After a period of long winter nights, darkness and short days, the Spring season is finally the breath of fresh air. It’s the time when days are becoming longer and starts to feel warmer. Spring is when life’s alive in everything. Ayurveda being the oldest Science of Life and medicine, has the primary aim to maintain the healthy state of healthy people and secondarily it focuses on treating the ailments.
(Reference- Charaka Samhita Sutra sthana 30/26)
In various Ayurvedic texts, the Acharyas had given both daily and seasonal regimens for both healthy as well as ill persons for their overall wellness. Acharyas had divided the year in six ritu namely Vasanta, Grisham, Varsa, Sharat, Hemanta, Shishira. These six ritus signify the various seasons in a year. Acharyas had given the features of the ritu along with the seasonal regimen (do’s and don’ts) that must be followed.
In this article we are going to discuss the seasonal regimen for Vasant ritu (Spring season) as described by Ancient Ayurvedic texts, that is very much beneficial in modifying the lifestyle of people in European countries.
In European countries
The trend of fast foods such as Pizzas and burgers along with alcoholic beverages is common. The availability of packed vegetables and fruits and other packed items are the reasons for reduced intake of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits. Moreover, the sea foods and red meat are used frequently in their diets, which may be available in preserved or frozen form. The dairy items such as milk, curd, yogurt are also available in the packed form that also contains preservatives and other chemicals.
According to Ayurveda
Dosha Involved and Their Effect on Body
There is the predominance of kapha dosha in the Vasant ritu. Acharya had also explained the concept behind this predominance of kapha dosha in this season as
(Reference- Charaka Samhita Sutra sthana 6/22)
The kapha dosha which was accumulated in the previous season i.e. hemant ritu is got liquified by the effect of hot sun rays in the vasant ritu. This aggravated and liquified kapha dosha will spread throughout the body through the microchannels of conduction within the body (strotas) and affect the digestive fire (kayagni) by diminishing it and producing fever, flu etc. like different diseases.
As mentioned by Acharya Vagbhata, the weakened digestive fire is the sole reason for almost all the diseases ranging from common flu to life threatening auto-immune diseases.
Here, Kapha dosha is a broad term used to define the one of the tri-energy that governs the functioning of the body when present in the normal state, this energy is characterised by its properties like heaviness, greasy/balsamic, cool, slippery, etc. which are being aggravated by dietary items having similar properties or foods rich in sweet, sour and salty tastes or some lifestyles that promotes laziness and lack of physical activity.
Thus, the dietary and lifestyle must consist of the foods and procedures that will holistically function to diminish or eliminate the aggravated kapha dosha in the body, so that it can’t manifest the various diseases. Also, the dietary and some lifestyle habits that enhance the kapha dosha must be eradicated or completely avoided.
Things to Include In Diet
1. Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables
The seasonal fruits and vegetables are the rich source of vitamins, nutrients, proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates along with other essential micro and macronutrients. Such a plant based diet is rich in chlorophyll pigment which has a similar structure to that of our hemoglobin in blood. Thus, it not only helps in meeting the essential nutrients but also aids in blood purification. The fruit contains the magic molecule Nitric oxide (NO) which is a species of a gaseous reactive oxygen that has evolved as a signaling hormone that is useful in improving the overall functioning of humans. These food articles are a rich source of fibres and are easily digestible. The main beneficial seasonal vegetables available in European countries are- Belgian Endive (Cichorium intybus) which is mentioned in Ayurveda as Kasni has numerous functions on health and has hepatoprotective actions. This vegetable can be used as a salad or as a side dish.
2. White asparagus
White asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) which is also an Ayurvedic herb known as Shatavari and it is used for blood detoxification, helps in soothing the inflammation, reduces the puffiness of skin etc. This variety of vegetable can be used in the soup form or can be used as raw as salad with mint sauce.
Leek (Allium porrum) is another commonly available vegetable during the Spring season, which can be used as a salad and can be included in any of the vegetable soup to make the warm late spring afternoon more delicious, nutritious and healthy.
Butter lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is the perfect tender salad green. It helps in improving sleep, improving vision, enhances bone strength and improves hydration. Spring lettuce can be braised with other green Spring vegetables in a light sauce for the delicious and nutritious meal.
Other than these beetroots, red cabbage, cucumbers, tomato, onions, iceberg, oak leaves and batavia like veggies can be included in the daily diet.
4. Seasonal fruits
Seasonal fruits such as apples, sweet cherries, strawberries, cranberries etc. must be included in the diets in the raw form or in the form of freshly prepared juice.
Unseasoned, rotten, preserved vegetables and fruits, canned fruit juices, vegetables cooked in unhealthy oils (refined).
Such as red meat (beef), or other sea foods must be avoided. As these foods are rich in glycemic and fat index and increase the kapha dosha. So, it is also advised in the texts to avoid such things.
What to take
- One can take the flesh of the animals of the dry region, that too in well cooked form preferably roasted.
- Also the dietary indications for Spring season in the Ancient Ayurvedic texts signifies the same point, i.e.
(Reference- Ashtang Hriday Sutra sthana 3/20)
There is predominance of kapha dosha in the body so one should consume the easily digestible and non-oily/dry foods. Specifically, one should consume food made of old barley, wheat, honey and flesh of the animals of non-tropical (dry) regions, that too cooked in the arrow.
Conventionally used alcoholic beverages must be avoided as they enhance the vitiation of tridosha (including kapha dosha) and lead to the formation of various diseased conditions.
What to use
Various fermented products made from the beneficial herbs that are available in Ayurvedic texts such as aasvas, arishtas, etc. can be used and drinking those fermented drinks along with some other drinks are indicated in the Ayurvedic texts ages ago as
- The freshly extracted juice of ripe mango which has heavy, sour, unctuous and sweet qualities must be consumed.
- Further the alcoholic fermentations like asava, arishta, sidhu, madhava, mardvika.
- Water medicated with Zingiber officinale (shringvarambu)
- Pterocarpus marsupium medicated water (sarambu),
- Honey mixed water (madhvambu),
- Decoction made from Cyperus scariosus (jaladambu).
These drinks not only help the body in hydrating but also helps in pacifying the aggravated kapha dosha and making the body’s internal environment suitable according to the spring season. These drinks also help in improving digestion.
The dairy items must be avoided or less frequently used.
The curd/yogurt is not used in excess during the Spring season. As it is heavy, sour and it is the substance that produces more moisture in the tissue and the main source of aggravating/vitiating kapha dosha. Moreover, the use of yogurt or curd in cooked form or during night time is strictly prohibited.
What to use
- One could use freshly prepared butter milk, that too one glass daily to maintain adequate digestion
- Vegan curd can be made with peanuts and rice must be used.
Things That Must Be Avoided In Diet
- Packed food, frozen, food stored in refrigerators (stale).
- All kinds of fish and other sea foods.
- Use of pulses that have a heavy nature such as kidney beans or black gram etc.
- Non-vegetarian items and sea foods (except which are indicated).
Apart from these dietary items there are a few dietary and lifestyle mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts that must be avoided during the Spring season.
(Reference- Charaka Samhita Sutra sthana 6/23)
Heavy meals, cold food, oily/slimy/unctuous food, and dietary items having excessive sour or sweet taste are contraindicated to take during the Spring season as these all diets lead to the aggravation of kapaha.
Other Recommended Lifestyle Modifications
Acharya also had given a detailed idea of ideal regimen to be followed during the afternoon as
- During the afternoon, one should hear stories, songs and play chess etc.
- They must sit in the direction where the wind is cold, preferably in the southern direction and the place must be surrounded with water.
- This place must be shady to avoid direct exposure of the sunlight during the noon.
- In such a place, one should touch the beads, hear the chirping and signings of the birds, smell the different types of fragrant trees to take out the heat of the body.
- With a pleasant mind one should take the alcoholic fermented preparations as mentioned above with their friends.
- Sleeping during the day hours is also strictly prohibited during the spring season.
Balancing the Aggravated Dosha
Spring, the season of aggravated kapha and its related disorders. This aggravated kapha should be expelled out of the system to maintain the adequate equilibrium of the dosha. Acharya had indicated this season as the perfect time for the sanshodhan (Ayurveda based Panchkarma’s detoxification procedures) for the elimination of aggravated kapha vaman etc. Panchakarma procedures must be performed during this season.
In spring season, the person should pacify the aggravated kapha dosha by doing following procedures
- Teekshan vamana (drastic therapeutic emesis) as Vamana karma is considered as the best detoxification procedure for the expulsion of aggravated kapha. In this procedure the herbal medications of formulations having emetic properties are given to the patients or the person desiring for vaman shodhan, and then the aggravated kapha dosha along with other endotoxins and impurities is expelled out of the body.
- Teekshan Nasya– A panchakarma procedure used to expel out the kapha dosha by the administration of the medicated oils through the nasal route.
- By doing proper exercise or yogasana.
- Dry massage (udvartana), hard massage before taking a bath.
- Apply the lepa (paste made from the powders) of Karpura (Cinnamomum camphora), Chandana (Santalum album), Agru (Aquilaria agallocha), and Kumkuma (Crocus sativus) etc.