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Fasting & Ayurveda

Ayurveda includes fasting amount its preventative and curative


therapies. Fasting from food or Kshut in Sanskrit helps to pacify
aggravated Doshas (biological principles governing movement,
transformation and cohesion), increase and balance Agni (digestive
enzymes), purify the body of toxins, wastes, dead cells etc. Fasting can
be used for maintenance (for example day-long fasts once a week or so)
or for cure (stronger longer lasting fasts). Ayurvedic fasts are adapted to
individual constitution and your current health situation. There are no
hard and fast rules. It is typical that an Ayurvedic fast is not a complete
or pure fast but permits small amounts of easy to digest, usually liquid
foods.
Who needs to fast?
According to the Asthangha Hridayam, fasting (a reducing therapy) is
useful in these situations:
Diabetes
madoa (toxins in the gut, blood, tissues)
Digestive disorders
Moistness (excess), i.e. too much mucus secretions
Fever (in general)
Muscle stiffness
Leprosy and other skin conditions
Herpes and other viral or infectious conditions (in general)
Abscess
Spleen disorders
Head disorders
Throat disorders
Eye disorders
Overweight
My reasoning (backed up by evolutionaty biology) is that fasting from
food must have been a freuquent asspect of our evolutionary past. It
was only fairly recently that the human population begun to skyrocket.
This is in part (mainly I think) due to the success of totalitarian
agriculture. For example read Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and
Spirit. Basically, we have addapted to exist in a world or non-
continuous food availabilty. Fasting would have been imposed on us.
We cannot expect our bodies to run optimally if we never fast from
food.
Of course, we all fast overnight and between meals. But it seems that
fasting for longer (16 hours or more) at a stretch produces numberous
benefits to the body and mind.
According to ayurveda, fasting alone can cure you and can be safely
used if you fit either of these pre-requisits:
1. You are only mildly obese, of poor strength, suffering from one or
more of the above conditions (but of mild strength), or
2. You have medium strength, an excess of the doshas, and you are
suffering from the above diseases (but of medium strength) and you
are capable of withstanding some strain.
The results of correct fasting are given as:
Keenness of the sense organs
Expulsion/elimination of aggravated doshas, toxins and wastes
A pleasant feeling of lightness of the body
Good taste perception
Hunger and thirst appear together and in a reasonble degree
Pure belchings and clear throat
Reduction of disease symptoms
Increased enthusiasm and welbeing in general
Warning signs that you have gone too far or for too long with
fasting and other reducing therapies:
Profound emaciation
Giddiness
Cough
Severe thirst
Anorexia (lack of hunger)
Loss of moistness, digestive power, sleep, immunity, hunger and power of voice
Pain in the bladder, heart, calves, thighs, upper shoulders and flanks
Delirium
Belching (frequent)
Exhaustion
Vomiting
Cutting pain in joints and bones
Non-elimination of faeces, urine etc.