Spotlight on Obesity: An Ayurvedic Perspective

Spotlight on Obesity An Ayurvedic PerspectiveIntroduction to Dhatu (Tissue)

  • From Ayurvedic Anatomy point of view, dhatu refers to tissue.
  • In Rasa Shastra, dhatu stands for the minerals.
  • The seven tissues or more precisely, dhatus are important from an anatomical point of view. They are rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), medas (fat), asthi (bone), majja (bone marrow) and shukra (seminal fluid).
  • Basic understanding of dhatus is vital to understand the underlying pathology of the disease.
  • When a dosha or biological humour enters a particular dhatu, a genuine understanding of the tissue or the dhatu helps the Ayurvedic practitioner for prediction of the symptoms of the diseases. It is helpful in providing hints to the best possible treatment.

The existence and growth of the human body is dependent on these seven tissues. These seven tissues are composed of five elements (panchmahabhutas in Ayurvedic metaphysics). When there is an imbalance or in the functioning of the tissues, the disease manifests.

Meda Dhatu (Subcutaneous fat)

  • Meda tissue represents the adipose tissue or the fatty tissue.
  • Medasis body tissue predominant in Prithvi (earth) and Ap (water) Mahabhutas similar to Kapha Dosha.
  • When the mamsa dhatu undergoes a refining, then it is known as meda dhatu.
  • Meda dhatu plays significant role in the lubrication of the body parts.
  • Meda dhatu is also an important constituent of the brain, nervous tissue and the spinal cord.
  • Most importantly, Meda that is helpful in the maintenance of the internal body temperature.

Medavahastrotas (Fat Channels of Circulation)

  • The origin of medavahastrotas (the adipose tissue), lies in the in the vrrka (kidneys) and the omentum.
  • They ensure proper supply of fatty tissue ingredients to the Meda dhatus.

Fat or Medo-roga (Obesity)

Atisthaulya (obesity) is considered as one of the eight despicable conditions as described by Acharya Charaka. A person in whom there is excessive accumulation of Meda (fat/adipose tissue) and Mamsa (flesh/muscle tissue) leading to flabbiness of hips, abdomen, and breast has been categorized as Atisthula.

Obesity and Hyperlipidemia being the most common problems in adolescents as well as older age groups, there is a necessity to combat them with drugs mentioned in classics which may be useful to address the associated conditions of Medodushti.

Incidence

Growing prevalence of obesity worldwide is an increasing concern surrounding the rising rates of Diabetes, Coronary and Cerebrovascular disease with the consequent health and financial implications for the population.

Cause

  • Obesity is a condition in which there is an excess amount of body fat.
  • Excess intake of carbohydrates and fats is linked to the incidence of obesity.
  • There is an imbalance between energy intake and utilization.
  • Obesity is commonly encountered in middle age group.
  • Other factors linked to obesity include genetics, endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism, or malfunctioning of the adrenal glands.

Signs and symptoms

  • An obese patient is at maximum risk of developing cardiovascular and endocrinal diseases.
  • Hyperlipidemia (elevated levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides); hypertension, angina pectoris and diabetes mellitus are common in majority of the patients.
  • In addition hernia, varicose veins, impotency, and osteoarthritis may be seen.

Ayurvedic Remedies

  • Medoharaand Lekhaniya(Anti-obesity and Hypolipidemic) drugs mentioned in Ganas (group of drugs) of Ayurvedic classical texts which may abet our understanding of prevention and management of conditions like Dyslipidemia and its complications.
  • Guggul is an ideal drug in dealing with obesity and complications. Raw guggul should not be used as it can lead to gastritis and mouth ulcers. Ladies having a history of irregular bleeding should avoid Guggul based preparations.
  • Medohara guggul, two tablets twice a day after meals is recommended by Ayurveda as a standard treatment of obesity. It should be consumed for three to six months to have an apparent effect.
  • Trina-panchmula quatha two tablespoonfuls (30 ml), twice a day, is recommended by Charaka Samhita for treating obesity.

Ayurvedic research studies

  • In the present prospective cohort study, 108 patients were prescribed Arjuna powder (5 g, BD) for 3 weeks and then Arogyavardhini Vati (500 mg, BD) for 4 weeks were prescribed to the patients. While male patients were 65.5% (57/87), female patients were 34.5% (30/87). Blood glucose levels, triglycerides, cholesterol, and C-Reactive Protein showed marked reduction while increase in HDL levels were noted.
  • In the present study, 66 patients of obesity were treated with Shilajatu processed with Agnimantha. After completion of therapy, 5.09 ± 0.24 kg and 2.06 ± 0.10 kg/m (2) reduction of body weight and body mass index respectively were noted. The result was found to be statistically highly significant (P<0.001).
  • Vyoshadi Guggulu (1gm thrice in day) and Haritaki Churna (3 gm twice in day) was selected for the management of dyslipidemia in the present study & given for duration of 12 weeks. Total 47 out of 53 patients were completed. After completion of treatment there was remarkable percentage improvement in subjective criteria like breathlessness, parasthesia, confusion, & fatigue.

Precautions and diet

  • Fried foods should be avoided at all costs.
  • Regular exercise under supervision of an instructor is helpful in reducing complications of obesity.
  • The diet should include plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits.
  • The main aim of treatment is to reduce intake of excess of carbohydrates and fats.
  • Vitamin A and C are good for obese patients.

References

Kumar G, Srivastava A, Sharma SK, Gupta YK. Safety and efficacy evaluation of Ayurvedic treatment (Arjuna powder and Arogyavardhini Vati) in dyslipidemia patients: A pilot prospective cohort clinical study. Ayu 2012; 33:197-201.

Kumari H, Pushpan R, Nishteswar K. Medohara and Lekhaniya dravyas (anti-obesity and hypolipidemic drugs) in Ayurvedic classics: A critical review. AYU 2013; 34:11-6.

Pattonder, Ranjan K, Chandola HM, Vyas SN. Clinical efficacy of Shilajatu (asphaltum) processed with Agnimantha (Clerodendrum phlomidis Linn.) in sthaulya (obesity). AYU 2011; 32:526-31.

Ragvani H, Bhatt N, Thakar A. Clinical Evaluation of Vyoshadi Guggulu and Haritaki Churna in the Management of Dyslipidemia. Int J Pharm Biol Arch 2013; 4: 643-6.

To get more info on, and to buy, some of the ayurvedic products mentioned in this article, please click on the links below:

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