The Land of Milk and Honey

Posted to Subscribers on 9 December 2009

Dear Subscribers,

Sorry for the hiatus. We are still migrating our hosting and there were some distractions.

I'm sure everyone has distractions this time of year so this email will not be long on ponderous. The continuation of the discussion on memory will be sent later. I wrote it but feel it will take some concentration to read.

In the meantime, I would like to share a few links:

This article may make my continuation of the memory article less dramatic but easier to follow.

Here is one on music therapy:

For the moment, I'd like to tie up some loose ends. When I was younger, the Middle Way did not seem very interesting. However, a point came when the dramas all seemed to be reruns and the Path of Balance became far more valuable to me. Of course, we could ignore the features of the extremes and say, "What the heck, since it's all illusion anyway, nothing actually matters except whether or not you are enjoying the entertainment," but while this is obviously true from one perspective, it is not true from another. We are multidimensional and in one of those dimensions, there is such a thing as health and well-being. It's hard to take these seriously unless the physical reality produces significant discomfort, and then, of course, matter starts to matter.

There were some emails after my last post to you. Once again, I saw how absolutely every single person who wrote focused on something different, zero redundancy! It makes me realize that it's hard to say anything without triggering someone and yet it is also hard to communicate when the attention latches on to one concept and ditches the others. So, now, back to balance!

Let's stay with the air-water drama. If two-thirds of everything we know is water, then this must actually be a formula for the part of Creation in which we currently exist. So, the Earth is two-thirds water and our bodies are two-thirds water, and water itself is actually never isolated completely from the other elements. Depending on the amount of fire present, water may be "solid" ice, or steam. Its nature is to fill emptiness and it is affected by gravity and tends to descend. It moves around objects, and it does this three dimensionally, i.e., to the side or over the top. Excited by fire, water vaporizes and then because of the space — air — between molecules, its nature is reversed and it rises. This requires lightness and this aerodynamic property is achieved by its temporary union with air. You know this already, but what I am feeling is that some readers, mostly those who are already conversant with Eastern medicine, understand the physiological effects of the elements whereas those with a modern medical education think this frame of reference is either quaint or obsolete . . . or perhaps irrelevant to physiology.

So, let me venture where angels fear to tread and propose that, aside from a hermetically sealed vacuum, anything we regard as empty is actually filled with air and that without air, there would be no motion. Will power alone cannot make the muscles move or the words come out. It takes air to stimulate and initiate motion. Blood does not circulate because there are arteries or heart beats, it circulates because of gases in the plasma and the gases also cause heart arrhythmias and pains. In fact, all pain is sensed because of the air element so pain relief has to employ means to subdue the air element. Think about it a bit. How do we operate? on unconscious individuals or under local anesthetics when there is no voluntary motion in the part concerned.

Between Chaos and Coma

Ideally, we would be able to be maximally alert without becoming frenetic or scattered but the moment we hit sensory overload, chances are that we can no longer keep track of details or rely on our ability to stay focused and this chaos reigns until it is displaced by withdrawal from the sources of overstimulation. I already referred to the air-water spectrum as one characterized by alertness, even to the point of hypervigilence, on one end and relaxation to coma on the other. All restlessness, nervousness, and insomnia are due to excess air and all drowsiness, laziness, and sleep are due to water. So, while moisture may be the main observable attribute of the spectrum, there are countless other telltale signs.

Let me translate some of this into food chemistry. Water is increased by foods that are sweet and Ayurveda says that 93% of the taste of all foods is sweet. Dietary staples are sweet because we rely on energy from food to compensate for the lack of ability to use the mechanisms plants use to step down solar energy and prana for vitality and growth. In short, in this world at this time, most people rely on intermediaries to supply energy and the bulk of that energy is sweet. If however we consume too much that is sweet, we risk elevated blood sugar, weight gain, and even coma. The sweet taste has the same energetics as water: moist, heavy, cold. Spices are the exact opposite: dry, light, warm. This is why people in India consume milk that has been boiled with peppercorns or cardamom rather than milk that is refrigerated. It is not only easier to digest, but it is less mucus-forming and heavy.

The sour taste comes from acids which are natural to the food, such as in fruit — citric acid, sorbic acid, malic acid, etc. — or in fermented foods such as lactic acid in yoghurt, acetic acid in vinegar, or tartaric (and malic) acids in wine. These acids make the foods easier to digest so whereas the sour taste also tends to increase water in the body, it is a mixture of water and fire and therefore less imbalancing to water types than the sweet taste. To make the bottom line 100% clear, let's look at dairy products and suggest that ice cream would derange the water element much more than milk because it is even colder and sweeter than milk whereas warm milk with spices or kefir or yoghurt would be less imbalancing.

Spices and acids are both fiery but they function differently. Spices stimulate by exciting taste buds and convincing the body to produce more digestive secretions. The aromatic oils in the spices account for most of this action so the response is consistent with the arousing power of fire. However, acids actually compensate somewhat for the lack of acidity of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach which is why foods which are sour are easier to digest than foods with different chemistry. In short, a fruit fast is not only purifying but it makes few demands on the body while supplying most of what the body needs.

In 1941, Stanley Burroughs introduced a fast using lemon juice, cayenne, and maple syrup. I found that water types could often tolerate the fast for two months whereas air types became severely electrolyte imbalanced and whacked out after only 2-3 days, which, in any event, is the maximum amount of fasting time advised for these fast metabolizers. The moment you understand the energetics, you realize why people with different constitutional types need different foods.

In the "affluent society" scenario, many natural health regimes begin with concepts such as the one apparently held by Burroughs, but surfeit is not always the issue. In many parts of the world, hunger is epidemic and fasting would be insane. When there is excess, it is generally kept as a reserve but this means fat and sugar congestion in the liver and spillover in other parts of the body as well. To the extent that there is more than can be metabolized or more than is needed, the excess can become a liability, this in the form of cholesterol or high blood sugar or lipomas or weight gain.

Ayurvedic Digestive Aids

Recently, Banyan Botanicals renamed some of its traditional formulas and came out with "dosha" names for the same. It now has three digestive aids. Vata Digest is the new name for Hingvastak, a formula based on asafoetida, an exudate from the root of a plant. In addition to the "hing", it has carminative spices and hot spices plus minerals, something very much needed by vata types. Kapha Digest is the traditional Trikatu, the Sanskrit name meaning "three peppers". These same hot spices are in Vata Digest but in much lesser amounts whereas Kapha Digest does not have the carminative seeds. Now, they have a new product, just released, called Pitta Digest. It is more cooling and uses some bitter and sweet herbs as well as the carminatives. It is all perfectly logical once you understand the metabolic variations both between individuals and food preparations. Obviously, with the right foods, no supplements would be necessary but few of us are there yet.


Many who wrote seemed to instantly grasp what I meant when saying it is generally better to tonify the weak element than to pacify to deranged one. It is also easier. So, to be tidy, Banyan now has three "healthy dosha" formulas. Healthy Vata has tonic herbs for the reproductive system and brain, just as one would expect when ojas is weak. It is intended for year round use by those with vata constitutions. Healthy Kapha, as one would expect, contains fruit and herbs that are somewhat more stimulating. These are intended to prevent congestion in the arteries, liver, and lymphatic system, and to aid fat metabolism. The new Healthy Pitta can be used by those with pitta constitutions or mixed pitta and something else or during the pitta season, summer. It is gently detoxifying — deacidifying — and nourishing to the head, hair, and liver. Banyan seems to be mastering the art of user-friendly formulations, but they have been doing what they are doing for quite a while now so this truly seems like a natural step for them. However, if the truth be known, all foods and herbs have chemistry so all impact the doshas one way or another.

Keeping it Short

I know that most of you are busy with the preparations for the holidays. I would like to wish you all healthy, safe, and pleasant celebrations with those you love. I also urge you to take every opportunity you can to plant the seeds for our sustainable future. Please talk to those who have gardens, those who need to trim expenses, those who care about food quality and what's in commercially produced food, and those who are environmental and or passionate about returning to Nature.

Many blessings,


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2009


Ayurvedic Herbs





Seventh Ray Press
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2010

Home || Contact Us

No content on any of the pages of this web site may be reproduced without written permission of
Ingrid Naiman and Seventh Ray Press, publisher of this site.


Design by Damien Francoeur