DEC 17, 2019
“Pathye sati gadārtasya kimauṣadhaniṣevaṇaiḥ|
Pathye'sati gadārtasya kimauṣadhaniṣevaṇaiḥ|| “
– Vaidya Jeevanam
If a patient takes wholesome food then, where is the need for medicine? Wholesome food itself is the best medicine.
If a patient does not take wholesome food, then where is the need for medicine? The medicine fails to cure the disease, because of the unwholesome food habits of the patients.
Vaidya Lolimba Raja, a famous Ancient Ayurvedic author stressed the importance of food in the above-manner.
Master Charaka explains the effect of a wholesome diet on health, in Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 28/3 and Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 27/349.
Master Charaka says, nutrition-rich and wholesome food causes:
- Shareera upachaya – nourishes the body
- Bala varna sukha ayusha – provide strength, complexion and happiness
- Shareera dhatu urjayathi – promotes growth of tissue elements
- Varna Prasadah – improves complexion, clarity
- Sausvaryam – good voice
- Jivitham – longevity
- Prathibha – improve innovation skills
Only those individuals possessing good health can afford to perform activities that are beneficial to the individual as well as society leading to happiness in one’s life and salvation after death. As the intake of a beneficial diet in appropriate quality and quantity is one of the health-promoting tools, it can be considered as one of the basic factors for attaining happiness and salvation.
Organic Farming and Ayurveda
Ayurveda advises everyone to stay close to the nature and away from artificial pesticides and chemicals. That is why Ayurveda:
- Stresses upon taking wholesome diet to keep diseases at bay
- Stresses upon the hygiene and quality of ingredients in food preparation
Ayurveda lays the utmost importance to the quality of ingredients for the preparation of both food and medicines.
A suitable place for food ingredient collection, as per Ayurveda
- The place should be free from ant-hills, pits, holes, gravels, etc.
- It should be away from graveyards, temple, sand, uneven ground, and alkaline soil. The soil should be brittle, near to a pond, moist, unctuous, having grass, firm, and stable.
- The soil color can be black, white or red.
- The place should not be ploughed before.
- The place should be devoid of wells, unhygienic areas, marshy land, roadside, worms & toxic substances. It should be devoid of excess sunlight, excess wind & water. It should not be collected from too hot, too cold areas or in appropriate seasons.
- The above-mentioned points clearly indicate that Ayurveda emphasizes on the good quality of food ingredients, grown under natural conditions, without exposure of contaminants and chemicals.
Preservation of food ingredients and herbs
- The food ingredients should be preserved in an appropriate place under hygienic and optimum conditions so that the active principles are intact in them.
- The ingredients should not have direct exposure to Sunlight, wind, and moisture.
- Auspicious rituals such as fumigation should be done to the place where ingredients are stored. This is done to sterilize the place so that the area remains free of microbial attack.
- The place should be free from exposure to fire, water, rodents, dust, smoke, and animals.
- The drugs should be placed in suitable air containers.
- Care should be taken to avoid the admixing of drugs.
As a general rule, all the ingredients should be used when they are new (before completion of one year after collection.) except grains, jaggery, and honey.
The efficacy of the food depends on the quality of food ingredients. If quality has to be good the place and method of cultivation have to be natural and free from chemicals and fertilizers. In the olden days, farming was through natural means and hence free from any concerns. But now every other plant is grown with the use of chemicals like pesticides, insecticides, etc. In the stage of preservation too, huge amounts of chemical agents are being used to enhance shelf life and quality. These are harmful and cause various health hazards, instead of promoting our health.
How modern-day farming can be brought close to natural Ayurvedic principles?
The one & only solution to all these problems is Organic farming.
Normal or Conventional farming involves the usage of chemicals or genetically modified organisms to ward off pests & weeds and provide nutrition to the plant. Harmful hormones are also used in this farming to increase the yield. These pesticides are poisonous in nature, they can cause neurological problems, cancer, infertility in both male & females, vomiting, diarrhea, allergies, asthma, rashes & other skin problems, ADHD & more.
Research conducted by the Environmental working group (EWG) showed that these chemicals, pesticides & other pollutants even crossed the placenta & cause harm to the fetus in the womb. They can cause low birth weight, birth defects, neurological & behavioral problems, hormonal imbalance, autism & cancer.
World Health Organization (WHO) states that Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have altered genes that can be transferred to humans & have a negative effect.
Organic farming uses natural sources / organic wastes (crop, animal & farm wastes and aquatic wastes) like manure & compost to increase the fertility of the soil.
Apart from increasing the quality of soil, it has got other advantages like:
- Reduces pollution
- Conserves water
- Reduces erosion of soil
- Uses less energy
- Safe for birds & animals living on these foods
During Biological research, soil in organic farming was found rich in nutrients as varieties of bacteria & fungi easily break down plant matter & animal waste products into soil nutrients as compared to chemical fertilizers. This resulted in higher & healthier yields.
Researchers have found that flavonoid levels and antioxidant activity in organic onions are higher than in conventional onions.
The Soil Association notes that an organic diet increases the consumption of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.
Organic farming encourages healthy biodiversity, which helps to keep away bad weather, diseases & pests on the farm. This, in turn, is even good for the health of humans & animals feeding on these foods.
Organic food products and Ayurveda
Ayurveda encourages to live as close to nature as possible. Foods that are organically grown are not only of high quality, but they avoid harming the soil, ecosystem, and nature. Organic foods prevent the entry of toxic chemicals into our bodies and ecosystem. Hence, organic foods help to enrich the quality of Ayurvedic treatment.
Methods of incorporating organic food products with Ayurveda
This can be achieved by:
1. Educating farmers about the benefits of organic farming and helping them with the required tools.
2. Sensitizing the patients and consumers about the importance of organic food and herbal products and encouraging them to adopt these, more and more in their diet habits.