Weight Control for Over-Leanness— Some Ayurveda Insights


There are two conditions of the body—excess leanness and overweight. Both of these conditions are described in one of the classical Ayurvedic texts, Caraka Samhita, Su. XXI. Some consider leanness a condition of poverty (too little in life) and obesity a condition of wealth (too much of the life).  Both have their causes and complications.


Caraka describes the features of over-leanness are: emaciated buttocks, abdomen, neck, prominence of veins and bones and joints. Those who are emaciated from singing, reading, drinking, sexual intercourse, evacuative therapy, weight-carrying, traveling on foot, having indigestion are the: injured, wasted, old, children and women, suffering from thirst, diarrhea, colic pain, breathlessness, hiccup; are lean, fallen, wounded, insane, exhausted by journey and wakefulness, anger, grief, fear, and sleeping in the daytime; have intolerance to physical exercise, over-saturating, hunger, thirst, disease, drugs, excess cold, heat, and sexual intercourse. Complications of over-leanness are: splenomegaly, cough, wasting, breathlessness, gaseous tumor, hemorrhoids, abdominal disorders, intestinal disorders. Caraka says compared to the too-thin the obese condition is more problematic as there are more complications from it.


The causes of over-leanness are: rough food and drink, fasting, little diet, excessive evacuative therapy, grief, suppression of natural urges—especially sleep; roughening/drying massage in rough/dry persons, indulgence in bath, vata constitution, old age, chronic disease and anger.


Caraka suggests the following remedial measures: sleep, happiness, comfortable bed, relaxed mind / calmness/ avoidance of strenuous mental work, sexual intercourse, and physical exercise; cheerfulness, fresh grains, wine, soups of domestic, aquatic, and marshy animals; well-cooked meat, curd, ghee, milk, sugarcane, rice, black gram, wheat, products of jaggary, unctuous and sweet enema, daily oil massage, unctuous anointings, bath, use of fragrance and garlands, white clothing, timely elimination of doÃas, regular use of bulk-promoting and aphrodisiac compounds. Thus the person is endowed with equilibrium of the tissues, strength, kapha nourishes all parts of the body and life span becomes stable.


Those features which bring sleep also are nourishing: massage, oleation, bath, meat soup, rice and curd, milk, fat, mental ease, pleasant scents and sounds, gentle rubbing, saturating drops and pastes on eyes, head, face; well covered bed, comfortable room, proper time of day.


Two Therapies of Use in Leanness


Promoting therapy—whatever promotes bulk of the body is known as brimhana (Ca. Su. XXII.9-42)

·        The drug possessing heavy, cold, soft, unctuous, solid, gross, slimy, dull, stable and smooth properties is mostly promoting in effect.

·        Undamaged flesh of adult animals, fish, birds living in suitable environments and killed with non-poisonous weapons is suitable for promoting

·        The persons wasted, wounded, lean, old weak, constantly traveling on foot and indulged in women and wine and the summer season are suitable for promoting therapy.

·        Those suffering from consumption, piles, disorders of small intestines, and wasted by other similar diseases, the light meat soup of carnivorous animals is the best promoting one.

·        Bath, anointing, sleep, enema with sweet and unctuous substances, sugar, milk, and ghee are universal promoters.

·        On proper administration of promoting therapy one gets strength and corpulence and gives up the defects of the lean.

·        On excessive application of promotive therapy one suffers from obesity.

Uncting—that which produces unction, oozing, softness and moistening is snehana

·        The drug possessing liquid, minute, non-stable, unctuous, slimy, heavy, cold, dull and  soft is mostly uncting in effect.


Some Simple Guidelines


1.      Sleeping or napping during the day is recommended

2.      Favor warm, cooked, and unctuous foods

3.      Sip hot lemon or lime water with meal

4.      Eat three meals per day—main meal at noon

5.      Be sure to drink plenty of water each day—teas have drying tannins and should be avoided

6.      Try to avoid stimulants of all kinds

7.      Generally, eat more carbohydrates, starchy foods (root vegetables, pastas, grains) in the meals of the day

8.      Supplement diet with EFA’s = 1t per meal

9.      Consider Ayurvedic supplement—Cyavanaprasha 1-2 tsp. 3x per day before meals

10.  OR instead of cyavanaprasha in the AM eat 3 –5 dates soaked two weeks in ghee

11.  Take ½ t - 1t triphala at night 1 hour after dinner or before bed if not drinking milk before bed

12.  Drink 1 cup hot milk with pinch of saffron before bed

13.  Do full-body sesame oil massage each morning

14.  Gentle scalp and soles of feet massage with bhringaraja  or brahmi oil

15.  Regularly get to bed before 10PM and arise before 6AM

16.  Reduce dynamic exercise to a walk for 30’ each morning prior to breakfast




 © Copyright 2001 Michael S. Dick All Rights Reserved