by Bryan A. Miller D.C. & Light Miller Vidya
Summer is a time of “beating the heat” and September is still summer here in Florida. Early morning and evening family visits to the beach and park allow us to enjoy outdoor activities without the possibility of sunstroke. In addition to avoiding noonday sun, Ayurveda prescribes cooling drinks, fruits and veggies as the antidote to the excess “fire” of summer’s sun. Watermelon, salads, mangoes, mint tea and cold veggie dishes (think hummus and
celery sticks) are just a few of the “cool” choices of summer. Mid-day seclusion, a siesta, and light, indoor activities are possibilities to fill time and avoid the rays.
While 30 minutes of full skin exposure gives the body an important supply of Vitamin D, more than this carries health risks. While sunscreens are widely recommended, many components used are toxic and labels must be read to ensure safety. A 2008 study by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) showed 97% of Americans are contaminated by oxybenzone, widely used in sunscreen. It has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage. A better strategy than sunscreen is sun avoidance by wearing a wide brimmed hat (each inch=10% sun protection), scarf, sunglasses (UV protected), long sleeves and pants (even gloves or a parasol) when prolonged full sun exposure cannot be avoided. Evenings at Hollywood’s Young Circle Arts Park are delightful. Groups of happy children frolic on trees and a variety of innovative playground equipment placed on padded Astroturf as late as 10pm.
Return to school can bring some health challenges. Immunizations are presented as “required”. We are now aware of the potential dangers and side effects, such as autism and nerve disorders. It is often not revealed that health or religious exemptions are accepted by the school system. Your child may be required to be absent from school if an epidemic occurs (but you would want your child home anyway). Forms for religious exemption may be requested from the school nurse and completed by your appropriate, cooperative religious authority. Exemption because of medical necessity would be determined if your holistic physician feels that immunizations are unsafe for your child. They may choose to administer homeopathic equivalents to fulfill your immunization requirements.
Many parents of active children fear the label of ADD or ADHD being placed on their child with the associated prescription of Adderol or Ritalin (amphetamines). A study by NIH and Harvard Medical School suggests the children misdiagnosed as ADHD and prescribed medication experience a higher risk of developing depressive syndromes in adulthood. Ayurveda believes that over-stimulation to the nervous system produces this increased activity in children. Soothing massage with sesame oil and relaxing essential oils like lavender, rose and geranium will calm the brainwaves and are a favorite goodnight ritual. Reduction in all sugars (even fruit juice) may be particularly helpful. Studies have emerged recently that sugar is toxic.
Although it goes against modern culture, cutting out or reducing TV, jarring music, video games, computer usage and cell phones will remove what Ayurveda calls “vata” (air and ether) excess. Numerous studies point to behavior and school performance problems associated with these electronic influences.
Family meals, where everyone is encouraged to participate with a story, a poem, a song or a current event makes mealtime a social grooming that produces a feeling of acceptance and support. Family games, exercise and excursions also add these positive effects and will provide pay off in calm behavior and positive relationships in school.
Our children’s behavior begins with the parents. We model for our children the behaviors they will replay in school. Do we speak with calmness, react with patience, move with surety and request with a kind voice? Do we exemplify peaceful conflict resolution? Ayurveda believes the family patterns, like genetic defects, can pass down many generations until a person of vision and clarity sees a pattern and ends it, by force of will. Ayurveda has a ceremony called Tarpana to assist in breaking family patterns.
A build up of toxic chemicals in the body from our environment is unavoidable. When they reach specific levels, they interfere with multiple body systems causing a variety of symptoms. Dr. Benjamin F. Feingold discovered that food coloring and artificial flavoring could disrupt children’s ability to concentrate and perform. Heavy metals in the air, pesticides and herbicides in food, household cleansers and even flea medication (pesticide) on our pets can add to our toxic load.
Ayurveda says that all disease is a failure of the intellect (poor choices). So we certainly can reduce our toxic exposure by making better choices, like buying organic food, avoiding water from the tap and in plastic containers, not allowing pest spraying inside the home, choosing natural cleaning products and so much more. The price of freedom (health) is eternal vigilance. We know the FDA and EPA are not protecting us. Corporate influence at these governmental agencies is at an unprecedented level.
Ayurveda says that we can reduce our individual and family toxic loads by pushing the natural eliminative pathways. Sweating is one way that we eliminate. Exercise, steams and saunas are all ways that we can push this basic pathway. The more sweat, the more elimination. The skin is our largest organ for a reason. The family that sweats together gets healthy together.
Breath, CO2, is a waste gas. It is acidic. The more we breathe, the more we exchange CO2 for O2 (which is alkaline). Many of our accumulated toxins are acidic in nature, so breathing helps to neutralize them. The lungs are the second eliminative organ. Ayurveda teaches that cleansing of lungs can be increased with steam inhalations of eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils. Place a few drops in a bowl of boiling water. Cover the family’s heads with a large towel. Everyone breathe.
Leafy greens and most herbs are alkaline. Juicing vegetables, fruits and herbs makes a detox drink the whole family can enjoy. By combining sweet tasting juice from apples, pineapple, carrot or beet with bitter but healthy celery, kale, cilantro, parsley or wheat grass juice and spicing it with ginger, we produce a juice that tastes good and is good for us. Bitter greens in salad (escarole, dandelion, endive) and bitter steamed vegetables such as collard, kale and mustard are cleansing to the liver. Ayurveda says consumption of these greens is medicine. The liver is our third eliminative organ. Green juices, green salads and green steamed vegetables are the Ayurvedic pathway to cleansing through the liver.
The last eliminative organ is the kidney. We can best help the urinary tract by avoiding soft drinks and excess sweets. Deep spring water delivered in glass containers (MountainValleySpring.com) with pH in the alkaline range is life to the kidneys. Many herbs can also create a cleansing through the urinary tract. As a class they are called diuretics. Blending a good tasting tea that the family can drink for detox is an art. Blood cleansers like burdock or red clover can be mixed with healthful but good tasting teas such as fennel seed, mint, ginger, cinnamon, hibiscus or lemongrass to provide a healthy kidney detox that replaces sodas and fruit juices (sugar is sugar). Everybody drink 3-4 cups a day.
Ayurveda has a system that contains all the above therapies with yoga, massage and special cleanses to produce a rapid detox called Pancha Karma. It is an elegant program offered at destination spas, and beyond the budget of most families. Fortunately, most of Ayurveda is self-care, and with guidance, similar results can be obtained at home, like the recommendations listed above.
So, what can a family do to get ready for return to school? A lot. Beat the sun with outdoor activities, strategies, consuming cool foods and drinks, avoiding immunizations legally. Preempt ADHD diagnosis by healthy behaviors, avoiding toxins in the environment with healthy choices and taking a proactive approach to reducing toxic load with a family cleanse. Are these suggestions radical? Yes, but these are radical times. Never before has the human family been exposed to more distractions, junk food, junk science and environmental degradation and yet, with the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine and the magic of the information age, we have more tools and more choices to guide our happy, healthy families to a safe haven.
Doctor Bryan Miller D.C. and his wife Ayurvedic Vidya (expert) Light Miller practice at the Ayurvedic Center for Well Being in Hollywood. They enjoy assisting families and individuals to healthy outcomes. Call 954-923-4444 or visit AyurvedicHealers.com. See ad pages 32 and 54.