Getting Started on an Ayurvedic Way of Life with Dr. Zeel Gandhi
- Daily detoxification: Being mindful of your excretory patterns. Via sweat, urine, and stools are how the body lets go of toxins. Have I exercised enough? Have I had enough water to flush my kidneys? Have I eaten enough fiber for an easy bowel movement?
- Eating after assessing your needs, season, calorie requirement, and Prakriti.
- Sleeping and waking up with the natural solar (Circadian) rhythm. Ayurveda divides the day and night based on three doshas: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Doing tasks in alignment with your natural energies can have an enormous impact on stress levels.
E.g. Doing memory/reasoning tasks in the first half of the day. (Kapha period). Eating, executing, and organizing in the midday, while doing creative tasks, team activities, getting on calls, chatting, and socializing in the vata period ( afternoon. )
Can you share a few examples of when you have seen Ayurveda at its most transformative, or essentially its best?
Panchakarma therapies, nothing can replace the transformative potential of these internal detoxification therapies. For chronic disorders like IBS, PCOD, etc. the patient is educated and empowered to make the right choices for his body.
Are there certain situations, persons, or diseases that you have found Ayurveda to be more valuable for?
Modern medicine in the field of surgery, critical care, and diagnostic procedures is a shining example of the scientific advancements humankind has made in the past few centuries.
But I personally believe that Ayurveda is excellent for treating chronic systemic problems. Its approach to internal medicine and detoxification for treating systemic problems like infertility, psychiatric diseases, metabolic diseases, blood pressure, etc. is very holistic. Ayurveda does not look at the disease, it looks at the individual and helps bring doshic harmony back to his body.
Are there situations or conditions you believe Ayurveda may not work, or that other modalities may provide greater impact?
- Diseases that need surgical intervention.
- Hormonal replacement therapy for disorders like type 1 diabetes, Hypothyroidism, etc.
- Advanced infections needing antibiotics.
- Parenteral medication is for patients who are not fit to consume medicines orally.
Do not be hasty in changing your diet and lifestyle. Ayurveda strongly recommends leaving your old bad habits slowly and introducing new one’s patient. Sudden changes even when done for the best are sure to trigger disorders in the system. So if you were sleeping past midnight for many years, and now hope to align your sleep-wake cycles to your circadian rhythm, do this gradually, shift the sleep time by 15- 30 minutes daily.
Similarly, if you want to quit smoking, taper it off, gradually. And slowly introduce replacements. Naturally, the body will crave nicotine. Replace it with hot spices and herbs that give the body the energy boost it craves.
When choosing an Ayurvedic doctor, what are some of the questions you recommend someone ask? Are there other things you recommend people research to ensure a good fit with their Ayurvedic doctor?
Ayurveda treats the individual, not the disease. On many occasions when two people are diagnosed with the same problem they are not given the exact same prescription. This should be borne in mind when approaching an Ayurvedic doctor. The doctor needs to examine you to determine your Prakriti, then assess the deviation from your Prakriti to your current diseased state (Vikruti), and then prescribe internal medicine or panchakarma, yoga, etc. to bring back your natural state of harmony.
What are the top 3-5 Ayurvedic herbs you believe we all need in our lives? Do they have any caveats or contra-indications in some situations?
Cumin: For ensuring your gut is happy, the calcium is absorbed well, and for females, the uterus remains strong and healthy. It's a commonly used spice that is not very extreme, making it perfect to be used daily.
Amla: Ayurveda hails this fruit for its antiaging potential. Aging is not just for skin and hair. So people who think themselves to be above vanity should also be using Amla. Amla helps delay the progression of age-related degenerative changes like arteriosclerosis, dementia, etc. It is excellent for your bones, skin, and colon. Amla is generally very safe to use. It may sometimes cause discomfort as the high vitamin C can lead to loose and frequent bowel movements.
Licorice (Yashtimadhu): Licorice helps fight infection, improves cognition, and aids respiratory and heart health. It is good for the gut and aids healing of stomach ulcers. It is a calming soothing herb, that everyone should have easy access to. Especially on days, when you are tired, in pain, or feeling rundown.
What are the few Ayurvedic spices we must all have in our kitchens?
Dry Ginger: For everything body pains, indigestion, slow metabolism, etc.
Long pepper: To heal respiratory infections, and to build good immunity against them
Cinnamon bark: For ensuring your arteries, heart, and liver are healthy.
Could you share a favorite Ayurvedic recipe? (could be anything – an Ayurvedic breakfast or tea, a cold remedy, something for indigestion, or detoxing)
https://www.drzeel.com/post/children-frequent-cold-and-coughPlease paint the picture of an Ayurvedic journey under your care as a doctor. Please touch on low-touch (remote) and high-touch (basti, etc.) modalities. When do you believe a panchakarma becomes necessary? How do you recommend patients make the best of remote sessions and gain the maximum benefit before coming in for in-person treatments?
A consultation begins with a detailed prakriti parikshan and sara parikshan. The next set of questions ascertains your digestion, sleep patterns, and general physiology. The questions also consider your inclinations and predispositions. Knowing these helps me understand what could have caused the diseased state. Diagnostic reports, Nutritional deficiencies, etc. are also considered. The next step is deciding whether one needs internal detoxification (Panchakarma) before beginning the therapy course. Only if the doshas are greatly deranged, Panchakarma is needed. For less complicated troubles a mild detoxification process is advised before internal medicine.
Diet and Lifestyle guidance based on Ayurvedic wisdom forms the crux of the treatment. These two steps are extremely important to prevent relapse once the internal medicine and Panchakarma therapies are given for their course of time. Specific yoga asanas and pranayam are also advised to help heal the being.
How has Ayurveda enhanced your life personally?
I was diagnosed with PCOD and labeled prediabetic when I was young. Childhood obesity, terrible cystic acne, and androgenic hair loss didn’t help my self-esteem much. But luckily I was already in an Ayurvedic college by then. Ayurveda put everything in perspective. Not only did I lose 66 pounds, but my skin transformed, the mane shone full and lush, also my cycles regularized. It was magic. I cannot describe how ecstatic I was at 22. The trust in Ayurveda has only deepened over the years. I do understand its occasional shortcomings and resort to an integrated approach wherever Ayurveda frays.
I still feel blessed to know what my body needs and provide for it, to nourish, strengthen, and simply love my life.