: 6-7 leaves; mint: 6-7 leaves; ginger: 1 inch; adoolsa: 5-6 leaves. This is a great preventive measure against asthma, cough and cold.
Oil massage during this season is excellent.
Many aspects of panchkarma are also very good for this season. Pind swad, for instance, eliminates excess kapha. Make a poultice of ginger powder and ajwain. Heat on tawa and apply all over the body, particularly the chest.
Because of the generation of kapha during this season, ears can get blocked. To avoid this, try the following remedy. Heat sesame (til) oil and add some ajwain and garlic. Cool and filter. Add one drop of the oil in each ear morning and night. For blocked nose, inhale a pinch of ginger powder.
To safeguard your health against the humidity of the season, try these yogic practices.
Do jal neti every day. Jal neti is a procedure wherein you inhale warm salted water through one nostril and release it through the other. Learn only under a qualified yoga teacher. There are also neti pots available in the market.
Gargle with warm salted water after a visit to a crowded public place like a shopping centre or a movie hall.
If you get wet, change immediately. It is imperative to keep your feet warm. After prolonged exposure to moisture, soak feet in warm salted water, dry thoroughly, and wear socks. Ensure that your head is never wet. washing your hair, use a hair dryer (only during this season) or sit near the fire; don’t dry your hair under the fan. Moisture on your head can lead to migraines and other problems. Protect your head with a cap or scarf when going out.
Exhale and inhale deeply six times three to four times a day. Kapalbhatti, forceful and rapid inhalations and exhalations (learn under a qualified yoga teacher only) are also invaluable in preventing infections from lodging in the nasal passage.
During the monsoon, joints become stiff and painful. Keep them supple and flexible through the practice of asanas. Sit whenever possible in sukhasana. This is greatly beneficial to the calf muscles. To strengthen your hamstring muscles try touching your toes. The rowing pose is also very useful here.
Hurry and worry are particularly lethal during the rains. Surfaces are wet and slippery and you should avoid haste. Remain cool no matter what the provocation. If you are late for work or for an appointment, accept it and resign yourself to the consequence. Do not try to hurry. Instead, enjoy the rain, the beauty and greenery of the landscape, and go your way peacefully and easily.
Rub, massage and press the front side of the palm, which houses the points for the digestive organs. Spend extra time with any painful point. Rub the hollow of the foot with the knuckles or massage it with fingers in a criss-cross fashion. You can use a roller too. Do the same to the upper part of the sole, immediately below your toes where reside the points for the respiratory organs.
Pinch the index finger and little finger for two to four minutes every day to take care of the large and small intestines. Press all the nine points pertaining to the abdomen in this diagram. Prolong the pressure at painful points.
Do this creative visualisation exercise every night before going to sleep: Close your eyes; breathe deeply and slowly until you feel relaxed. Visualise your body from head to toe and repeat the following affirmation: “Irrespective of the monsoon, each and every part and organ of my body functions at its peak efficiency. I enjoy excellent health.”
Good health is a combination of a positive state of mind, preventive action and prompt curative measures. If you can apply even a portion of the sound advice these practitioners have offered, you can walk your way through the slush and the rains with nary a care in the world.