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Soul Food: The Ayurvedic Diet and How It Helped Me Manage IBD

The founder of the Juhi Center in New York City explains how an eating plan based on the Indian system of medicine improved her health and well-being.

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and was prescribed medication to treat it. Even with medication, I dealt with flares that caused severe bleeding, debilitating pain, nausea, vomiting, and muscle cramps, among other symptoms. For three years my mother and I visited one specialist after another on the East Coast searching for answers. When a doctor told me I was going to need a colostomy, surgery that diverts a part of the colon to an opening in the abdominal wall to bypass damaged parts of the colon, my family and I said enough.

My aunt Asha Wollman is an Ayurvedic doctor in Mumbai, India, and a practitioner of Chinese medicine. She recommended that I spend some time with her and seek help from Eastern medicine.

I was skeptical. But after considering life-altering surgery versus a more holistic approach, I decided I had nothing to lose.

Asha began treating me with Ayurveda medicine. Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine that seeks balance in bodily systems through the use of diet, exercise, and breathing. It’s a highly personalized yet highly scalable form of medicine with scriptures dating back 7,000 years.

Asha assessed my doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), which constitute balance between the mind, body, and spirit. When a person’s doshas are unbalanced, they create disharmony and can cause problems like disease.

I did acupuncture three times a week for two and a half months to address the inflammation. Asha gave me a Vata and Pitta balancing diet that consisted of foods like lots of orange cooked vegetables, mung dal, and basmati rice. I was not allowed to eat anything raw or gassy. (Although the diet was temporary, I still turn to it when I feel a Crohn’s flare coming on.)

In addition, she guided me through meditation and yoga, which I was required to do with her two to three times a week to help me learn to be better in tune with my body and how my mind affected my stomach. (I realized through meditation practice and mindfulness that when I was nervous, I had to run to the bathroom.)

Within two months my IBD had calmed, and astoundingly, has been mostly in remission ever since.

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Posted on: January 31 2019

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It's good to know that the Ayurvedic diet helped you managed IBD. I've read some articles about Ayurveda, which is one of the oldest holistic healing systems in the world, and it's definitely worth exploring for.

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