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Personalize Your Ayurvedic Journey (Part 8)

The Introduction to Ayurveda
Have you ever wondered what Ayurveda means? Its roots lie in the Sanskrit language, where 'Ayu' means the lifespan and 'Veda' means wisdom or philosophy. It's a holistic system of healing that includes natural supplements, therapies, medical oils, massages, Yoga, special diets to achieve wellbeing. Ayurveda is the science of life incorporated in 8 components or branches of study.

How can Ayurveda help you?
Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of an established health system that advanced during the 'Vedic Period' in history. The science is five millennia old, with existential evidence of it dating to the Indus Valley civilization. Ayurvedic traditions from the Himalayas have existed from prehistoric times. The medicine traditionally revolves around the imbalance of the three doshas or bio-energies and unraveling wellbeing. Ayurveda emphasizes on prevention of imbalances and protection of health.
Scholars like Caraka and Sushruta, one of the earliest practitioners, organized this knowledge into textbooks Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, respectively. From the time of its origin, five thousand years ago, Ayurveda has stood the test of time and has proven to be one of the safest systems of health and longevity. Currently, Ayurveda is seen as a sister science of Yoga with a rich source of health information for individualized health care.

Ayurveda is a life of excitement and peace; some are driven by wanting to achieve everything in a single lifetime, whereas others enjoy the offerings as they tread through life.

Introduction to the orators
Vaidya Jayagopal Parla is the Founder and Director of Athreya Ayurvedic Integrative Health Center and the Co-Founder and Vice President of Athreya Herbs. He is an internationally known speaker, educator, and Ayurvedic and Yogic practitioner.
Vaidya Jay completed his bachelor's from Bangalore University, India, and master's from Rajiv Gandhi University, India, and Southern California University of Health Sciences. With years of extensive clinical, teaching, and research experience, he worked as a Professor at American universities of Alternate and Complementary medicine and as a visiting faculty at the Japanese School of Ayurveda.

R. A Leslie - R. A. is the founder at Seeuatnoon.com. She's an International life coach who has authored multiple books, a public speaker, and ultimately a mother of three. Fascinated about what makes people truly happy and curious to explore more, she spent the last thirty years transforming distressed lives and restricting beliefs to lives filled with purpose.

What role do spices play in the Ayurvedic lifestyle? In this podcast, our experts will discuss the contribution of spices and their benefits in an Ayurvedic journey.

January 06, 2023 | 37 minutes 23 seconds
By Vaidya. Jay Parla

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Introduction to the Podcast
At Athreya, it is our priority to bring Ayurveda to global awareness. Today Vaidya Jay is in conversation with R. A Leslie about the role of enthusiasm in the Ayurvedic journey.

Excerpt from the podcast
“The use of spices in Ayurveda alters one's attitude, thoughts, and emotions. Spices are magical herbs that the ancient Ayurvedic sages of the Himalayas began including in their daily diet. They are a dose of something beneficial to the human mind, body, and spiritual existence.”

Namaste and welcome to all the podcast listeners. We at Athreya Herbs want to support you in your Ayurvedic journey. We have been doing a unique series of podcasts to encourage positive steps towards their Ayurvedic journey. We have a special guest on this podcast, R. A, for those who are just joining us. She has been gracious to walk us through her Ayurvedic journey, inspire others to take this journey, and achieve a long healthy life. R. A is a transformational intuitive life coach, author, and speaker based in New York and is the founder of Seeuatnoon, a career life coaching collective that offers individual and group coaching retreats. Her primary approach is to use dialogue and journaling techniques to uncover childhood pain and societal conditioning. She helps people to change their habits, shift their perspective and release suffocated creativity. Thank you, R. A for joining us.

R. A - Namaste

Vaidya - Namaste. I am Vaidya Jay, a longtime practitioner of Ayurveda, a speaker, and professor of Ayurveda at the Southern California University of Health Sciences. This journey is an excellent resource for somebody who just has started their Ayurvedic journey. The use of spices in Ayurveda alters one's attitude, thoughts, and emotions. Spices are magical herbs that the ancient Ayurvedic sages of the Himalayas began including in their daily diet. They are a dose of something beneficial to the human mind, body, and spiritual existence. R. A, did you gravitate towards any spice or spices when you started the Ayurvedic journey?

R. A - This is an excellent topic because spices and herbs always confuse me. I had a difficult time knowing which ones to mix with others. The spice I love is Turmeric; it is beautiful. I have to remember what to use it with because I tend to mix everything. I'm glad that we're going to be talking about this. The herb that I love is Ashwagandha. I would love to hear what you say about the spices, which ones we can combine with what and why.

Vaidya - You brought up the two exciting things in there. In an Ayurvedic diet plan, when do we include herbs, what are the spices meant to do, and what do we say about spices? There is a clear-cut definition between a spice and a herb. It's all about flavor and palatability. Spice is something that can be added to the diet and has a direct impact on the gut. No spices are needed to be used every day. Rarely do we find spices to be used daily. The Ashwagandha that you mentioned cannot be sprinkled on food or cooked with herbs. The palatability and flavor are the difference between spice and herb. The second important thing is that anything called a herb is highly potent like Turmeric; one doesn't need a lot of Turmeric to get its action. As Americans, we think the more, the merrier, but it's not so in Ayurveda. The way we approach the spices is mainly as the facilitators for improving digestion and absorption. The Ayurvedic masters knew the importance of the gut and how the gut is compromised or goes into a less functional mode when the food is not proper. They smartly combined these spices to enhance the functionality and absorption of the gut, control the gut bacteria, and keep the gut flora healthy. In India, we eat street food like no tomorrow; I grew up eating many street foods like chaat or quick snacks.
Dust is everywhere, and people serve with their bare hands and don't use gloves. So I just revamped everything and thought, how come nobody gets sick with all that exposure and consumption. Then I realized that they use a large quantity of black pepper, Turmeric, cumin, chilly powder, and Coriander. If you look at the scientific studies of these powders, they're all either anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, or antifungal. There are several studies to show that. They add the spices to have a better digestive system and ensure that the food has no negative impact on the gut. Sometimes people get sick if they eat contaminated food, but ideally, these spices guard against digestive impairment. So the spices are not just for flavor, but they are for improving gut function.

R. A - I love that you're saying this because we all know that most of what's going on in social media Concerning everything today is gut-related. There are all kinds of products out there that people sometimes can look at and not know where this comes from; how do we know that it's good, how do we know it's going to work or if it's just slick marketing. What are the spices that the listeners can use daily to enhance the gut flora? Please do not overdo it, and know how to look for spices that are of high quality.

Vaidya - That's true because spices are in high demand, and sometimes we get low-quality or fertilized spices. I highly recommend organic spices. We will start with your favorite, Turmeric. Nowadays, you get Turmeric even from China, so you need to look at sources where it's coming from. For example, at Athreya herbs, we choose the region where the Turmeric grows and where nature concentrates the most active principles and then use this spice as a whole, not as an extract. People will sometimes take curcumin extracted from Turmeric and assume they're taking Turmeric. Ayurveda says one can separate it, but only for a short duration, and for a long term, one needs to consume the entire herb. That's when the herb will be more effective or comprehensive in helping our body, mind, and spirit. We think it only has health benefits concerning the body, but for Ayurveda, it has not only body effects but also mental and spiritual effects. It is considered to be the favorite color of Mother Divine. The divine nature comes through Turmeric. People get married using turmeric paste on their bodies, and in one culture, the wedding necklace is a piece of dried turmeric routine in the southern Indian Tamil Nadu state. The history of Turmeric is so intricate, with the womenfolk and the Mother Divine protecting them. Turmeric is used to cure dementia and Alzheimer's; its significant effects are in many scientific institutions.

R. A - Turmeric can be used with Saffron because they would end up being the same colors, right?

Vaidya - I get excited when you bring up these topics. The term Kurkuma comes from the original name of Saffron which is called Kumkuma. Turmeric was used as a substitute for coloring when the Kumkuma was not available. So Turmeric gets its name as a substitute for Saffron.

R. A - Can they go together?

Vaidya - They are such great combinations together because Saffron is another powerful spice. It is expensive, but one doesn't need a lot; one only needs 8 to 10 threads of Saffron for the entire day, not to overdose yourself. Saffron is used to opening up the mind channels. In Zoroastrian culture, mostly Iranian people use Saffron daily, and their skin is fantastic. The effect of Saffron on the skin in improving peripheral circulation is excellent. In Ayurveda, there is an oil entirely made by infusing Saffron into a sesame oil base, and it is considered one of the most beneficial facial oil in Ayurveda. It's called kumkumadi Thailam.

R. A - I love that oil; it has a beautiful scent.

Vaidya - The scent is coming from Saffron.

R. A - What you keep saying is also essential for our listeners; they don't need a lot of these spices and herbs. I can't say that enough because we live in a culture, and I'm also guilty of thinking is a quarter teaspoon enough or do I need half a teaspoon. It's important to know that because we have to retrain our thinking into what we are eating, where is it coming from, do we need it. The most important aspect of my Ayurvedic journey is to question and trust my intuition as I go, then I add these different spices, herbs, products, or routines to my week.

Vaidya - Choosing the right spice and the quantity is also essential. You were saying whether to use half a teaspoon or a quarter teaspoon. It's a necessary thing. On average, for an adult, a teaspoon of Turmeric per day is the highest, and this quantity cannot be generalized because each spice and its potency are different. How do you decide?

R. A - I can tell if I've used too much Turmeric in a dish because it overpowers everything else. That's how I gauge it.

Vaidya - If it is going with the vegetables or the rice because the vegetables absorb the active, decisive actions of the spices, you can use it in large quantities. You can go up to half a teaspoon while making a dish. Turmeric is also called curry spice because it is used to create a vegetable stew. One of the clues we want to give our listeners; if you are using it for a vegetable or something, the quantity can be higher up to half a teaspoon. If you're making turmeric milk, you need a lesser amount because it's going as a single spice into the milk. It's for any spice; if you're using the spice by itself, it is highly potent, and if you cook it with vegetables, etc., it becomes milder. For example, Coriander is a mild spice, and one can use a good amount of it up to a tablespoon, and nothing will go wrong. Whereas, if one adds a tablespoon of clove to any dish, they cannot keep it in the mouth. I want our listeners to use these spices in their cooking, like a garnish or a sprinkle of powder. I recommend some of my clients make a spice mix that they can sprinkle after cooking anything.

R. A - We can encourage people by telling them which spices they can combine to make their own so they can use it that way.

Vaidya - The third thing that one can do early is to drink it as tea. There is a well-known spice tea called CCCFT, which I love. It is an acronym that stands for Coriander, Cumin, Cardamom, Fennel, and Turmeric. Add a teaspoon or so in hot water and drink after finishing the meal. All of these spices ensure that the food is adequately digested, assimilated, and eliminated. In addition, it helps with the movement and clearing of the bowl. I love to talk about each of these spices briefly and then make sure that our listeners can incorporate one or two of them in their day-to-day life or cooking. Do you think that's important?

R. A - I think that this is all important. I recently learned that the herbs and especially spices need to be kept more in a dark, cool place. They should not have the light. So, over the last few months, I've incorporated having them available. So when I learn or need something, it's ready to combine and prepare.

Vaidya - You said the right thing about storage, and also freshness of these spices is vital because if the spices like black pepper are powdered and kept for too long, then it loses its potency and becomes harmful to us. Fresher is better because, at Athreya herbs, we import small batches and don't keep spices for more than a year if it is powdered. If not, it needs to be sent for testing to see if it still has potency and is safe to consume. The spice storage is essential because if they are exposed to the sun and not air sealed, then any spice evaporates all its active principles. In spices, there are crucial oils called volatile oils that escape daily. There are also a lot of active components like alkaloids, coumarins, tannins, and fixed oils. Once you powder, you expose all of them to the atmosphere and get oxidized and break down. So we need to keep our spices in the dark space. If you're not using them, freeze them and put them in a Ziploc bag. People at some point throw them out. Nature has put so much time and effort into creating these special spices for us, and then after some time, people don't use them and throw them away. It's such a shame.

R. A - That's a good point because freezing can help it to last longer.

Vaidya - Freezing will help it last at least three years. Make sure that you don't have anything sticking wet inside these bags. When you separate them, make sure that the spoon that you use for separating is completely dry. Introducing a wet thing inside will get everything molded. What are the other spices that you want to know about other than Turmeric?

R. A - I feel like our lives are getting more overwhelmed with the state of the world right now. Some of the clients are spending more time cooking and are overwhelmed with all the information that's out there in every regard. I would like to see what we can share that people can make their own little set of spices that they can have available and what they should incorporate or try to incorporate in their daily consumption. The CCCFT is phenomenal, and they can have that. I have made it and bought the one on Athreya, which I like because it's all ready. I can add it to water. I'd like to know what we can share with our listeners so that they can make little packets. If they go out for the day and are eating at a restaurant, they can't fully prepare their Ayurveda day, but they can have some spices that they can add to their food. According to you, which spices are the most important to incorporate in the daily diet?

Vaidya - I love these questions because it is necessary for practical use of Ayurveda. We may talk about the great benefits of spices, but how do we practically use them? One has to bring two things into their diet when they go out and don't know whether they're eating according to their Ayurvedic needs. The first thing is ginger. In most Asian restaurants, you can ask to add extra ginger. Ginger is one of the best spices that Ayurveda recommends. The classical literature of Ayurveda says that it's a universal remedy across body types. It doesn't matter if one's Vata, Pitta, or Kapha; they can take ginger daily. The specialty of ginger is savory or spicy, but it becomes sweet after breaking down in the gut. It not only increases the appetite or optimizes our appetite and metabolism, but it doesn't burn through the gut because it remains pungent. Daily consumption of it may irritate the gut, but ginger doesn't do that. The way I recommend to all our listeners is to take thin slices of ginger, add lime or lemon juice on it, then sprinkle a little bit of Himalayan salt and bottle in a tiny mason jar or a glass container. When you get to your meal, you open this up and pick two or three of them. I usually take a toothpick, poke it, and then take one, two, or three of them and chew it quickly. Then drink some water before starting the meal. It prepares the entire gut to receive the food, metabolize it, and simulate it. The problem begins when the food is not digested or absorbed. Whenever that happens, the gut bacteria changes and an entire saga of events occurs in the gut, which is not health promotive. If the tale extends from the gut to the brain, then one will feel foggy. These spices open up our minds and work with our emotions. Ginger is such a great spice to open the entire gut and keep it ready.
Then, during the meal, you have to ask them for a prepper cracker. Crack open four or five corns of pepper on one of the dishes. Sprinkle it all over your meal. Black pepper is considered black gold. There was a time in the medieval era, where Black Pepper was more expensive than gold. It has excellent benefits. It can curb abnormal gut bacteria growing in the gut. We almost take black pepper for granted, but our listeners have to incorporate the black pepper into their diet daily. These two spices are part of the appetite flame control. These two spices turn on the gut digestive fire. During the meal, we can add Turmeric. The CCCFT powder can be a sprinkle powder by itself. One can sprinkle it on the dish and then eat it. If you don't have time to make tea, then take it.
There is another essential combination called garam masala. It is a spice mix used for flavoring vegetables that one can get from any store and organic source. We can put it together for you if you want an organic garam masala because there are so many different recipes for garam masala. Garam means warm or hot. When something is hot, you sprinkle this and then eat. It includes Turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. All these spices are mixed in specific amounts to make a unique spice blend, used to sprinkle vegetables and gravy.

R. A - It can be sprinkled on the food, but also as tea?

Vaidya - Mostly, it is used as a sprinkle on the food. If someone intends to drink it as a tea, CCCFT is a better tea than the garam masala.

R. A - The CCCFT tea can be bought prepared; I know you have it on your website. They can take it to a restaurant and have that as a tea or sprinkle it on their food. If they want to make it on their own at home, they can do that also. They can also make garam masala and take it with them. All this is important and manageable.

Vaidya - The garam masala can be used as a sprinkle on anything that one's cooking. For practical purposes, you want to have one of them in your bag. The CCCFT is an excellent way of making sure whatever you're eating at the restaurant is all digested, but garam masala is something you use when cooking. The garam masala can be part of their day-to-day cooking. If not, one can also use individual spices, as needed. It is such an exciting and important topic, and it gives a lot to people for self-empowerment. We will take up this topic again and go through a little more detail in the next podcast. What do you think, R. A?

R. A - I love what this is offering and hope our listeners grasp this. These are things that we can all do on our own without having to buy unnecessary over-marketed and processed stuff because we don't know what we're buying. To recap, before the meal, it's lime, Himalayan salt, and ginger, or lemon, Himalayan salt, and ginger. During the dinner, it's black pepper, Turmeric, and the CCCFT that they can take with them or have at home. The garam masala is what we want to use while we're cooking for ourselves. It is helpful and also not difficult.

Vaidya - In the following podcast, we will talk about what to take after the meals. Thank you so much, R. A, for these practical questions on how we are making this journey carved out for all our listeners to take up one step at a time and then reach their full potential by doing Ayurvedic protocol. Thank you so much, R. A and Namaste.

R. A - Namaste.


According to Ayurveda, Spices have potent healing properties. In addition, they enhance the flavor and aroma of food, provide health benefits and promote growth. So, what spices can one incorporate in their day-to-day life?


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