Our weight and our heart are tied together when it comes to our overall health. Obesity happens when medo dhatu, or fat tissue, starts to increase, according to Ayurveda.
An unhealthy diet and lifestyle are two of the main contributors to obesity, Ayurveda says. The annarasa, product of digestion, becomes overly sweet and this causes improper digestion (mandagni) and the result is the accumulation of sneha, or fat.
Sthoulya (ati sthula), or obesity, occurs when the person has an excessive accumulation of medas that develop normally, but are abnormally deposited into the succeeding dhatus. This condition also causes low energy and is known as sthoulya.
Meda dhatu is increasingly blocked by fat tissue, and the succeeding dhatus (asthi, majja, and shukra) do not receive proper nourishment and improperly develop. This leads to even more accumulation of fat, and the person becomes more fatigued.
- Avyayama - lack of exercise
- Divasvapna - sleeping during the day time
- Shleshmala Ahara Sevana - eating too many kapha increasing foods
Symptoms of Obesity
- Kshudra shwasa - gasping for air
- Trusha - excessive thirst
- Moha - delusion
- Svapna Krathana - snoring
- Saada - exhaustion
- Kshut - excess hunger
- Sveda - excess perspiration
- Durgandha - foul body odor
- Alpa pran - short breaths
- Alpa maithuna - depleted sexual strength or shukra dhatu
Fat accumulates around the abdomen because the root for medovaha srotas is the vrukka (kidneys) and vapvahana (omentum). Caraka states this as the cause for fat depositing in the area of the abdomen.
Agni also plays a role due to the excess fat blocking the tissues and vata dosa increases within the kostha (alimentary canal). Vata influences agni which causes digestion to increase, making the person feel continually hungry. Ama also forms from the madhura annarasa (sweet post digestive product), which adheres to the lining of the anna vaha srotas (food channel).The annavaha srotas function is predominantly pitta, and this causes vidaha or burning within the srotas. And therefore, the stage is set for pitta to form ama and starts to exhibit the pathological features of ama.
Complications are caused from the aggravated vayu and agni, and the accumulation of fat is directly proportional to the increase of vata. This results in difficult to cure complications which affects the quality of life. The excessive vrddhi of the meda and mamsa within the regions of the spik (gluteal - hip region), udara (abdomen) and stana (breast tissues) is so great that it causes obesity for those structures. The unrestrained accumulation of medas in humans is known as sthoulya.
Sthoulya is the anatomical description of the disorder. Sthoulya may or may not have progressed to the level of causing severe damage, but is a warning sign that the body tissues and organs are under stress. The body dimensions in this condition will be increasing out of proportion and is a predisposing stage to medoroga.
Ati sthula is a person who is very obese under the category of Ashtau Nindita’s – the 8 categories of people who are socially unfit. Many symptoms are explained when the term ‘ati sthula’ is used and directly references the pathology of fat metabolism. In this context, Ati sthula or ati sthoulya doesn’t look anything different from medoroga and these terms are used interchangeably. The organs suffer an irreversible damage and the heart is often the price one pays for obesity. Slowly overtime the heart loses the normal capacity to function. The anatomical damage of the heart and failure to work as an efficient pump has many complications including death.
Medoroga means a disorder or complex of symptoms which manifest due to pathological increase in quantity of fat tissue in the body (meda - fat, roga - disorder). This explains Medoroga as a syndrome rather than a specific disorder. This term covers all the symptoms and complications which occur due to the disturbances in fat metabolism. This is more-over a pathological definition of fat related pathology in terms of physiological disturbances.
Medo Vriddhi indicates the pathological increase of fat with a simultaneous depletion of other tissues. This is the development of a serious fat related disorder. The term looks almost like medoroga; the difference is the fat tissue has increased and the person is sthoulya (obese), however the serious morbid dosa is now causing tissue and organ damage leading to Hridroga.
Hridroga is a word made from two terms, hrid means heart, and roga means disorder. Thus, hridroga means heart or cardiovascular disorder. Cardiovascular disorders are a complex of symptoms which indicate anatomical damage and physiological disturbances related to the functions of the heart. There are many causative factors for hridroga and here we will discuss sthoulya or obesity as a causative factor for heart disorders.
When sthoulya and heart or vascular disorders are connected they form a lethal combination. Medoroga / sthoulya is considered one of the modifiable risk factors of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Science has made a direct correlation between obesity, plasma cholesterol concentration, familial hyperlipidemia (accumulation of bad fat in the blood) and physical inactivity, as a primary cause of death caused by Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Severe obesity increases the hearts work load leading to excessive cardiac output which can trigger Cardiac Hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart or heart cells) Cardiac Dilatation (heart being stretched beyond normal dimensions), and Abnormal Ventricular Function (lower chambers of the heart).
The Relationship Between Medoroga, Sthoulya and Hridroga
The terms sthoulya and medoroga are references in Ayurvedic literature and relate to the modern terms of obesity, hypercholesterolemia (bad fat in the blood), and hyperlipidemia (high concentration of fat in the blood). The terms sthoulya and medoroga cover an array of medical conditions as explained by modern medicine. As well there are symptoms listed under hridroga that relate to heart disorders.
- Hritshoola - heart pain
- Hrit peeda - heart pain
- Hrid graham - stiffness or heaviness in the heart
- Hridayashuddhi - uncomfortable sensation in the heart
- Hridayashoonyata - sensation of emptiness in the heart
The classic references for sthoulya or medoroga as a causative factor of Hridaya Sambandhi Vikaras (heart related disorders) cannot directly be obtained from the text. However, there are references explained in Medoroga Prakarana (Madhava Nidana 34 – Medoroga or disorders manifested due to errors of fat metabolism) and Ashtounindhita Adhyaya (Caraka Samhita Sutra Sthana 21 – The 8 types of socially unfit people). These chapters refer to the following symptoms.
- Ayu kshaya - decrease in life span
- Ashaktaha-sarvakarmasu - unable to perform any work
- Alpaprana - deterioration of life
- Nashayatyashu-jeevitham - quickly takes away life
- Kshudra-shwasa - dyspnoea, short of breath
- Pushyanti anye na dhatavaha - lack of nourishment to the tissues
These references point towards anatomical damage and failure of the heart to pump from the stress caused by increased body fat and poor metabolism of fat which leads to obesity.
How Obesity Leads to Heart Disorders
The hridaya and the dasha dhamanis are the moola sthana for the rasavaha srotas and rasa which are preenana karma or the function of nutrition.
Medasavrita Margatvat is when meda (fat) abnormally increases due to the excessive consumption of kapha foods and activities. This causes fat to increase which begins the process of avarodha (blocking) in all the margas (passages) and srotas (channels and micro channels) of the body. The blocking of the margas occurs in various levels throughout the body and leads to a deficient supply of nutrients and loss of function in the dhatus. This results in a qualitative and quantitative depletion of all the dhatus, other than meda.
There is also an excessive accumulation of meda taking all the nutrients which should otherwise have gone to nourish the other dhatus. This leads to a functional overload of the heart which tries to compensate the requirements for the other tissues. Thus, the onset of cardiac disorders like hypertrophy (enlargement of heart due to an abnormal increase in size of the cells), dilatation of the heart (heart being stretched beyond normal dimensions), hypertension (increase in blood pressure).
Medastu Cheeyate is when the fat accumulates the morbid dosa and unwanted fat tissue in undesired places like passages and channels of circulation in the body. This indicates the impending atherosclerosis and plaques in the blood vessels which form a risk factor for the Atherosclerosis in the coronary vessels which causes Ischemic Heart Disease. Plaque is a sticky deposit related to Ischemic Heart Disease which is the most common type of heart disorder.
Kottakkal Products for Obesity
Varanadi Kwatham is an Ayurvedic product that supports obesity, weak digestion, thyroid disorders, headaches, and is balancing to both vata and kapha dosa.
Ayaskriti is an Ayurvedic supplement that supports obesity, diabetes, and anemia. This product supports healthy weight loss when supported by proper diet.
Yogaraja Guggulu Vatika is an Ayurvedic supplement that supports obesity, inflammation and pain caused by arthritic joint disorders (amavata). This product is balancing to all three dosas, especially vata and useful for improving digestion.
Home Remedy for Weight Loss
The combination of lemon, honey and amla juice is an ideal remedy to reduce weight, high cholesterol, and cleansing and stimulating the digestive tract. Fresh lemon juice and raw honey balance kapha dosa, and amla juice balances all three dosa.
- Mix 1 tbls. of fresh amla juice with 2 tbls. of water, drink on an empty stomach.
- Mix 1 tsp. of lemon juice, 1 tsp. raw honey and 1 tbls. of amla juice, with 1 cup of room temperature water. Drink first thing in the morning on empty stomach, wait an hour before eating.
Lifestyle Habits to Prevent Obesity
- Do not start a habit of overeating, always eat a little less.
- Get regular daily exercise and avoid sedentary life style.
- Limit calorie rich foods that have dominant sweet taste.
- Udwartana is an Ayurvedic powder massage performed in the reverse direction of traditional massage and is highly effective for reducing kapha and weight.
- Practice yoga to open the channels and reduce stress.
- Role of Ayurveda In the Management of Obesity (Sthoulya), International Ayurvedic Medical Journal ISSN:2320 5091, Prachi Mishra, Pramod Kumar Mishra, Anamika Soni, Brahman and Sharma.
- Original source: Dr JV Hebbar, EasyAyurveda.com
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