Black Sesame Seed Oil: Next Best Thing After Ghee – for All?

blacksesameimages“Dear Vaidya,

What about cold pressed (black) sesame oil, Caraka mentions this as next best after ghee? 

Martin”

Vaidya Answers: 

Dear Martin: yes, this is a good question you raise, as the Charak Samhita states that the next best thing after ghee – in case one cannot consume ghee – is cold pressed black sesame oil. However, again, here we have to take into account the fact that sesame oil, when used as is on its own, can be too heating for high pitta type people. One alternative to correcting this tendency would be to carefully cook tScreenshot 2015-09-14 15.26.00his oil with soma-predominant vegetables – such as toru, or loki. These vegetables will balance out the heating tendencies of the sesame olokiil. Sesame oil is a very unique oil because it can adapt to and adopt the properties of the ingredients it is mixed with. In general, it is ideal for kapha type people, or for people with kapha aggravation, who are experiencing ama production in the stomach due to low-agni and high kledak kapha. In this situation, cooking with sesame oil can be therapeutic.

MCT, Coconut, or Ghee?

“Dear Vaidya:
My students have been asking me about this relatively new product glorified as being very healthy. I’d be very grateful to get your opinion on it:
I’ve never used it myself: https://www.onnit.com/onnit-mct-oil/

Thank you!
Divya A.”

Vaidya responds:
Dear Divya,
MCT vs LCT:Screenshot 2015-08-21 15.27.19
Sometimes more is less! This new tendency to prefer oils that have high content of MCFAs (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) also known as MCT (medium chain tryglycerides) over oils that contain long-chain tryglycerides (LCT) is based on research findings. MCTs have been found to be easier on digestion and easily broken down and absorbed; more readily available in the liver and transformed into energy; stimulating for the body’s metabolism and thus supporting weight loss. Most vegetables oils contain long chain fatty acids (LCT) that get stored in your arteries or in your body as fat, slow down your metabolism, and put strain on your pancreas and digestive system. Compared to LCTs, MCTs have fewer calories per serving, roughly 8.3 calories per gram rather than the standard 9 calories per gram, according to research findings.

In contrast, coconut contains almost 2/3 MCTs, making it the queen amongst healthy vegetables oils, and yet, the new trend is to prefer MCT processed oils over coconut oil. Medium-chain triglycerides, or fatty acids, such as lauric acid, are characterized by a specific chemical structure that allows your body to absorb them readily as a whole, making them easily digestible — because your body processes them as it would carbohydrates, and they are used as a source of direct energy. Lauric acid, as a component of triglycerides, comprises about half of the fatty acid content in coconut oil, laurel oil, and palm kernel oil (not to be confused with palm oil). Otherwise, lauric acid is relatively uncommon. It is also found in human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), cow’s milk (2.9%), and goat’s milk (3.1%). The most popular MCT products have been derived from coconut oil or the palm trees ; the irony is that, however, most lose their Lauric acid content during processing. Lauric acid is prized around the world as a powerful antimicrobial agent, used in both food preservation as well as in drugs and nutraceuticals.
To beat the competition, the manufacturers of this particular brand whose link you have forwarded states that they have added lauric acid to their product, but they do not disclose their method of processing, nor what their source of lauric acid is:

Screenshot 2015-08-21 17.42.12

 

 

In addition, the MCT oil that is obtained is irreparably a processed product diminished in prana, and we do not know what actual properties it carries inside the body once it is ingested. They say they they take their cue from mother nature, but they do so to try to improve upon her creation and make a product that she should have but did not, when there is a naturally perfect product that already exists and that we could be consuming as is, namely: coconuts!

Coconuts, ayurvedically!coconut

Nature has not only made coconut oil rich with nutrients and benefits, but those nutrients are found in such a balanced proportion, along with Nature’s intelligence, that they are very easy for the human physiology to digest, for the liver to transform, and to make available to all the organs of the body. Our body’s digestive system and system organs can metabolize coconut 100%, and whatever bi-products are obtained, the body is able to easily discard them.

Ayurvedically, coconut is a perfect fruit that need not be touched in any way to be enhanced or improved upon. In this sense, manipulating or processing the coconut in order to alter the chemical ratios of long or medium fatty chains, or meddling with the natural intelligence of the coconut’s molecular make-up, is not such a good idea.  Ayurveda does give us the opportunity to process raw material in certain circumstances. For example, we can detoxify certain naturally toxic ingredients or substances in a process called “amritakaram.” But coconut is not one of those ingredients that need this processing, as its naturally somagenic content is balanced and ready to be consumed – as is. For those living in a hot climate, as well as for those with a “high pitta and high agni” digestive tendency, coconut oil is the best oil for cooking, or for drizzling over hot food – preferably not salads. So my suggestion would be to consume organic virgin coconut oil, not processed coconut oil, to keep the intelligence of its natural molecular make-up intact 100%.  But I would add some ayurvedic precautions, even to the consumption of coconut.

Caution for Coconut
On ayurvedic grounds, however, I do caution people. Perfect as coconut is, there are some situations where it should be avoided.  Of course, you can follow the basic guidelines of ayurveda for your body type, and determine whether coconut oil is good for you on a regular basis. However, in some situations, even the ayurvedic body type of high pitta high agni individuals may not be ready to consume coconut oil. For example: if the “kledak kapha” in the stomach is  aggravated.

Kledak kapha is one of the 3 subdoshas that govern digestion in the stomach. In the stomach you have “pachak pitta” cooking the food; “samana vata” churning it and moving it around to expose the food ingested to full cooking; and “kledak kapha” to moisten the food by lubricating it so that it gets cooked and not burnt by pachak pitta! Kledak kapha also helps to maintain the stomach environment in balance by pacifying pachak pitta, and it keeps pachak agni, the digestive fire, under control as well, so it does not burn down the stomach, even or specially so in the absence of food.

If somebody’s kledak kapha is high, then the pachak pitta, the fuel of the digestive fire, becomes sluggish – too much soma moistens and puts out the fire, because the gap, the sandhi, where the cooking takes place, is inundated, and the pachak agni goes low. Think of this in terms of a burner, or ghee lamp wick, which transforms the liquid ghee, in this case pacha pitta, into the flame. When kledak kapha is high, the digestive flame, pacha agni also known as jatharagni, goes low. Then we get an overall digestive situation called: “mandagni,” or low flame. This is when people feel that their digestion is slow, or metabolism is low. In this case, people will still be able to digest the coconut oil, but not 100%. Then what happens?
Ayurveda says that if you digest 99%, and even one percent remains undigested, or semi digested, then you make toxic residue, called “ama.” Toxins settling in the tissues, or organs, or different parts of the body, dampen the metabolic rate and create a friendly environment for bacterial growth. When ama gets to sit in the physiology, it may also develop into a more aggressive type of toxic build-up, called “amavisha.” In the long run if left un-addressed, amavisha creates inflammation that can bring about any chronic disease.

Ghee – for one and all!
So ideally, high pitta and high agni individuals who experience sharp hunger at all times of the year and are able to to process and metabolize food fully without getting a feeling of being bloated, or gas, are the one ones who can enjoy the full benefits of food prepared with coconut oil. As for the rest of us, who may not have that fiery metabolic system, ghee is the best alternative.
The Charak Samhita describes ghee as “snehuttamam” – the best fat for human consumption. Ayurveda explains that in contrast to coconut oil which is high in soma and can therefore be hard to metabolize unless one has high pitta and high agni metabolism, ghee strikes the perfect balance between soma and agni. This is particularly the case when we consumes ghee made the traditional way, from butter that was made from raw cream turned into yoghurt, and not straight from cream/fat. My SVA Mum’s ghee is made from butter that has gone through the fermentation process or the culturing process where live bacteria are involved. Even though after the final cooking step the bacteria are no longer alive, their initial presence endows the fat molecules with agni; in addition, the churning of the yogurt in order to extract the butter, that friction of the churning process also provides more agni. Finally, when that butter is cooked, further agni or fire is infused into it. 600_Triphala_Ghee_1.5_oz__06149.1405391159.1280.1280
In this sense, ghee is the best fat for high pitta and low agni individuals, because this fiery energy helps to clear the “wick” of the digestive process. Ghee has a very high burning point and it is therefore ideal for cooking spices in it – cooking on higher heat, since ghee won’t burn as easily and quickly – allowing for the full potency of spices and herbs to unfold into the fat medium and be transported deeper into the bodily tissues. In addition, ghee carries all the properties that coconut does: it lubricates the brain, the cellular system, nourishes the joints, nurtures the skin. Ghee is even recommended for people who have “mandagni” or low agni (high pitta low agni). When cooked with the proper metabolism enhancing spices, ghee becomes the ideal fat for those with slow metabolism.
In India, in areas where tropical temperatures presides (specially in south India such as in kerala, some parts of Tamil Nadu), or in countries such as Malasia, Indonesia, where extreme hot weather conditions dominate, coconut oil is used exclusively. However, according to Ayurveda, it is not recommended to use coconut oil for long term, specially in cold climates. In countries where the climate varies seasonally, it is possible to use coconut oil in the hotter summer months and then switch back to ghee in the remaining months of the year.
So for your students who ask you whether or not to initiate the use of MCT oils, tell them they should avoid consuming processed fats, not matter what the promises of modern scientific findings, and favor coconut oil in its natural state instead. And then add that you know of something even better than coconut: ghee! You can teach them how to make their own traditional ghee, or show them the SVA ghee. You can also educate them about my herbalized ghee, the SVA Maha Saraswati Ghee, that contains a very powerful herb, jyotishmati (Celastrus paniculatus), that boosts and supports brain functioning and health, not to mention the health endowing properties of ghee itself. Maha Saraswati ghee can be melted to be used on toast, in your cup of tea, or in your sandwiches! Let’s fuse the ayurvedic wisdom of the ages with our modern lifestyles to accomplish the great health we all deserve to carry out joyful lives!

 
References
1. Drugs.com: Lauric Acid
AOCS Lipid Library: Palm Kernel and Coconut (Lauric) Oils
NYU Langone Medical Center: Medium-Chain Triglycerides
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Facts About Coconut Oil — What Is It All About?

Metabolism: Effects of Dietary Medium-Chain Triglyceride on Weight Loss and Insulin Sensitivity in a Group of Moderately Overweight Free-Living Type 2 Diabetic Chinese Subjects
Nutrition Review: Medium Chain Triglyderides: Beneficial Effects on Energy, Atherosclerosis and Aging
ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Is My Allowance for Oils?
2. Know Your Fats, by Mary Enig, Ph.D, Bethesda Press. p. 259
See more at: http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/mct-oil-vs-coconut-oil-the-truth-exposed/#sthash.pZmZsW0N.dpuf

Winter Body and Mind Care with Aromatherapy Soap Bars

Winter weather can be hard on our bodies and minds! Deep cold weather takes a toll on our skin, slow us down in general by shrinking our channels, but also ushers in the “winter blues” resulting from the gloom of grey skies and shorter days. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Keep a SVA diet and routine, with specific attention to your body type so as not to put-out agni; this is key to staying on top of your health. The SVA diet targets the health of your channels so you won’t put on or lose weight when you don’t need to.
  • Maintain a regular self-massage or abhyanga routine: this supports your winter-shrunk channels further but also keeps your skin moist and well lubricated, nourishing it transdermally
  • Use aromatherapy to chase away the winter blues!  Scientists are not yet quite sure how the chemistry of aromatherapy works, but none questions its effects! Vaidya has put together new soap bars that can help you stay on top of things through aromatherapy, even as they nourish and balance your skin with a rich creamy base of organic Shea butter.

You know our skin is the largest organ of our bodies. The skin is not just a barrier between us and the world, it is an intelligent portal, governed by different ayurvedic principles. Ayurveda offers a lot of insight about the proper care of your skin during the different seasons of the

year. Keeping your skin moist and lubricated with regular daily – or at least weekly – self-massage is utmost; using massage oils that contain herbal synergies or nutrients is even better! Using a good toxin-free moisturizer to keep things balanced is of course recommended, but even if you do not heed regular massages or use moisturizers, what gets your skin most is the use of commercial soap bars.

Did you know that regular soaps strip your skin of its natural oil balance not only drying it out but also depleting its friendly bacteria, and delivering synthetic toxic chemicals -preservatives,  and fragrances – transdermally to your entire physiology?
The majority of soaps on the market carry toxic foaming agents (SLS), or preservatives (Parabens), or many more coloring and aromatizing synthetic chemicals that reduce the natural lubrication of the skin. The skin is governed by 3 ayurvedic principles: shleshak kapha,vyana vata, and bhrajak pittaShleshak kapha helps maintain moisture levels and keeps the skin lubricated;Vyana vata keeps the balance of friendly bacteria and nutrients of the skin well distributed; and Bhrajak pittaprotects the skin by warding off unwanted particles and molecules from entering and going into the blood stream, while it invites and takes in all good molecules that are applied on the skin. When you use soaps and cleaning products with chemicals, you disrupt the balance established by these 3 ayurvedic principles one after another, and you can eventually develop chronic skin imbalances.

For example, regular soap bars dry your skin. This meansshleshak kapha goes off. When Shleshak kapha is off, thenvyana vata goes high, and this eventually brings downbhrajak pitta – the skin loses its intelligence as to what to absorb and what to reject. Using a drying
synthetic soap bar for prolonged periods of time will eventually bring in deeper imbalances.
Vaidya’s unique SVA aromatherapy soaps are made with the best organic Shea Butter, packed with the goodness of flower and plant essences, to achieve optimal therapeutic benefits.

What’s in the Aromatherapy Soaps 

Energy

-Nutmeg energizes and balances the body, it is also known to support the nervous and endocrine system. Its sweet and musky aroma brings encouragement and spontaneity. Nutmeg has antiseptic properties.

-Sweet orange is an uplifting aroma whose properties also include:  digestive, diuretic, expectorant, fungicidal, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, anti-inflammatory, bactericidal, carminative.

Inspiration

-Neroli properties range from being a gentle antidepressant, aphrodisiac to being a soothing sedative and tonic substance amongst many other benefits.

-Tangerine is rich in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene. It also helps to release stress and occasional nervous irritability!   Its fresh and citrus aroma is very calming to the mind and body.

Clarity

-Cedar wood properties: Cedar wood Essential Oil has an earthy aroma that is soothing and grounding. It is a well documented oil, used by the Sumerians, Egyptians and Tibetans.

It is also a known to have been used as a tonic, astringent, diuretic, insecticidal, sedative and fungicidal substance. Cedar-wood oil contains the highest amount of sesquiterpenes.

Sesquiterpenes are a hydrocarbon group that is found in essential oils. They stimulate the limbic system of the brain which helps to elevate our mood and helps us relax (overcome stress), hence Cedar wood’s potential in relaxing and helping with focus.

-Ylang-Ylang provides relief from stress, anger, expression and anxiety it strengthens the nervous system and helps maintain healthy skin.

 

Serenity

-Lavender can relieve nervous tension; it has been used to disinfect the scalp and skin,enhance blood circulation and treat respiratory problems.
-Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds- these are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals. It is also known to enhance memory and concentration.

This Winter, luxuriate in the bounty of Mother Nature through SVA flower essence blends – calm your mind and heart and nurture and hydrate your skin with Vaidya’s unique soap bars.