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Ayurveda and TCM:Comparison of Basic Forces and Constitutions

by Durgadas, R.A.P, AYT, Ved Kovid


Dip. Nat., Dip. P. Psych,

ALC, Ayu. Clin, Ayu. Pharm, AMPKT, AMBT, Ayu. Astr.

(c) Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham / Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd

All Rights Reserved.

NO PART OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE COPIED OR REPRODUCED IN EITHER ELECTRONIC OR PRINT FORM WITHOUT DIRECT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR.

Basic Concepts:

The three forces of Qi, Yin and Yang correspond to Prana (breath or life-force), Ojas (vitality) and Tejas (radiance) in the Hindu system. Yin-Yang also correspond to the two viryas or potencies relating to energetics of foods in the Ayurvedic system of shita (cool), a Yin-energy and ushna (hot), a Yang-energy. 

In the Vedas, these energies were represented by the terms Soma (Yin-energy, as lunar, vitality and feminine) and Agni (Yang-energy, as fire or a solar-energy, metabolism, heat and a masculine energy). They are also better expressed by the deities dual-deities Mitra-Varuna, here, Mitra as the Sun and Day representing the Yang-energy and Varuna as the Cosmic Waters, Moon and Night, representing the Yin-energy. The two go together in the Rig Veda, the oldest text of the Hindus, upholding cosmic law (rta).


Constitutional Issues:

Ayurveda typically works with a dual-elemental model of Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth) and their various combinations of seven main types (adding combinations of Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha and Vata-Pitta-Kapha).

These are formed in two ways – one as the Prakriti of the person or their own biological nature, determined by genetic and other factors, which remains fixed through the lifetime and the Vikriti or temporal change from nature, also known as a dosha (vitiation / blemish), which is how Vata, Pitta and Kapha are viewed in a negative sense as causing disease when in excess. In a positive sense, they are known as dhatus (that which upholds).

Hence, both TCM and Ayurveda employ the five-elements and cosmic systems of Praja-Tejas-Ojas and Qi-Yang-Ying. The Hindu Ayurvedic system represents the five elements in a slightly different manner, adding akasha (ether) and vayu (air) to the other elements of fire, water and earth that are also used in TCM.

While in the Hindu system, the gallbladder and liver are Pitta-organs, they are Wood in the TCM system and correspond to the element of wind, or Vayu of the Hindu system, whereas Metal corresponds to the large-intestine and sky, hence Akasha or ether / space of the Hindu system, giving us correlations between the elements.

Nine-fold Types:

The Nine-fold Constitutional type in TCM however, can be connected to the Hindu system of the Navagrahas or Nine-Planets. Yet, there also exist some differences between the element and planetary correspondences of the two systems and some similarities.

Moon and Sun are Yin and Yang, which connect to Kapha-Ojas and Pitta-Tejas of the Hindu system respectively. Whereas Saturn represents air in the Hindu system, it is earth in the TCM system; Jupiter is ether in the Hindu system and wood (air) in the TCM system; Venus is water in the Hindu system, but Metal (thus ether) in the TCM system, while Mercury is earth in the Hindu system and in TCM, it is water. Mars however is fire in both systems.

Naturally however, these change as per their elemental-makeup and doshic models in Ayurvedic astrology. However, we can connect the Nine-Fold TCM system of Constitutional Types and disorders with the planets they correspond to of the Navagrahas (nine planets) in the Vedic-system.

There are however, many ways this can be expressed and there is no clear-cut or one-way definitive correlation between the two systems – but there are similarities, based upon the closest approximations. 

Here we can note the factors relative to both vikriti (deviation from natural state / disease) and also Prakriti (individual constitution)


Rahu –  Qi Deficiency
Rahu is the north-lunar node, the head of the dragon and ecliptic (as well as a formless) shadowy planet more a pure Vata (as ether) type and thus causes coldness, dryness etc. as the air-element of Prana is not there to balance it out. It is the head without a body and hence lacks any grounding, since akasha or ether is pure space alone as sattvas or purity, with not even action (rajas) present as it is in Vata.  Rahu represents Vata in its more toxic stage (amavata) relating to rheumatic disorders.


Ketu – Qi Stagnation
Ketu is the south lunar node, the tail of the dragon and a formless planet like Rahu, who represents the stagnating form of Vata or Prana which manifests anger, anxiety etc. caused by the headless Ketu, who represents the paranormal side of Mars (blood stasis) with some Vata added there also. It is hence unpredictable in nature and extremely emotional – the proverbial headless constitution.


Jupiter – Damp-Heat
Jupiter is a Kapha-Pitta type with a slightly higher percentage of water to fire ratio and thus creates a kind of “damp-heat” type constitution and disorders. 

Saturn – Genetic deficiency
Saturn is predominantly pure Vata (air) which causes a vitiation to our ojas or vitality (yin) and thus creates a predisposition for allergies and diseases of a more genetic nature and weakness overall. Saturn is also the planet of karma, representing genetic conditions and a fragile and extremely weak constitution.

Mercury – Yin-Yang Harmony
Mercury holds the energies of all five elements of Vata (air+ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth) equally


Moon – Yang Deficiency
The moon is very cold and composed Kapha-Vata with a predominant of water and only a secondary nature of air. It lacks therefore, the warmer natures of fire and craves it, always feeling cold in extremities and lacking enthusiasm and metabolism.

Mars – Blood-Stasis
Mars is more a Pitta-Rakta type, with fire+water vitiating the blood and causing several disorders. As a more purely Pitta-type, it has 50% fire and 50% water, which easily creates disorders in the blood-system itself by an excess of either of these. When blood combines with Pitta in Ayurveda, it stagnates and causes diseases due to an excess of bile such as hepatitis and jaundice.
 

Venus – Phlegm-Dampness
Venus is Kapha with a a 75% water and 25% earth makeup. Being mainly a watery and emotional planet, it combines with earth also, as it is also the planet of materialism and density, creating our desires to manifest physically.  It is more damp than the Moon however, owing to the asuric or negative nature which connects to the celestial Soma, guarded by the Bhargava Seers and correlating to the goddess Lakshmi (Venus, Aphrodite), herself born from the churning of the ocean of milk (kshira).

Sun – Yin Deficiency
The Sun is Pitta, but is the fire that burns out our ojas and is hot, lacking Yin, being Kapha and grounding (water and earth). Such types hence dislike the hot climates represented by the Sun.

 
Ninefold Types and the Gunas:
 

Another way we can express these is the eight-fold virya or potencies of Ayurveda: 
mrdu (mild), tikshna (sharp), guru (heavy), laghu (light), snigdha (unctuous), uksha (dry), shita (cold), ushna (hot). The ninth would connect to the Yin-Yang Harmony type in TCM, where all such are in balance, connecting to the balance of the two main potencies in Ayurveda of hot (ushna) and cold (shita).

We hence see that there are possibilities of connections within each system itself, if we examine them from primal roots. 

There are many combinations here that can correlated to the TCM systems. Naturally however, TCM employs a five-element system, as some original forms of Ayurveda also do. 

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Why Ayurveda – Nature’s Healing System?

Why should I try Ayurveda?

  1. Ayurveda is the world’s oldest natural-healing system – time-tested across India, China, Korea, Japan, SE-Asia and also influencing founders of western medical systems as Hippocrates and later Arab physicians taking this science into Europe in the Middle-Ages, with the revival of surgery and humoric medicine
  2. It promotes models of biological sustainability through working with circadian rhythms as per our phenotypes (unique biologies)
  3. It sources 100% natural and organic cures from the earth which are compatible with the human body (a product of nature, not a synthetic structure)
  4. Ayurveda assesses our unique changes for optimum health, based on our own unique suitabilities (genetic, cultural and biological), rather than a ‘fad’ or ‘cookie-cutter’ dietary or yoga regime
  5. Many from Hollywood Celebrities, movements such as TM (Transcendental Medication), Deepak Chopra to Prince Charles and Camilla promote Ayurveda (the English Royal family still themselves, use homoepathic doctors, whose roots in European herbalism derive from Ayurveda)

Do I need to believe in anything to practice Ayurveda? Can I be vegan?

A: Ayurveda is based on a system that caters for all types of people and varied tastes, as per the ancient diverse dietary habits of religious and cultural preferences across Asia – ranging from meat-eaters, to lacto-vegetarians, lactose-intolerant individuals and even those who avoided root-vegetables, as well as communities such as Jews and Muslims with specific dietary (halaal and kosher) requirements.

Based on various factors such as one’s own unique biological makeup and psychology, Ayurveda then assesses the disease patterns and manifestation of the individual (if applicable) and recommends an integral dietary and lifestyle approach based upon this.

As an example, the ancient vegetarian, non-alcoholic Jainas of India, whilst mainly lacto-vegetarians unlike modern vegans – many did avoid dairy from farmers who ill-treated their cattle, and like modern vegans, also avoided honey – in addition to even more strict regimes such as fungus (as mushrooms), yeasts as well as root-vegetables, as Brahmins (priestly families) in India avoided the use of onions, garlic, alcohol etc.

Yet, it also understood and respected some regions consumed higher quantities of dairy (in the north), fish (in the east) and meats (in the Himalayas) and provided appropriated dishes and spicing in accordance with these variations, as also when treating those with religious dietary restrictions/prohibitions.

In fact, in ancient times, Indian physicians were invited to Persia, Greece, Rome and later Baghdad in the Arab world, where they were respected and honoured as teachers to people of various faiths – Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Ayurveda itself has been practiced by numerous denominations of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, atheists and others for thousands of years.

One is free to stick to their dietary and religio-cultural habits and personal beliefs, making some adjustments within these to avoid/include foods that can assist in proper health for the individual, based upon the in-depth energetics of foodstuffs – including, herbs, herbal preparations etc. and how/when these are consumed, as also with what combinations.

Yoga also isn’t just about difficult poses, but forms a major part of Ayurvedic Psychology, assessing levels of the mind, breathing practices, sound and aroma therapies that affect the mind-body complex; here, yoga can be said as the study of, and also the practice of (by way of visualisations, sound and breathing techniques, as also certain stretches [where required] ) psycho-somatics – something little understood in western approaches in the modern-day.

Carl Jung was also among noted psycho-analysts that noted Ayurveda and Yoga’s ability to understand the mind and psychosomatics to a deeper level than western medical science.

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Ayurvedic Massages – Good or Bad?

Ayurveda has long considered the uses of massage, often as a daily palliative treatment, but performed with specific oils after a complete Ayurvedic examination by a trained professional to examine all facets of psychology, disorders, constitutional issues and others. Here, panaceas are often not the best, nor Ayurvedic per se!

Many forms of Ayurvedic massage today can actually be harmful as they can cause unwanted toxins in the body if performed outside of their required actions and techniques, which are specific cleansing actions or shodhana (purificatory) therapies; here, massages are often performed – again with specific oils, decoctions and substances – as preliminary methods (purvakarmas) to relocate toxins in the body and expel them, but in a clinical setting along with specific diets, formulas and lifestyle regimes as well. Such advanced and often aggressive methods are not to be performed for one and all, or outside specifically tailored detoxification programs, based on an individual’s disease category, age and other factors! This requires a full training in clinical Ayurveda from the classical point of view.

Other therapies are given as part of the Spa Ayurveda regimes today, which are just as bad, as such don’t target the true problems. Each disease requires specific treatment, internal and external, as a part of traditional Ayurveda over modernised New-Age Ayurveda often being practiced by Naturopaths and Yoga teachers.

For this reason, Indians were taught these sciences from youth and understood the spiritual and cultural contexts and rituals/implications that went along with this, which are important. The Hindu tradition and sciences are about specifics over generics

As an example, you wouldn’t go to a Chinese person to learn how to bake French pastries, nor would you turn to the Frenchman to teach you about authentic Qi Gong as the two cultures are completely different. Being immersed in such and understanding such means also the language behind it – which is imperative one understand from youth to gauge these nuances, over those who have culturally-appropriated and set up ‘Wellness’ businesses and organisations, who often tend to pasteurise these teachings, to the detriment of many.

Here, while massages and Ayurvedic therapies are useful, they have to be performed simply after a full clinical assessment by a trained and experienced Practitioner, not simply given based on a few quizzes alone. The therapies and manner in which they are conducted also change for the individual as well – so the use of generic oils and substances as is often done, isn’t true Ayurveda! It is merely money-making!

  • Always chose a trained, experienced Ayurvedic Professional with Clinical Training and Experience in all facets of Ayurveda, Yoga and related sciences
  • Look for those who have studied the entire tradition back to its roots, are fluent in the language (Sanskrit) as well as culture and heritage and connected to its ancient Vedic-Hindu system in practice and lifestyle
  • Avoid many vegan-based and modern veganesque and pan-Naturopathic formulas such as ‘Turmeric Coconut Milk’ and ‘Ashwagandha Coconut Milk’, Raw Food and other infusions; these are not Ayurvedic, but are simply based on other systems and aren’t good for one and all
  • Make sure you check whether or not they are simply starting a ‘Spa-Wellness’ business, or wish to share the deeper facets of Ayurveda with specific recommendations and guidelines If you are curious about Ayurvedic therapies and what might be best for you, book a consultation with us today at www.ayurvedicnow.com 

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Ayurvedic Karmic Evaluation Assessment

The ancient system of Ayurveda is more than simply looking at the physical manifestation of disease, and questions even where congenital or even ‘unexplained’ life-long issues come in due to karma of our past actions.

Our Ayurvedic Karmic Evaluation Assessment looks at these from a deeper perspective of the past incarnations, calculated from one’s time of birth and other facets such as physical features and signs correlated with these.

Here, Durgadas – international author, Vedic Astrologer and Ayurvedic Practitioner of many books on Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology and Tantra will assess your chart.

Here you will get valuable information regarding your Birth Star (Nakshatra), Birth Sign (Rashi), Planetary Periods (Mahadashas) and any important Transits (Gocharas) you are running and how to avoid issues in them, as also specific health-related combinations and remedies for all such issues, whether health, career, personal, business or relationship etc. related.

Here, we bring in Ayurveda and Yoga techniques and spiritual practices that can help with at a deeper spiritual (karmic) level, and help to work out karma behind diseases, as also get an indication of our deeper patterns in life.

-Understand how the planets affect your karma and health
-Learn specific remedial measures to reduce these effects
-Learn how planetary cycles affect you now
-Understand your personality/psychology due to karmic astrology

It is recommended that two-monthly or six-monthly follow-up consultations ($95.00 each) along with this be booked, so that one can be kept up to date relative to planetary transits and influences, as also practices one is doing to rectify issues.

***Birth place, time and date are all that is required for this consultation.***

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The Problematic Dosha-Quizzes

Q: I have filled out a few online dosha-quizzes and think I have a vata problem. Can you treat this?

A: First of all, Ayurveda is a complete medical system, and no one person can be stereotyped into a dosha per se. A dosha means a blemish or vitiation itself, so it’s often what can be a natural tendency within a person, whereas the vikriti or disease outside of this is a deviation from the norm.

Secondly, there is often a misconception about Ayurvedic doshas reflecting “body-mind” types. Ayurvedic psychology (bhutavidya or graha chikitsa) is itself a specialised limb within Ayurveda and assesses the mind and it’s disorders in a very specific manner outside that of the so-called doshas of vata, pitta, kapha and their combinations, although sometimes these are used in disease – but are not limitations alone. Not all diseases can be neatly classified into such, and due to numerous combinations of them, each disorder manifests specific traits relative to each which is known only to a highly-trained Ayurvedic practitioner, or Vaidya

Thirdly, the dosha-quiz model often fails as we tend to project our own ideas about ourselves rather than consistent traits. Variations such as in female menstrual cycles or emotional factors, the age and sex of a person, genetic factors, one’s race and suitabilities, one’s diet, quality of food, digestion, underlying mental issues (that may stem from karmic issues, congenital or childhood trauma) can alter these, as can the seasons and even changes of foods and diets due to various soil types and crops being cultivated around the world (as an example, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, capsicums, corn, chillies etc. are native to the Americas).

The quality of foods, drugs and lands, as well as numerous other dietary and lifestyle factors have to be assessed in a clinical setting, as well as your response to questions in addition to a clinical examination that brings in differential diagnosis in both the more ‘natural’ state and also disorder(s) you are currently suffering, and the way forward.

Clinical Ayurveda looks at subtle factors that make up the doshas as well as other factors previously mentioned. For those not trained in this medical system, which has over 1100 diseases and a highly-evolved surgical system, one of detoxification, understanding of seasonal, weather patterns, food energetics etc. as well as an extensive pharmacopoeia that has its own indications and contraindications as with allopathic medicine – will find it difficult to navigate, just as one surfing on WebMD or Googling symptoms and self-diagnosing, which is extremely dangerous.

Q: Once I had an Ayurvedic Consultation and I was told I was a Kapha-Pitta person, but a quiz indicates something else. Another Consultation revealed I was Vata-Kapha. Why is this?

A: First of all, as mentioned aforehand, we have to be very careful about assessing things and take note of specifically what we have been told. Some Ayurvedic practitioners will tend to work on the disorder, some may give recommendations as per your age and sex alone seeing it as a major factor, digestive power and sex, and one may be working simply with lifestyle recommendations as per your phenotype or biological type, based on their own analysis of you.

As also noted, it depends which methods they have implemented as well. Some may just go on answers you gave during a written test-sheet, or cross-examine you. So, we first have to understand what information was given, why and what exactly it applied to.

Some also understand Ayurveda only from a Naturopathic or New-Age model of stereotypes, whilst others may project their own analysis of you based upon their own and project these. Some may also be more sensitive to one dosha within a person at any one given time, and some may be basing it on the pulse, but not understanding the deeper facets of this science which has its own indications and aspects that have to be weighed up, and takes a lot of practice, examination and study – especially in disease, to perfect. Eating, drinking, exercise, anxiety, exposure to cold and heat before and after this can alter readings, where it is only possible for very highly trained and intuitive practitioners to differentiate.

Q: I read that taking Triphala and Vegan-diet was best for me.  Should I continue with this, as I’m feeling much better?

A: People will often feel ‘better’ when they take anything lighter and any substance that helps with their elimination, but this is not indicative of proper health or healing.

Ayurveda looks at long-term effects rather than short-term effects, relative to life-long than just over a few weeks, months or even years. Disorders can manifest due to excesses of anything – whether foods or impressions, lifestyle regimes or exercise as even yoga practices, which have to be specific, rather than generic for everyone.

While some herbal formulas can be good for one and all, some such as Triphala can cause griping in some people and may have opposite effects, due to their metabolism, so your GI health has to be assessed clinically first. It is often taken along with other specific herbs or even compound and combined formulas depending on what is best for you given all of the factors we have previously discussed, viz. age, sex, metabolism, mental state, tendencies, location, climate, seasons, lifestyle etc.

Relative to diets, no diet suits one and all. Note our article here that discusses this aspect in more detail, relative to Ayurveda.

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Ayurveda and Diets: Some Clarity

I am vegetarian/vegan. Isn’t this Ayurvedic?

A: Whilst certain diets and those such as juicing, veganism and vegetarianism can be fine for certain people, it goes even far beyond what dosha a person has predominantly and has to be weighed up against various factors such as environment, age, sex, locality, seasonal effects, psychological typing, genetic suitabilities and any psychological disorders in addition to nay disorders and ones metabolism (enzymatic effect).

Thus, Ayurveda recommends such and even various combinations and manners of cooking foods (or not) relative to preparation after all of these are considered during a full Ayurvedic examination by a trained practitioner. Ayurveda recommends meat for some people and abstaining from such for others, depending upon such factors.

This is also that why vegans and vegetarians sometimes argue the higher amount of iron in certain vegetables or greens as spinach, they are harder to absorb than in meats (eastern diets consider methods to properly metabolise and absorb these, as well as heavier supplements); an absence of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an Omega-3 fat, predominantly found in fish, which is useful for eye and brain health among other things, which is lacking in vegan diets.

Certain cultures were vegetarian historically, but Ayurveda views such, relative to suitability over generations, rather than fad-diets and health-implications these may cause. Here, traditionally foreigners in Ayurvedic hospitals were given their local dietary substances (or closest to), so as it didn’t alter with their nutrition as it has evolved. Radical changes (as from meat to vegetarian or vegetarian to meat diets) can cause severe health concerns.

Book a consultation with us to find out what is best for you.

Is it good not to eat animals?

A: Yes, however, we must remember that many food articles that are deemed karmically ‘evolved’ as animals don’t stop there; many substances and foods that are consumed by those in modern Ayurveda and Yoga movements such as chillies, garlic, onions and wine are considered more evolved or causing issues to the mind in orthodox traditional Brahmin circles of India, who have been habituated to such regimes over thousands of years. If their people took up eating of meats, they would also have issues, just as westerners and others adopting such vegan and vegetarian trends without a full understanding or examination.

Ayurveda understands this as satmya (suitability) and notes that not all foods and substances are good for, nor should be avoided for all races (those in various geographic regions) based on their genetic suitability and evolution. The French Diet for example contains many fats, yet the French have themselves become accustomed to eating such foods and thus consumption doesn’t affect them. They also eat in smaller portions.

Other diets such as the Mediterranean diet are well-known to be useful for a number of disorders from cardiovascular to inflammatory conditions. Yet, again, much depends upon ones own suitability to such, as also relative to diseases. Generic diets, due to food energetics can actually cause issues for many, due to poor metabolism.

Cultural/genetic suitability here must be remembered as the Classical Ayurvedic teaching over emotional virtue-signalling or sanctimoniousness.

Durgadas has explained this in his many books on Yoga and Classical Ayurveda, which are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble etc.

Book a consultation with us to find out what is best for you.

I have been having raw foods and also kale smoothies for breakfast. I heard this is healthy for me?

A: As noted, the Ayurvedic system works on a different level of energetics to other systems, dietary fads and medical systems. It even treats diabetes according to twenty different types – so there is a lot of specificity in Ayurvedic medicine compared to mere allopathic-based diets and biochemical models.

Hence, many factors are considered in classical Ayurveda and being even beyond one’s biology, which itself can be finely-tuned into many sub-categories also. Thus, even one pitta person in Ayurveda wouldn’t be treated the same as another, given their unique sensitivities and refined nature as well.

Raw foods and those such as kale, whilst can be useful for reducing acidity in the body for example, aren’t always useful in Ayurveda and can be seen to cause complications and even causative factors behind long-term diseases for others. Again, age, sex, locations, climates, environmental impressions and numerous other factors have to be considered, as well as best combinations for you.

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