Obesity has become a leading cause of death worldwide. This health threat is increasing in adults and children. WHO views it as one of the most severe public health problems of the 21st century.
Nowadays, obesity is often stigmatized, though it was widely seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity in olden times. In 2013, the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease.
Obesity can be caused due to several factors among which inactive lifestyle & overeating is the chief culprit. People struggling with obesity are turning to various therapies, medications, home remedies, etc. which gives minimal or no results added with adverse effects.
Ayurveda has a lot to offer in the treatment of obesity. It focuses on reverting our improper lifestyle & bad habits to the natural inclinations of the body.
Just using drugs is not the only treatment process of Ayurveda. It believes in overall expulsion of excessive fat and Kapha dosha out of body along with normalizing digestive fire.
But what are the Ayurvedic methods to manage obesity? Let us understand them step by step.
Ayurvedic palliative treatment
There are methods which could be used when the condition of obesity could be controlled with some drugs and other simple measures.
This is the first and primary step of Ayurvedic treatment of obesity. These drugs expel the deposited undigested waste material and correct the abnormal digestive fire so that increased appetite could be normalized.
Some of the commonly used herbs are
- Triphala powder
- Shirishadi powder
- Cavyadi powder
- Trikatu powder
- Tryusanadya lauha
- Vadavagni rasa
Unlike modern sciences, Ayurveda prescribes not to diet or fast. Fasting here means abstinence from the heavy diet, cereals, and eatables with high calories in large quantity. However, for an over-obese person, control of hunger and thirst is considered as crucial.
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In obesity, Ayurvedic recommends a diet which is heavy to digest but is not nourishing i.e., low fat & low-calorie foods. Include high protein foods to stay longer without food. It is recommended to include the following food items in the daily diet,
- Old rice, wheat, barley, nivara (wild rice), small millets like syamaka (Indian barnyard millet), kodo millet, foxtail millet
- Pulses like Horse gram, green gram, red lentil, pigeon pea
- Roasted paddy
- Roasted brinjal, snake gourd, bitter gourd, drumstick, cabbage
- Steamed or boiled vegetables with low rock salt
- Spices like dry ginger, long pepper, black pepper, asafoetida
- Triphala, Indian gooseberry
- Warm water
Along with diet and medication, exercise is equally important to shed extra fat. Combination of physical exercise and yoga is the best way to treat the body and mind both.
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Begin slowly with moderate aerobic exercise such as gardening, walking, swimming, dancing, etc. Regular daily exercise will help in reducing fat faster than exercising once in a while.
At least 20-40 rounds of following exercises should be done:
- Spiral twist & hip twist
- Hip rotation
- Knee stretch & hip stretch
- Forward & backward bending
- Tiger stretch, backstretch with both legs, backstretch with alternate legs, spinal stretch with legs apart
- Side leg raising, alternate leg raising
Perform at least 10-12 rounds of Yoga postures like Surya namaskara, Parivrtta trikonasana, Dhanurasana, Shalabhasana, Bhujangasana, Paschimottanasana, Halasana, Naukasana.
Pranayama like Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, Surya bhedana, Nadi shodhana are very helpful in obesity.
Meditation for 15-20 minutes improves breathing, balances digestive fire, and relaxes mind and body after a strenuous exercise.
Dry medicated powder massage
The body is massaged with dry powders made of drugs tending to reduce the body fat. It renders your body dry and this dry massage is called as Udvartana in Ayurveda. It has been directed just after exercise.
Ayurvedic Purificatory treatment (Panchakarma)
Panchakarma is an essential procedure to expel out the deposited fat, vitiated doshas, and undigested materials. Panchakarma i.e., purificatory measures are administered only after assessing the strength of the patient.
Purgation, emesis, and enema with drugs that are sharp, ununctuous, and hot in nature are the preferred methods for purification. Panchakarma is to be done after taking into account the current season, body constitution, physical state, and strength.
What are Anti-obesity herbs?
Ayurvedic herbs which are dry and reduce fat are taken orally or prepared as a salve for applying on body parts to relieve the irritation caused due to effects of obesity. For oral intake, these herbs should be made either in the form of juice or powder in proper dosage as per one’s Prakriti.
You can take heart-leaved moonseed, nutgrass, Indian beriberi, Embelia, laghu pancamula, headache tree, beutyberry, dry ginger, yava kshara (alkali preparation of barley), powder of black iron with honey and barley, Indian gooseberry.
How much should you sleep?
The Ayurvedic text mentions daytime sleep as one of the leading causes of obesity. It aggravates kapha dosha as well as produces fatty tissues in the body. Hence, daytime sleep is not to be practiced by an obese person in all seasons.
If you are on the brink to become overweight, then start cutting short your sleeping hours and gradually increase the hours of staying awake at night. Vigil during night brings roughness in the body and hence, helps to reduce fat.
What are the dos and don’ts?
- Take low fat & low-calorie foods, fiber-rich, steam or boil vegetables rather than fried ones
- Eat small meals five to six times a day to avoid any craving
- Use warm water for drinking
- Include Triphala, lemon, and honey more & more in diet and drinks
- Avoid high carbohydrates like potato, rice, etc.
- Avoid sugar or sweet products, fats, fried foods, dairy products, excess salt, spicy foods
- Avoid sitting, sleeping for a longer time and have an active lifestyle
How to prevent obesity?
If your BMI (Body Mass Index) is anywhere close to 25 to 30, then it’s time to get alert. Start having a diet with low carbohydrate & fats, moderate protein, and high fiber. Modify your lifestyle and include healthy Ayurvedic diet & more physical activities.
Avoid sleeping for longer hours and sedentary habits. Make a regular habit of brisk morning walk for 30 minutes. Do the moderate exercise as per your capacity.
Unhealthy diet and lifestyle have unfortunately become an integral part of our life. These two result in building up our fats in the body resulting in unwanted weight gain & obesity.
You must learn how to escape from this deadly disease which brings you diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, and many others.
Take a healthy Ayurvedic diet, adopt an active lifestyle, practice yoga & meditation, and fight obesity.