Ayurvedic Corner ~ Ayurveda and Juicing

     Ayurvedic tradition does not always include juicing as a healthy practice I must say. It is considered part of the detox culture, usually full of vata people fasting on juice, further aggravating their vata. I remember in nutrition class at Dr. Lad’s school, being the voice of defense for juicing. I raised my hand and piped in “I know that Ayurveda doesn’t give much attention to juicing, but we can’t ignore its benefits! It’s amazing for prana, it’s so hydrating, and it is able to cleanse and nourish the blood without taxing digestion!” There was the usual response, “it always depends” and then we moved on.

Juice with everything!
Juice Guy
Here we are in spring, the most wonderful season for juicing, for cleansing and lightening the tissues in preparation for the heat of the summer. In this season, it is important to clear the system of any “ama” (toxicity that clogs the channels) so that the ama does not get “cooked” inside the body when it gets hot, and so the heat can escape the body through clear channels. So, how do we juice…. ayurvedically.

First of all, long fasts in Ayurveda are considered harmful to Agni (except maybe for kapha who can withstand longer fasts). I found this out most recently when I decided to go on a 5-day juice fast and found that it made my situation worse! I would have benefited greatly from 2 or 3 days of juicing to allow my system to reset itself, but after 5 days, my agni was so starved – not enough fuel for the fire, and drowned in liquid – it went out and left me with more problems. Everyone will be able to tolerate different amounts of time – maybe 1 day, maybe 6 days – we cannot generalize how many days, but be aware of your agni!

Second of all, what are you juicing? Every substance will have a different quality. Ayurveda is a medicine of qualities, so how can we choose our juices based upon our unique constitutional makeup?
  • Kapha dosha: Be careful how sweet you make your juice! If you are juicing all carrots, and oranges and apples and sweet fruits, this could be throwing the sugars out of whack and be careful here with propensity towards diabetes! Focus the juice more on greens, celery base and beet and add ginger to the juice!
  • Pitta Dosha: Be careful of the citrus, sour fruits (like pineapple) and beets! I was juicing with so much beet and lemon for cleansing purpose and ended up getting outraged over a situation that had nothing to do with me! PITTA. Pitta’s will be helped by the bitter greens, cucumber and celery and pomegranate.
  • Vata dosha: Be careful of the greens and cabbage family plants like cabbage and kale. Vata’s can do more of the sweet things like carrot and beet juice (root vegetables) and apple, orange, etc. There is a great juice called super orange with carrot, orange, ginger and turmeric. Vata can also benefit from fresh ginger in the juice, to help the potential gas that may come from the greens. Also, scoop off the foam from the juice, that is air element and could cause gas.


Juicing in the Middle East


Juice Guy

The juice master…

Here in Palestine fresh juice is everywhere! There are little juice bars on almost every corner and you can order fresh juice in every café. Fresh pomegranate juice…. WOW. It is so much cheaper than the $5 juice you are used to in the US and it is so full of prana! My theory on why it may be so popular here is that the sun is sharp and it gets so hot and dry in the summer.  The juice is so hydrating (with all the electrolytes) and refreshing on those hot days! Sraddha and I were walking through the Old City Jerusalem one VERY unseasonably hot day. We were weary and still so far from home and stopped for fresh pomegranate juice. Pomegranate pulls heat out of the blood – amazing for pitta in rakta. We were completely revived and able to make it home after that. However, much of the juice here (at least in this season) is citrus. Orange, grapefruit, lemon and mint is very common everywhere. The Middle Eastern people LOVE their sour. They are not the pitta types that attach to the spicy foods like people in the southwest, or Mexico who must have their chilies. But they put lemon on EVERYTHING! They LOVE their lemon and have natural fermented foods with almost every meal (great for probiotics, not great for pitta). Lemon is to them, what salt is to Americans – it brings out all the flavor. Sour taste increases pitta and many people here have an increase in pitta. Just like in Mexico, or Italy, these are passionate people. Their environment is hot, and their food is pitta increasing through the sour taste, so for that, the citrus juices are not ideal. Luckily, they also have pomegranate, fennel and mint. Their “lemonade” which is always with fresh lemon and way less sugar than in the states, is blended with mint making it a lovely green color.

At our favorite juice shop, just a block from our apartment, the juice man is like the community doctor. People come in and tell them they have a sore throat or this problem or that problem and he creates a juice for their ailment. He has the wildest combinations and you can also create your own combinations. They save the papaya seeds for us because we requested them for their anti-parasitic qualities, although he thinks we are quite strange for eating them. I love to get their green shot – SO BITTER! And I add it to my lemon and mint juice with ginger and fennel, and Sraddha gets her grapefruit juice. This has become our almost daily ritual…

Mira Murphy was the Ayurvedic Chef for 7 Center’s for 6 years. She left to study the clinical aspect of Ayurveda at the Ayurvedic Institute with Dr. Lad. and graduated 2 years ago as an Ayurvedic Practitioner  and will return to 7 Centers in May  to cook for the upcoming Yoga Therapy training. Interested in an Ayurvedic consultation?  Email: Mira
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