Ayurvedacharya Dr Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, the heart is one of the three main marmas (vital organs). There are many types of srotas (channels) responsible for the circulation of various materials like dhatus (tissues), energy, wastes and prana (life air).
Prana vaha srotas, which are responsible for the flow of prana in the body, are the main srotas. The heart is the root of prana vaha srotas. All the main blood vessels originate from the heart. The heart is also the seat of the consciousness or soul. It is also related to ojas (vital fluid), which sustains the consciousness or soul and keeps the person alive. Modern science too emphasizes the importance of the heart. The heart is the basis of life and we should take proper care of it. The heart is the seat of emotions like love. So, to establish love, harmony and peace, it is important that one has a healthy heart.
Taking care of your heart
- According to Ayurveda, ama is the main cause for heart diseases. Ama is the toxic material that is produced by undigested food. Therefore, one must make sure that one eats only the amount and type of foods one can digest properly.
- Avoid over-eating and eating frequently. Eat a light breakfast and dinner. Lunch should be the main meal. Milk products, fried foods, cold foods and acidic foods should be taken in small quantities. White flour products, and foods that contain chemical preservatives and additives should be avoided. Animal products, especially red meat, are not good as they take a long time to be digested, and create a lot of toxins in the stomach.
- Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables (steamed or cooked), wholemeal bread or chapatti, salad, sprouts, vegetable soup, buttermilk, cottage cheese (paneer), a little quantity of fresh milk and ghee (clarified butter) make up an ideal list of food items to choose from. Anything sweet should be taken in moderation. Honey and jaggery are healthier than purified sugar.
- Amla (Indian gooseberry) is very beneficial for the heart. It can be taken fresh, preserved or in powder form.
- A very common cause of heart diseases is mental stress. Regular practice of yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises) reduces stress levels. Also, meditation has been scientifically proven to prevent as well as cure heart diseases.
- A gentle head massage with or without oil several times a week is very beneficial. A full-body self-massage with oil once a week is also good.
- Too much tea, coffee, alcohol and smoking is not good for the heart and should be given up. They weaken the liver and digestive power, and so form ama.
- Drinking water kept overnight in a copper pot strengthens the heart.
- A herb that has been scientifically proven to prevent and cure heart diseases is Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna). It can be taken in powder form or the bark of the tree can be boiled to make a tea.
- Rudraksha, which is a fruit from a tree found mainly in the Himalayas, also has a beneficial effect on the heart. These seeds can be strung together and worn in the form of a necklace, or the seeds may be soaked in water overnight and the water should be taken early in morning.
- Obesity is a very common reason for heart disorders. If you have put on some extra pounds, you must reduce it by physical exercise and diet control.