Fasting is an effective
way to kindle the digestive fire and burn away accumulated
toxins from the body and mind. It also eliminates
gas, makes the body light, improves mental clarity,
and preserves overall health. Ayurveda favors regular,
short-term fasting over infrequent, long-term fasting.
This could entail fasting on the same day each week
or setting a few days aside each month to fast, depending
on your constitution and cleansing requirements. According
to Ayurveda, abstaining from food or water for extended
periods of time depletes bodily tissues, leading to
The primary types of fasting in Ayurveda,
-Consuming light foods only (such as Kitchari and
-Consuming fruits, vegetables, or juices only.
-Abstaining from solid foods while drinking water
or herbal teas.
-Abstaining from both food and water.
In determining the appropriate type and length of
a fast, it’s important to take into account
your constitution, digestive strength, level of ama,
and overall vitality. It’s never advised to
deplete your energy during a fast. If you’re
new to fasting or have a chronic illness, we recommend
consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner for specifically
The signs of effective fasting, include:
-Lightness in the body, clarity in the mind, and
-Regular bowel movements with no gas or bloating.
-A clean tongue and fresh breath.
It’s best to choose a fasting period in which
you’ll be able to follow a peaceful, non-stressful
routine. We recommend following the daily and nightly
routine recommendations in Chapter 4 of Eat-Taste-Heal.
It’s also important always to break your fasts
properly. The most important rule to remember is to
begin eating again gradually, slowly working your
way up to solid foods.
(Note: Eat-Taste-Heal includes fasting recommendations
for each constitutional type.)
Simple Detoxifying Tea
Sipping warm teas throughout the day is also a highly
effective way to flush out accumulated toxins from
the body. Simply place the ingredients in a medium
saucepan with 4 cups filtered water, bring the water
to a boil for 5 minutes, and then steep for 2 to 5
minutes. Always add the lemon while the tea is steeping.
Strain into a tea pot or thermos.
This is an excellent tea for individuals with a Kaphic
constitution who are trying to lose weight.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon or licorice stick
10 fresh basil leaves
Squeeze lemon juice
Panchakarma: Rejuvenating Detoxification
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word meaning “five
actions or treatments.” As the primary method
of detoxification in Ayurveda, Panchakarma rids the
body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition.
It also expels excess doshas from the body. Therapies
are individualized based upon constitutional types,
doshic imbalances, age, digestive strength, immune
status, season, and a host of other factors. Panchakarma
promotes deep purification within the tissues, using
safe, gentle methods.
Preparatory treatments to Panchakarma include light
fasting, steam therapy, herbalized oil massage, and
the intake of herbal decoctions or oils. These procedures
help loosen accumulated toxins (ama), which then enter
the major channels of the body for elimination. The
five primary treatments of elimination include: herb-induced
emesis or vomiting (vamana), herb-induced
purgation (virechana), herbal decoction enema
(asthapana basti), medicated oil enema (anuvasana
basti), and the nasal administration of medication
(nasya). Depending on an individual’s
needs, all five or only select treatments are used.
There are also several adjunct treatments, such as
the luxurious shirodhara, in which a continuous
stream of warm oil is gently poured between the eyebrows
(on the “third eye”) of the patient.
Like any medical procedure, Panchakarma begins with
an initial consultation by a qualified health professional,
who can determine an individual’s prakruti
(birth constitution), the nature of the health problem,
and the appropriate therapies. Ayurveda also recommends
Panchakarma for healthy individuals as a preventative
measure, particularly at the junction points between
the seasons. For more information, please visit the
Center for Holistic Medicine’s web site.