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Guidelines for Taking Supplements

Q: Why should I take Ayurvedic herbs?

A: To correct the underlying imbalance in the physiology, without causing side effects. Instead of just treating the symptoms, these formulations aim to eliminate the root cause of the problem.

Q: I have many symptoms. Which herbs should I start with?

A: In Ayurveda, we consider symptoms to be like the fruits of a tree. In most cases, there is a common root. There are primary and secondary imbalances. Ayurveda tries to address the primary imbalance first. Treating the secondary imbalances might bring relief, but that is only partial treatment. For example, you might suffer from constipation and headaches at the same time. You need to identify which started first. If your constipation came first, probably due to a diet low in fiber and high in dry foods, your Apana Vata became aggravated. Apana Vata regulates the downward movement in the abdominal area. When it is out of balance, Apana Vata can put pressure on Prana Vata, which is seated in the head. As a result, you experience headaches. So in order to eliminate your headaches, you need to get rid of your constipation first, and then the headaches will disappear. In this case, you should increase the fiber in your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. In addition, take specific Ayurveda herbs to aid elimination. 

On the other hand, if your headaches preceded your constipation, you should try to balance Prana Vata first.

Overuse and misuse of the mind, and mental stress put pressure on Prana Vata and cause headaches. If they go untreated, that can pull Apana Vata out of balance and you may develop constipation as well. To cure the imbalances, you should reduce mental work, and release stress by practicing meditation. Go to bed by 10:00 p.m., and introduce a weekly warm oil scalp massage into your routine.  There are wonderful Ayurvedic traditional herbs that are also excellent for balancing Prana Vata. 

Q: How many supplements can I take at a time?

A: That depends on what you are taking. Some nutritional formulas balance all the three doshas. You can take these with any other herbs. Other supplements have stronger, targeted therapeutic effects which balance specific doshas and subdoshas or support detoxification. These you shouldn't overdo. They are very powerful, and too many of them can overstimulate your physiology. As a general rule, don't take more than four formulas at a time in addition to basic minerals and vitamins. In addition, some supplements may have overlapping benefits.  It's important to follow your Ayurvedic Practitioner's guidance on this.

Q: How many imbalances can I correct at the same time?

A: Focusing on one or two at the most at a time is best. Try and identify the ones that came first with your Practitioner, and work on those to start with. Sometimes you may find that clearing those up addresses some secondary imbalances as well.

Q: How many herbs should I take for the same problem?

A: It might be tempting to take many similar formulas all at once to get rid of your problem quickly. However, you shouldn't take more than two for related issues.  Ayurvedic formulas are designed to take care of several aspects of the same condition, so taking more will not increase their effectiveness.

Q: How long do I need to take the supplements?

A: This again depends on the formula and the underlying conditions. Some rasayanas can be taken all the time. Their role is to strengthen the physiology and support the immune system.

Herbs that are designed to correct a specific imbalance should be taken for 30-45 days after the symptoms are gone. The disappearance of symptoms does not mean that the imbalance is gone. Ayurveda distinguishes six stages of disease; symptoms do not begin until stage four. Even if you are symptom free, you have three more levels of imbalance to clear.

Q: What's the best time to take the supplements?

A: Depending on the dosha vikruti (dosha imbalance) and the agni condition of the rogi, it may be before, during, or after.  When in doubt, take your herbs with meals.  If you take herbs with food, you can tolerate them better, no matter how strong or weak your agni is. Some formulas can be taken at other times; for example, enzymes before meals to stimulate the digestive agni. If you are sensitive, taking herbs on an empty stomach can make your body react too fast. If agni is weak or slow, take the formulas 30 minutes after your meals.

Q: Why is it important to take the supplements every day?

A: Since you use your body's systems and organs every day, they need constant support until the imbalance is fixed.  The body also establishes a rhythm and learns how to synthesize and assimilate the new nutrients.  Add supplements into your daily routine, and if you tend to forget to take them, devise ways to remind yourself. Set a phone alarm or put post-it notes on your computer. Keep the supplements on your dining table instead of in the cupboard. Carry them with you in a tablet dispenser to work.

Q: Is it necessary to change my diet, or is taking the formulas enough?

A: Herbs work best when foods of the similar gunas (attributes) are taken together, and foods that cause dosha aggravation are eliminated.  You can facilitate the balancing process by adjusting your diet and routine. Your Practitioner may advise that you avoid certain foods such as spicy food, oily food, sugars and sweets, cold drinks, etc based on your condition, dosha vikruti, and agni state.

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