From an Ayurvedic point of view we can do a lot to prevent the age-related Vata-Dosha from losing control of it. A healthy diet, avoiding stress and lots of exercise help to stimulate bone formation.
For some years now, an interesting development has been observed: The social attention is focused on specific “disease patterns”. The amount of information – by means of health products and advertising – is enormous, and it is directed specifically at topics such as menopause, osteoporosis or cancer prevention.
The question is why such clinical pictures are so present in our times of prosperity. Is it because our life expectancy has increased and as a result these clinical pictures show up like this today? Is it because of the increase in stress factors or even the environmental pollutants to which we are exposed on a daily basis? Or must we ask the question: Who has an interest in these disease patterns?
Osteoporosis is one of the disease patterns whose risks are highlighted in health care. It is a disease of the skeletal system in which bone tissue is reduced by increased bone resorption or reduced bone formation. The decrease in the mineral and organic bone content leads to a reduction in load and structural changes.
In the fourth decade of life the human skeleton reaches the highest bone density. Thereafter, a gradual, natural, age-dependent bone resorption begins, i.e. bone density decreases. However, the decrease in the calcium salt content is usually not a disease, but a physiological adaptation of the body to the reduced needs of old age. Every person suffers from an age-related bone resorption, in which the bone mass is reduced to 50 percent compared to the bone of a 30-year-old person. This is called age atrophy – it causes no pain or symptoms and must be distinguished from pathological bone loss, osteoporosis.
Women are more frequently affected
Women are more frequently affected by osteoporosis than men. After menopause, the hormone drop causes additional bone loss, which stops after 10 years. Increased bone loss can also be the result of hormonal and rheumatic diseases. Movement restrictions due to paralysis or fractures, diabetes, disturbed food intake, tumors or medication can also occur.
In practice, therapists experience time and again how important information about the individual clinical pictures is for those affected. Many people equate a diagnosis with a judgment. They remain in shock, their perspective narrows and often paralyses clear decision-making and the development of solutions. This requires very creative, sensitive work with a lot of tact and sensitivity:
Opening up the perspective so that the cycle of rigidity and fear can be overcome, developing strategies together, giving courage and, in addition to medical measures, helping to take personal responsibility. This is challenging, but also one of the most beautiful tasks for Ayurveda therapists.
Beginning of a new phase of life
In the classical scriptures of Ayurveda it is emphasized that one should start with Rasayana, rejuvenating and restorative remedies, from the age of 40. The body has matured at this time and now needs metabolically stimulating substances and stimulating build up agents to maintain cell renewal.
A new phase of life begins – for both women and men. In women, the shifts are obviously manifested by the climacteric period and the onset of the menopause: an excess of calcium is reduced. In men, it is often called midlife crisis or the male menopause. The aging process proceeds according to the individual constitution and lifestyle.
Environmental pollution, poor nutrition and, of course, genetic factors have to be taken into account. Not to forget stress, which is a one-sided burden on the hormonal and nervous system. The sum of these factors hinders the absorption of vital energy from food and thus significantly reduces cell renewal and tissue regeneration.
In this phase of life the Pitta energy gradually withdraws. The main element of Pitta is fire – with its help we have built our existence and created a family. The Vata-Dosha with its wind/ether dominance increases naturally. The reproductive tissue withdraws, the subcutaneous fat tissue decreases, cell building now needs our support and no longer regenerates itself. Cell structure of the tissue changes.
The physical level reacts with increased sensitivity, dryness and weakness. A change is also taking place on the mental level: there is room for the so-called wisdom of old age, the view on things can change the attitude towards life.
Ayurveda’s emphasis is particularly on supporting the body on a spiritual and physical level at this stage of life in order to promote our mental strength and physical health. In order to balance and restore the equilibrium of forces in the body, Ayurveda works with the opposing principle: where speed prevails, calm is opposed, where heaviness and inertia prevail, dynamics have an energizing and invigorating effect, cold is balanced with warmth, dryness with moisture.
“Space is created for the so-called wisdom of old age.”
The three most important factors in Ayurveda are the Doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These functional principles communicate between body and mind and control all physiological processes in the body. They form the individual personality, our constitution. During an Ayurveda treatment, care is taken to balance the Doshas according to the individual constitution.
Bioenergy Vata, formed from the elements ether and air, embodies the kinetic principle of movement. Properties such as dry, light, cold, mobile, clear and rough are attributed to the Vata Dosha, and most Vata-related symptoms relate to the nervous system, the psyche and the locomotor system. From an Ayurvedic point of view, osteoporosis is a disease of the musculoskeletal system and is caused by a highly increased Vata principle.
Tips for daily routine
Check your lifestyle to find out where you can create little islands of happiness every day. Begin in the morning with a daily preview. Consciously include rest periods into the day, which will strengthen and nourish you to calm your Vata energy and to soothe Pitta.
Sun and fresh air as well as a regular exercise program, which makes you sweat, activate the body’s own calcium balance.
Foods rich in minerals such as milk, fish, green leafy vegetables, almonds, sunflower seeds, mung beans and raw vegetable juices contain a lot of calcium and support bone formation. As a prevention, alcohol and coffee should be avoided. The consumption of sugar, meat and too much white flour products should also be moderate in order to prevent hyperacidity.
Oil massages supply the skin with vitamin E and help the body to convert sunlight into vitamin D and calcium. They nourish the body tissues, relax and stimulate the metabolism. A mixture of sunflower oil, evening primrose oil and wheat germ oil is particularly recommended for daily self-massage before your exercise program in the fresh air or sunbathing. A warm shower afterwards and relaxation complete the feeling of well-being.
Stimulate bone formation
Ayurveda has a wide range of recommendations and applications to prophylactically support the aging process and prevent osteoporosis. In this way we can actively participate in maintaining and stabilizing health. As an obvious prophylaxis we can take care that the Vata-Dosha does not increase excessively. In addition to a healthy diet and stress avoidance, a lot of exercise is recommended, as well as appropriate power exercises to stimulate bone formation. Yoga is particularly suitable for this.
“From an Ayurvedic point of view Osteoporosis is a disease of the Musculoskeletal system.”
The therapeutic measures focus on the reduction of Vata-Dosha and the stabilization of bone tissue. For this purpose we try to filter out where, for example, resting poles can be built into our lifestyle. Often, reserves can be built up through minimal changes in nutrition and may have a calming effect on the bio-energy Vata. Health and nutritional advice support the therapeutic measures.
With regard to nutrition, particular attention should be paid to ensuring that the food is freshly prepared. If there is an increased Vata, one should avoid raw food or products that are difficult to digest. Since the Vata Dosha is considered to be extremely changeable, it is important to eat regularly. In order to counteract to cold, food should be warm, and in order to delay its degradation, it should be well nourishing. In addition, it should satisfy our senses – through aesthetics, taste and smell.
Especially in the seasons that increase Vata – early winter and late autumn – it is important to support the body with warming food, appropriate clothing, warm baths and self-massages. The Ayurvedic massages with their special oils work on the physical and psychological level. Especially in the treatment of osteoporosis they have a strong therapeutic effect through the skin, the largest organ of the human body. They support tissue regeneration, nourish the soul and activate the self-healing powers.
It is important that osteoporosis is not regarded as a pure disease pattern. It is also important to differentiate it from atrophy of old age and to clarify any symptoms that indicate osteoporosis to other causes. Above all: Nourish your joy of living, because your happiness and satisfaction are the most important components of your health.