Well water, pond water, rain water — there are many types of water described in Ayurvedic texts, and each has a therapeutic value, just as food does.
Water represents soma, the nourishing, cooling quality that is associated with lunar energy. It helps cool Pitta dosha, balance Kapha, and counteracts the dryness of Vata.
Water, when properly absorbed by the body, has several health benefits such as supporting digestion and skin health, decreasing constipation, increasing stamina, and much more.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians explains how the healing effects of water can be enhanced using Ayurvedic methods.
Boiling water enhances absorption
Sometimes people have dry skin and an unquenchable thirst even though they drink lots of water. The deeper physiology is not getting enough moisture. This occurs when the person's agni is low and ama blocks the microchannels (shrotas) which carry water to the cells.
In order to cleanse the channels and enhance moisture absorption, Ayurvedic texts recommend boiling the water for various lengths of time, creating a therapeutic water called ushnodaka. Another method is to add spices or herbs to the water after boiling.
Boiled water flushes toxins—with and without spices
When the water boils, it gets charged with heat, becoming sharper in quality (sookshma). This sharpness allows it to cleanse the channels and penetrate deeper levels of the physiology.
Spices create an added therapeutic effect by interacting with the water on the molecular level. Spices create different effects in the body through aroma and taste. For example, Ama Pachana Spice Water helps flush toxins from the body while improving digestion.
It becomes easier for the body to flush out toxins and impurities because of both the sharpness of the agni (heat) in the water and spices. Over time, it cleanses the channels so the water is unobstructed as it travels into the body to hydrate the tissues, and travels out carrying waste.
Ancient texts talk about the difference in the rate of absorption of regular water vs. boiled water:
- Regular water — takes about six hours if every channel is clear
- Boiled and cooled water — takes about three hours to be absorbed, and helps open the channels
- Hot herbalized water — takes about one and a half hours, due to sharpness of agni and herbs and spices
Healing waters for your body type
An Ayurvedic expert can design a therapeutic water recipe to give a specific benefit. One water recipe might enhance immunity; another might cleanse the skin; another might help with prostate imbalance. Water recipes for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are also designed to balance the doshas.
How much water should you drink?
How much water you should drink depends on your age, how much physical work or exercise you do, the weather, your diet, your stress levels, your herbal food supplements, and your body type. The warm Pitta types usually are thirstier than the watery Kapha types. Vata types are often constipated or have dry skin and thus need to drink more water.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends two quarts of spice-water a day, but every person has to determine their own individual needs.
The Council recommends making your spice water like Organic Digest & Detox Tea first thing in the morning and sipping it every fifteen minutes throughout the day. Drink plain water after 7:00 p.m., as spice-water is too enlivening to drink right before sleeping. If you don't finish the spice-water by then, throw it out and start fresh in the morning.
You may want to drink some plain water during the day as well. If you have been exercising and need to drink a full glass of water, it's better to drink plain water rather than the spice water.
Sip room temperature or warm water at meals
Ayurvedic texts also recommend sipping plain water at meals, because Ayurvedic food already contains spices and you don't want to overwhelm the body. On the other hand, if you are eating a plain meal without spices, then the spice-water will help digestion.
A cup of water at meals is good, but it depends on what you are eating. If you are eating soup or dhal, you'll need much less water. If you are eating a higher quantity of dry foods, such as crackers, you'll need more.
Water at meals can be room temperature or hot, depending on your body type, but should never be ice-cold, as that would douse the digestive fire.
Around 45 minutes after the meal, you may suddenly feel thirsty, and then it's a good idea to drink a lot of water, as the body needs it for digestion. In between meals you can sip the spice-water.
Boiling water with optional spices enhances its absorption, supports digestion, along with many other health benefits. Find more recipes on the blog, and try it today—you’ll be surprised how something as basic as water can enhance your wellbeing!
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