Rasayanas for winter, boosting fertility
The winter in India has started nearly a fortnight ago. Winter is marked by appearance of Amala, green Tamarind, etc. The cold climate allows enjoying a morning walk in warm sun light. Birds also welcome the season. Despite cold mornings, getting up early is easy (lazy vatic people excepted) and the whole season is for worshipping the growth and strength, muscle power through rasayanas. The importance of taking strengthening diet consisting of higher percentage of fats and proteins in this season has been outlined in Ayurveda. Laws of thermodynamics apply to everything in universe. Due to cold temperatures outside, body is able to generate more energy from same amount of food, and as a result, powerful digestive agni also exists.
Hence come out of blanket early morning and take a healthy walk watching rising sun. This will kill depression too. Mumbai people can have a healthy fresh juice drink on beaches or gardens after morning walk. Sweet, sour and salty tastes become beneficial. Though starting of various seasons is marked by English calendar in modern texts or Ayurveda websites, the winter, consisting of Hemanta and Shishir ritu starts from Tripurari Purnima day. Those in India may have noted change in temperature. What you eat and digest in this season, will last throughout the year.
Most notable lovers of food is Gujarati community in India, followed by Sindhis. They prepare various tonics from Aamla, black gram, fenugreek, Gond, Gum Acacia, rasayana herbs (e.g. adadiya pak, kauncha pak, musli pak) etc. Vata problems such as Joint pains, back pains, numbness/stiffness in joints tend to increase in this period and such foods come very helpful. Wheat/gram flour products, milk products, sugarcane products and corn/edible oils can be taken as a part of food. But avoid Omega-6 oils such as Sunflower, Safflower, Soya, Corn, Cotton seed. Traditional Indian oils are best. Eat what grows around you, or your birthplace. Increase of fats is also helpful, as a Vata pacifier. While you may need warmer clothing made from wool, leather and silk to protect from colds, taking hot soups, decoctions made from ginger, milk, ashwagandha etc will come helpful to fight Vata problems. Exposure to Sunlight will be enjoyable and you can take help of fire too if staying in north Indian cold states. Massage with Ashwagandha, sesame, bala oils will add muscle density and additional vigor.
Even if it is not possible for you to prepare and eat special tonic recipe, it may be possible to change your diet to simple foods which are easy to make and within reach of all economic classes. Though wheat is maximum used throughout India, Jwar, Bajra, Maize are equally nutritious. Bajra gives maximum calories amongst cereals. It is a good source of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium and Phosphorous. Jwar Bhakri gives more protein and calories compared to Gujarati Chapati. Bajra bhakri has more calories. It should be taken in hot condition only, especially if you have gluten allergy, rhinitis etc. In winter, we get many leafy vegetables, fresh and attractive bright colors. Taking the curry made from Spinach (Spinciaoler-asia), Brinjal, Math (Amaranthus tricolor), Tandulja (Amarthus oleraceus; Amaranthus blitum) along with Bajra, Jwar bread
is very beneficial in winter. Tandulja is such a valuable leafy vegetable, that it requires a separate post to describe its benefits.
We get fresh spring garlic these days. sautéing this in cow ghee till it turns golden brown and taking it with Bajra Bhakri is one of the most nutritious Western India preparation. If suffering from erectile dysfunction, take 2 tsp juice of white onion along with a tsp of cow ghee or honey everyday morning till March middle. Ayurveda offers several simple remedies for this type of problems. White and black Musli is one such herb, which needs to be used under supervision. Black Musli offers large amount of nutrition. It is diuretic and also nourishes Mamsa or flesh dhatu. Increases sexual energy too. Its roots can be powdered and 1-2 tsp (3-6 grams) powder can be taken with honey, ghee or milk. It can be boiled in milk to make Muslipak. One can add cardamom, nutmeg, Cloves, Javantari (Myristica Fragrans). White Musli has more power and nourishing for flesh. It can be taken 6-12 grams (1 tbsp) with milk. It has better taste, activates taste buds, sweet vipaka, sheetal veerya (cooling, grounding) properties
very similar to Shatavari.
The grain which has highest energy is black gram. Though south Indians do not take wheat much, their inclusion of black gram in Idli and Dosa takes care of energy and protein requirements. Though it is heavier to digest, including it in the diet from weaning age makes digestive agni strong, this is what author learned from South Indians. If children are given lentils, green gram, black gram, horse gram, Bengal gram right from childhood, they will find the pulses quite nourishing at all ages. Do not give them sweet items when weaning, feed bitter, pungent, salty taste first if you wish to
save them diabetes. Same precaution to be taken by mother too during gestation.
Salam (Bay leaf) is another herb which come to the mind as winter tonic. It has restorative, invigorative, tonic properties. It is appetizer (Deepak), Cardiac tonic, increases semen as well as libido, acts as rasayana. Helps in leucorrhea, cycles related back pain typical for women. One can take 10-12 grams roots powder with honey or milk, twice a day. You can take it after boiling in milk too. Like Ashwagandha, it is a brain tonic, nourishing nervous system cells. It is a medha rasayana in Ayurvedic terms. Does not cause increase in mucous, and improves digestive agni too. If you have milk allergies, take simply with honey. But as a tonic for sexual strength, milk is a better option. The secret of many such herbs lies in the
glycoproteins which get created when these herbs are boiled in milk. Needless to say, it must be Indian cow milk.
Other herbs such as Gokshura, Vidarikand, Shatavari, ashwagandha are already discussed by this author in a previous message discussing how
to build ojas in winter:
When taking this type of winter tonics, remember not to eat chillis, pickles, spices which vitiate pitta. The build up of dhatus, strength occurs in kapha major environment, though pachak pitta is essential to extract the strength and hidden energy in the rasayana herbs. If agni is slow and taking the rasayana is producing raw ama (mucous), then one must first take herbs such as ginger, black peeper, peeper longum, tulasi, mint, nutmeg, kadu, Javantari referred earlier. These herbs can be mixed in powder form, adding ardusi, kantakari, licorice to make the mixture more kapah fighter. Take not more than a half tsp mixture morning evening with honey. In a few days the hunger will open and digestion will improve. Use of alcohol, sugar, nicotine kills digestive juices and these herbs will restore digestion provided person reduces the intoxicants too.
Though all other dairy products nourish Kapha, cow ghee is the only dairy item which if taken moderate proportion (say 4-5 tsp in a day), will pacify both pitta and vata without causing excess mucous. Avoid taking dairy products such as curd, buttermilk, ice cream etc during night. It has become an accepted practice in parties to include ice cream after a heavy dinner containing legumes, non veg food. This promotes Vata, as legumes, non veg food does not go well with milk products. Avoid curd, buttermilk during night.
Despite all the recommendations, the polished grains, the pesticide sprayed wheat, vegetables, sedentary life style without exercise, lack of sunlight etc do not give desired effect of rasayana herbs, even if you take Chyavanprash. If you are getting unpolished organic rice, its payasam in milk itself is a rasayana. It is a "Vrisya" item, nourishing semen and increasing sperms.
Why emphasize fertility booster rasayanas in winter? The reason is, the winter precedes the fertility season, "Vasanta" and gives you 4 months time as recommended by Ayurveda, to complete "pinda shuddhi" which means strengthening ovum and sperm. The responsibility that our future generations should be healthier than us, should be shouldered by all child bearing age couples.