Saturday, March 27, 2021

Daily Greens!!

At the end of March, we celebrate National Spinach Day. This day reminds and educates us on the health benefits of this leafy green vegetable.

Benefits of Spinach:

Nutrient Rich: Spinach is full of Vitamin K, A, and C
Antioxidants: The consumption of spinach will provide many antioxidants that aid with inflammation and disease prevention.
Disease Prevention: eating more spinach may help heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and      obesity
Brain health: Spinach helps with cognitive ability, especially with aging
Blood Pressure: Due to its source of natural nitrates, spinach aids to decrease blood pressure
Eye health: Lutein is an antioxidant that is found in spinach. It has been shown to lower risk of eye disease and vision loss

Fun Fact:

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100-gram serving of spinach contains 28.1 milligrams of vitamin C, 34 percent of the daily recommendation.

Nutrition Facts: 

One cup of raw spinach contains:

  • 7 calories
  • 0.86 grams (g) of protein
  • 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 0.81 g of iron
  • 24 mg of magnesium
  • 167 mg of potassium
  • 2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
  • 58 micrograms of folate

Chyaya's Palak Paneer; Spinach and Paneer (fresh cheese) Recipe


• 1 cup firm paneer (recipe below) or substitute store bought or cubed sauted tofu
• 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
• 3 tablespoons ghee or mild flavored oil
• Pinch of hing (optional)
• 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds or powder
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
• ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds or powder
• 2 pounds spinach, coarsely chopped
• Pink Salt to taste
• Pinch of sugar
• Crème fraiche or yogurt (optional) 


1. Slice paneer into cubes. Sauté in the ghee or oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Set aside. 

2. Heat the ghee or oil in a large wok or pot. Add the hing, cumin, ginger and fenugreek, and sauté for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly. 3. Add the spinach and sauté until tender. Drain off excess water, add salt and the sugar and finely chop or puree.  

4. Return spinach to the pot and gently stir in the paneer pieces.  5. Serve with a decorative drizzle of crème fraiche or yogurt if desired. Notes: For vata use more paneer and ghee, for kapha use less paneer and ghee and more fresh ginger

Notes: For vata use more paneer and ghee, for kapha use less paneer and ghee and more fresh ginger.

Paneer Recipe


½ Gallon whole milk (we use local, organic milk from grass fed cows, pasteurized not homogenized)
1 cup organic yogurt or lemon juice
Yields about 1¾ cups


1. Bring milk to boil.
2. Gently stir in the yogurt. Do not stir for more than a few seconds.
3. After a few more seconds, the curds and whey will separate. Separation is complete when the white curds are floating in yellowish whey.
4. If the liquid remains milky, stir in more yogurt or lemon juice and wait another few seconds.


For soft or medium panir: pour the entire contents of the pot through a sieve or a colander. Scrape off any remaining panir in the bottom of the pot. Allow to drain until the whey is gone, but not more than 1 hour.

For hard panir: Continue to simmer the coagulated panir for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for no less than 10 minutes. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or unbleached muslin, allowing the edges to drape over the sides. Very gently ladle the curds into it without breaking them up and scrape off the panir at the bottom of the pot. Bring up the edges of the cloth over the cheese. Cover with something flat, like a pie pan. Place a weight on it like a brick or jar of beans. Allow to drain for several hours or overnight.

Ideally, serve panir the day you prepare it or at lunch following an overnight draining. It will, however last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if well wrapped.


100 gms of paneer made from cow milk provides 18.3 gms of protein, 20.8 gms of fat, 2.6 gms of minerals, 1.2 gms of carbohydrates, 265 kcal of energy, 208 mgs of calcium, 138 mg of phosphorous. It contains reasonably good amounts of fat and 45 ml cholesterol. It would be better to avoid it for those with hypertension and diabetes due to its high fat content. It can however be used in small quantities for such people, once or twice a week. It is suitable for all age groups.

Paneer is also a great source of conjugated linoleic acid — a fatty acid which helps lose weight by increasing the fat burning process in the body.  Linoleic acid belongs to one of the two families of essential fatty 

acids which means that the human body cannot synthesize it from other food components, and it is typically low in food.

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that must be consumed for proper health. A diet deficient in linoleate (the salt form of the acid) causes mild skin scaling, hair loss, and poor wound healing in rats, 

While making paneer from milk, don't throw away the paneer water. This nutritious water can be used for making soft dough for chapattis or can be used to cook dals.

One vaidya recommends yogurt as being more “natural” for the process. In my experience, it makes a better textured and flavored product as well. Paneer is somewhat unpredictable, how it turns out depends on the fat content of the milk, the sourness of the yogurt, the timing and temperature of just about everything involved in the process, the sun, moon and the stars.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Not All Wounds Are Visible; Brain Injury Awareness

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month! There are more than 5.3 million children and adults in the United States who are living with a permanent brain injury-related disability. That is 1 in every 60 people, making it a leading cause of death and disability in the US. Traumatic brain injuries are more common than we think, so bringing public awareness and consciousness can help make a real change in these individuals lives. 

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, our communities are provided an important opportunity to bring attention to the prevention of brain injury and to promote different strategies that can improve the quality of life for people living with brain injuries and their families. In the #MoreThanMyBrainInjury campaign this March, their main goals are to have everyone join in: increasing understanding of brain injury as a chronic condition, reducing the stigma associated with having a brain injury, showcasing the diversity of injury and the demographics of the community, and improving care and support for individuals with brain injury. 

The definition of a brain injury is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Brain injuries most commonly happen from a sport’s injury or car accidents. Symptoms, such as blurry vision, confusion, trouble thinking or remembering, sleeping problems, slurred speech, and difficulty concentrating, can be seen immediately or more delayed in the individual. There are two types of brain injuries: traumatic or non-traumatic, both being very serious and deadly. 

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury:  
Car and Motorcycle Accidents
Sports Injuries
Abusive Head Trauma
Gunshot Wounds
Workplace Injuries 

Causes of Non-Traumatic Brain Injury:
Infectious Disease (Meningitis, Encephalitis)
Electric Shock
Toxic Exposure
Metabolic Disorders
Neurotoxic Poisoning (Carbon Monoxide, Lead Exposure)
Lack of Oxygen (Drowning, Choking, Hypoxic/Anoxic Injury)
Drug Overdose

In the case titled, “Effective Ayurvedic management of Diffuse Axonal Injury following severe Head injury,” the researcher used an Ayurvedic line of treatment for their patient’s brain injury. The study’s main goal was to demonstrate that Ayurveda is capable of playing an important role in the recovery of complicated cases such as a traumatic brain injury, called ‘Shirobhighat’

The patient, a 28-year-old male, suffered a severe brain injury in a road traffic accident where his motorcycle slipped off the road. His first symptoms included loss of consciousness and vomiting, early signs of a brain injury. The patient was diagnosed with Diffuse axonal injury (DAI). DAI is a very common form of traumatic brain injury. This injury occurs due to sudden trauma to the head by acceleration/deceleration/rotation causing brain damage. As a result, there is diffuse damage to the brain cells that causes severe problems physically, mentally, or emotionally. The male’s treatment consisted of Ayurvedic drugs and panchakarma, including Yogbasti (enema therapy), Majjabasti (therapeutic oil applications), Nasya (nose/sinus therapy), Pinda Swedana (therapeutic bolas), Snehana (abhyanga oil massage), and Shirodhara. The combined effect of all the therapies improved the function of the brain and brought the patient to a state of consciousness, preventing convulsions, improving memory, and quieting his mind. 

In this case and others, Shirodhara was shown to be highly useful. This treatment improves vacha/speech, stabilizes the mind and gives strength to dhee/intelligence, dhriti/brings knowledge into action and smriti/enhances awareness. Shirodhara is a very beneficial part of Ayurveda and helped this man to restore his mental health. 

It was a result of the Ayurvedic line of treatment that the patient made a full recovery without any disability, which was not the expected result of his traumatic injury. 

For those who would like to learn more, check out the case study below, or register for our Vishesh/Shirodhara Modality. The next module is June 5 & 6, with early bird through May 5, 2021.
We offer all the modalities listed above. Take 1 module or take them all and get certified as an Ayurvedic Massage & Bodywork Specialist.

If you know someone who could benefit from this treatment, please share.   

Together, we can advance awareness, research, treatment, and education and help improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.


Saturday, March 13, 2021

What's In Your Cup? National Caffeine Awareness Month


Annually we observe National Caffeine Awareness Month in March to raise awareness regarding its effects, including benefits and risks, and ways consumers can modify consumption. Caffeine use is increasing worldwide and is the most researched food source with valuable studies showing that caffeine has been related to many physical and mental health issues and even our mortality. 

Caffeine is believed to be the most frequently consumed psychostimulant and psychoactive drug in the world, ingested predominantly as coffee, though many other natural sources of caffeine-containing beverages and products exist and contain significant amounts of the substance, for example, tea, chocolate, cocoa beverages, soft drinks, and energy drinks. There are also synthetic caffeine substances added to products to promote arousal, alertness, energy, and elevated mood. Over the past decade, the introduction of new caffeine-containing food products, as well as changes in consumption patterns of the more traditional sources of caffeine, has increased scrutiny by health authorities and regulatory bodies about the overall consumption of caffeine and its potential cumulative effects on behavior and physiology. 

Caffeine use is increasing worldwide and is part of the diet in all countries. The underlying motivations are mainly concentration and memory enhancement and physical performance improvement. Coffee and caffeine-containing products affect the cardiovascular system, with their positive inotropic and chronotropic effects, meaning, changes to muscles and heartrate, and the central nervous system, with their locomotor activity stimulation and anxiogenic-like effects, which cause anxiety. Thus, it is of interest to examine whether these effects could be detrimental for health and human behavior. Furthermore, caffeine abuse and dependence are becoming more and more common and can lead to caffeine intoxication, which puts individuals at risk for unhealthy life, both physically, mentally and emotionally, as well as premature and unnatural death.

 With regard to cognitive functions, caffeine’s properties have been investigated in both human and animal studies. In epidemiological reports, a link between chronic caffeine consumption and a significantly lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, has been described. Likewise, chronic treatment with caffeine has been shown to be effective in preventing β-amyloid (Aβ) production and memory deficits in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease. While caffeine seems to prevent or restore memory impairment due to disturbances in brain homeostasis, its cognition-enhancing properties are still a matter of debate. Besides, moderate-to-high consumers develop tolerance to caffeine and only low or non-consumers can eventually benefit from an acute administration.

The use of caffeine to stay awake and alert is a long-standing habit. Coffee is the most popular beverage after water and is consumed worldwide in daily amounts of approximately 1.6 billion cups, which is quite an impressive figure.

 The stimulant effects of caffeine on the central nervous system have been known for centuries. In the 19th century a well-known consumer was Honoré De Balzac. Saying that he loved the coffee is not enough. He was completely dependent on it and in the period in which he wrote “The Human Comedy” he went on to drink up to 50 cups a day. In 1830, he published an article in a French magazine called “Pleasures and pains of coffee”, which recounted: "coffee slips into the stomach and you immediately feel a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army on the field of the battle and the battle takes place. Memories come at a gallop, carried by the wind”.

 Of particular concern is the rate of caffeine intake among populations potentially vulnerable to the negative effects of caffeine consumption: pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, young adults, and people with underlying heart or other health conditions, such as mental illness.

 In addition, in epidemiological reports and experimental models, caffeine has been found to have a role in the prevention of motor symptoms and loss of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease.

 With regard to physical activity, it should be noted that until 2004 the International Olympic Committee listed caffeine in its prohibited substances list. Professional athletes who tested positive for more than 12 μg/l of urine – which corresponds to drinking about 5-6 cups of coffee in a day – were banned from the Olympic games.

 In the past years, a relationship between coffee consumption and several types of cancers, such as colon, bladder, and pancreatic ones, has been postulated. Yet, the recent literature has provided no evidence of this relationship, it does see potential links to the chemicals that may be produced during the roasting process (The American Caner Society).

 Caffeine is implicated in many imbalances and diseases, affecting all the systems of the body, increasing anxiety, sleeplessness, and psychosis. In some cases, caffeine may be necessary and safe for light use, in small doses, moderate use of caffeine can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle and Ayurveda’s personal approach to health and rejuvenation can help us better understand how.

 Coffee and caffeinated beverages are part of the diet in all countries, and cultivating awareness of how we incorporate them into our lives for with mindfulness and education to maintain balance and integrity that is in alignment with our body type, condition and stage of life.

re: Journal of Neuropharmacology, Frontiers in Psychiatry, ChayaVeda Integrative Healing Arts 

Average amount of caffeine per cup varies per brand and what you consider a cup.
Generally 1 cup -8oz, but some shops serve 12, 16, or even larger cups

Average caffeine content per cup

Coffee: 95-128 mg (12-16 per ounce)
Starbucks: shot of expresso: 75 mg, 8 oz cup of medium roast: 155 mg
Shot of Expresso: 63 mg (1 ounce)
Black Tea: 47 mg
Green Tea: 35 mg
Hot Chocolate: 5 mg
Bang Energy: 300 mg
Red Bull: 111 mg 

Ayurvedic Education for Coffee Drinkers

1.      Know your Ayurvedic Constitution: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha

Take our dosha questionnaire

2.      Avoid coffee if there are signs of heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion.
This can be signs of excess Pitta.

3.      Avoid coffee if there are signs of dry skin and hair, anxiety, fatigue, poor sleep patterns.
This can be signs of excess Vata.

4.      Drink Coffee before 10:00 am

5.      Add boiled milk and cardamom powder to counter the acidic qualities
(why Chai is a better choice, see Chaya’s recipe below)

6.      Use organic coffee

Chaya’s Chai Tea Recipe

This recipe can be a great alternative to get your caffeine fix, all while reducing caffeine intake. Additionally, cardamom is a anti-inflammatory, alkaline-forming, digestive support.

2/3 cup water
1+1/3 cup milk
½ teaspoon either black or ¾ red tea
¼ tsp Chaya’s Traditional Chai Spice mix (or make your own, recipe below),
2-3 teaspoons turbinado or jaggery sugar to taste

Boil all the ingredients, simmer and strain. Chai is traditionally made with Indian black tea (available at Indian grocery as Red Label orange pekoe). You can vary the tea, substituting other black teas or make a more untraditional, caffeine free version with green, red or decaf black teas.

Variations: You may vary the amounts of milk and sugar according to taste and dosha. Increasing the milk and or sugar can provoke Kapha. If you use caffeinated tea, the cardamom will help neutralize the acidic effects of the caffeine for pitta.

Summer variation: add a splash of rose water for its cooling, pitta reducing effects and good taste in summer.

Winter variation: add ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root to add more heat, for vata and kapha reducing effects and good taste for winter.

 Chai Spice Mix:

2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ Tablespoons cardamom
In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and store in a glass jar.