After many months of graphing my progress with my grain and fructose free trials as mentioned in my previous post it become obvious that I may of experienced all the improvements possible, for this stage in my healing anyway. I would have preferred for it to cure me, but any positive changes are welcomed by me. There was still the issue of ME/CFS and although these trials made a difference, there was a loooong way for me to go to recovery. During the past year I had also tried other complimentary therapies including:
With a GP/psychologist/hypnotherapist who bulk billed which was great! She said within 6 hypnotherapy treatments I would be running and bouncing out of her office. It didn’t seem to happen.
- Osteopathy and Cranial Sacral therapy
- Light yoga
- Yoga Nidra
- Breathing techniques
- Acceptance and Eckhart Tolle
One of my first experiences with acupuncture. The woman was a bit odd, it was a freezing Tasmanian day in the middle of winter, she did not have heating and the needles got a bit stuck. She also read from a naturopathy book the entire time and practised from a tiny, messy room in her house.
- And returning to various conventional GPs for frequents checkups and tests.
I also received from GPs a book on stretching and a free depression screening which was great. They most probably thought I was a hypochondriac.
By this stage I was looking for a new GP who was integrative, had knowledge of ME/CFS, and was supportive. I had been going it alone for a while without proper support. A new naturopath friend referred my to an Ayurvedic doctor in the city. I carried forward much of what I had learned so far, but was interested in what she had to offer as an addition to my regime and I was always keen for new tests, just incase I was not suffering from ME/CFS after all but some weird illness that you can take a pill for and get on with it.
So my new doctor favoured using Ayurvedic medicine as part of her healing regime. I was once again excited to find myself at the beginning of trying something new and had high hopes for a good result.
Ayurvedic medicine is an alternative, holistic healing system that originated in India some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. It was developed by monks who looked for new ways to find optimal health as they believed this was crucial as part of developing spiritually and meditating. Their findings, over thousands of years is what comprises ayurveda, which means ‘the science or knowledge of life.’
Ayurveda is based on the principles of the three doshas. These doshas are the energies that make up each individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body. Every person has all three doshas but when an individual becomes ill or out of balance one dosha can become more dominant. Ayurveda treats every person as an individual with treatments varying depending on the dominant dosha.
When seeing my doctor she assessed me and told me I was very Vata dominant. So what are the main characteristics of Vata?
- When in balance Vata types are:
- Vibrant, enthusiastic and energetic
- Clear and alert mind
- flexible and changeable
- Exhilarated and excitable
- Imaginative, sensitive and lively
- Quick and acute responses
- When out of balance Vata types tend to be:
- Restless, anxious and unsettled
- Light or interrupted sleep
- Tendency to overexert, gain fatigue
- Chronic constipation or gas
- Tendency to worry
- Tendency to be underweight
- Intolerance of cold
- Vata dosha become imbalanced commonly because of:
- Irregular routine
- Staying up late
- Irregular meals
- Cold, dry weather
- Exessive mental work
- Too much bitter astringent, pungent food
- To balance Vata in general:
- A regular routine
- Early bed time, lots of rest
- Warm, cooked foods
- Keep warm
- Adhyanga daily oil massage
- Heavy, more unctuous diet
- Drink Vata tea, add Vata churna to meals (a spice mix)
- Listen to soothing music
Her specific protocol for me incuded:
- She believed I was taking too many supplements and was probably not absorbing them so she insisted we get back to basics. I began taking ultra flora restore by metagenics.
- I had to follow a cleansing, toxin (AMA) reducing, Vata balancing diet. My previous dietry changes were carried through. The diet involved:
- Left over food, processed food, dairy, grains, red meat, yeast, chilled foods and drink, raw foods, dry foods, pungent, bitter or astringent tasting foods, dried fruits, apples, pears, pomegranate, cranberry (apple and pear ok if cooked,) raw vegetables, all beans apart from mung dahl.
Foods to favour:
- Warm, unctuous (oily) cooked foods
- Prodominantly sweet, sour and salty foods
- Fresh food, recently cooked
- Steamed vegetables
- Fresh vegetable soups
- Well ripened fruits
- Small amount of organic chicken, seafood, turkey
- Unrefined sea salt
- All oils
- Sweet fruits
- Cooked vegetables such as beets, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes
- Pepper, cinnamon, cardomon, ginger, clove and mustard
- Nuts if pre-soaked
- Basmati rice and mung dahl
- I had to do a daily Ayurvedic body massage (abhiyanga) with black sesame oil. I did this for 2 months. I had to warm the oil and pour 2 tablespoons onto the top of my head, massage over my scalp, face, neck, arms, stomach, legs and feet. It was actually really exhausting! And my hair was forever oily!
- Followed the above general directions for Vata balancing
- Scrape my tongue with a tongue scraper daily after waking
- Start the day with a warm glass of water
- I had to consume a detox soup twice daily for the first month:
Ayurvedic detox soup recipe:
2 pieces of celery
handfull of spinach
Pinch of tarragon, tumeric, coriander, fresh ginger, and asafoetida
Add 500ml of water to a pot of the chopped vegetables and spices, simmer for 15 minutes.
You can strain off the vegetables and just drink the water or consume them if you like.
I had to drink this 1/2 at 11am and 1/2 at 4pm
- She recommended a Ayurvedic recipes called Kitchari which she told me was very nourishing and easy to digest:
This is a link to the recipe below. It is best to soak your mung dahl overnight before cooking to make it more digestable. I also found I needed to cook it longer than the recipe suggests.
- Another recipe she recommended was a smoothie:
1-2 raw eggs or just the raw egg yolks
1/2 cup coconut cream
Banana or berries
- After a while on the above treatment she put me on a Ghee and castor oil cleanse. This was not pleasant and I am not sure I would recommend it to anyone with ME/CFS. I had to infuse Ghee with a herb called Triphala by heating the ghee and adding the Triphala, sitting for many hours. The cleanse went for 7 days. Day one I had to consume a teaspoon of the Ghee then soon after follow with a teaspoon of castor oil. Each day I would increase my Ghee intake until day seven I was consuming seven teaspoons of Ghee and then the castor oil. The ghee is meant to loosen toxins from the body and the castor oil flushes these out. It was very harsh and caused awful digestive symptoms! Put me off ghee for life!
- Whilst seeing my Ayurvedic doctor I was also referred to a psychologist to undertake Mindfulness, Vipassana meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy. I enjoyed the meditation training, it was intense though, two 40 minutes sessions a day for quite a few months then one 40 minute session per day. Personally I disliked seeing the psychologist and found it extremely exhausting, taking me days to recover from an intense hour of conversation. I would highly recommend Minfullness meditation and Vipassana.
- I was also prescribed practitioner only supplements throughout the treatment including the perviously mentioned probiotic, antiparasitic, Ayurvedic digestive herbs and slippery elm.
- I continued very light yoga and she recommended very simple grounding asanas.
- My Ayurvedic doctor also recommended yet another remedial masseuse. She told me other patients like myself have had amazing results with him. So I booked an appointment and went along to this man. For the first 30 minutes of the consult he spoke to me about my condition, told me how he believed it was all in my head and explained to me about ‘the lizard’. I can not remember exactly what he meant about ‘the lizard’, but he kept on referencing ‘the lizard’ and told me he would ask me to visualize this ‘lizard’ during the massage. I should have walked out then.. But I really wanted to see if it helped so I went along with it. The massage started off gentle and enjoyable. He began asking me deep and personal questions to evoke emotion, really intrusive, personal questions. The massage began to get more uncomfortable and rough. He would occasionally ask me to visualise ‘the lizard’ and he would ask me ‘What is the lizard doing?’ and I said uumm, ‘its in the desert, sitting on a rock.’ I believe the massage began to become inappropriate, too rough and too intrusive. And he began to say that I must have trapped emotions from a past life or that my mum had passed on problems to me on a subconscious level. What bullshit! The end of the consult I will not go into detail about, but after leaving my appointment I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But a big lesson learnt, not to let anyone take advantage of my situation or my vulnerability again. It is at times hard to differentiate between a well meaning practitioner and a fruit loop.
Overall I like the concept and practices of Ayurvedic Medicine. I believe this alternative medicine can play a role in anyones healing regime, but I do not necessarily think you need to go ‘all out’ Ayurvedic to reap the benefits. The aspects I feel helped me and that I still incorporate into my regime are as follows.
- I incorporate a Vata balancing diet which for me includes favouring warm food and drink. Recently cooked, warm food. Heavy, unctuous foods (oily.) Sweet, sour and salty foods (sweet potato, sauerkraut, sea salt.) I do not consume any processed foods. I use unrefined celtic sea salt and stevia as a sweetener.
- Try to keep regular meal times and sleep patterns, but do find this very difficult.
- I Keep warm
- I meditate 2 or 3 times daily, once or twice mindfullness and yoga nidra
- Very light yoga asanas lying down when I can
- Scrape my tongue on waking
- Start the day with lots of warm filtered water
- Oh and neti pot at times, which is flushing the sinuses out with salty water with a funky pot.
On a different note.
Meet my mad dog. Striking some poses for the camera…
Have you tried Ayurvedic medicine?
What was your experience with this?