Mid-Life Tune Up

Posted to Subscribers on 7 September 2013


Dear Subscribers,

The concept of the Mid-Life Tune Up came to me in the early 1980s following reflection on the perils of aging. There were three pivotal incidents preceding this, all involving visits to places where the elderly are, for lack of a better word, warehoused. Several observations were jarring to my psyche and soul. The first was in Sweden. My grandfather had begun many huge projects after retiring, but some 20 years later broke a hip and sold his country estate. He moved into a gentlemen's retirement place run by the former official hostess for the king of Sweden. It wasn't as lavish or ostentatious as it sounds, but the library of a deceased aristocrat was still in place, and the atmosphere was dignified. Visiting my grandfather was, however, very uncomfortable for me because the other seniors would gawk at me in a manner that was disturbing. Few seemed to have their marbles in tact, and they appeared to be plagued by erotic fantasies that seemed inappropriate for their age and mental condition. My grandfather did not socialize because he was too busy reading. He seemed to be interested in everything. He started with the Encyclopedia Britannica and had finished Volume A and was part way through Volume B, reading cover to cover. He also read the accounts of the travels of Sven Hedin in the Himalayas and the Dalai Lama's Autobiography. He wanted to live long enough to finish the entire Encyclopedia.

The second nudge came when put up in a retirement home on the lake in Chicago. I was giving a series of seminars at a bookstore, but the once elegant building was like a ghost town with bodies whose occupants were gone. People would approach me as if they knew me, talk to me as if I were a long lost daughter, but nothing was coherent in the communications. There was a restaurant across the street, also full of seniors, their glassy eyes glued on the television. They felt like zombies, people without thoughts or feelings except for whatever responses they had to a touchdown. I went back to Hawaii in shock. Hawaii has a huge Oriental population that reveres the elderly, and I looked at the ways of growing old in cultures where families are more tightly bonded and the elderly were enjoying the leisure of retirement. Something seeded but did not really germinate immediately.

The third catalyst was a formal visit to a place in Santa Fe where everyone officially did have Alzheimer's. Once again, the confusion of identities, timelines, and inappropriate innuendoes were disturbing. However, my task was to come up with something edible that might improve functioning. Back then, the main supplement that was touted for toxic metals was sodium alginate. Laws did not permit the rest home to administer anything that directly affected health, but they could modify the menu. The owner told me that the "guests" had no idea what they were eating so they could slip whatever they wanted into the food. I suggested seaweed, the source of the sodium alginate in the supplements. On my third visit to this place, I was astonished to be greeted by many elderly people who said, "Good to see you again, Dr. Naiman." Gone were both the confusion over when and where we might have met before as well as the lasciviousness that seemed so out of proportion to the reality of their failing bodies.

Next, while shopping in the health foods store, I bumped into someone who reminded me of one of a my students. She had a startling resemblance to my student except that she looked older than her mother but not quite like her mother. I was staring, trying to figure out who was in front of me. Then, she began to speak, but falteringly. She said she had had a stroke. She was younger than I was, and once upon a time, I was young so we are talking about a stroke at the age of about 40-42. Countless people I knew who were my age were caring for parents who had Alzheimer's and I decided right then and there never to grow old in such a manner and to spare as many others as possible from dementia and premature aging. Thus was born the Mid-Life Tune Up Program.

Tune Up

When our cars have a certain mileage, we change the oil. After somewhat longer use, we rotate tires and eventually replace them. We check the brakes, change the spark plugs, and so on and so forth. We do not however do anything comparable for our bodies. Now, of course, people tune up their computers. They perform numerous tasks in the home: spring cleaning, duct cleaning, major appliance repairs, tree trimming, weeding, etc., but our bodies do not get the same attention. A check up might involve some annual tests of blood sugar, cholesterol, and perhaps more invasive diagnostics such a mammograms, chest x-rays, and the like, but all this generates is information, not overhaul. Some people try to lose weight or build muscle mass, but they are not addressing fundamental issues such as toxicity and infection.

There were two ideas floating around in my mind when the Tune Up Program was conceived. One would simply be to go chakra by chakra, from the first to the top. In the early 80s, this made sense to me because I was heavily involved in endocrinology, rather astroendocrinology, and could still sometimes see anomalies in the chakras and auras. However, this was also about the time that AIDS was spreading like wildfire. I remember my first thought, "Now we have a virus bigger than the bomb." So, this gave rise to a variation of the Tune Up Program which was to address the presenting symptoms first, i.e., deal with the crises, and then tackle the basics. This also makes perfect sense to an astrologer because, since ancient times, we have worked with two malefics. Mars rules acute conditions that demand immediate responses; and Saturn rules chronic conditions that worsen over time but are practically unnoticed in the early stages. For example, you weigh yourself and you realize you had gained a pound, disappointing perhaps but not a crisis. Six months later, you realize you are two pounds heavier than you used to be. This is still not a crisis, but 10, 20, or 30 years later, there might be a crisis unless the pattern is shifted.


More recently, there was third variation of the Tune Up, this based first on darkfield microscopy and later on application of the tenets of Ayurveda. Now, we come almost full circle. In the West, we have reveled in a youth culture, and this somehow fits with our obsession with productivity and income generation. The elderly are nuisances for whom respect is desperately lacking, not universally but to an embarrassing extent. If you do not believe this is carved into our cultural mind set, you need to read up on how Obamacare is to be implemented and how decisions based on age and cost-benefit analyses will play out unless this monstrous plan is overturned. You also need to see how strategies that would prolong life to 120 years or 150 years are sabotaged because our society is incapable of imagining an alternative to retirement at 65.

Anyway, back to the story line. In darkfield microscopy, we can deduce the quality of the plasma by the condition of the red and white blood cells. We can also see what else is in the plasma besides blood cells: bacteria, parasites, residues of pharmaceuticals, evidence of toxic metals, fungi, and sometimes cobwebs of fibrin and long hyphal structures. Okay, so we know the blood is not actually sterile.

In the Ayurvedic system of dhatus, nutrients — that is the essence of food and herbs — are used to replenish tissues, one level at a time, starting, as I have mentioned, with the plasma/lymph, or rasa dhatu, and going up through the stages: blood cells, muscle, fat, bones, marrow, and reproductive fluids. The penultimate achievement is called ojas. The amount of ojas in a healthy body is less than a teaspoon, but great yogis and spiritual adepts work to regenerate this ojas so that they enjoy an exquisite state of physical, mental, and spiritual health. In Ayurveda, the herbs that promote longevity are called rasayanas and all are antioxidants. In Chinese medicine and philosophy, they refer to immortality, not longevity. I have discussed this in depth with a colleague who studied Taoism at the White Cloud Monastery in Beijing. He says that immortality means what we think it means in English. It does not refer to prolongation of life but imperishability.

This actually took me full circle to when I was first studying health and healing. I wanted to know how we repair tissues, why we need to sleep, why we age, etc., etc. In the din of modern life, it is difficult to replicate the circumstances in which immortality would be possible, but we hear of persons who are thousands of years old, but they are in remote areas of the Himalayas or mountainous places in China. Aside from a few such tales, we only think of places like the Hunza Valley or Vilcabamba where people are noted for their relatively long lives.

Well, Hindu philosophy is very complicated and has references to the life span in different eras, the shortest being in Kali Yuga when decadence prevails. One of the interesting points made in this ancient system of knowledge is that the average height also differs in each yuga. This seemed like a fairy tale to most Westerners until giants were discovered in relatively recent archaeological excavations.


Now we have to face the nuances. If one were more or less healthy, the tune up could proceed rather simply, but if someone has 30, 40, or 50 years of deferred maintenance, the tune up could take several years. If an individual is in a medical crisis, the tune up has to be very specific and quick acting. In short, while I could generalize, those generalities are for people who are seeking good health and a meaningful existence in the sunset years but who are not hemorrhaging or gasping for breath now. Common sense is a valuable asset!

So, while I still feel that any of the strategies thus far mentioned are acceptable, there is usually a basis for fine tuning for the individual. Before detailing the strategies, let me introduce one more concept from Ayurveda. Most of you have heard about the doshas. Kapha dosha is a combination of earth and water and is predominant in childhood. In the body, it exists mainly in the form of mucus. The more earth there is, the harder and drier the phlegm, the more water there is, the more fluid the mucus. Pitta dosha is predominant more or less from puberty to middle age; Ayurveda says 16-40, but this is a bit arbitrary and depends on individual constitutional types and many other factors. Pitta is comprised mainly of fire. Vata dosha is stronger as we age. It is composed of ether and air so it is this dosha we need to manage to avoid the signs of aging. Each dosha has a favorite place of accumulation. Normally, earth and water, being heavy, would descend, but when "deranged", they move upwards and fill the lungs and sinus cavities. Pitta is in the middle part of the body, especially the liver — and therefore also the blood. Vata dosha is light and would naturally fill the lungs, but when vitiated, it descends and manifests as intestinal distress. The gases that are formed are due to weak digestion or poor combinations of food. Food that is not digested is broken down by fermentation instead of normal metabolic processes. The gases thrown off by the fermentation are putrefactive and volatile, i.e., they can move quickly. This means that a spasm or pain may be felt here or there because of escaping gases, not hypochondria. The rule with vata conditions is that they are changeable and because they are not dense, they are often written off as non-pathological or psychosomatic. In fact, they are real, just less substantive.

So, ironic as it may sound, there is now an excellent reason for beginning the Mid-Life Tune Up with colon cleansing. There are many issues to address here. The first is digestion. This means that the appetite and intake of food have to match the digestive capacity of the individual. Some foods are hard to digest. Let me give an easy example. Ice cream is cold and sweet so more digestive power must be available for eating ice cream than for consuming yoghurt. Being sour, yoghurt compensates somewhat for a lack of gastric secretions and is therefore much more easily metabolized, providing, of course, that the yoghurt is authentic and wholesome, not something made with a thickening agents and artificial ingredients.

The most vata deranging foods are those that are dry like popcorn and crackers or those that are hard to digest like beans. This also says that if one is vegan or trying to find milk substitutes, soy milk is potentially much more vata deranging than milk substitutes made with nuts or grains. Likewise, when we consider grains, we can think of those that are drying like buckwheat and amaranth versus those that are more moist like barley and oats. Vata types need mucilaginous foods and herbs because otherwise their tissues, especially the joints, will suffer from dryness. Without the lubricating effects of demulcents, movement can also cause friction and pain.

So, back on track again. Foods have to be digestible and then the transit time through the gastrointestinal tract has to be considered. Anything taking more than 24 hours will begin to ferment. This will lead to gas and probably also yeast infections. If you are not sure about transit time, eat something hard to digest, like sesame seeds or raw carrots, and examine your waste for evidence of these foods. They will probably be visible and you will be able to calculate the time elapsed from eating the seeds or carrots to seeing them in the water. If it was more than 24 hours, peristalsis needs to be improved. This is best achieved with mild spices. Spices should not be irradiated or old. They should be used while relatively fresh. It is also better to cook with spices than to add spices after cooking. The reason is that foods will absorb the spices while cooking so they will be easier to digest. Inhaling the aroma of spices and food increases salivation which in turn stimulates the flow of gastric juices.

More Strategies

There are many conditions that begin with bad digestion and elimination that are rarely directly associated with the state of the large intestines. Of course, some problems are obvious to the individual, but perhaps not to the doctor. People know their own bodies and what kinds of embarrassing issues they try to manage. However, they might not suspect parasites or fungi, and yet these are epidemic, not just in sweltering third world countries with poor hygiene and no refrigeration but also in modern economies where hygiene can be more easily managed. Some people are aware that fluoridated water and antibiotics destroy friendly intestinal flora. Others may know this but not that they can ingest antibiotics when eating any animal product, including dairy products. Many people are taking some prescription or over-the-counter medications but do not know the side effects. It's time to look up all the side effects and choose between the benefits and hazards.

In any event, colon cleansing can be as simple as taking some cleansing products:


There are also some digestive aids to consider:


One More Story

Over the years, I have met some people with really hair raising personal stories. One such was told to me by a seminar participant in Laguna Beach. She had been totally dependent on enemas since her teens. Quick on my toes, I remembered passing an Indian restaurant on the way to the venue. It advertised a monthly pass, a really affordable way to eat. I suggested she go there for lunch and check it out. She had an immediate normal movement. I'm sorry if this doesn't make for pleasant conversation, but someone has to talk about what is prohibited in polite circles. The point is that spices are stimulating and they get things moving. However, if they are new to you, you might want to eat in restaurants until you understand how the food should taste. I am saying this because I used to give people kicharee recipes and other recipes. At a potluck one night, a patient who had been fasting for months brought some homemade kicharee than even my dogs wouldn't touch. She wasted months and months of effort by not knowing how to cook. Today, there is no excuse for this because there are videos online that show you step by step how to make scintillating dishes.

Many people have been reading about the benefits of curcumin, but do they realize that curcumin comes from turmeric which is what gives curry powder its yellow color? There is a reason that despite massive pollution, India has a much lower rate of Alzheimer's disease than we in the U.S. have.



Here are some cookbooks:


Finally, I would like to say that while I really believe in good food with lots of scintillating spices, I know from experience with countless patients that juice fasting pays off royally. The reason is that the plasma is cleaned up quickly. Almost everyone, not everyone, but almost everyone would benefit from three days of juice fasting now and then. Those who are seriously ill can fast for 42 days, but others need not commit to such a long fast. The difficulties are mainly in the beginning, food cravings because of habit, not hunger. They subside quickly, usually by the end of the second or third day.

Well, I told you that the label for the new Brahmi Elixir is gorgeous! The elixir is also in stock. Brahmi refers to either Gotu Kola or Bacopa, both are rasayanas, both are mental herbs that are known to improve memory, and both are antiparasitic.


Many blessings,


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2013 and 2016


Ayurvedic Herbs





Seventh Ray Press
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2013

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