An Ayurvedic View on Addiction
by Dr. Vikas Gupta - Indian Medicine and Lifestyle Consultant
In Ayurveda, an addiction grows and becomes manifested because we attempt to calm any form of excesses in our life, like stress, through artificial, external means (drugs, food, alcohol, tobacco) rather than through natural or holistic measures.
Ayurveda views the root of addiction as mental inertia, which is caused by excess mental activity. Addiction is an excess of one of the three Doshas (Vata or Pitta or Kapha). Too much Vata creates anxiety, excess of Pitta creates hot temper and overabundance of Kapha creates lethargy.
This imbalance is acted out in abusive habits. By determining one’s Ayurveda constitution (body type), we can diagnose which element is causing the excess and thus which Dosha to increase and which to decrease.
How can the Ayurvedic approach make a difference?
Ayurveda does not force you to stop the addictive behavior, but encourages you to replace it with another more constructive habit. The uniqueness of Ayurveda is that it not only attacks the roots of an addiction, but also helps to remove the toxins of the body, so there is little to no discomfort from withdrawal symptoms.
In the following you will find a quick guide on how to deal with and counteract addiction – the Ayurvedic way.
At home remedies to counteract additions:
Herbs are a very effective remedy to balance out the excesses of Tridoshas. Herbal therapies include nervine tonics such as Brahmi, Vacha, Jatamansi and Camomile to reduce the emotional need for addictive substances.
Other herbs are used to repair damaged tissues, such as lung tonics for smoking, liver tonics for alcohol and brain or nervine tonic for drugs. Smoking, for example, creates a nervous dependency and irritability. Calamus counters this nervous habit. Aswagandha and Camomile are also recommended to calm the mind. Alcohol damages the blood and liver. Aloe Vera gel is the best herb to promote a healthy liver.
9 foods that help with addiction:
One's diet can be very powerful in reducing excessive lightness and dryness in the body and mind. A balancing diet includes warmer, heavier and oily food that is sweet, sour and salty:
- Dairy products like cow’s milk, ghee, butter, and cottage cheese
- All sweeteners except raw honey
- Heavy grains such as wheat, rice, pasta, oats and buckwheat
- Increase all types of sweet and heavy fruits such as bananas, mangoes, pineapple, papaya and coconut
- Spices such as fennel, cardamom, turmeric, dry ginger and coriander help with digestion
- Mung beans
- Steamed salads and green herbs with chlorophyll
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes
- All nuts are high in fat such as almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts
Which foods to avoid:
Foods that are light, dry and cold in nature with pungent, bitter and astringent taste should be avoided. Eating a lot of dry vegetables in form of salad is not advisable, as this increases the dryness and lightness in body and mind.
Astringent and light fruits such as apple, pear, pomegranate, grapes, peaches and prunes should also be avoided. All vegetables are good except green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower. Very warm and pungent spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, onion and garlic are not advisable.
The spiritual side:
From the spiritual Ayurveda point of view, everyone is addicted to some aspect of life as long as they do not see its true eternal nature. According to Vedic scriptures, the goal of life is to realize one’s inner divine nature, which is eternal bliss; it has no beginning or end.
In today’s tumultuous times, we are more in need than ever for ways to bring about healing. Halt, Expand, Accept, Lovingly act, aka H.E.A.L., is a mindfulness based acronym I developed as a strategy for helping with the healing process. (...)