We are back
again with our next Newsletter on Obesity this time. Ayurveda
deals with obesity in a different perspective as compared to
the modern science. Ayurveda defines various causes and
treatments to help obese person to reduce weight. This article on 'Ayurveda approach to obesity' explains
thorough understanding about principles and practice of weight
management in Ayurveda. It is bit technical but it is required
to understand the subject from its core and not merely taking
weight loss tips. It will be simplification of the subject if
I put some weight loss tips from Ayurveda and such tips are
available everywhere. So, do enjoy reading interesting
knowledge from Ayurveda. We heartily welcome your
suggestion on our newsletter how to make it more useful and
Best Regards and Namaste.
Dr. Rajesh Kotecha 'Vaidya', M.D. (Ayurveda)
Chakrapani Ayurveda Clinic and Research Center
Ayurvedic Approach to Obesity by Rajesh Kotecha
WHAT IS OBESITY?
Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissues of the body, is increased to a point where it is associated with certain health conditions or increased mortality. Obesity is both an individual clinical condition and is increasingly viewed as a serious public health problem. Obesity contributes too much morbidities in the population and it is known as causative or precipitating factor for various killer ailments like diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery diseases, joint disorders, Gall Bladder disease, Breast, Prostrate and Colon Cancers, Respiratory problems, Stroke, Heart diseases, etc.
OBESITY IN AYURVEDA
Obesity has been described by the term Sthaulya Roga in various Ayurvedic classics. According to Ayurveda, Obesity is the excess amount of body fat. In this way excess weight of muscles, bone, fat and water in the body can be labeled as Obesity, also known as overweight.
Ayurveda included Atisthula (obese or overweight) person in Ashta Nindatiya Purushas (eight despised or undesirable physiques). These eight despised persons are Atideergha (very tall), Atihriswa (very short stature), Atigaura (very fair colored or complexion), Atikrishna (very black colored or complexion), Atiloma (with excessive body hairs), Aloma (absence of body hairs), Atikrisha (excessive thin or emaciated persons) and Atisthula (obese or overweight). Ayurveda further stated that Atisthula and Atikrisha persons are more despised among above eight despised persons.
Charaka, the great ancient scholar of Ayurveda, stated that people who are Atisthula (overweight) are more liable to be at a health risk than those whose weight is at the normal range for their body types. They are more prone to chronic diseases like heart disorders, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure stroke, and a few types of cancers. It represents certain people who display low metabolism and water retention, thus finding it difficult to burn sufficient energy to maintain a healthy weight range.
CATEGORIES OF PERSON ON THE BASIS OF BMI
Obesity and overweight ranges are determined by using height and weight to calculate a number known as the Body Mass Index (BMI). Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women. It is used for people to correlate the amount of body fat they possess. For example, an adult with a (BMI) of between 25-29.9 is considered overweight. A person having a (BMI) 30 or higher would be considered obese.
CAUSES OF OBESITY
When a person consumes more
calories than he burns up, then the excess calories get stored
in the form of fat or adipose tissues, causing obesity. The
causes of Sthaulya Roga (obesity) are very clearly explained
in Ayurveda. These are as follows-
- Avyayama - Not exerting
physically or lack of exercises
- Divaaswapna - Sleeping in
daytime (the afternoon).
- Shleshmal Ahara Sevana - The
diet, which causes an increase in the Kapha Dosha.
- Shleshma Vardhaka Vihara
Sevana - Life styles, which cause an increase in the Kapha
- Atisampurana – Excessive
intake of foods, which are difficult for digestion, such as
consuming sweet, cold and unctuous food contents in
excessive quantity, etc.
- Avyavaaya – Not indulging in
- Harshanitya- Enjoying
- Achintana – Not thinking of
anything or worry less.
- Bijaswabhava – Nature of the
seeds i.e. spermatozoa and ovum at the time of fertilization
or due to heredity.
Above causative factors can be
explained as follows -
- Genetic factors: Obesity tends
to run in families. If parents are fat then the offspring
also shows a tendency to accumulate fat. Even the diet and
lifestyle habits, which are practiced in the family,
contribute to obesity.
- Environmental Factors: A
person's eating habits and their level of physical
activities can also contribute to an excess deposition of
fat. When a high level of calories is ingested together with
sedentary work and life style habits, then the excess
calorie amount is stored as fat.
- Psychological Factors: There
is a tendency to overeat in response to negative emotions
like boredom, sadness or anger. This leads to obesity.
- Eating disorders: Diseases and
conditions like Hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome,
Depression, and certain neurological problems lead to
overeating which in turn leads to accumulation of fat.
- Medicines: Certain medicines
such as steroids and some antidepressants may cause weight
CONCEPTS OF SANTARPANA AND
In Ayurveda, diseases are
classified in to two broad divisions on the basis of their
etiology. These are- Santarpana Janya Vyadhi -
Diseases due to over nourishment. Apatarpana Janya Vyadhi –
Diseases due to under nourishment. Ati Santarpana (over nutrition)
is produced due to intake of excessive nutritious diet and
lifestyle. Persons who partake more quantity of foods which
are unctuous (fatty), sweet, hard for digestion and slimy, use
fresh grains and fresh wine, meat of animals of marshy lands
and living in water, milk and its products, food made from
jaggery and corn flour; who dislike physical activities, spend
more time in day sleep, comfort of good bed and seats, may get
affected by the diseases caused by over nutrition.Diseases produced due to over
nutrition are – Diabetes, corbuncles, Kotha (eruption or
rashes), itch, Anaemia, fever, leprosy, various skin
disorders, Ama Dosha, Dysuria, Anorexia, Stupor, Impotence,
profound obesity, lazyness, heaviness of the body, coating of
sense organs and srotasas with Kapha and meda etc. Atisthaulya (obesity) is also
produced due to Atisantarpana, as Obesity is the excess amount
of body fat due to excessive intake of nutritious diet. In
this way excess weight of muscles, bone, fat and water in the
body can be labelled as Obesity or overweight. Thus, by viewing all the above
description regarding obesity, it can be concluded that the
excessive accumulation of body fat or Meda is the main
causative factor for obesity. Therefore it should be dealt in
CONCEPTS OF MEDA (FAT)
The lipids as described in
modern science possess properties, which closely resemble that
of Meda, Vasa etc. Ayurveda describes Meda as one amongst
seven basic body tissues (Dhatus) i.e. Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa,
Meda, Asthi, Majja, and Shukra Dhatus. These seven Dhatus
remain inside the body in a proper quantity and quality and
thus promote the growth and support to the body. Any
disturbance in their quantity or quality may cause various
disorders. MEDA DHATU - This is fat or
adipose tissue of the body. Its function is to lubricate the
body. Unctuousness in complexion is the feature of normal Meda
Dhatu. A certain amount of body fat has the following
functions. This means that under normal conditions the body
fat keeps the body moisturized, promotes sweating, provides
energy to the body ,nourishes the bones, helps in Heat
insulation, Absorption of shock, Storage of energy etc. Excess
of Meda Dhatu makes person fatty and causes obesity How normal or abnormal Meda
Dhatu is form?
Dhatus are formed continuously
in our body in a consecutive manner, and are in a constant
state of regeneration from the previous one ― they are being
constantly formed, destroyed and reformed. These Dhatus, in
their cycle of creation, destruction and recreation are fed
with appropriate materials derived from nutrient substances
from the time of one’s conception until one’s death. This
means that if one Dhatu is not healthy, the Dhatu that will
come after that particular Dhatu will also not be healthy.
According to Ayurvedic
principles, after the intake of any type of Ahara (diet) it is
processed at various places of digestive system and is
transformed in to first Dhatu i.e. Rasa Dhatu. After
bio-physiological reactions during digestion, a few part of
Rasa Dhatu is transformed in to next one i.e. Rakta Dhatu.
Same process continues in the formation of respective Dhatus
until the last Dhatu i.e. Sukra Dhatu is obtained. Thus all
these Dhatus get their nutrition through their precursor Dhatu
or directly from Poshaka (nourishing) Rasa. Each Dhatu
consists of countless infinite small cells, which are units of
structure and function.
Thus, Agni has very important
role in the digestion and metabolism on both the levels i.e.
Jatharagni (digestive fire) and Dhatwagni (fire at tissue
level). In Sthaulya Roga there is Dhatwagni Mandya and
Srotorodha (obstruction in the channels of adipose tissues) in
Rasavaha and Medavaha Srotasa due to excessive intake of above
etiological factors, which leads to formation of Ama Dosha.
This Srotorodha (obstruction in the channels) does not allow
the nutritive part of the following Dhatus to make other
Dhatus, except from the Meda, thus there is an increase in the
Meda only except other Dhatus. Ultimately this gives rise to
excessive accumulation of the fat in the body and thus obesity
is produced. Being obstructed in its
movements due to Meda, Vata Dosha moves specially in the
Koshtha (abdomen), stimulates the digestive fire dries up the
food present there; so the person digests his food quickly and
desires more of foods again. If there is delay in getting
food, he develops many severe diseases, the causes behind this
activity are increased Agni (digestive fire) and Vata Dosha
specially. They burn up (destroy) the body quickly by giving
rise to severe diseases just as the forest fire destroys the
CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES IN OBESITY
Ayurveda describes that Meda
gets deposited in and around the belly in all living beings.
It is also present in Anvasthis (cartilage). Hence when a
person becomes obese his stomach bulges out and the hips,
belly and breasts sag down. The sagged parts flap as that
person moves. An obese person is not too active. Generally, females have more
body fat than males. In females, the fat usually accumulates
around the hips giving them a pear shape. In men it
accumulates around the belly giving them an apple shape. The
obesity related problems start when fat accumulates around the
DEFECTS IN AN OBESE PERSON
| The obese body shape is widely
regarded as unattractive. Many negative stereotypes are
commonly associated with obese people, such as the belief that
they are lazy, stupid, or even evil. Obese children, teenagers
and adults face a heavy social stigma. Obese children are
frequently the targets of bullies and are often shunned by
their peers. Obesity in adulthood can lead to a slower rate of
career advancement. Most obese people have experienced
negative thoughts about their body image, and many take
drastic steps to try to change their shape, including dieting,
the use of diet pills, and even surgery. According to Acharya Charaka,
eight kinds of defects are common in obese persons–
- Diminission of life span: As
stated earlier, in obese persons, only fat tissues gets
nourished and not the other tissues; because of this, there
is diminission of life span.
- Quick onset of senility: Body
being loose, tender and heavy, fat obstructs the body
channels, thus other tissues cannot get proper nutrition so
there is occurrence of quick onset of senility.
- Difficulty in performing sex
or copulation: Semen being less in quantity and channels of
Shukra also being obstructed by the fat so there is
difficulty in performing sex or copulation.
- Debility: Debility develops
due to imbalance of the tissues.
- Bad smell in the body: Bad
smell of the body is due to the nature of fat and sweat is
also more because of that.
- Trouble by more sweat:
Troubles due to more sweat, are produced when fat combines
with Shleshma, by increase of moisture inside the body,
there is increased heaviness in the body and inability to
withstand physical activities.
- Excessive hunger: Due to
increase in the Vata Dosha and increased digestive power
there is occurrence of excessive hunger.
- Profound thirst: Due to
increase in the Vata Dosha and increased digestive power
there is occurrence of excessive thirst. (Charaka Samhita
According to Ayurveda the obese
persons are more prone to the following diseases -
Obesity – Basic Concepts of
Ayurvedic Management IT IS THE RIGHT TIME TO
REDUCE YOUR WEIGHT
- Kidney related problems.
- Low libido.
- Low energy levels.
- Skin problems.
- Filariasis, etc.
According to Ayurveda, Atisthula
(obese person) is more despised, because it gives more
troubles to the patients. Hence, when any disease affects this
person, it may be more lethal in obese person than others. As
stated earlier that Obesity contributes too much morbidities
in the population and it is known as causative or
precipitating factor for various killer ailments like
diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery diseases, joint
disorders, Gall Bladder disease, Breast, Prostrate and Colon
Cancers, Respiratory problems, Stroke, Heart disease, etc. So
it is the right time to reduce your weight. We shall continue our journey to
the knowledge in our next article and will discuss how to
effectively deal with extra weight on our bodies according to
Ayurveda. Till then, have a good day. Kindly do write back
your feedback / comments or queries. I will be happy to
Certified Organic Ayurvedic Herbs And Spices