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Copper Vessels: The Ultimate Guide (Updated 2020)

Copper Vessels: The Ultimate Guide (Updated 2020)

In this post, we discuss the history of copper vessels, the different kinds of copper vessels and their amazing health benefits. We also explain why you should drink from a copper vessel, how to use them properly and how to make sure you are buying a quality copper vessel. Let's dive right in!

The History of Copper Vessels

Copper vessels are one of the earliest types of vessels ever made after clay vessels. Due to the positive antibacterial properties of copper, it is still widely used nowadays in many medical tools, utensils, and water-storing vessels.

Known as the ‘jewelry of the kitchen,’ copper has been used for more than six thousand years as a material for all sorts of tools, vessels, and kitchenware. Its use is owed to the fact that copper is a highly durable metal with low reactivity, and thus more resistant to corrosion.

Its first recorded emergence dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, where people would craft copper tools, weapons, and utensils as an alternative to stones or clay. In the case of copper vessels, the Mesopotamians would create drinking pots, glasses, jugs, trays, plates, pans, and other items from copper.

The ancient Egyptians soon adopted the use of copper as well. They used it for pipelines, tools and instruments, artistry, cookware, and vessels. For the kitchen, they would craft copper cutlery and utensils like plates, pans, trays, and pots.

Simultaneously, the Eastern cultures would also adopt the use of copper for tools and kitchenware. Perhaps the most prominent example of its use can be traced to the Indian subcontinent, where every household would possess all sorts of copper vessels, utensils, cookware, decorations, and constructions.

Here, copper also received a religious connotation, with ceremonies involving copper coins and vessels still occurring today. Aside from its aesthetic features, copper also had religious importance as it was recognized as a metal which could purify water and fight diseases. 

Ayurvedic medicine illustrates this importance best, affirming copper's excellent antibacterial and disease-fighting properties through the use of copper pots and containers for storing water. Ayurveda places copper among the most important metals, which can balance all three elements in the body – vata, pitta, and kapha.

What Are Copper Vessels

Copper vessels are containers made of copper used to store liquids such as water. They can come in different shapes and have different purposes. The reason that copper is still used in the crafting of vessels is due to copper’s durability and ability to sterilize whatever it touches by killing bacteria and other pathogens.

Nowadays, copper vessels are mainly used for drinking water, as they can sterilize it, alkalize it, and release beneficial copper ions into it. When used for storing acidic drinks (such as cocktails), these copper vessels can be lined with a non-reactive metal to prevent the formation of toxic copper salts.

The Different Kinds of Copper Vessels

Depending on the purpose, copper vessels can be lined or unlined and can vary in size from cups and glasses to bottles and pitchers. Here, we will look at the different kinds of copper vessels and what they can be used for. 

Copper Drinking Glasses/Cups

Copper drinking glasses and cups are used for storing water. They are relatively small and therefore not as effective in the process of creating copper water. This is because the water needs to be stored for 7-8 hours before drinking if you want to achieve the best results.

However, they can still be more effective than non-copper vessels, even if this translates into a minimal release of copper ions. Therefore, this type of copper vessel would mainly serve a decorative purpose and would work well in combination with a copper pitcher. 

Copper Mugs for Cocktails

When it comes to cocktails or other acidic drinks (such as lemon water), the copper vessel needs to be lined with a non-reactive metal to prevent the release of toxic copper salts.

These copper vessels are primarily used for decorative purposes, as they boost the visual and aesthetic effect of the cocktails they are used for. A classic example of the ideal copper mug/cocktail combination is the Moscow Mule, which is traditionally served in a lined copper vessel.

Copper Water Bottles

Copper water bottles are excellent if you are constantly on the move. While they do not store as much water as a pitcher can, they are ideal if you want to switch completely to using a copper vessel for storing drinking water.

Because you would usually drink more often from a copper bottle and refill when it empties, it means that the copper ion count would not be as high as that in a container which has sat with water for more than 7 hours.

Copper Water Pitchers

The copper water pitcher (or copper jug) is the most effective type of copper vessel for storing water. This is because it can store the highest amount of water, and generally enough to serve your drinking needs for a whole day.

Copper water pitchers usually come in different volume sizes and are meant for storing water overnight. They are also the easiest to clean and maintain.

What Can Be Stored in Copper Vessels

As you have read so far, copper vessels are primarily used for storing water and creating copper water. This is because although copper is not as reactive as some other metals, it still reacts with the environment and corrodes over time.

This corrosion can only be enhanced under the influence of heat, chemicals, and acidic substances, and the reaction can lead to the creation of toxic copper salts. This also goes for dairy products and honey.

Why to Avoid Storing Acidic Substances in Copper Vessels

When in contact with copper, acidic substances catalyze corrosion and play a part in the creation of copper salts such as blue vitriol (bluestone), copper sulphate, and verdigris, which can lead to copper toxicity.

In cases where acidic substances have been stored in copper vessels, some people report an acidic or metallic taste, which is a clear sign of a presence of copper salts. When ingesting these toxic substances, one may experience gastrointestinal problems, stomachache, nausea, dizziness, frequent thirst, and other short-term and long-term health issues.

The main issue with having too much copper in your body (which can happen because of copper reacting with acidic substances) is that the body finds it hard to eliminate the excess, potentially leading to copper toxicity.

Why Drink Water from a Copper Vessel

Storing water in a copper vessel is not only safe but also beneficial for the health. As we already mentioned, copper has excellent antibacterial properties, which translates into safer drinking water. However, this is only where the benefits of drinking out of copper start.

When in contact with water, copper releases a safe amount of copper ions which alkalize the water and provide a range of health benefits when ingested.

The Health Benefits of Drinking Water from a Copper Vessel

Aside from the antibacterial and alkalizing effects of copper on water, the copper ions present in it serve a special role in the healthy functioning of the body. Our bodies need copper as one of the crucial trace minerals, playing an important role in a number of functions, which include:

  • Production of red blood cells;
  • Absorption of iron;
  • Regulation of heart rate and blood pressure;
  • Activation of the immune system;
  • Prevention of prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate; and
  • Development and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, and organs such as the brain and heart.

Drinking copper water can help in the following cases:

1. Harmful Bacteria

Copper is an oligodynamic metal, able to destroy as many as 1 million bacteria per milliliter. It has been shown to be extremely effective against bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. Coli, Vibrio Cholerae, S. Aureus, and Klebsiella, which are known to cause serious health issues.

This effectiveness is useful when travelling abroad, especially in developing countries, as traveller’s diarrhea and similar health issues are most commonly caused by pathogens in the drinking water.

2. Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland needs copper to function properly. Therefore, copper has direct benefits when it comes to the thyroid by balancing the gland’s inconsistencies. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been linked with copper deficiency, which can be combated by drinking copper water regularly.

3. Brain Function

The brain works by transmitting impulses from one neuron to another through synapses. These neurons are covered by a sheath called the myelin sheath, which functions as a conductive agent. Copper is one of the main minerals involved in the creation of the myelin basic protein (MBP), directly affecting the formation and stabilization of the myelin sheath.

4. Arthritis and Inflamed Joints

Copper has very potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping to relieve aches and pains caused due to inflamed joints - such as in the case of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to this, copper helps to boost the immune system and strengthen bone tissue, making it the perfect mineral in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Collagen and Melanin Production

Copper plays an important part in the creation of collagen and elastin - two major structural components of our bodies responsible for the scaffolding of the bones, the skin, muscles, and other vital biological structures.

Its antioxidative properties can also prevent skin aging, and its effect on melanin production can aid directly in wound healing, cell production, and protection from UV radiation.

6. Digestive Function

Copper can improve the work of the digestive system in three crucial ways. It kills pathogens which can cause gastro-intestinal issues; it reduces inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties; and it stimulates peristalsis (the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the stomach which helps food to get digested and move along the digestive tract).

7. Cardiovascular System

The muscle and connective tissue in the heart contain elastin and collagen, which, as we saw, are created with the help of copper. It has been found that copper deficiency can, in fact, lead to heart failure, as copper is needed for healthy muscle tone and function.

Additionally, copper helps in sustaining the elasticity of blood vessels, particularly the aorta and smaller arteries, allowing maintenance of proper blood pressure. It also serves as a cofactor for an enzyme involved in the coagulation of blood.

8. Immune System

Copper is necessary for the creation and maintenance of many of the cells and antibodies which play a crucial role in the immune system. These include the white blood cells (which engulf foreign material), antibodies, cytokines, B lymphocytes, and T lymphocytes.

9. Generation and Storage of Energy in the Cells

Present in a copper-containing enzyme, copper affects the release of cellular energy (ATP) inside the mitochondria, which are the power plants of our cells. 

Which Copper Vessel Is Most Effective for Water? 

While any copper vessel is better than no copper vessel for storing water, copper bottles and pitchers are the most effective types of vessels if you want to reap the full benefits of copper water.

This is simply because these vessels can store larger quantities of water at a time, allowing more water to stay in contact with the copper surface for a longer period of time and to become infused with the beneficial copper ions.

Another consideration when choosing a copper vessel is choosing one which has been hammered. This provides greater surface exposure and, thus, more interaction between the copper and the water.

The Importance of Buying Copper Water Vessel from a Reputable Seller

When buying a copper vessel, you need to ensure that it is 100% pure copper if you want to reap the full benefits and avoid exposure to chemicals and other harmful substances.

Not all copper vessels are created equally. There are many sellers who claim to sell pure copper vessels but which are, in fact, plain metal bottles plated with copper. This can result in the copper plating wearing off after several months of use and exposure to a metallic surface which may be even dangerous for the health.

Additionally, some sellers coat their copper vessels with a toxic lacquer which can release chemicals into the water.

Another thing to consider is whether the copper vessels have been crafted correctly. The handles of pitchers and mugs should not be screwed or glued onto the vessel, as this may lead to exposure to other substances which can affect the quality of the water. Furthermore, poor craftsmanship can result in copper shards peeling off the surface of the vessels and ending up in the water.

You will know that the vessel is made of pure copper if it does not have a lot of intricate details. This is because copper is a soft metal, making it hard to manipulate. If you see such intricate details, you may be looking at a copper alloy such as brass or bronze. These alloys may also be different in color - both lacking the classic orange luster of copper.

How to Be Sure that You Are Buying a Good Copper Vessel

Generally, you would want to check for these three things:

1. Ensure a Reputable Seller

The safest thing to do when buying a copper vessel is to buy it from a reputable and market-leading seller. In the case of online purchases, you can check their credibility by going through their reviews. If you are in the market for a copper bottle, make sure you consider Copper H2O, which is the original maker and seller of the highest quality copper water bottles. If you are in the market for a copper water pitcher, make sure you consider Shantiva.

2. Confirm 100% Copper

Ensure that you confirm with the seller that the copper vessel is 100% pure copper. Obtaining this guarantee ensures that your copper vessel is up to standards and is a testament to the quality of the copper used for making the vessel.

3. The Price

When buying a copper vessel, you should not hesitate to spend more, as low priced items generally indicate something flimsy, fake or poorly manufactured. However, this does not mean that the price should be unreasonable. In general, an authentic and well-made copper water bottle should cost between $35 and $45 USD and an authentic copper pitcher should cost between $40 and $60 USD. However, as prices differ from seller to seller, the reputation and quality assertion may be the best indicators.

How Is Copper Sourced for Copper Vessels?

Copper is a naturally occurring element, present in the Earth’s crust and mined all around the world. It sometimes occurs in pure, native form and it is common in many minerals, such as chalcopyrite, chalcocite and other minerals.

The largest sources of copper are from Chile, the USA, Canada, Russia, Zambia, Poland, Peru, followed by a number of other countries.

Alternatively, copper can come from recycled sources. Europe is the current leader in copper recycling with about 41% of the EU’s annual copper use coming from recycling.

Does the Source of Copper Matter?

As long as the copper used in the vessel is pure, the source has little influence. Copper is a natural element which is equally good regardless of the source. The important thing is for it to be 100% pure copper.

The Bottom Line

Copper vessels have been around for centuries for a good reason. They are durable and provide a safe and beneficial way to store water. Drinking water from a copper vessel can benefit you in many ways, and it plays an important part in eliminating plastic waste from the environment.

However, you should be careful where you get your copper vessel from, as some sellers may try to disguise other metals under copper plating or coat the vessels with toxic lacquer. Always ensure that you are dealing with a reputable seller of high-quality copper water vessels.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Drinking Water: How Much Water Should I Drink?

Drinking Water: How Much Water Should I Drink?

In this blog post, we explain how much water you should drink, how to drink water, how often you should drink water, when to drink water, the importance of drinking water in the morning, and ways to help yourself drink more water to stay hydrated. We also explain how making a few small changes in the way in which you drink water (which we call “hydration hacks”) can have a profound impact on your health and well-being.

Introduction

Most of us drink water without giving much thought to how we do it. After all, isn’t drinking water as simple as pressing a water bottle to our lips? In fact, the way in which we drink water can actually be life-changing.

Do you ever find yourself feeling bloated after eating? Do you ever find yourself feeling sleepy or drowsy after lunch or dinner? Do you ever find that your efforts to stay hydrated result in many frantic trips to the bathroom, including at night? Do you ever suffer from clogged pores, acne, or dull-looking hair? Amazingly, these and other issues can be mitigated by adopting a special method for drinking water which has been prescribed by ayurvedic medicine and followed by practitioners for centuries.

How to Drink Water

The most important aspect of the ayurvedic method of drinking water is to ensure that you are drinking water in a manner that permits your body to effectively absorb it and use it efficiently. In order to do so, ayurveda suggests that you adopt what we call the “continual hydration approach” rather than what we call the “high volume hydration approach”. In particular, you should be aiming to take a few small sips of water frequently throughout the day instead of drinking large volumes of water a few times throughout the day.

How Often Should You Drink Water?

In particular, it is ideal to take a couple sips of water at least every 30 minutes (subject to the other ayurvedic guidelines described below). In fact, drinking small amounts of water frequently throughout the day maximizes hydration and accelerates the body’s detoxification process. Accordingly, adopting the continual hydration approach can increase your energy levels, improve the health of your skin, nails, and hair, combat premature aging, improve digestion, strengthen your immune system, and generally result in a greater overall sense of well-being.

How Much Water Should You Drink?

Many people set a particular goal for themselves in terms of the amount of water they need to drink each day and make sure they stick to that goal, even if it requires that they drink a large volume of water in a short period of time in order to “catch up” or “stay on target”. Such an approach may, for example, lead us to drink 2 or 3 glasses of water in one sitting in order to meet our goal of drinking 8 glasses of water per day (more on that later in this blog post).

Most people are surprised to learn that the high volume hydration approach (also known as “chugging”) can be less productive than they think. As amazing and adaptable as our bodies are, they aren’t designed to absorb large volumes of water in a short period of time, which means that the high volume hydration approach will generally result in the water running right through you! Unfortunately, this will not only cause you to go to the bathroom frequently (including during the night, which can disturb your sleep), but it will also deprive you of the benefits of proper hydration. In addition, the high volume hydration approach can, over time, lead to the depletion of essential minerals from our bodies.

Of course, the high volume hydration approach is perfectly understandable! We’re all busy, and we can’t always manage to keep hydrating throughout the day, particularly when our days become loaded with meetings, trips across town, emergencies, and other occurrences that aren’t conducive to always ensuring that we have a nearby source of water. Accordingly, many of us may feel the urge to drink a large volume of water once we return to a source of water so as to help us meet the goal we have set for ourselves.

If you find that your lifestyle tends to push you towards the high volume hydration approach, then there are a few handy “hydration hacks” you can employ to make it much easier to enjoy the benefits of the continual hydration approach. One easy hydration hack is to find a water bottle that you love, both functionally and aesthetically. We tend to surround ourselves with things that give us joy, so a water bottle that meets that requirement is much more likely to make its way into your bag as your leave home for the day. In addition, you are much more likely to actually drink from a water bottle that you love.

Many of our customers find that they have adopted excellent hydration practices through using one of our copper water bottles. In particular, many of our customers have commented that the aesthetically pleasing nature of their copper bottle makes it much more likely that they will keep it at their desk or in their bag when they leave home, and also makes it much more likely that they will take sips from it throughout the day. The gorgeous gleam of pure copper can be a great reminder to keep sipping!

Another great hydration hack is to set automatic alerts on your smartphone that remind you to take a few sips of water every 30 minutes. To avoid intrusions, you can set the alerts to vibrate. While the reminders may be annoying for the first day or two, they should soon help make your new hydration regime a habit, at which time you will have no further need for the reminders and can safely remove them. Interestingly, after a few days of this approach you may also find that your body becomes accustomed to your new hydration regime and that you naturally and automatically take a few sips of water every 30 minutes without needing to actively think about it.

When to Drink Water

It’s also important to keep in mind exactly when you are drinking water relative to the timing of your meals.

Drinking Water Before or After Eating

In general, you should try to avoid drinking water while having a meal and instead hydrate at least 30 minutes before eating or 2 hours after eating. This is important because drinking water can have the effect of dousing the digestive fire that builds up in our stomachs before a meal (this digestive fire is also known as “agni” in ayurvedic medicine). Drinking water well before you have a meal ensures that your digestive system works as efficiently as possible, which can help avoid stomach-aches and that bloated feeling that many people experience after having a meal.

Drinking Water While Eating

The same concept applies to drinking water while eating. In general, you should avoid drinking water during a meal if possible. However, if necessary, and particularly if you are consuming salty foods, it’s fine to sip a small amount of water while having your meal. If you drink too much water while you eat, your digestive system may not operate as well as it otherwise would. In order to avoid feeling thirsty after a meal, aim to have a few sips of water 30 minutes before a meal. In addition to helping you avoid feeling thirsty after your meal, the water will also hydrate your stomach’s lining, which will make it easier to produce enough stomach acid to properly digest your meal.

The Temperature of Drinking Water

It’s also vital to be mindful of the temperature of the water that you are drinking. In general, you should aim to drink room temperature water (or, better yet, lukewarm water) rather than cold water. The logic for this is the same as that set out above, except that cold water is even more prone to douse the digestive fire that builds up in our stomachs. In particular, cold water can freeze the enzymes and fluids in your gut, which can prevent your body from properly digesting food, and which can in turn increase the amount of toxins in your body.

In addition, drinking cold water can cause a contraction of blood vessels, which further increases the likelihood that toxins will remain inside your body rather than being excreted through your lymphatic system, which is essentially the network of tissues and organs in your body that is responsible for getting rid of toxins. The constriction of blood vessels can also prevent blood from circulating throughout your body, thereby reducing the delivery of nutrients through your body.

Conversely, drinking room temperature or lukewarm water supports the lymphatic system, which means that, over time, more toxins will be expelled from the body. In particular, drinking room temperature or lukewarm water flushes the lymphatic system, helps soften hardened tissues, dilates, cleanses and hydrates deep tissues, and heals and repairs the digestive system.

Drinking room temperature or lukewarm water can be particularly important for women during menstruation or for couples that are trying to become pregnant. This is because cold water can reduce circulation in a manner that weakens the reproductive organs. Of course, this isn’t to say that you can never enjoy drinking cold water, particularly on a hot day or after a hard workout! Cold water can be fine provided that you enjoy it in moderation and at least 2 hours before any meal.

It’s interesting to reflect on how the above differs dramatically from the usual custom at most restaurants, particularly in North America. Upon arrival at a restaurant, the server generally greets us with large glasses of ice water – precisely the sort of thing we should be avoiding right before we enjoy a nice meal! To avoid that, try politely asking your server at the outset to provide room temperature water – most servers will understand and will be pleased to do it! And, remember to keep any drinking during your meal to a minimum in order to preserve your digestive fire.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

Ayurvedic principles can also help you determine if you are drinking enough water to ensure that you are always feeling your absolute best. Most of us have heard the suggestion that we all need to all drink eight glasses of water a day to avoid being chronically dehydrated. While this may be a helpful guideline or rule of thumb, it does not apply universally.

In order to maintain good health and hydration we need to take in enough water to replace the amount of water we lose daily through perspiration, excretion, and other bodily functions. The ideal daily water intake varies widely from person to person and will depend on a variety of factors, including a person’s size, diet, age, daily activities and the environment in which they conduct their activities. Obviously, a petite person sitting stationary at a desk in an air-conditioned office will need less water on a daily basis than a very tall person working at a construction site in the blistering heat.

Fortunately, our bodies are very good at determining when they are becoming dehydrated and signalling that fact to us by creating the sensation of thirst. Dryness in the lips, skin, eyes, or hair can also be a good indication that the body is becoming dehydrated. Similarly, inflammation in the skin as well as clogged pores, acne, rashes, and red eyes can be a good indication that you need to increase you water intake. Of course, healthy and beautiful skin is a good indication of proper hydration.

In addition, constipation or infrequent bowel movements, or little to no sweat, can also be a good indication that your body is becoming dehydrated. Finally, the colour of your urine is also a good way to determine the quality of your hydration. Urine that is fairly clear and straw-coloured is a good indication that you are staying well-hydrated, while urine that is dark yellow is a good indication that you need to drink more water.

Best Time to Drink Water

Ayurveda also recommends that you start your morning by drinking water (which is a practice known as “ushapan” in ayurvedic medicine). During the night, our bodies engage in a detoxification process, which explains why we often need to use the bathroom first thing in the morning. You can assist your body in flushing out accumulated toxins and stimulate a proper bowel movement by drinking water immediately after waking up. Helpfully, hydrating first thing in the morning can also reduce drowsiness and make it easier for us to launch into our mornings with energy and vigour.

Remembering to Drink Water in the Morning

To make sure you remember to hydrate first thing in the morning, keep a water glass or other water vessel on your night table. Many of our customers fill their copper water bottles before bed at night, leave them on their night tables overnight, and then drink from them first thing in the morning. Using a copper water bottle also has the benefit of transforming water into natural alkaline water, which can have a variety of health benefits.

Watch for Improvement in Your Body

By making some minor changes to your hydration habits, you can dramatically improve your health and well-being.

After following these principles for a few weeks, you should start seeing results. In particular, you should start noticing that your skin and lips are less dry. You should also notice that the health of your skin and hair has improved. Your skin should also start to clear, your pores should start becoming less clogged, and you should be much less prone to acne or other skin issues.

You may also find that your digestion has improved, that you feel less drowsy in the mornings or after meals, and that you generally feel more energetic. And all it takes is a few simple and intuitive changes in the way you consume water.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Ayurvedic Medicine: History and Principles

Ayurvedic Medicine: History and Principles

Did you know that Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest medical institution in the world? In this blog post, we explore the history and principles of Ayurveda. Let's dive right in!

History

It is believed that the ancient rishis or seers of India received the gift of Ayurveda from their Hindu gods about 5,000 years ago. Essential information for how to achieve a balanced and healthy life was recorded in their sacred texts, the Vedas, specifically the Atharva Veda.

It is said that the Hindu god Brahma, one of the chief triumvirate gods of Hinduism, created Ayurveda. He then transmitted this knowledge to his son, Daksha Prajapati. Daksha passed it down to the twin Vedic gods Ashwini Kumaras. The twin gods became the physicians of the gods, and the Devas of Ayurveda. The twin gods presented Ayurveda to Indra, the king of gods. Indra had three physicians as his disciples, namely Acharya Bharadwaj, Acharya Kashyapa and Aacharya Divodas Dhanvantari. From Bharadwaj’s teaching, his student Agnivesha developed the fundamental Ayurvedic text of internal medicine. Agnivesha’s disciple, Acharya Charak then revised this body of work. This started the tradition of passing down the knowledge of Ayurveda from gods to sages.

The Mahabharata, India’s epic narrative, also tells of the incarnation of Vishnu in the being of Dhanvantari. During the great cosmic churning of the ocean for the celestial nectar of immortality, Dhanvantari emerged, and Vishnu commissioned him to help humanity cure diseases.

The rishis and munis of Indian society dedicated their entire lives to understanding the truth about the universe. They passed down their knowledge and practices to their students, with which the oral tradition continued on for thousands of years. They recorded their discoveries in the holy book of Vedas. One of the most prominent rishis was Bharadwaja who lived around the time of 700 BCE.

What are the Vedas?

The Vedas are the world’s oldest form of literature. They are written in Sanskrit, India’s ancient language. They hold Hinduism’s sacred scriptures, which are said to be records of revelations discovered by ancient seers and sages.

There are four different bodies of the Veda. These are the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. These books detail practices in rituals, worship, hymns, mantras, and ways of life.

Atharva Veda, the latest book to be added to the four Vedas, was compiled in approximately 900 BCE. It is in this body of knowledge that India’s ancient medical practice is comprehensively and systematically outlined.

Ayurvedic Texts

Ayurveda established its own identity as a distinct science after the Vedic period. The Ayurvedic texts are composed of two halves, the Great Three Classics Of Ayurveda and the Lesser Three Classics Of Ayurveda.

The Great Three Classics of Ayurveda consist of Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridayam Sangraha. The Charaka Samhita is believed to have thrived between the second century BCE and the second century CE. The original texts of this book were thought to be written by Agnivesha. He was one of the disciples of Punarvasu Atreya, an Ayurvedic scholar. Agnivesha and his co-disciples created the Samhitas, drawing from the knowledge they received from Atreya and adding their comprehension on the subject. Agnivesha’s Samhita was of particular interest because of its unique and detailed content. Charaka later annotated Agnivesha's work, and focused more on the diagnosis of a disease and channeled Ayurveda as a means of preventing and curing illnesses. Charaka also detailed the medicinal value and qualities of over 10,000 herbal plants.

Sushruta Samhita explains the concept and practice of surgery in Ayurveda. Modern scholars and researchers suggest that the Sushruta Samhita was created approximately in the middle of the first millennium BCE. It is believed to be authored by Sushruta, one of the students of Divodasa. Sushruta Samhita is composed of 184 chapters and presents 1,120 health conditions, 300 types of operations that require 42 different surgical procedures, 121 various kinds of instruments, and 650 kinds of medicine derived from animals, plants, and minerals.

Ashtanga Hridayam Sangraha was formed by Vagbhata some years after the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita were written. It mainly focuses on Kayachikitsa, the branch of Ayurveda that specializes in internal medicine. It was in this body of knowledge that the dosha and their sub-parts were presented in detail.

The Lesser Three Classics of Ayurveda consist of the Sharngadhara Samhita, Bhava Prakasha, and Madhava Nidanam. Sharngadhara Samhita was written by Sharngadhara and is valued for how it specified and explained pharmacological formulations utilized in Panchakarma. It is also in this book that the diagnosis of a person’s health status is made through their pulse. Bhava Prakasha was created around the 16th century, which is one of the later Ayurvedic texts. It also deals with Kayachikitsa, and explains the qualities of various food, plants, and animals in respect of their medicinal and health benefits. Madhava Nidanam emerged around 700 CE and is valued for discussing diseases that involve women and children, toxicology, and conditions of the throat, nose, and ears.

Threats to Ayurveda

The practice of Ayurveda became a tremendously influential force for both the eastern and western world. In fact, Ayurvedic texts were translated into Chinese in 400 CE, and Chinese scholars extensively studied Ayurvedic medical principles in 700 CE. Ayurveda also reached the shores of Greece where it influenced the evolution of medicine in the country.

The great age of Ayurveda dwindled when waves of foreign invasion arrived in India. At around 1200 CE, Islamic forces near Turkey and Afghanistan occupied India. During this period, Muslim culture and traditions infiltrated India’s way of life, which also caused the decline of Ayurveda. These Islamic invaders waged anti-Buddhist and anti-Hindu crusades and destroyed most of Indian culture and literature. A combination of Arabic medicine and Ayurveda emerged, which became known as Unani.

The conquest of the British Empire over India in the 15th century further threatened the principles and practice of Ayurveda. During this time, the British rulers prohibited Ayurveda and promoted the practice of Western medicine. Lord McCauley decreed that English methods of medicine were required to be performed in all territories governed by the East India Company.

During the 19th century, a shift in the Indian political landscape and a nationalist movement reawakened people’s interest in Ayurveda. By the dawn of the 20th century, when India achieved independence, India strived to restore Ayurvedic practices. During this time, Ayurveda was acknowledged as medicine, and the government promoted its growth. Numerous colleges, hospitals, and dispensaries were built. Legislation and government policies were also formed to assess Ayurvedic practice and education. Production and sale of Ayurvedic medicine became regulated under the law. Ayurveda continues to thrive in modern society as a means of alternative medicine.

The Concept of Ayurveda

The word Ayurveda is comprised of two Sanskrit terms. Ayur means life, while Veda translates into science or knowledge. Ayurveda has extensively explored natural methods for improving the wellness of the body and mind for millennia. Ayurveda continues to evolve as it responds to the discovery of new diseases.

The main principle of Ayurveda states that the mind and body are connected and the mind has the power to heal and transform a person’s whole being.

In Ayurvedic practices, treatment is specifically created for each person and will largely depend on the state of his or her dosha. In particular, an Ayurvedic practitioner will assess the composition of a person’s dosha and the illnesses he or she is experiencing. It is only then that the Ayurvedic practitioner will recommend a specific treatment for the illness or imbalance. Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that the manifestation of illness is not the same for all people, and that sickness will vary based on how their bodies manifest the symptoms.

Dosha

Three forces are fundamental to the concept of Ayurveda. These are the vata, pitta, and the kapha. They are also known as dosha. They are thought to circulate through the body and control a person’s physiological operations.

Vata is said to be connected to the wind, always mobile and dynamic, and regulates the central nervous system. Pitta is viewed similarly to the sun, which is the source of energy, and governs the digestive system and other biochemical processes. Lastly, kapha controls the balance of the body’s tissue fluids, the growth of cells, and the body’s muscular tone.

These dosha can also affect an individual’s temperament and personality. The concept of prakruti explains an individual’s dosha composition and suggests each person has a combination of the three dosha. These energies actively change in response to a person’s thoughts, actions, food, and environmental factors such as the seasons. Identifying a person’s dosha composition will enable him or her to take measures that will bring their state to balance.

There are three states in which the dosha can manifest. The ideal state is balanced or having achieved equilibrium. This happens when all three dosha are in natural proportion with each other. Another condition is the increased state where one of the dosha are greater or excess in proportion relative to the others. Lastly, the decreased state happens one of the dosha is depleted, reduced, and lesser than the other dosha.

When the dosha become imbalanced, a person's state becomes what is known as vikruti. It can manifest in physiological and behavioral symptoms. For example, a person who has a dominant vata dosha may exhibit the imbalance through dehydration, low energy, feelings of dizziness, anxiety, confusion, and excessive movement and speech.

Ayurveda seeks to maintain the balance of the dosha. Optimum health is claimed to be achieved when these dosha are in perfect harmony with each other. In contrast, negative health status is said to be a result of an imbalance among the dosha. An Ayurvedic practitioner can customize remedies and therapies to heal a person according to his or her needs and bring the dosha into balance.

Vaidya

The vaidya is a person who practices Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, the word translates into physician. A senior practitioner of Ayurveda is known as vaidyaraja (physician king). Royal families had their own vaidya and were called raja vaidya.

To be a reputable vaidya, one would have to study the principles of Ayurvedic medicine for 12 years. Schools and universities offer formal education in Ayurvedic medicine. A person who desires to become a vaidya can enroll for short-term approved training programs or a formal bachelor’s degree. One does not need to be a licensed medical professional to become an Ayurvedic practitioner. However, Ayurvedic practitioners who want to pursue formal medical training must finish an undergraduate degree. Part of Ayurvedic education includes the study of the principles of dosha, yoga techniques, herbal treatments, and healthy dietary practices.

Branches of Ayurveda

There are eight different components in Ayurvedic medicine that encompass the body’s holistic health. These branches further explain various bodily functions, and how to prevent and cure diseases in these areas:

  1. Kayachikitsa (internal medicine): this branch is concerned with the overall treatment of the entire body. It also focuses on the body’s digestive system and metabolism. Procedures can be executed internally and externally, and may include orally taking medicine as prescribed by the Ayurvedic practitioner and applying oils, lotions, and creams.
  2. Baala Chikitsa (treatment for children): this branch is also called Kaumara Bhritya. It focuses on diseases and sickness that manifest in children. It is also concerned with pre and postnatal care. Ayurvedic practitioners keep in mind that children cannot fully explain the problems they are feeling, that each treatment will be different for each child, and that the medicine prescribed should be pleasant to the taste.
  3. Graha Chikitsa (psychiatry): also known as Bhoot Vidya, this branch deals with problems and diseases of the mind. Some of the treatments used under Graha Chikitsa include herbs, recommended diet, yoga, deep breathing, and Mantra Chikitsa which involves chanting mantras.
  4. Urdhyaanga Chikitsa: also known as Shalakaya Tantra, this branch is primarily concerned with health and issues in the upper part of the body, particularly the eyes, ears, nose, and throat.
  5. Shalyaroga Chikitsa (surgery): this branch is mainly concerned with surgical procedures. It describes the use of surgical devices such as scalpels and scissors.
  6. Damstra Chikitsa (toxicology): this branch deals with the study and remedy of toxins and poisons in the body, food, and environment.
  7. Jara Chikitsa (geriatric): this branch is concerned with the care of the elderly. It focuses on the treatment of sickness and diseases brought about by old age. Therapies focus on rejuvenation, longevity, memory, and strength.
  8. Vajjikaran Chikitsa (reproductive health): this involves sexual health and treatment of reproductive problems such as infertility and the insufficiency of essential fluids.

Components of Ayurvedic Treatment

Treatment in Ayurveda involves four components. These are the Bhishak, (physician/surgeon), Rogi (patient), Upasthata (nurse or caregiver), and Dravyam (food/medicine). These components are linked with one another and must possess certain qualities in order for the overall treatment to be effective.

The bhishak must possess vast medical knowledge and experience. He or she must be dexterous, disciplined, and clean. The rogi must be able to describe the complaints he or she is feeling, comply and follow the bhishak’s prescription carefully, and must be tolerant of the procedures. The upasthata must have substantial knowledge and experience in nursing, must be dexterous and compassionate towards the patient. Lastly, the dravyam should be abundant and easily accessible and appropriate to cure the particular disease. In addition, the herbs must be transformable into different forms and doses, and must be prepared through a method which ensures that it retains all of its desired therapeutic characteristics.

Treatments and Remedies in Ayurvedic Medicine

Diagnosis in Ayurveda is conducted in two steps. The first step is to identify the state and type of pathology. This can involve health examinations and other investigations to determine the disease, such as asking questions and assessing the patient. The second step is to determine the form of treatment to be prescribed or conducted. The status of the patient's strength and physical state is also evaluated in formulating the appropriate treatment.

There are five types of treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. They are all based on the five primary senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. All five methods aim to bring balance to the person’s dosha and can be done in any combination as prescribed the practitioner.

Sight

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the colors a person perceives can affect their mood and the balance of their dosha. Balancing the dosha can be performed through color therapy or chromotherapy. This is best done together with other forms of remedy such as aromatherapy and hydrotherapy. Exposing a person to a particular color can trigger the effects that are needed to balance their dosha.

Some colors that are believed to have healing effects are:

  • red (stimulates circulation and aids those with anemia, fatigue, and exhaustion)
  • yellow (assists in digestion and liver processes and can also work as a decongestant and antibacterial agent)
  • blue (exudes a calming atmosphere and is used to treat inflammation, burns, etc.)

A study was conducted to explore the effects of color therapy on recovering stroke patients and their caregivers. The researchers noted that stroke patients had a level of depression and at the same time their caretakers also suffered from psychological distress. The results showed remarkable difference after color therapy was conducted. The study concluded that the method could be a useful after-treatment therapy to help improve a patient’s psychological state.

Sound

Treatment by sound can be carried out through music, mantras, chanting, toning, and the use of bells, gongs, and bowls. It is believed that vibrations and frequencies can create harmony that are needed to bring balance to the body and the universe. If a cacophony ensues, it will bring disturbance, disease, and discomfort. In practice, one way a person can bring balance and eliminate impurities through sound is to practice Nada Yoga. This can be done externally by focusing on musical notes, the sounds that nature emits, and other non-vocal tones. Internal Nada Yoga involves listening to one’s inner sound. Toning is another method of sound therapy where one can bring balance to a specific region of their body by creating vibrations that resonate with the particular area.

One study proposes that a particular compound is responsible for the physiological and psychological calming effects of sound therapy. Nitric oxide is necessary for the development and function of the auditory system. The researchers explored how nitric oxide mediates the impact of music on the emotion centers of the nervous system. Other research also investigated the effects of vibroacoustic therapy in pain management and the possibility of using it in the nursing environment to help improve patients’ well-being.

Taste

Drawing from the sense of taste, Ayurvedic practitioners can prescribe a diet or a combination of medicinal plants that can balance the patient’s dosha. This composition of food and herbs is tailor-made for the person seeking to bring balance and healing to his or her body and mind.

In Ayurveda, there are six facets of taste. These are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each flavor has a specific function, such as calming the nerves, increasing the absorption of minerals, and stimulating digestion. Ayurveda believes that all six facets must be incorporated into a meal to achieve optimum health. It also makes sense that all six facets constitute complete dietary nutrition that the body needs.

Touch

Treatment through touch can be administered through massages and oils. Various strokes and pressures can affect the dosha and help bring them into balance. One type of Ayurvedic massage therapy is Marna, which focuses on stimulating the flow of life energy (prana) by kneading different points and channels of the body.

One study examined past evidence of massage therapy for the treatment of back pain. The researchers concluded that massage therapy was indeed effective in alleviating persistent backache. Another study was also conducted to see how massage therapy relieved the symptoms of cancer patients. The research spanned three years and involved over 1,000 patients. The subjects were asked to rate the level of pain they experienced before and after the massage therapy. Results showed that 50% of the symptom scores were reduced. The study indicates that massage therapy is linked to significant improvement in cancer patients’ symptoms.

Smell

Remedy through smell is practiced through the inhalation of different scents and aroma from essential oils and plants. The oil molecules reach the limbic system in the way of nerve impulses and send signals to the nervous system. This stimulating of the limbic system can help improve one's memory.

One of the primary forms of treatment is aromatherapy, and varying types of scents are identified as suitable to bring balance to the dosha. Essential oils are mainly used to stimulate the olfactory system and enhance the mood. A relaxing aromatic bath can also release tension in the body. It can also be executed in conjunction with massage therapy using essential oils.

Several studies have been conducted to explore the effects of aromatherapy. One such study examined the effects of aromatherapy on a person’s mood and alertness in relation to math problems. Results of the study showed that subjects were more relaxed, had lower levels of depressed mood and finished the math problems faster.

Another research study investigated the effects of aromatherapy in managing agitation levels in patients with severe dementia. The research used lemon balm and applied it to the patients’ faces and arms. The study revealed a 35% overall improvement in the patients’ agitation level. It also concluded that the quality of life improved for the patients who received the essential oil treatment.

Panchkarma

Panchkarma focuses on detoxification. The purificatory effects aim to improve bodily functions, known as Samshodhana and Samshamana. Panchkarma treatment can be a combination of five processes - Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Niroohavasti (Decoction enema), Nasya (inhalation of medicine through nostrils), and Anuvasanavasti (oil enema).

Studies have been conducted to determine how Panchkarma affects the health. One study observed the application of Panchkarma to 20 female participants pre-treatment, immediately after the treatment, and three months post-treatment, and assessed their quality of life and psychosocial and behavioral states. Results showed significant improvement in the participants’ health and well-being.

Another study also explored how Panchkarma can be applied in geriatrics. Researchers have noted the increase in life expectancy in India and overseas, and how Panchkarma can respond to geriatric diseases.

It is vital to note that Ayurveda can be harmful if it is applied without the direction and guidance of an expert practitioner. A person who has insufficient knowledge of Ayurveda can wrongly prescribe a particular formula of herbs. Some medicines can also be potentially toxic if too much is prescribed.

Ayurvedic Medicine in Modern Times

The emergence of Western medicine and modern science has threatened Ayurveda’s integrity. However, scientific studies and research that aim to objectively investigate Ayurveda have been conducted in an effort to connect current medicine and Ayurveda and to validate Ayurveda’s healing principles.

One researcher produced an article review aiming to connect Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in Western medicine. The article describes a practical evaluation of the quality, methodology, and extent of scientific research in Ayurvedic medicine. The article concludes that Ayurveda and experimental evidence-based medicine should be combined, and encourages researchers to work together with innovative initiatives that explore predictive, preventive, and personalized medicine.

There has also been an increase in demand for Ayurvedic herbal medicine due to its phyto-pharmaceutical properties. Western countries have started to acknowledge Ayurveda as a safer alternative compared to synthetic drugs. However, industrialized production of Ayurvedic medicine is facing the challenge of complying with the fundamental principle that treatment should be crafted and customized for each unique patient.

The SRS Clinic, headed by Dr. Raj Sidhu, makes a distinction between modern medicine and Ayurveda. The clinic states that Ayurveda should not be viewed in competition with Western medicine. There are situations where Western medicine is most suitable, and then there are cases where Ayurveda works best. However, the researchers distinguished Ayurveda from modern medicine on the basis of its healthy holistic lifestyle which addresses the causes of illness and not only the symptoms. Ayurveda also does not trigger side effects like those of modern medicine. It nourishes and rejuvenates the body’s tissues instead of weakening and killing them, which is typically the side-effect of pharmacuetical drugs.

In an interview of Dr. Jayarajan Kodikannath, Director of Kerala Ayurveda Academy, he notes that Ayurveda can work in harmony with other medical processes. Each health system, whether ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, has its strengths and limitations. The essential takeaway to consider is how to combine Ayurveda with modern medicine without any contradiction.

Modern Research of Ayurvedic Principles and Application to Illnesses

A study was conducted to identify the parameters of a person’s dosha objectively. The researchers sought to determine that the phenotype of an individual is similar to the determinants to his or her dosha-prakriti. A similar study was also conducted to explore the concept of ayurgenomics. The researchers also explored how the gene EGLN1 could be the molecular counterpart of the tridosha which regulates different phenotypic outcomes. Ayurgenomics can also be used to identify and discover therapeutic approaches for a specific individual.

Another review explores the causes of cancer from the perspective of Ayurveda. The researchers noted that despite the large sum of money invested in cancer research, there have not been any significant breakthroughs in the past 50 years. Cancer also occurs more commonly in Western countries compared to Eastern nations. The researchers aimed to discover how Ayurveda could be integrated with modern medicine for the treatment of cancer.

Further scientific research was conducted to determine the use of Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. The study looked into a particular Ayurvedic herb known as the ashwagandha. In Ayurveda, herbs are classified as brain tonics or rejuvenators, with ashwagandha ranking first as one of the plants commonly used for this treatment.

Another Ayurvedic herbal treatment was a subject of a scientific study. The rejuvenating properties of Rasayana herbs are worth exploring for antioxidant treatment and disease management. The researchers noted that Rasayana herbs encourage significant antioxidant activity, but only a few have been closely examined.

A recent study also aims to explore the development of modern medicine derived from Ayurvedic ingredients. The researchers acknowledge that Ayurvedic medicines cause fewer side effects and suggest that these herbal treatments be incorporated into the production of contemporary medicine. The herbs used in Ayurveda contain many active components, many of which have not yet been extensively studied scientifically.

Other research examined an Ayurvedic approach to maintaining a healthier liver. The researcher noted a variety of Ayurvedic herbs, such as Andrographis Aerial Parts (Andrographis paniculata), Hellebore Root (Picrorhiza kurroa), Ginger Rhizome (Zingiber officinale), and Embelia Fruit (Embelia ribes). These herbs have been traditionally used to cure liver diseases, promote digestion, and enhance metabolism and circulation.

Ayurveda’s Relevance to Modern Society

Ayurveda has long been acknowledged as an integral part of India’s health system and as an important part of its national heritage. Medical systems such as Ayurveda that are rooted in knowledge and availability of medicinal plants and herbs are a significant component of modern alternative medicine, and play an increasingly crucial role in modern cultures. This understanding of medical processes has been passed down from generation to generation and has been modified along the way with the emergence of scientific research.

The emergence of modern medical practices and remedies has also come with a very significant price point. Ayurveda provides an excellent alternative for people who cannot afford the cost demanded by modern medical treatment due to socio-economic factors.

Finding a cure for severe diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and alzheimer’s disease has been a challenge for medical researchers. Not only are treatments costly, but they also pose the risk of side effects caused by medications. Medical researchers are increasingly turning their attention to Ayurveda.

Since Ayurveda is deeply rooted in spirituality and prescribes a holistically healthy lifestyle, there has been an increase in people practicing its principles around the world. Yoga and meditation have become widely popular globally. Ayurveda-based massages are offered in spas and many people benefit from such services. Ayurveda's influence is steadily seeping into societies internationally. Not only does Ayurveda provide health benefits but it also offers a positive economic impact.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Ayurveda’s relevance and importance to the modern medical field within the context of India during the International Conference on Primary Health Care (also known as the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978). The WHO acknowledged the role of traditional, alternative and complementary systems of medicine in health sectors for both developed and developing countries. With the slogan “Health For All”, WHO outlined the Traditional Medicine Program, which is defined as “the knowledge, skills, and practices of holistic healthcare, recognized and accepted for its role in the maintenance of health and the treatment of diseases. It is based on indigenous theories, beliefs, and experiences that are passed on from generation to generation.” WHO continues to encourage the preservation and promotion of the traditional medicine of each country.

One of the challenges that Ayurveda faces in its development is the standardization of its medicine. For Ayurveda to be fully launched on a global scale, standardization and quality control are essential. Uniformization must begin from the first phase of harvesting raw resources. Ayurvedic manufacturing must also adhere to internationally acceptable standards. However, these standards are mostly relevant to modern pharmaceutical conventions.

This increased interest in Ayurveda has also caused a wave of anxiety for natives in India. Some people think that Ayurveda must not be reproduced on such a global scale as it will become a target of exploitation by multinational companies at the cost of India’s economy and national interest. This fear has also heightened due to new laws affecting patents and other intellectual property. A supply crisis is also threatening various medicinal plants, many species of which are considered rare and vulnerable to extinction.

Medicinal plants and herbs used in Ayurveda are also threatening the conservation of India’s flora. A study was conducted to explore how Ayurveda can support India’s sustainability management practices. Around 1,200 species of herbs and plants are used in Ayurvedic medicine and about 500 are commercially traded. Despite the importance of these medicinal plants, the trade for them remains unorganized, unregulated, and complicated. Entities in India’s central government have intervened to handle issues with medicinal plants, such as the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine (working under the Ministry of Health), the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Biotechnology, among others. Part of their operations for conservation include developing bio and agricultural technologies, identifying threatened species, and regulating the export of medicinal herbs.

How to Implement Ayurvedic Practices at Home

An ancient Ayurvedic practice that is easy to begin yourself at home is drinking copper infused water. Water stored in a copper vessel (which is known as tamra jal in Ayurvedic medicine) balances the three dosha in your body (vata, kapha and pitta) by gently infusing the water with the positive health properties of copper. Water stored in a copper vessel will also become natural alkaline water, which helps balance your body’s pH levels. A copper water bottle is a great investment to create your own tamra jal at home and on the go!

Things to Consider Before Subscribing to Ayurveda

Ayurveda’s existence for thousands of years can be viewed as evidence of its efficacy and usefulness. If you are considering Ayurvedic treatments, you should always consult with your healthcare provider. You should ask their advice on how Ayurveda can be used in conjunction with the treatments they prescribe. You should also be careful not to use Ayurveda as a complete replacement for conventional care or to postpone seeking professional medical attention in favor of Ayurvedic treatments. This precaution is especially vital for pregnant women and children. Lastly, you should disclose all of your health practices, both in respect of conventional medicine and Ayurvedic procedures, to allow your healthcare provider to provide safe, coordinated care.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Mindful Hydration: A Simple Exercise to Reduce Stress

Mindful Hydration: A Simple Exercise to Reduce Stress

In one of our previous posts, we discussed the importance of proper hydration from an athletic standpoint. While fitness is a necessary component of maintaining a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle, we should not forget that most of us spend a substantial amount of time in the workplace. When we speak about proper hydration, we tend to only focus on the things that we can do at home or at the gym.

Unfortunately, there is very little emphasis put on proper hydration in workplace environments. As a result, employees can end up being dehydrated and stressed out. What tends to be overlooked is that well-hydrated employees often yield better results at work. The good news is that proper hydration is a skill that can be easily learned through practice. The other good news is that proper hydration can also be incorporated with another skill: meditation. In this post, we discuss a new concept of hydration called "mindful hydration", which essentially involves drinking water while in a meditative state.

When to Practice Mindful Hydration

Good mental health and productivity go hand in hand in the workplace. It is easier to maintain a sense of purpose and deal with the ups and downs of your workday if you maintain good mental health. However, we all know that mental health can change with life circumstances. Accordingly, it is important to be able to recognize when something does not feel right and take remedial steps. The earlier you do, the sooner you will be able to bounce back and make the most of your potential.

When can you say that you are distressed at work? Mental distress can manifest itself in many ways. You may notice that you become tired much more easily, that you are making uncharacteristic mistakes at work, or that you are lacking motivation. You may also find it hard to arrive at work on time. In addition, you may find that you are isolating yourself from your colleagues.

Mental distress should not be the end of the road. There are many ways to pull yourself back on track. As it happens, there is a simple exercise you can easily perform at work which involves two simple things: water and meditation.

A 90-Second Exercise to Regain Peace and Calm at Work

The mindful hydration exercise provides the benefits of meditation and hydration in a single action, and it only takes 90 seconds to perform. This workplace skill was developed by Bill Howatt (President of Howatt HR Consulting and Chief Research and Development Officer of Workforce Productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto) and Darren Steeves (Professional Exercise Physiologist and co-founder of Vendura Wellness).

Before starting, you should first self-evaluate your workplace situation. You can complete an assessment to help you determine your stress levels. You may also need to determine your hydration levels in order to maximize the benefits of this exercise. Lastly, you will need to have a water vessel (e.g. glass or bottle) that will serve as your ‘anchor’ for the entire duration of the activity.

The mindful hydration process involves the following three step process:

  1. Find a peaceful place without distractions. Take your vessel (filled with water) with you and sit in a comfortable position. Once you are comfortably seated, take three deep breaths and slowly exhale after each breath. Place your hand on your water vessel on your third breath.
  2. After your third breath, be mindful of the water that you hold and appreciate how calm and peaceful it is. During this moment, free your mind from any thoughts and allow yourself to recognize the ‘now’ moment. It is okay if you find it hard to refocus and clear your mind of any thought – that is normal. These first two steps should take you approximately 30 seconds.
  3. It is now time to practice mindful hydration; take a mouthful of water and let it flow down your throat slowly. Take a deep breath between each mouthful and exhale. Recognize the water and appreciate this peaceful ‘now’ moment. Should you become distracted, simply shift your focus back to the water and nothing more. This last step should take you approximately 60 seconds.

Perform this exercise every day for six weeks. After the sixth week, take the assessment again to measure its impact on your well-being and gauge your improvement. You should see a significant, positive change in both your physical and mental health. You may also see a significant improvement in you hydration levels.

Using a Copper Bottle in Mindful Hydration

A copper bottle is an excellent tool to use in mindful hydration. Our copper bottles are not only beautiful works of art, but excellent for your health as well. In particular, water stored within a copper water bottle will become natural alkaline water which offers a variety of health benefits, including increased energy levels and mental clarity.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Intermittent Fasting and Hydration: The Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

Intermittent Fasting and Hydration: The Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

In this post, we reveal our complete guide to intermittent fasting. We also answer common questions, including whether you can drink water during intermittent fasting, and what you should drink during intermittent fasting. We also explain the benefits of intermittent fasting, the methods of intermittent fasting, and safety precautions. Let's dive right in!

Introduction

Humans have been fasting for thousands of years. Humans have been doing so for a variety of reasons: because there was not enough food available, out of religious reasons, and even instinctively when feeling sick. 

So, there is nothing unnatural about fasting. We are well equipped to handle it, and our bodies actually tend to thrive during the periods when we do not eat. There is a long list of health  benefits related to fasting, and scientists have shown time after time that fasting periods can be very beneficial for improving your overall health.

The Science Behind Fasting

Fasting, intermittent or otherwise, tends to have positive effects on your health. First, there is, of course, the obvious weight-loss effect, as we restrict calorie intake and burn fat. This is often one of the reasons why people choose to fast.

But fasting also helps the body fight various diseases and it can improve your well-being even if you are a generally healthy person. This is because when we do not eat for extended periods, the body triggers various metabolic processes which can only happen on an empty stomach. 

The main trigger for these processes is the expended glucose levels in the liver that occur after about eight hours of fasting. Once the liver uses up the glucose it has stored from the food we ingest, the body starts to convert and burn up the glucose that is found in fat cells and muscles.

This is the ‘survival mode’ of the body, which shifts the processes from growth to energy conservation and maintenance. This shift has been observed to have a positive effect on mental health and it prolongs health span.

There are many types of fasting, the most common of which are: 

  • Water fasting, where you drink only water for a set amount of time;
  • Juice fasting, where you drink only fruit or vegetable juice for a certain period;
  • Partial fasting, where you eliminate certain foods or drinks from your diet for some time;
  • Calorie restriction, where you restrict calories for a few days every week; 
  • Alternate-day fasting, where you fast every other day, but eat whatever you want during the non-fasting days. Alternatively, you can eat a maximum of 500 calories on fasting days; and
  • Intermittent fasting, where you alternate between periods where you eat normally and periods where you restrict food intake partially or completely.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a weight-loss approach first popularized in 2012 by Dr. Michael Mosley’s TV documentary Eat, Fast, Live Longer and his book The Fast Diet. Several other authors followed Mosley’s steps, and the trend sparked emerging research-based and anecdotal evidence on its effectiveness.

People started seeing intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight, improve their health, and simplify their lifestyles. And many studies have supported the effectiveness of this method when done properly.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Just like with other types of fasting, intermittent fasting triggers the same metabolic processes in the body which have been reported to improve overall health and longevity.

Dietitian Rachael Link lists the most common benefits of fasting that can improve your health. Looking at matters from a research-based perspective, she concludes that fasting can help with the following:

Promoting Blood Sugar Control

Fasting decreases insulin resistance, which is a state where the cells stop responding to insulin correctly and, in turn, the blood sugar levels rise. As a result of fasting, your body’s sensitivity to insulin returns to normal levels and it can collect and store glucose more efficiently. 

Some studies also connect fasting to a lowered risk of diabetes. Accordingly, some health practitioners utilize fasting as a means to lower blood sugar levels among diabetic patients. However, you should note that the effects in this regard differ between men and women.

Fighting Chronic Inflammation

Researchers have found that intermittent fasting helps to lower and normalize the levels of immune cells, while also controlling proinflammatory cytokine levels. This is especially useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis.

Improving Heart Health, Blood Pressure, Triglycerides, and Cholesterol Levels

Studies have reported that after several weeks of fasting, the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides decrease significantly. Studies have also observed a drop of blood pressure and even a lowered risk of coronary artery disease.

Boosting Brain Function and Preventing Neurodegenerative Disorders

According to several studies, fasting can also improve the function and structure of the brain. It can increase the generation of nerve cells that improve cognitive function and protect the brain by relieving inflammation. Although the evidence behind these claims is based on animal studies, it is nevertheless a plausible one when it comes to human health.

Helping with Weight Loss

The metabolic boost that the body receives when fasting, as well as the restricted calorie intake, have a direct effect on weight management. During fasting, the levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine increase. This helps the body to release the stored glucose which can be found in fat cells.

Increasing Growth Hormone Levels

The human growth hormone (HGH) plays an important role in the body. “[It’s] involved in growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength,” explains Link. During fasting, scientists have observed that this hormone’s levels increased considerably, with some cases exhibiting a five-fold increase in HGH production rate.

Delaying Aging and Extending Longevity

Due to the health processes involved in the fasting period, it is expected that fasting can keep your body younger for a longer time. Some animal studies support these expectations, reporting a delayed rate of aging and increased longevity and survival rates.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

Intermittent fasting is all about timing. It works by splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. When in the fasting periods, depending on the method, you eat very little or nothing at all.

There are many different variations of this type of fasting, the most popular of which are the following:

  • The 16/8 method: Here you fast 16 hours of the day and eat during the remaining 8 hours. It is the simplest method to follow, and it usually means skipping breakfast and eating between noon and 8PM.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Rather than making restrictions on a daily basis, this method involves weekly restrictions. It is a 24 hour fast where you do not eat anything, and you can repeat it once or twice a week. In this method, people usually stop eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  • The 5:2 Diet: This method works on restricting food intake partially. You eat normally for five days and eat only about 500-600 calories for two days.
  • The 6:1 Diet: Similar to the 5:2 diet, this method involves only one day of reduced calorie intake.

When Fasting Becomes Dangerous

Despite the long list of positive effects, fasting is not recommended for every person and situation. For example, people with diabetes or low blood sugar may experience spikes and crashes in their blood sugar levels, which can be very dangerous.

In fact, even healthy people may experience blood sugar drops, especially when they begin fasting. To avoid this, ACE-certified personal trainer Iris Lami suggests taking in more calories from fats during the non-fasting periods. 

Avoid fasting if you are using prescription medications, if you have low blood pressure, or if you have a history of eating disorders. Fasting is also not generally recommended for older adults, adolescents, children, people who are underweight, and women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. 

Regardless of your overall health, it is best to check if you have any underlying health conditions and consult with your doctor, especially if you are planning on fasting for more than 24 hours.

Another risk involved with fasting is improper nutrient intake. As you will be triggering your body’s ‘survival mode,’ it is important to replenish with nutrient-dense foods to maximize the potential health benefits. Go for foods rich in protein, fibers, and healthy fats. Avoid junk food and other high-carb, processed food.

Finally, you need to make sure you stay well-hydrated. Improper hydration during fasting can very easily lead to dehydration and dehydration-related problems. 

The Importance of Hydration During Intermittent Fasting

Do not be surprised if you become dehydrated during intermittent fasting. This is partly because of the fact that around 20-30% of the water we get is from food, and it comes mostly from fruits and vegetables. But another major reason you may become dehydrated is due to the fact that, during fasting, your body will likely be flushing out a lot of water. This can even lead to electrolyte imbalance (which you can combat by simply adding a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water).

Some of the symptoms of dehydration during intermittent fasting may include fatigue, thirst, dry mouth, headaches, slow digestion, and bloating. So, make sure that you stay properly hydrated throughout the day. This will also help you to feel less hungry, especially when you are starting out with intermittent fasting. 

Water is essential for keeping your body cells functioning. It also helps to boost the benefits of intermittent fasting. As the body enters maintenance mode, it starts to cleanse proteins and other structures that have died or become dysfunctional. Without enough water, the body cannot perform the necessary detox efficiently.

This is why you need to take special care to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Most health authorities recommend drinking around 2 liters of fluid every day. However, as Ayurvedic medicine recommends (and many health professionals suggest), we are all born unique, and this means that we all require different amounts of liquids. So, let your thirst guide you for most of the time.

The most important part of the day in relation to drinking water is the morning. Drink at least 500 ml of water after you get up to replenish the lost fluids in your body and boost your body’s metabolic rate. This effect can be enhanced when the water you drink has stronger alkaline properties.

Of course, any liquid intake can contribute to proper hydration (as they all have water), but you should be careful of what you drink during the fasting periods.

What Can You Drink During Intermittent Fasting?

Liquids are important and can be freely taken at any time of the day, regardless of whether you are in the fasting or non-fasting period. And do not worry – it is not only water that counts toward your total fluid intake. However, you should avoid drinks which may raise your glucose levels. 

If you want to sweeten your drinks, stick to stevia, as it does not raise insulin and blood sugar, and it is calorie-free. However, bear in mind that it might trigger a placebo-like insulin response. If you can manage it, the best approach is to simply stay away from sweeteners during the fasting period.

Coffee

Coffee can help to suppress appetite, support fat burning, and reduce insulin sensitivity over time. This makes it a great companion during intermittent fasting, as long as you do not add sugar or exceed the recommended daily dose of 400mg of caffeine.

Herbal Teas

Tea is another great addition to any fast. You can opt for green tea, black tea, oolong tea, or any other tea with antioxidant properties which can further boost the effects of your fast. Try to avoid sweetening it, however.

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you are using apple cider vinegar for its health benefits, there is no reason to stop during fasting. Its potent biological effects, and its ability to lower blood sugar levels, fight cholesterol, and help with weight loss can only add to the effectiveness of the fast. 

Pure Fats

Fats like coconut oil, butter, or even fats from almond milk will not affect your fasting period negatively as long as you keep your calorie intake below 50 calories. Even if you exceed 50 calories, the body should not switch off too many of its current fast-induced processes, but it will likely stop the detox process.

Copper-Infused Water

Copper-infused water can also be a great companion during intermittent fasting. Copper-infused water can supply your body with natural alkaline water, which can help your body thrive. Simply fill up your copper water bottle and leave it overnight. Then, enjoy its benefits with the first sip in the morning.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular fasting methods as it allows more flexibility in how you will arrange your fasting and non-fasting periods. However, avoid eating before going to bed and make sure you stay properly hydrated. 

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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