*All articles written and published by Victor Briere, A.D.

A NEW LOOK AT AUTOIMMUNE ISSUES

Well, its not really a new look.  It is actually a very old perspective, but it feels new to our modern-day understanding of autoimmune issues.  Here is a working definition of a modern-day perspective on autoimmune issues from healthline.com:

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.

Let’s propose another perspective.  What if those cells that the immune system is attacking aren’t as healthy as they may appear?  Then it wouldn’t be so much “auto” as the name suggests.  The immune system may be attempting to get at something inside those cells.   Ayurveda describes something called ama in great detail.  Ama is anything that is stuck in your body, left over from the digestive process, that neither becomes part of the body’s tissues nor gets evacuated like it is supposed to. 

 

Any part of your body can potentially hold this metabolic waste.  This includes within cells themselves.  This ama is considered foreign material to your body’s intelligent immune system and can potentially activate an immune response in the body’s attempt to clear it from the system.  However, if too much ama is present in a particular location(s) of the body then the inflammatory response triggered by the immune system fails to destroy the threat and the bulk of the ama remains.

 

“Auto” Immune issues are typically cyclical in nature.  They “flare up” when the immune system is triggered.  This could be triggered by a virus, bacteria, stress, etc.  Once the immune system is triggered it will often attack areas of the body that contain ama as well, perceiving the metabolic waste inside the cells to be just as problematic as a foreign invader.  Hence the deep connection between stress and autoimmune issues. 

 

This is also why purifying the tissues of ama brings great relief to people suffering from “auto” immune imbalances.  The immune system doesn’t attack the cells because they aren’t containing toxic metabolic waste inside their membranes.  Hearing this may tempt you to run out and detox as fast as possible.  There are two issues with that.  First, it won’t work well.  If it does it is likely a short-term solution.  Second, many detoxes are too shallow.  They only purify surface tissues in the GI tract.  Panchakarma aside, the best way to purify the tissues of ama is, slowly, thoroughly, and carefully by first increasing the potency of your agni, which is your metabolic strength and then flushing the system gently over time by encouraging the proper flow of vata.  With professional guidance, you can achieve a body that is relatively free from ama and give your immune system a break.

COVID AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

There is one word that is spreading as quickly as the virus through the global population -   “immunocompromised.”  Countless news articles inform us that COVID carries a relatively low threat to life, UNLESS of course you are already IMMUNOCOMPROMIED.  At which point it becomes a very deadly virus.

 

It is natural to then ask ourselves, “Am I immunocompromised?”  Most of us will answer “no,” and some of us, who are already suffering from some other severe ailment will answer, “yes.”  But many of those who answered “yes” would have surely checked the “no” column just a few short years before.

 

How does one really become immunocompromised in the first place?  How can we prevent that from happening?  As the pressure of a pandemic like COVID continues to grow it is vital that we answer these questions for ourselves.

 

It doesn’t just happen.  And it has a lot less to do with genetics than you might think.  Without getting into the extreme intricacies of the immune system and its functions, it happens day by day, little by little, stress after stress, and unhealthy choice after unhealthy choice.  We CREATE our immune system with our food choices, lifestyle choices and mental choices. 

 

“Regardless of our history of abuses or kindness, opportunity or challenge, it is within you to direct your mind.”

-Yogi Bhajan

 

If we go all the way down to the very root of it, we become immunocompromised because we either do not know how or we actively choose not to direct our mind to take care of our bodies.  Of course, there are the cases in which we do not have access to the resources we need to keep ourselves healthy.  Those must be handled, but not in this article. 

 

In the cases where we do not know how, Ayurveda provides the light of awareness.  The way to maintain a healthy immune system is laid out very clearly and is predicated primarily on two things.  The first is on our willingness and ability to eat proper foods according to our constitution, and at the proper times.  The second is on our willingness to follow certain lifestyle regimens.  This means upholding the three pillars of life.  Proper sleep, proper nutrition, and proper discipline around sexual activity. 

 

Proper sleep means seven to eight hours of restful sleep (except in some rare cases).  Proper nutrition means eating the appropriate foods and drinking the appropriate amount of water at the appropriate times to keep our unique constitution in balance.  Proper discipline around sexual activity means many different things for men and women during different phases of life.  It is one of the pillars of life because Ayurveda acknowledged how dramatic of an impact the sexual act has on our bodies. It can build us up or drain us completely if performed too much or at improper times (like just after a meal).

 

Every day we practice directing our minds to give the body what it needs is a day we enhance the activity of our immune system.  The opposite is true on the days we let our minds direct us to give the body what temporarily “makes it happy.” 

 

As we are experiencing now, creating a sophisticated, robust immune system PRIOR to an environmental pressure bearing down on an entire society gives us a much smoother ride through the storm.  This is shallow dive into an important topic for our time.  To know more about how you can bolster your unique immune system contact an Ayurvedic professional.

AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR MORE ZZZ'S

Its officially an epidemic.  Not COVID.  It came long before that.  Sleep deprivation.  While it is fun, and sometimes necessary to declare “night-owlship” it is disastrous to health.  Sleep is one of the three pillars of life according to Ayurvedic wisdom.   But what to do about it?

 

First – a disclaimer.  Sleep issues have wide-ranging causes from apnea to melatonin production issues, to digestive issues, etc.  The tips shared below are very GENERAL but have helped quite a few people sleep more soundly, and wake up more easily over the years.  If you have severe sleep issues, please consult a health professional.

 

Let’s take a dip in the pool of the ayurvedic understanding of sleep.  Sleep, more or less, is when the mind can finally, after being used all day long, withdraw from the objects of the sense organs.  Your sense organs keep relaying info to a degree, but there is no “mind” to answer the knock on the door.  Unless of course that knock is loud enough, bright enough, or agitating enough.  At which point the mind, keeping a thread of awareness attached to the sense organs, leaps back into action often in a disturbed and stressed manner.

 

This is a simple but profound understanding of sleep and it point us in the direction of how to improve our sleep without the use of the newest drug or machine.  Help the mind withdraw from the senses before bed!  That is the rub of course.  That means changing our lifestyle a bit.  It means we need to get straight into the tips before I lose you as a reader.

 

TIP 1: Set a regular sleeping time AND a regular wake-up time.  Generally speaking, 10pm -6am works.  This will differ from person to person however. Setting a regula sleep cycle trains the mind to withdraw and re-engage based on the cycles of light and darkness, which brings us to the next tip…..

 

TIP 2: Dim the lights, lower the sounds, stop tasting things, and enjoy everything soft and smooth on your skin two hours before bed.  Melatonin is primarily released in low light and darkness.  Start helping your mind withdraw from the senses!  Especially the eyes.  Which means….

 

TIP 3: No screens within 2 hours of bed.  Well that did it.  I just lost all my readers.  If you are still hanging in there I have a bonus recipe for you at the end.  Screens ENGAGE your mind.  Very heavily as a matter of fact.  If you want healthy sleep, say goodbye to night watching and computering. 

 

TIP 4: Instead of screens pick up a breath practice.  We do the screen thing often to alleviate stress at the end of a day.  It’s a way of decompressing.  Decompress the healthy way and breathe long, slow and deep.

 

We could go on and on but start with these and see how it works over time.  Now for the promised recipe.

GOLDEN OAT MILK is a traditional night-time beverage that aids the mind in withdrawing from the sense organs.  Try it a few hours before bed.  It was originally just Golden Milk, but we will have to save the article on milk for another day.

 

1 Cup of Oat Milk – heat to just before boiling

¼ - ½ tsp of Turmeric Powder

Optional: ¼ - ½ tsp of Cardamom

Optional: A few pinches of nutmeg powder (fresh if possible)

Stir thoroughly

Wait for it to cool to drinking temperature

Enjoy!

AYURVEDA FOR EXCESSIVE SUMMER HEAT

With the world’s climate changing rapidly we are facing unprecedented Summers.  This of course, is not limited to Summer, but we are currently in Summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) so that is what we can focus on in the here and now.

 

It was 121 degrees Fahrenheit in Western Canada last week.  This heat is a affecting a very large region where the previous historical high (that means of all recorded weather history) was 116 degrees and that would only happen extremely rarely.  Most years the summer highs in that region were around 80 degrees, sometimes, reaching the 90’s.

 

The human body is very adaptable but starts to break down in extreme temperatures.  Especially when the temperature spikes or decreases rapidly or is highly erratic (moving from low to high and vice versa, frequently).  It aggravates all three doshas quickly, which then sets our body up for a myriad of pathologies.

 

When the heat gets too intense it is certainly important to keep our homes cool.  However, there is another, internal approach we can take to regulate our body temperature and avoid diseases caused by excess pitta such as skin rashes, hyperacidity, anger, headaches, fever, bleeding disorders, etc. 

 

Ayurveda is a tailored approach to health and application of its wisdom differs greatly from person to person.  However, in extreme environments, regardless of one’s prakruti (constitution) an individual can apply some general guidelines to keep the aggravated dosha pacified.  In this case its pitta because of the excessive heat.  Here are just a few of the suggestions that Ayurveda offers. 

 

  1. Avoid spicy food – it creates too much heat and acid in the digestive tract and the blood

  2. Avoid acidic foods – like tomato, garlic, onion, eggplant, chili, alcohol, coffee and vinegar to name a few

  3. Don’t drink cold beverages, including cold water – this shocks an already disturbed GI tract and aggravates imbalances even though it feels good in the moment.  Drink room temperature or warmer liquids

 

The list goes on but even applying these three principles can help greatly. 

 

Here is a very simple home remedy that can keep you quite cool when you need it the most:

 

Coriander Water

Makes Four Cups

Preparation time – approximately 5 minutes

 

  1. Take 1 cup of whole Coriander Seeds and put them in a 32 ounce mason jar

  2. Fill the mason jar with purified, room temperature water

 

  1. Allow it to steep overnight

  2. The next morning you will have a golden/orange hima (that’s ayurvedic for cold-infusion)

  3. Strain the coriander seeds

  4. Drink up to 2 cups per day within a 24 hour period!

 

Optional

  1. Add a pinch of organic sucanat or cane sugar to the infusion – sugar in small doses is pitta pacifying

  2. Add rose petals – also pitta pacifying and soothing to the nervous system

 

 

If you are looking for more ways to keep your body balanced in an imbalanced environment feel free to contact us anytime.

AYURVEDA FOR PLANE FLIGHTS

The dreaded jet lag.  We must prepare for it once more now that the vice-grip on international travel is beginning to loosen.  Ayurveda has some pertinent things to say on the dreary experience of feeling low after a long flight.

 

Its true, there is certainly the circadian rhythm component that is unavoidable if you find yourself galivanting across time zones.   However, that is not the only factor contributing to your post-flight fatigue, irregular appetite, upset bowels and a generalized feeling of “not well.”  There is a factor that you do have some measure of control over.

 

Ayurvedically speaking, jet lag occurs due to the vata aggravation caused from moving so fast, so high above the earth, in a different pressure system, while inhaling not completely fresh air, and remaining completely sedentary for long periods of time, usually feeling cramped and uncomfortable.  To boot, we are often engaged in hours of screen use while in-flight.  This vata aggravation causes all of your body’s natural “flows” to operate under stress.  This includes the flow of information through your nervous system, which messages your gut.

 

Its in your gut that the foundation of the jet lag problem primarily resides.  The agni, the core of your digestive capacities resides in the stomach and small intestine mainly.  It is disturbed when vata is disturbed.  The typical pattern is the classic “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” experience.  The appetite temporarily flares up but then quickly disappears on us when we need it most, which is right after we ate what our “eyes” desired and its time to actually digest what we ate.  This bogs our entire digestive process down leaving us feel less than wonderful.  The tough part is, on a plane, sitting in one place, and usually bored, we don’t notice until its too late.  We only realize the damage done after we get off the plane and are on our way feeling groggy and off-kilter.  The body then must reset its digestive process but now under the added pressure of adapting the new sun/moon schedule of our final destination.

 

What is the solution?  Don’t eat on a plane. Or for that matter, an hour or two before getting on the plane.  Liquids are great.  Tea is fine.  You might even get away with a fruit smoothie.  The less you eat, the better you will feel the next day and onward.  By skipping the food the aggravated vata becomes pacified much more quickly once your feet hit the ground.  Your digestive process recovers exponentially faster as a result of this.  One caveat to this is if you suffer from issues with blood sugar.  Then you may need to eat something on the plane to maintain healthy levels.  However, the “rule” still applies.  The less food the better.

 

This may seem challenging on a 10+ hour flight across an ocean.  You may find its not as hard as it seems up front.  Try it out and let the experience speak for itself!

Written by Victor Briere, A.D.

DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT PROTEIN

Work with me for a minute.  Don’t start off by saying no.  I promise you two things.  I won’t sell you anything at the end of this article and I won’t direct you to a website that sells you anything.  This information is 100% free.  Especially if you are a salaried worker reading this on company time and there is no opportunity cost to it.

 

Have you ever seen a protein?  If you just Googled it that doesn’t count.  Do you really know what it is?  Intimately? Can you explain what it is?  How it works?  What it really does?  Do not think a single negative, self-critical thought if you can’t.  99% of people answer “no” to all of the above questions.  YET our dietary belief matrix is driven by that one word.  I NEED MY PROTIEN!  WHERE WILL I GET PROTIEN?  I HAVE SO MUCH MORE ENERGY WHEN I EAT PROTIEN!  The voice rings inside our minds like a child demanding sugar on his birthday.

 

There are so many lies out there surrounding the needs and relevance of protein that I could write a book about it.  But I won’t because then I would try to sell you that book and a promise is a promise. 

 

The truth is, if that one word never existed.  If protein was never discovered under a microscope, you would go on eating exactly what you’ve been eating your whole life without a second thought about it.  Your body would go on doing its thing and you would never be the wiser. 

 

So here is the truth about it in simple terms.  All those plants you eat, or, should be eating.  They all contain protein.  Enough protein in fact, to run your system (at least) 1.5 times over.  Mix a legume with a grain and you have entered protein heaven.  Eat nuts and seeds and you are off to the races.  If Serena Williams can do what she needs to do getting all her protein from plant sources then you can too.

 

That is the long and short of it.  Of course there is more to it when you get into the nitty gritty details.  But I’m trying to give you one less thing to worry about.  That will be better for your health then the extra 8 grams of protein you think helped you today.  It didn’t!

 

I kept my promises.

Written by Victor Briere, A.D.