Episode 9: Finding Healing at the Root Level with Dr. Nisha Khanna
Board certified internist and Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Nisha Khanna takes an inspirational, layered, and modern approach to medicine. In her blended practice, Nisha incorporates traditional western medicine, offering telemedicine to patients, as well as mind-body-spirit treatments plans in which she incorporates Ayurveda and other ancient modalities. She often takes a look at the physical ailments and then dives deeper by considering the emotional, mental, and spiritual components. This allows for the discovery of unresolved trauma and a better understanding of the roots of manifesting disease. In her illuminating conversation with Shrankhla, Nisha points out the ways Ayurveda can offer us illuminating feedback on our health, the questions we can all ask about ourselves, and how to find the true roots to a wellness issue.
Nisha’s Gut Cleanse Guide: https://healing-courses.nishakhannamd.com/p/the-gut-cleanse-guide
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:00:46] Hi! I am Shrankhla Holecek, the Founder & CEO of UMA, an Ayurvedic beauty and wellness collection. This is the UMA Ayurveda podcast. Each week I’ll be having a conversation with someone I greatly admire on the topics of Ayurveda, holistic healing, spiritual well-being and alternative health. By sharing this wisdom, I hope to share a personal truth and revelation with you. That, as ancient as they are, Ayurveda and other healing modalities are as modern and relevant today, as ever.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:01:54] Board certified internist and Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Nisha Khanna takes an inspirational, layered, and modern approach to medicine. In her blended practice, Nisha incorporates traditional western medicine, offering telemedicine to patients, as well as mind-body-spirit treatments plans in which she incorporates Ayurveda and other ancient modalities. She often takes a look at the physical ailments and then dives deeper by considering the emotional, mental, and spiritual components. This allows for the discovery of unresolved trauma and a better understanding of the roots of manifesting disease. In her illuminating conversation with me, Nisha points out the ways Ayurveda can offer us illuminating feedback on our health, the questions we can all ask about ourselves, and how to find the true roots to a wellness issue.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:01:54] I am very, very excited to welcome you and hear all that you have to say and share your magical wisdom with me as well as our listeners.
Nisha Khanna: [00:02:06] Sounds great. I'm really happy to be here.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:02:09] Nisha, So you're a board certified internist who has been practicing medicine for over 15 years now. I'd love to start by asking how you see the two healing modalities, traditional Western medicine, as well as Ayurvedic wisdom, coexist with each other.
Nisha Khanna: [00:02:30] Well, I think I've created my own version of what I call functional Ayurveda, which is a blend of functional medicine and Ayurvedic medicine to really have that marriage, because traditional Western medicine, I would feel, is really far removed from Ayurvedic medicine in that it does not have a whole lot to inform patients about with regards to disease prevention and dietary and lifestyle suggestions. I think it is getting there and it will catch up eventually. But those two seem pretty disconnected. And I think that's why I really gravitated towards Ayurveda was to try to fill in those gaps. And so currently I have a blended practice where I continue to practice traditional Western medicine to a degree, and I have my days sort of split up where I do tele-medicine in that format. And and then I get to create these afternoons with clients where I go really in-depth in a total mind, body, spirit, spirit, treatment plans and venture into the whole body healing where I practice more of the functional medicine in Ayurveda combo, bringing in other modalities as well, such as do some Ayurvedic body work such as Marma and some other aggravating best treatments that are on the body, not internal. And and then also bring in Sound Work and Reiki and L.P hypnosis. So it really is this comprehensive journey for patients in my afternoons.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:04:26] I love to hear about how you internally or maybe externally guide your patients on their health and wellness decisions, marrying the two bodies of medicine. Is there a flowchart, for lack of a better word, that you follow or guide them on following?
Nisha Khanna: [00:04:51] Yes, I would say there is structure and but I use the first visit to really get a detailed history and exam and really connect with the patient and understand where the deeper roots of the current manifestations of disease and the patients coming in with some level of suffering. So my goal in that visit is to alleviate that as best as I can. And that's often with using working on the physical plane, working on that under my Kosha. And so I I'll usually prescribe certain herbs or supplements to give that very tangible relief. And then subsequent visits as patients are healing. Oh, it also in that first visit, I'll lay a foundation for detox. And when I say detox, I mean like purging Ama and minimizing the generation of Ama. And so then the subsequent visits, patients are really starting to feel better, usually within just two weeks on their first follow up. They're noticing some significant benefits. And then we'll dive deeper and we'll work on those other layers of the aura of the other coaches and get deeper into the mental body. I'll usually incorporate a Marma treatment during that second visit and then see what the patient needs.
Nisha Khanna: [00:06:21] It's very individualized. So I feel like so many people are carrying a lot of unresolved trauma, whether that be something minor, too significant, but really holding onto it. So I find that doing an emotional heart nursing treatment or heard lastly, is really helpful in a lot of patients. And then in some patients will also do some time line therapies that releasing negative emotions from the past. So I would say that overall, my treatment plans are kind of begin on that physical body layer. And then we work we work through the Koshas to really effect healing where it originated or disease where it originated. So we're really healing the whole or Ork field.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:07:08] Dr. Nisha, you brought up two teams that are pivotal to the understanding of Ayurveda, which is Marma as well as Ama. How would you describe them in your own words? To our audience?
Nisha Khanna: [00:07:22] Marma is one of my favorite treatments to both receive and give. It's so profound and I feel like a lot of people don't know about it. So it really is a pleasure to try to spread the knowledge there. So Marma, are energy points essentially, and they do map to a lot of the acupuncture points and their convergence points of blood. So arteries, nerves, veins, lymph, and they in Ayurveda are also access points to the mind, the body, the mind is thought to be mapped across the whole body. And so we are able to affect the mind through these points. So affecting neurochemistry and relieve blocks, relieve Ama at those points. So Ama is toxicity. It's anything unprocessed. So anything that is not digested completely, whether that be physically so through food or drink or pesticides, things that can't be digested or mental emotional. So any thoughts, experience, emotion that hasn't been fully processed too. In essence, its purest form, which would be love and understanding, is Ama. And we hold these we hold this waste essentially this unprocessed material throughout the body, but especially at these energy points. And so when we press on them with intention, we're able to release it. And it's pretty incredible because during Marma therapy, there are actually some there would be a smell that gets emitted, kind of a foul odor, essentially with pressing certain points. And it's really that stagnant, stagnant energy that can actually be smelt. So it's funny because, you know, it's consistent with Ama. Ama is thought to be this foul substance, right? It's like the junk that isn't processed. And so it actually has an odor when you release it energetically to through these points.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:09:38] Completely, and I'm glad that you brought up Ama's definition both so eloquently as well as almost tangibly, because it is such an important concept within Ayurveda that to be the best you can be, you must release all that you don't need, whether it's a physical toxin or an emotional toxin.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:10:01] And which is why we see the importance of detox, whether it is something daily, like a tongue cleaning or something more comprehensive, such as a Panchakarma as a central thesis to all treatments within Ayurveda. So I love that definition of Ama that you just presented. What aspects of Ayurvedic healing have you seen? Shine the Brightest. And I know there are many, but if I was to push you to select just a few, where have you seen Ayurveda have the most amount of impact and sometimes the most rapidly?
Nisha Khanna: [00:10:45] I would definitely say with patients who present with digestive difficulty, it's it's almost instant.
Nisha Khanna: [00:10:53] So you say indigestion, IBS type symptoms, flatulence, bloating. I usually layer functional medicine in as well. So sometimes it's hard to extricate the two. As to what was the number one thing that or the number one modality that affected the change. But I would say that if I were purely just using Ayurvedic principles, I would say that definitely digestive disease, IBS type symptoms and discomfort as well as neural so neurotransmitter related disease. So by that I mean like nervous system dysfunction, things like insomnia, anxiety.
Nisha Khanna: [00:11:38] And I think because Ayurveda has some really foundational lifestyle, dietary pieces that are, you know, so simple and easy to understand and implement that and very powerful to that. Once they are implemented, the feedback is almost instant in terms of the benefit.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:12:00] I want to hold that thought because I wanted to come back to it in just a second because of a burning question I have around this topic quickly. Would you or rather, what advice or thoughts might you offer those who may be skeptical about nature based healing modalities and sciences such as Ayurveda.
Nisha Khanna: [00:12:25] Yes. So I would ask them to ask themselves the question of. What have they been doing to now and has it been working for them? Because if it hasn't if they don't feel energetic, they don't have a lot of vitality. If they're suffering with chronic disease. If they don't have great digestion and they don't have a lot of motivation, then there's the hole that needs to be filled.
Nisha Khanna: [00:12:52] And what is currently available is not working. And some people don't. I think some people don't think that they can have the best health.
Nisha Khanna: [00:13:07] You never think, oh, OK, well, I'm just getting older and this is what it's what's what's what happens to people is that they don't feel as good. And so my invitation there would be to just up the up the bar of what could be possible, because in Ayureda, there are solutions and there are recommendations that can get you feeling your very best and not just mediocre.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:13:39] I ask this because there are so many of us, just like you said, that sometimes feel resigned to living with these chronic ailments, fatigue, poor gut health and I have to admit, sometimes I feel this way, too, feeling rejected by traditional definitions of good health, whereby if something doesn't show up as a dire symptom about to kill you or as a major spike in your blood work, then it doesn't rise to the importance of needing treatment within traditional medicine or traditional Western medicine. So many of us go on living with ailments that are very significantly compromising the quality of our lives. And that traditional pills or potions don't really work for. So in your work with countless patients over the years, are there a few examples that stand out as peculiarly notable in how Ayurveda influenced someone's healing journey? And I ask this because I know it will be very inspirational for many of us to hear so that we can find that impetus to start on this self healing journey where we can believe that we can have better help.
Nisha Khanna: [00:15:04] Yeah, I think that a couple things that come to mind or innocence.
Nisha Khanna: [00:15:12] Let's talk about, say, IBS where. It's there isn't much available in traditional Western medicine. Aside from, you know, anti-depressants and maybe some pills to help, you know, with spasms. And so when a patient has been through the system, they go into a G.I. specialist and they don't get any significant answers to what? To their healing. Then in those cases, you know, it's so important just to not stop and to keep digging and so that's where Ayurveda would come in and something so simple as a box of pacifying diet with warm cook, soupy food, avoiding cruciferous, avoiding caffeine, avoiding alcohol, sodas, even just that could be life changing for someone. I'll usually layer in a gut cleanse reset, which is more from the functional perspective. With that, I am developing an E course on guiding patients through such a reset. But but something so simple is just making a dietary modification and giving the patients guidance too. Don't eat this and eat this, which they haven't received in the past. But then miraculously, their symptoms are, you know, almost completely better with such a simple change. Another such example would be patients with, say, menstrual disorders or PCOS type symptoms. So in traditional Western medicine, typically there isn't a lot of information as to how to manage this. And so patients will get placed on oral contraceptives and it creates a bit of a catch because the oral contraceptives are a daily estrogen dose and estrogen is playing a role in the pathogenesis of the disease or the ailments. And then patients with PCOS, for example, can't and are not having regular adulatory cycles and menstrual cycles. And therefore, the birth control pill is there.
Nisha Khanna: [00:17:33] It's place they're placed on the birth control pill to mimic a normal menstrual cycle, but they are not ovulating and wouldn't be able to ovulate without, you know, whether they're on the pill or not. And so in those instances, it's really just a patch. It's like a it looks like you're having a menstrual cycle. So they feel like, OK, well, maybe things are OK now, but then if they were to try to conceive, it they wouldn't have fixed the root cause, which is not being able to ovulate. And then being on the birth control pill has its own slew of issues that developed from being on that, which is the higher estrogen which contributes to the pathogenesis, the lack of ovulating on a birth control pill. That's how it works to for contraception is it impedes ovulation and so in those patients, it's it's important to take the Band-Aid off and really look and see what causes in the first place. What are the lifestyle issues? What are the dietary pieces that are contributing to this? And in those cases, it's often a combination of excess Kapha and then also the poor elimination of waste, an Ama through the menstrual cycle. So those are just a couple that come to mind where traditional Western medicine isn't really offering any solution. But, Ayurveda and just looking at it as a systems based approach and how each thought through or tissue nourishes the next and how we need to eliminate waste appropriately and follow the those shaped dietary indications for the disease at hand. It really does give you some places to begin affecting feeling at a root cause level.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:19:31] I think that is, of course, a very astute observation, which you're very, very familiar with as an Ayurvedic expert, but worth calling out that many of us don't distinguish symptoms and root causes as much as we really should.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:19:53] And for true relief or a holistic solution, it is critical to peel back those layers, just as you talked about visiting the genesis of the issue rather than throwing Band-Aid solutions added, which might seem simpler at the time. But in my experience, just compound the issue over time. So I love that Ayurveda always goes back to the root of an issue. Nisha, you grew up with an understanding of Ayurveda and you also studied with some of the most revered Ayurvedic physicians, such as Dr. Vasad Lad. Were there surprises in your formal study of Ayurveda?
Nisha Khanna: [00:20:48] surprises. You know,I don't think so, because it felt so natural. It felt like coming home. You know, when when things are.
Nisha Khanna: [00:21:05] I remember for the first time feeling like I was passionate about something related to my career. I had studied and practiced internal medicine for several years before I studied. I'd be the formerly with Dr. Lad and it was funny because I would be in my class.
Nisha Khanna: [00:21:29] Everybody was considering specializing into cardiology, G.I., those kinds of things, and everyone had to just go with what you know, what you love, where your passion is. Pick that.
Nisha Khanna: [00:21:41] And this was before integrative medicine was a fellowship or an option. And I remember just feeling like, oh, my God, I guess I don't have passion when it comes to work. And then it was so funny because when I drove into Ayurveda, at the Institute, the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, for the first time in my life, I felt, wow, OK, this is what it what passion feels like to study something passionately.
Nisha Khanna: [00:22:15] And so because of that passion and because of that really innate sort of feeling of this is it, I, I it didn't surprise me. It just felt really natural. And I think coming from my Western background of studying medicine, it made so much sense to me because I had that framework already in place of health and how to how to visit with a patient, how to listen to them, that it just felt like I was adding the icing to my to my study.
Nisha Khanna: [00:22:51] And I, I, I don't think I was surprised by anything other than the fact that I felt passion, finally.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:23:02] And that's completely fair to say out as as you were talking, one of the feelings that came up in me around the quote unquote surprise and maybe this has this is a signal to me about sort of working on intuition of self-worth.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:23:19] But I am constantly surprised and maybe pleasantly so about how intuitive Ayurveda always feels. And every time that I am presented with scholarly or academic answers, it always feels like I knew them. It's within me, within my body, within my senses. And it's rather pleasant to reconcile that with what I am studying.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:23:53] And again, this is not theoretically of surprise, but it is a pleasant admission, if you will. And that's so much of Ayurveda is so very intuitive and ingrained in us.
Nisha Khanna: [00:24:10] I definitely agree, and I think that was part of it, it just felt like flow and it made so much sense and it was so easy to understand and also to explain. And so that contributed to that feeling of like, OK, you know, this is this is this is it.
Nisha Khanna: [00:24:29] And I remember thinking that I was invincible now in terms of my ability to work with patients and heal them, because I had this framework of looking at a disease, an illness that was just so not available to me before, because in Western medicine, there's so many things that, you know, are idiopathic essentially.
Nisha Khanna: [00:24:52] And that means that in medicine, we don't know we don't know why that happens. We don't know why platelets go down idiopathic thrombocytopenia. So to have this whole other modality and framework, a way of looking at things, I felt like, oh, my gosh, I have the answers now. So that was really empowering because I felt like I could really help more people. But you're so right that it really is simple. I think it can feel like, oh, well, what is this with all this, you know, modality with all these new words. And but when you bring it back to the basics and you bring it back to the qualities, when you bring it back to Agni and Ama think it doesn't take much to to really have that intuitive sense of, OK, the world makes sense now. You know,
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:25:45] Nisha, What dosha are you? And since we get this question a lot, I'd love for you to also share your journey of discovering your dosha. How long have you known? Has it. Have your feelings about it changed and so forth?
Nisha Khanna: [00:26:02] Yeah. Okay. Well, it's an interesting question, cause at different points in my life, I felt like I had to follow the guidelines for every dosha, which has probably been a blessing because it helps me work with patients.Having had the first hand information.
Nisha Khanna: [00:26:21] So when you're trying to discover your dosha, I emphasize this quite a bit in my communications and education that you have to look at it from a few lenses. So we look at Prakriti, which is the innate constitution, Vikriti the current imbalance. And I think often times when people do a dosha quiz, they're kind of confounding mato. And if you are taking a quiz then it's important to do it twice. So once is what was true for you in childhood and then the second time as to what's true for you. Currently I would say over the past six months or so and that would give you those two states, the prakriti, the vikriti.
Nisha Khanna: [00:27:06] But I think more important than that is if you're in a state of imbalance. So essentially, you're not happy about something. Something is not perfect for you. Then you have to look at what's the dosha of the complaint or the disease and knowing that we'll bring that to balance. So you only really are concerned about your prakriti in a few circumstances, one, if you're completely healthy.
Nisha Khanna: [00:27:35] Then you follow those guidelines to maintain health, but also just to kind of have in the background so that, you know what you're most likely to aggravate if you go too far trying to balance a different dosha. So with that said, I when I was there, I started getting my Ayurvedic assessment done when I was fifteen is when I met Dr. Lad as a patient.
Nisha Khanna: [00:28:03] And he, it was funny because when you are imbalanced, your dosha, your vikriti can obscure your prakriti and actually make it seem like that's your prakriti. So at that time, I had Vata aggravation. And so my dosha was reading, you know, your Vata predominant hits, secondary. And and so as I brought my health into balance over the years, my constitution was Pitta predominant.
Nisha Khanna: [00:28:39] And then after school, I develop some Kapha aggravated conditions. And so then I was more Pitta-Kapha or Kapha-Pitta.
Nisha Khanna: [00:28:48] So I would say that a lot of your Ayurvedic practitioners will tell you that you can't fully know your Constitution until you're in a state of complete balance, because then your victory won't obscure, obscure your prakriti.
Nisha Khanna: [00:29:06] And we can get more in-depth information about this through the pulse.
Nisha Khanna: [00:29:12] There's different layers of the pulse, the seven seven layers, the top layer being the vikriti and the deepest layer, the prakriti. But even with a pulse reading, if the vikriti is high enough, it will obscure the prakriti. So to answer your question about me and my dosha, I didn't believe it before because I was for most of my life, I would say. Twenty five years I followed Vata pacifying measures and a diet, and I felt Vata in every way.
Nisha Khanna: [00:29:45] And I would say I would work with some practitioners myself when I was in school. And they would say, you know, I don't think you're Vata. I know you've got a long history of being Vata and thinking that that's your constitution and having even had that being read by other practitioners. But you wouldn't have been able to go to medical school and you wouldn't have the compassion in your heart if you didn't have more Pitta and Kapha in your constitution as more predominant. Finally, I believe them. So I am Pitta predominant with Kapha and Vata secondary.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:30:25] I absolutely love that. That entire description and story because I know there is a tendency in all of us to deal with absolutes and want definitive answers because it makes the world make more sense.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:30:44] But but in what you just said is the beauty of Ayurveda.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:30:50] And I'd argue the beauty of life, making sense of things that may not make sense immediately, as well as being comfortable with the discomfort that might bring up. Is a such a wise guiding principle for one's life, And I couldn't have said it more eloquently than you around the desperation to understand one's dosha but being okay with how life may be changing that, at a given point and that Ayurveda and its pursuit are a journey rather than a destination of having figured out what your dosha is and working within very fixed parameters of that. So thank you for sharing that. Couple more questions before I let you go. One is, around fitting Ayurveda,at its guiding principles within the constraints of modern life? I know a lot of people fear that they will not be able to keep up with the tenets of Ayurveda. And we know that it's all about starting small and doing what you can, but it's still trips people up. How do you advice people get started and make accommodations with the constraints that they do have around work, around time constraints, around managing young children and so forth?
Nisha Khanna: [00:32:40] I think it just have to be something so foreign and out of the daily routine, there's some simple things that a lot of people can do or just build more awareness around where they'll be implementing Ayuveda into their lifestyle without necessarily doing a 20 step, 20 step, dinacharya in the morning, which may take like three hours, you know. So I would say just following the natural rhythms of the day is probably the basic way, the most basic way to begin to incorporate Ayurveda into your lifestyle. So by that, it's sleeping at 10 p.m. or close to that. So you're really taking advantage of the Kapha in the environment at that time to get the most restful restorative sleep, making sure your sleep between the Pitta window of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. where the energy should be directed at rejuvenation versus a second wind. And creative pursuits outside of the body. And then waking with the sun and having your largest meal around noon when the sun is at the peak. Some really basic things like tongue scraping are really profound and simple to do and freshen your breath and just wake you up and stimulate your digestion and give you a daily assessment of what your Ama is that day. Avoiding food, food combinations that are unhealthy. So keeping fruit entirely separate from other foods.
Nisha Khanna: [00:34:19] I think with with the trends and people really trying to be healthy, you know, you can definitely be tempted to put everything in a smoothie and sweeten it with fruit, but really just keeping that out and not even having cold, frozen type of drinks like smoothies, for the most part, incorporating warm water first thing in the day, making sure that most your drinks are warm, sipping on warm water, you know, less than a cup during a meal versus like a big glass of ice water that gets placed at your table when you go out or trying to hydrate and eat at the same time, you know, where in essence, you don't want to do that.
Nisha Khanna: [00:35:05] You want to separate things out so that you can focus on eating and have your Agni be strong. The digestive enzymes not be diluted, but hydrate in between meals. And so I think in modern life, which is so busy, people are just trying to get it all in at once, whether it's the fruit and with everything else or the hydration and with their food and just just separating those out. And I think it does take a conscious effort initially to make some changes. But then that becomes routine. And then, you know, once something's a routine, it just flows and there isn't a lot of energy that goes into keeping that flowing. Those are some things that come to mind making sure that you're detoxing daily.
Nisha Khanna: [00:35:52] So through the bowels, through the urine, through the sweat, these are things that are really easy, really basic, and will be the foundations of health, respiration as well as maintenance going forward. So what do you think of that? Do you think that that would be too hard to implement?
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:36:13] I absolutely love that because it it takes, like you said, a little mindfulness at the outset, but becomes such in to the actual parts of one's routine that really anybody can do them. Nisha, my personal journey with Ayurveda was that I grew up in a very Ayurvedic family and didn't realize that 90 percent of the things that I did or the way I eat was very deeply Ayurvedic and I moved here to the United States about twelve, thirteen years ago and so did a one eighty, whereby I discarded many of the principles I grew up with in pursuit of everything cool, new, modern and found that it wasn't serving my body, mind, health quite the way I wanted for it to. And went back to rediscovering this time round almost with an academic/scientific lens the practices I'd grown up with. And of course, some habits were harder to unlearn than others. But some of the things that you touched on came back in the easiest, most natural of ways. So I love that you started there, because once you just apply a little bit of mindfulness around how you putting food in your mouth, the fact that your stomach should feel a third full of air, a third full of water, a third wheel of food, as Dr Lad advises, is very natural. And now I sort of feel full at that point in my meal. It's just about quickly observing and paying attention to what you are doing. That switch is that within you and observing those things can have such a meaningful difference in your life and your detox processes. So I absolutely loved everything that you answered. I just have one question around acute ailments and would love to hear your thoughts on that, because I know everyone has a different perspective on it. My mother is an Ayurvedic has a different perspective than I do about popping an Advil, when I feel aches and pains. What is yours?
Nisha Khanna: [00:38:50] So for acute ailments such as pain, or can you give me some other examples that you're thinking?
Nisha Khanna: [00:38:57] One of the things is, is let's say pains around, menstruation or a headache from having worked on a computer too long. And I do remember growing up as a child, my mother sort of counseled me out of too much pain medication. I do remember that when I was BMS-ing I she did not like my taking an Advil. This is something that I do, do now. And in that, she and I differ. I'd love to hear what your perspective on taking medication such as an advil at a time one needs and sort of while not being blind to why those things are coming up in the body,
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:39:44] Yeah.So I typically practice and recommend minimizing pharmaceuticals as much as possible. Being a Western trained doctor, I'm not I don't hesitate to use them if I feel like they're indicated. And I think that's part of the beauty of kind of knowing what situations really want that. So, for example, with PMS, I would be more interested in getting to the root of what is causing that. But just that pain and that dysfunction, I think oftentimes women aren't slowing down enough during their menstrual cycle, especially the first couple days are really an opportunity to go inward and to allow that detoxification to occur through the menstrual fluid. And if we are really just trying to maintain or are regular day to day lifestyle, it could feel like, OK, well, I'm going to need an advil to do that. But if you are using those first two days is actually a time for just you to journal, to meditate, to to nurture yourself in whichever ways you you feel are appropriate for you. And then using a heating pad, you know, would be an option, you know. So personally, I don't schedule patients during those first two days of my menstrual cycle. And if I do have someone scheduled, for example, if the day surprises me, then I will reschedule those appointments and my patients are usually understanding. So it's something I do myself, but also encourage patients to do as well, wherever it's possible. I know that our society and work schedules don't always accommodate for that.
Nisha Khanna: [00:41:37] So, again, the acute instance of pain. I mean, I've actually found a lot of benefit with CBD vs. an Advil, you know, whether that be for a headache or menstrual pain. So there are alternatives that are popping up or becoming more and growing in our awareness that we can use outside of pharmaceuticals. I don't think that one Advil here and there is. Going to significantly impact your body or backtrack you, It's more of the chronic use of those medications that do lead to leaky gut dysfunctions, inflammation and kidney disease. So. So I think occasionally use is fine. But I would actually invite patients to find alternatives that, you know, work equally well because there's lots of herbs as well as lifestyle practices that can be implemented for menstrual periods. For example, the use of Caster Oil packs, you know, really lightening the diet prior the week prior to menstruation. Ginger tea, even things like acupuncture and some other herb combinations can be really great. So I, I like to think that pain is a signal that we need to pay attention to. And so menstrual pain is sort of like our monthly report card of how do we how do we rest? How do we manage stress? And when it come to, you know, other pains, like, okay, I have a headache because you've been on the computer too long. So the solution is to get off the computer, you know, not do that again. And then but in the interim, you know, I don't want people to suffer either.
Nisha Khanna: [00:43:28] So I do, for example, with me, if I injure myself, like having a knee injury or something. I know that in the first 24 hours you want to let your body bring those inflammatory mediators to that joint so that they can start to heal the area. But after that point, after the first couple of days, if you're still having pain, then an anti-inflammatory like an Aleve, if you're not doing CBD anti-inflammatory, would be helpful because then the inflammation cycle is not really useful anymore and it's just causing more harm. So the same thing with a fever, for example. So if in those low grade fever that isn't causing seizures and isn't causing significant discomfort, it's actually a good thing. It's good to let your body have that fever so that it can burn the AMA and fight the infection. Your body's natural defenses to do that. It creates the fever for that purpose. So if you were to pop a Tylenol or an Advil to reduce the fever, then you're pretty much robbing your body of that opportunity that it's creating to help fight the infection. However, you know, it doesn't need to have a fever to 104, you know. And so if you if if that's going to lead to a seizure, for example, in a child, then you do want to bring that down. So and the same thing with with mucus, you know, we're in this viral season. Right. Right now with Covid.
Nisha Khanna: [00:45:03] So mucus is actually a good thing. It's there. It's trying to drain out the infection, clear it out through the sinuses. And I see a lot of patients who at the very sign of a sniffle will increase their allergy medicines and increase their use of sinus medications, decongestants. And those things actually cause more problems because now the body can't, that mucus is getting drier and getting trapped. So it's getting stuck. And that leads to sinus pain. It leads to more of a chronic infection, whereas the bar, it starts out as a viral infection.
Nisha Khanna: [00:45:40] It then can become bacterial necessitate antibiotics, which then cause further damage. Because now that disrupts the immune system in the gut, which we can't recover from. So, I feel like there are uses for these responses in our body. And we shouldn't try to use a lot of over-the-counter medicines to thwart these really helpful responses. But then there is a point where the body overcompensates. And in those circumstances, the use of something, whether it be herbal or pharmaceutical, can be really helpful.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:46:18] For sure. And personally, around PMS symptoms. Definitely a signal for my body. I have found that if I have not done a good job keeping my Kapha under control in the month, that is when signs of PMS most profoundly show up for me and the months that have been active and eating not very Kapha-genic foods.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:46:51] The symptoms are definitely less so. It's couldn't agree more that many of these things are signals from your body in its ability to work with you, to live your best life. So thank you for that very comprehensive and very scientific discussion on how some of those processes actually go down within us. So are there any thoughts, advice or maybe even questions that I might have missed during our conversation that you'd like to speak to?
Nisha Khanna: [00:47:30] I think it's important from an Ayurvedic perspective to really think about your immunity as being supported by your Agni. So if you have a strong Agni, then that's your biggest defense. And I think a lot of people are really interested in taking vitamin C and Zinc, you know, all kinds of other immune boosting supplements, which I really think are helpful. And I take them myself and I recommend them. But we can't look at supplements in isolation outside of digestion. So if you're taking a lot of vitamin C and zinc, but then you're eating a lot of dairy, which is going to create mucus and suppress the Agni, then that's just you know, you're not really addressing your immunity and your immune system. So I think I just wanted to emphasize that point, that anything that you can do to boost your Agni is going to be so much more helpful than anything that you can take for your immune system. And I say do both. So certain things that you can do to boost Agni are eating light digestible foods.
Nisha Khanna: [00:48:44] So food that is very close to its its form that it occurs in nature.
Nisha Khanna: [00:48:51] So unprocessed, no food additives, avoiding pesticides. And then some of the herbs that we know to boost Agnis, such as your fresh grated ginger, cured coriander, fennel, whether you have those in teas or mix those in with your food or both, or even chewed as a spice mix after after a meal, drinking warm liquids, liquids throughout the day, avoiding cold, which will put out the warmth of the fire. And and then making sure your detoxing appropriately so that you're Agni doesn't have to work.
Nisha Khanna: [00:49:27] It's hard. So those would be some of the kind of basic immune boosting, Agni boosting tips which go hand in hand. And then I would say also, given this current time of Covid, there's a lot of stresses, there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of media and overwhelm and that's not good for immunity either, because the other seed of the immunity, the immune system is in the heart. And and so, I mean, I don't know if you've noticed this, but any time there's a lot of emotional heaviness, the immune system goes down and it's almost direct. And I think that we really need to protect our heart in this time and root and process through anything. All that's coming up, which is Ama too, mental emotional Ama, but also try to find the joy and try to recognize the positives that exists with the negative.
Nisha Khanna: [00:50:36] And and really just see that bright side, because that will open the heart and which will directly, energetically influence thymus gland, which is a seed of immunity. And so I kind of see the heart and the thymus this intimately connected in the high heart and so responding to situations with a sense of openness rather than contraction. And, you know, I have been to the grocery store and it's been challenging because everybody is in a place of isolation.
Nisha Khanna: [00:51:08] And and whether that's home quarantining or just, you know, don't touch me, don't look at me and don't come anywhere near me. And and so how can we maintain that open energy while still being. Cautious and mindful of social distancing.
Nisha Khanna: [00:51:27] I think that's really important to not make anyone wrong or not to look at anyone as an aggressor or someone coughs around you, but to maintain that open heart where there will be an open flow of energy into your thymus through your immune system. And and I would say those would be the two main things for boosting your immunity, especially right now.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:51:52] That does bring me to one question that I know is going through many people's mind around auto immune disorders, because I have found that it is one of the most challenging disorders or imbalances to address with traditional Western medicine. Anything that you can offer up there I know would be so appreciated by so many.
Nisha Khanna: [00:52:20] So in Ayurveda, we see autoimmune diseases as an Ama disorder. So there's Ama that's coating the cells and that's what's preventing the recognition of the immune system. But as a self, it looks at it and it sees a foreign invader because either the Ama itself is masking the self cells or it is the target of the immune system. So reducing Ama is imperative. And, you know, there are so many ways to do that through the daily detox that we talked about, but also through a deeper cleanse within Ayurvedic practitioners, such as a version of Panchakarma. I think in the next month or so, I'll be releasing a home cleanse that patients can do with an Ayurvedic foundation. And so cleansing is so important. But then also healing, leaky gut, so leaky gut is basically a permeable small intestinal membrane. And this is not traditional Western thought, but it is researched heavily and supported by functional medicine.
Nisha Khanna: [00:53:34] And it is also in alignment with Ayurveda, you know, the small intestine really being a seat of agony and transformation recognition. And so what happens is that there is various insults that can occur to the gut, whether that's through food sensitivity, overgrowth of certain organisms in the gut that shouldn't be there, such as yeast, parasites and then environmental toxins that are coming in, whether that's through pesticides, plastics, food additives, heavy metals in the water.
Nisha Khanna: [00:54:09] So all of these things are chronic. Over the counter medicine use like Aleve and Aspirin and said. So these things are basically injuring the gut. And what happens is then that membrane that's supposed to be really tight becomes permeable right on the other side of the membrane as the immune system. So now you have big particles, proteins in foods such as gluten and dairy, Casein protein that are going through these gaps. Even the organisms that should be walled off in the small intestine, in the intestinal lining, the intestinal contents is able to communicate with the immune system. And so that is activating immune system bacterial compounds such as LPS or getting through these gaps and leading to body wide inflammation. So now you have an aggravated state of the immune system that's hyper hyperactive and it is more prone to attacking. So it's a combination of online. It's a combination of leaky gut. And many of the causes of Ama are related to leaky gut. And they are Ama in and of itself like things that shouldn't be there. Ama is also something that shouldn't be in a place where it is. Right. So when Pitta gets aggravated and it moves out of the small intestine and into the bloodstream, that's Pitta-Ama. It should be in the small intestine and it's home, but it's traveled out to a place where it shouldn't be in the circulatory system and the length and the rest.
Nisha Khanna: [00:55:53] And, So now it's Pitta-Ama because it's dislocated. So it really is a combination of Ama-leaky gut that contributed contributes to autoimmune disease. And I feel that if people could start to look at it through those lenses and heal leaky gut and minimize Ama and release Ama through the body, then they would do so well to really affecting the root of the disease and I typically, in my practice, guide patients through an approach like that. So we'll do a gut reset, which is basically cleansing the gut of these overgrown organisms, removing the environmental toxins and, and then follow it with more of an Ayurvedic protocol. So now that we've cleansed, we can start to rebuild with the things that are most appropriate for that person's dosha. These have been some of the most popular things that I've been using in my practice. So I decided to just try to reach more people. And I created that gut cleanse, guide and reset. And then the Ayurvedic Foundation's guide. I'm releasing probably a month after that. So it's in essence how I practice medicine. It's it's definitely not individually tailored the way it would be in a patients visit. But because I was just seeing so many incredible transformations with patients working at that root cause level. But I, I felt like it was just really important to try to bring that to more people.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:57:34] I love your articulation of it. Not to mention that I can't wait for the resources that you're just offered up to hit the ground. I do hear you that that Ayurveda traditionally has been such a personalized science. But I have also come to see and believe in the widespread benefits that the science has to offer, even in more objective formats, such as talking about it now or on or through pieces that are written around broad populations rather than an individual still. So I can't thank you enough for everything incredible that you have offered up both in the last hour as well as our offering up in coming days as incredible resources for people to discover their bodies, discover their balances and start to heal through Ayurveda. So, Dr. Nisha, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to staying connected and offering people more as time goes by. But but this has been an incredible starting place.
Nisha Khanna: [00:58:57] Thank you so much. It's a real pleasure. I love teaching and I love being able to share. You know, like you started off saying that this is so simple and so profoundly transformative that I feel that, you know, we all deserve to to know about it and partake of it and share it.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:59:20] Thank you so much for your generosity around that. It truly is. Very, very kind of you to offer your time, your patients, your insight around this topic to so many that I know will value this incredibly well.
Nisha Khanna: [00:59:39] Thank you so much for having me.
Shrankhla Holecek: [00:59:41] Thank you.
Shrankhla Holecek: [01:00:03] Thank you so much for listening. If you like more information on our guest and the additional references during our conversation, please visit us at UMAOils.com. See you next time!