Introduction to Macrobiotics

Macrobiotics is there for such a long time that it has developed in different forms in different parts of the world and hence has different meaning for different people. For some, macrobiotics is simply a method of recovering from illnesses; while some people take it as a compilation of ways to lose weight and look good. However, the true essence of macrobiotics can be summed up in these words: “Macrobiotics is the way of living a healthy life and keeping one’s spirit lively all the time.”

History

The term macrobiotics is derived from the two Latin words “macro” (i.e. large) and “bios” (i.e. life), which was coined by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. According to its etymology, one can conclude that the macrobiotics simply means a large view of the life. But the modern macrobiotics has probably developed from the shiku-yo therapy in 19th century Japan. This food therapy (shiku-yo) was developed by a Japanese doctor Sagen Ishizuka, who was trained in western medicine. He developed this therapy after getting fed up with the ineffectiveness of western medicines that failed to cure his chronic illness.

Macrobiotic Meal

Although there are no definite ways or ingredients for cooking the macrobiotics meals, most practitioners of macrobiotics diet innovate with some basic ingredients like, soy sauce, tofu, seaweed, brown rice and various seasonal vegetables. For example: you can try to cook the deep-fried tofu and the vegetables with brown rice or the brown rice kofta curry. The only thing you need to take care of is the cleanliness and purity of the meal that is the very essence of a macrobiotics meal.

Health Benefits

Though, the proponents of macrobiotics claim that it is capable of preventing and curing several diseases including cancer, it is yet to be confirmed by scientific experiments. Since the macrobiotics diet consists of cereals, whole grains and seasonal vegetables, it is quite obvious to predict that the macrobiotic diet is a nutritious and healthy diet. People exercising the diet regimens of macrobiotics use to include enough amounts of high fibers in their meals and have low fat diet.

Difference from Veg. Diet

Most practitioners avoid including any non-veg item in their macrobiotics diet. But this doesn’t imply that a macrobiotics diet should always be devoid of non-veg items. Earlier the consumption of non-veg items were discouraged in macrobiotics, but in the modern macrobiotics a limited serving of fresh white-meat fish is recommended.

Warning

Before planning for the cooking of a macrobiotic meal, one should be sure that one knows the nutritional facts of the different ingredients going to be used for cooking. A poorly planned diet can lead to the nutritional deficiency. Sometimes, people use to cook very healthy macrobiotic diet but they forget to include all the nutritional components in such diets. Even the long term use of a healthy macrobiotic meal, deficient in one or two nutrients, can lead to severe complications. Pregnant women and children are not recommended to have the macrobiotics diet.

Ayurvedic Cure For Chikungunya

Chikungunya has become the biggest scare in the world currently. After the epidemics of dengue and SARS, now chikungunya has grabbed the attention of people of the world. In some parts of the world, chikungunya is also called as Chicken Guinea, though this is a misnomer as chikungunya has nothing to do with chicken. Chicken Guinea is just an Anglicization of the word chikungunya.

The word chikungunya is etymologically rooted in the Makonde language of Tanzania, where it means ‘that which bends up’. This name is because of the painful symptoms which cause the patient’s joints to curve in an upwards position. The origins of chikungunya can be traced to 1952 in central Africa from where it has become rampant in Asia currently. The disease manifests itself as an epidemic, and if uncontrolled, it might turn into a pandemic.

The latest epidemic of chikungunya is currently going on in South India. The heavy floods in South India in the monsoon region have been responsible for the widespread outbreak of the disease. Southern states of India such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been the most drastically hit. A lot of research is going on in India with respect to chikungunya, in both the allopathic and the Ayurvedic fields. Most people have found Ayurveda to be a solution for chikungunya.

Definition of Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is very similar in symptoms and etiology to the more popular disease, dengue fever. The virus responsible for chikungunya is alpha-virus, which belongs to the togoviridae family. This virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. Only a specific type of mosquito is a vector, i.e. carrier for chikungunya. This is the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is active only in the daytime. The aedes aegypti mosquito is the same mosquito that is responsible for the transmission of dengue fever among humans. The condition of chikungunya is generally not fatal, and it can be remedied within five to seven days with proper treatment. The basic characteristic of the disease is a fever along with an arthritic-type of pain in the joints (which has given it its Sanskrit name).

Causes of Chikungunya

Chikungunya has become the biggest scare in the world currently. After the epidemics of dengue and SARS, now chikungunya has grabbed the attention of people of the world. In some parts of the world, chikungunya is also called as Chicken Guinea, though this is a misnomer as chikungunya has nothing to do with chicken. Chicken Guinea is just an Anglicization of the word chikungunya.

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted through the agency of mosquitoes. The responsible chikungunya virus is the alphavirus, which is carried by the aedes aegypti breed of mosquito. Hence, after malaria, filaria and dengue, chikungunya has become one more reason to exterminate mosquitoes.

The prime method of spread of chikungunya is through stagnated water. The aedes aegypti mosquito lays its eggs only in stagnated water. This explains why there is a widespread outbreak of chikungunya in India currently, which has just recovered from heavy floods in July-August.

Symptoms of Chikungunya

Chikungunya symptoms begin almost immediately after the viral infection. Some of the symptoms are:-

o Fever with very high temperature

o Acute pain all over the body

o Sharp pain in the joints accompanied by swelling

o Severe headache

o Profuse rashes

o Conjunctivitis

o Loss of taste in the tongue

o Mouth ulcers

The following Ayurvedic preparations have been found to be effective against the symptoms of chikungunya:-

o Sudarshan choorna – Two tablespoons of this choorna must be taken per day.

o Yogiraj guggulu – Two tablets per day are to be taken.

Here it is important to mention that there is currently a debate going on about the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines in the treatment of chikungunya, for which no other form of treatment has been found yet. Almost all Ayurveda exponents are of the opinion that chikungunya may not be treated by Ayurveda alone, but the herbs are effective in allaying some of the severe symptoms of the condition.

Ayurvedic Treatment for Chikungunya

The fever of chikungunya normally comes back to normal within two to three days, but the other symptoms persist for over a week or more. The fever is quite different from normal fever since it is accompanied by chills and feelings of nausea and vomiting.

There is no drug prescribed for chikungunya from the World Health Organization until now. Doctors are using aspirin, ibuprofen, combiflam, paracetamol, etc. to reduce the pains and the fever, but there is no universally acceptable treatment in allopathic medicine yet. Some people are benefited by some medication, while others are not. Some chikungunya people get healed on their own after a few days. Hence, medical science is not trusted enough where chikungunya is concerned.

This has led many people with chikungunya to turn to Ayurveda for seeking out treatment. Ayurveda also may not be able to treat the condition of chikungunya completely, but it provides the necessary resistance for the body to combat with the disease.

Since there is no medicine for Chikungunya in allopathy, people increasingly turning to traditional indian medicines (ayurveda). Ayurveda treatment of Chikungunya uses herbal drugs. Some of the kashayams (concoctions) prescribed are Amrutharista, Mahasudarshana Churna, panchathiktha kashayam, Sudarshan Churnam, Dhanvantaram Gutika and Amruthotharam Kashayam. Ancient ayurveda describes a similar condition called Sandhijwara which is similar to Chikungunya in its symptoms (joint pain). Hence some of the medicines can sooth joint pain. At the same time there are reports of fake medicines in which steroids are added. These can cause severe side effects in long term. Hence the best advice is to take rest and drink plenty of fluid food!

Prevention of Chikungunya Fever

Currently there is no vaccine for Chikungunya. There is only way to prevent Chikungunya fever – don’t get bit by a mosquito! This is easier said than done in a tropical area such as India. Some of the following precautions can help reduce the risk of mosquito bites,

o Use mosquito net when sleeping during daytime.