We have demanding lives. Between work, family and friends, how much time do you really take in a day to prioritise your own mental and physical health? It’s been said before, but we’ll say it again, the silver lining of a global pause, is to turn our attention inwards: to the body and mind. We’ve curated a list of Ayurvedic remedies and ancient adages our grandmothers and mothers have passed on to us in the hope that it helps you treat your body right. It’s never too late (or early) to start.
The Uncertain 20’s
The basic principles of Ayurveda focus heavily on maintaining balance through diet. An intentional diet preserves your gut health and a healthy gut leads to a healthy body and mind. With the glaring uncertainty and lifestyle changes that follow most of us in our twenties, comes chronic stress. More and more young women are being diagnosed with disorders like PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, are afflicted with irregular periods and this can lead to acne, depression and a whole host of other problems. We already know that exercise, meditation and breathing exercises can help calm the body and mind, this goes for everyone, regardless of age.
If you’re a young woman who experiences menstrual cramps or irregular and painful periods, try incorporating mangosteen or kokum into your diet. The white, mildly sweet seeds when eaten fresh, during your period miraculously ease period cramps. My mother would dry the shell, pulverize it into a powder and give it to me to eat. For a more pleasant experience, you could make a tea out of the skin and sip it with some honey or alternatively make a traditional Konkan kokum curry. It pairs well with fresh fish and rice.
The Powerhouse 30’s
We don’t want to generalize, but as our bodies age, the effects of an erratic lifestyle in our 20’s begin to show up on the body by the time we enter our 30’s. The women in your life have probably told you, that if you want to start a family, the 30’s are the time to do it. So self-care in the form of regular exercise, a balanced diet and additional care is warranted to heal our accumulated scars. To improve our reproductive health, Ayurvedic experts recommend incorporating high potassium foods like dates, almonds, walnuts and dairy for calcium. Amrita Kaur, an Ayurvedic chef and health practitioner, recommends a tea infusion of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds to reduce inflammation in the body, especially in the treatment of acne or general indigestion. This helps reduce acne, inflammation in the body and cools down an overworked gut.
The Feisty 40’s
As an all-purpose immunity booster, aamla or gooseberry which contains high concentrations of Vitamin C is great to take as a supplement, every morning with honey. Whether you want to juice it, powder it or eat it dry, it’ll help the skin and boost immunity. Years of hair straightening, colouring and treatment can damage the hair. If you have trouble with hairfall, experts recommend methi or fenugreek seeds which promote hair regeneration. Soak the seeds overnight in water, grind to a paste and massage into the scalp. Leave the paste on for half an hour and rinse. You could also try Neem and lemon juice if you have a flaky, dry scalp. Try this treatment twice or thrice a week. We also recommend head massages. Remember how when you were a kid, your mother would massage and oil your hair? Go back to that. A good massage activates blood circulation in your scalp, promoting hair growth. Castor and coconut oil work well for Indian hair.
The Evergreen 50’s
If you experience body or joint pains, in addition to exercise, try incorporating carom seeds or ajwain into your diet. You could cook with the spice, or boil it into water and drink. You may have also seen your grandmothers heating the seed, wrapping it in a cloth and doing a “hot compress” onto their joints with ajwain. The anti-inflammatory properties in caraway seeds are beneficial to the body.
As a general note, Ayurvedic treatment requires an understanding of your body composition and energy. The remedies mentioned above can work for anyone regardless of age, if it pertains to your problem. What is important, is to build immunity, maintain a balance, and allow for the energy in your body to flow. Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and the intake of foods rich in antioxidants, with anti-inflammatory properties help purify your blood, let oxygen in and keep you healthy. Eat your greens, drink your turmeric milk and eat fresh.