by Ingrid Naiman
Ayurveda has a system of pairs of
opposites that explain a great deal to those who take the time
to understand the ramifications of hot and cold, dry and moist,
and so forth.
Since I am first and foremost an astrologer, I'd
like to present an astrological system for embracing this information.
The twelve signs of the Zodiac are
each associated with one of the four manifest elements: fire, earth,
air, and water.
Without becoming inordinately complicated,
let us just say that each person is born with a particular constitution
that generally tends to favor one of the elements. Health requires
the ability to express all the elements adequately but if this
is not the case, symptoms can be managed through diet and herbs
as well as life style, including thoughts, meditation, environment,
When an element is predominant, you
start to see the traits associated with that element. For instance,
if the subject of conversation is not itself a giveaway, I can
easily determine the fire-water balance within seconds of listening
to a voice. Fire has emphasis and water lacks punctuation. In itself,
this is neither here nor there, not good or bad. Basically, a fire
type does not want to be a water type and vice versa; however,
no one wants to suffer from the imbalances either.
For instance, while fire thrives
on enthusiasm and resents attempts to throw wet blankets on its
ideas and projects, it does not want a fever not to be deprived
of the buffering and soothing effects of water. Likewise, water
wants emotional safety and therefore can be apprehensive of fire's
swiftness and apparent unpredictability but it does not want to
be afraid or cold.
In a certain way, fire and water
are perfect opposites:
I have a lecture on just this part
of the system that is 75 minutes so this has to be shorter! Fire
represents the catabolic part of metabolism and water is the anabolic
part. Metabolic balance means having both working perfectly, but
if one is emaciated, it may be wise to promote water until balance
is achieved . . . and then to adjust the protocol. Contrariwise,
if one is overweight, it may be useful to stimulate the fire element
until reaching an optimal weight.
This system works with temperament
as well as body types. For instance, fire is progressive and water
is conservative. We all have some of each element, but the proportions
vary. They vary from individual to individual as well as from moment
to moment. If you move to a humid place, the water element will
gradually become stronger and maybe predominant whereas if you
move to a hot place, the fire element will become more pronounced,
but these same rules apply to the rainy season and summer . . .
and to food and feelings. If you eat ice cream, you augment the
water element. Depending on your capacity to metabolize sugar and
dairy products, you will either be more relaxed or almost sedated.
Diabetics may even go into a coma because ice cream is sweet. It
is cold, wet, and heavy. However, yoghurt at room temperature is
not nearly as water-deranging as ice cream because it is less cold
and heavy. It is less cold because it is not frozen and less heavy
because fermentation is a fiery process. Yoghurt is hence much
easier to metabolize than ice cream.
I "designed" an ice cream
that is almost as easy to digest as yoghurt. It just takes a little
understanding of this system to see how to do this. First, instead
of using only milk or cream, I used half carrot juice, but I ran
some fresh ginger root through the juicer with the carrots. I also
put some pieces of candied ginger and a little bit of crushed cardamom
into the ice cream. While I would not consider this a fabulous
food, it is far better than the most "offensive" ice
creams. These would be the ones that are made with milk containing
bovine growth hormone, various
gums and synthetic sweeteners. Yes, of course, my ice cream was
delicious, but I could never make enough to please everyone.
Physically, fire rules the secretions
of the gastrointestinal system: hydrochloric acid, bile, chyle,
enzymes, and insulin. When fire energies are low, the appetite
is weak, a sign that a normal meal will be too much at such a time.
One therefore needs to skip a meal, eat less, or eat something
very easy to digest, such as fruit since fruits, especially sour
fruits, have acids that make them easy to metabolize.
Fire also rules the sense of sight,
the light that enables us to see. When the fire element is weak,
vision is blurry and there is a tendency towards near-sightedness.
With the right protocols, even serious astigmatism and myopia will
gradually correct so long as there is no mechanical impairment
to the eyes.
Excess fire expresses as heat, impulsiveness,
and temper. It hides in the liver where it damages liver function
and blood chemistry. It is generally acidic and is therefore neutralized
by alkaloidal herbs: leafy green vegetables and bitter herbs. Over
a period of several months, all the symptoms of toxic fire and
repressed fire are cleared, and the temperament becomes less turbulent
and more focused.
Interestingly, these same herbs well
for water also. They relieve congestion and drowsiness, but not
coldness. Only heat relieves cold and only pungent (spicy) and
sour foods are hot enough to relieve cold. We all know that if
you consume a very spicy curry soup, your sinuses will run, but
you never think you have an infection or a cold because you know
it's the spices. Likewise, we know that cold hands and feet might
be relieved by a glass of wine (sour - acid) so we really do know
that the energetics work, but we simply have to become familiar
with the actions of all the different foods.
In the months ahead, I'll keep posting
more on each of the elements and the foods that stimulate or pacify
the elements. In time, you will realize that you can completely
avoid indigestion through proper use of spices and you can even
overcome most forms of infertility through diet. You can correct
for immune deficiency and even forgetfulness with diet and herbs.
It's just a question of knowing what to eat and when . . . and
what to take and when!
by Ingrid Naiman 2004