Aging is a natural process of the body, which will culminate in complete cessation of life at a predetermined time. Ayurveda prepares one to face aging with dignity and strength so that aging process can be enjoyed rather than suffered. For this one has to understand what is aging and how to prevent or reduce the ill effect of aging. Thus by following Ayurvedic principles one can lead a healthy long life.
Most of the vata related diseases appear at this stage. So one has to prepare the body against vitiation of vata. Diseases above the neck region which are seen in young age are not seen in old age since old age is dominated by vatha. Some of the common problems which are seen in old age are sneezing, allergic rhinitis and chronic running nose.
Many of these conditions can be prevented or corrected if one follows some lifestyle modifications after sixty. Mainly due to allergens that attack the olfactory area and the body as a safety reaction tries to expel them in the form of forceful sneezing. If the body’s immunity is strengthened and the dryness of the body is reduced by way of internal and external unctuousness, this can be prevented.
An oil with leaves of Bilwa (Aegle marmelos), black pepper and a piece of dry ginger, prepared as per the oil preparation process and used as a head application before bath every day, one can prevent and or reduce sneezing.
Also application of 5 drops of Ksheerabala 101 as nasya (after slightly warming) in the nose, around 7.30 a.m. in the morning for 14 days is very useful to stop sneezing.
Application of oil on the head regularly is a good practice in old age which will prevent drying up of organs above the neck. This condition has to be understood from ayurvedic point of view. The dryness and unctuousness are not objectively measurable. But one can very well appreciate the subjective condition. Whenever there is sneezing one should stop taking things that can vitiate kapha and vata, like fermented food items (baked items), curds and certain kind of fruits especially banana. Sneezing is not a major disease, but it can many a times be a nuisance and prevent one from doing one’s daily chores. Sneezing also can be a premonitory symptom of conditions like asthma. So one should always be careful to maintain a healthy life.
Food is important in old age. Very light and easily digestible food has to be taken. Take warm water avoid milk products except ghee and reduce intake of fried food. Ghee is one of the most misunderstood food item in the science of nutrition.
In Ayurveda ghee is the only thing which has been equated with longevity to the extend that one of the synonym of ghee is Ayu (long life) itself – Ghritham Ayuruchyate.
Ghee when made in the traditional way from cow’s milk, goes through four different stages of PAKA or digestion.
1st when the milk is boiled and then cooled
2nd when added with few drops of butter milk and left overnight for fermentation
3rd when the curd is being churned with a wooden instrument and butter is removed
4th when the butter is melted under low fire till all the water is evaporated. This can be measured by the absence of appearance of bubbles in the heated ghritham.
When the gritham or classified butter or ghee is made in this way it becomes the life enhancing ghee. This is what Ayurveda prescribes for old age.
Any indigestion in old age can result in cold and running nose. We have to see that the agni or the digestive fire is maintained properly in old age. For this, take 1 tablespoon of Ashta Choornam either with honey or with hot water before breakfast, lunch and dinner. In case there is a tendency for constipation take always plenty of water which is boiled with ½ teaspoon of Jeera and a piece of dried ginger. Whenever, there is cold and running nose, take a pinch of dried ginger powder and smell it several times a day. This has tremendous effect in stopping the running nose. If there is running nose and cold, avoid head bath, which will help the body to fight against the cold. Drinking of soups made out of horse gram dressed with onion, black pepper and minimum salt is very useful. This will not only help to improve the agni, but also will help to strengthen the body’s immune system. In old age it is advisable to avoid all deep fried items, which is heavier for digestion and very low in nutrients. When there is cold or sneezing, or both the condition one should not go out in the night. If at all one has to go out, go after properly covering both the ears and head. Proper nutrition which reduces vata, controls kapha and pacifies pitha is the food for old age. They can be designed as per one’s eating habits and food culture. Take only warm food. No refrigerated and reheated food, no deep-fried items and no cold water. These will keep you away from cold and sneezing.