Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old science of healing, became a solid part of my life since 2010, and I have been counting my blessings ever since. Not only has Ayurveda deeply healed my debilitating, severe hives, it has had the wonderful “side effect” of sustainable, natural weight loss. I have been able to lose and successfully keep off 40 pounds in two and a half years — a feat I have been trying unsuccessfully to achieve since I was twelve. I feel much lighter inside and out.
As I delve deeper into Ayurveda, I understand why it works. My blood tests and my body are showing positive results. I understand why I eat for my particular constitution and in what season, instead of blindly following a “one size fits all” diet plan. I have begun the path of cleansing my body and mind in order to achieve true and lasting health.
From 2002 to 2007, I suffered debilitating bouts of hives. I had no idea what was causing the outbreaks. Each bout took on a life of its own, and it would take up to a month for my body to get back to normal, only to have another outbreak. I frequented the emergency room when constant scratching, flaking, and cracking skin developed into abscesses on my face. I was constantly on Benadryl to keep the inflammation and itching tolerable and I moved through life like a zombie. Over time, I became allergic to new things and the hives began to go systemic, some outbreaks spreading to every part of the body.
I was also gaining more and more weight each month. My job consisted of daily stress-laden deadlines, 12-hour work days, and rare lunch breaks. Taking a vacation was considered a luxury and frowned upon. All the stress not only kept my body poised for hives, it also increased my emotional eating. Throughout my life, I’d been filling the void with processed foods and sugars in order to deal with stress. I began to pack on weight and was nearing 200 pounds with no relief in sight. For a 5 foot 3 inch frame, this was a lot to carry and created yet another tax on my poor body. I was in a constant state of exhaustion. Despite my generally positive mindset, depression began to creep in and I knew I had to turn elsewhere and get a new job.
Looking back now at this experience, I am most thankful for the unquenchable desire it created to learn about alternative, chemical-free healing. It took a few years while I tried out alternative modalities, which helped tremendously, but I always returned to the deeper question of “Why? What is the root cause?”
Once I found Ayurveda and learned some foundational concepts in a two-month course at Vedika, I gained a basic understanding of what was happening to my body, the reasons behind the hives and weight gain. All this happened in a few short months, rather than a few long years. In addition, I sought treatment at the Vedika Seva Ayurvedic clinic.
The Ayurvedic doctor and student practitioner were very caring and listened thoroughly. They looked at the symptoms and also took into consideration my current lifestyle habits, stress, and mental states. They could pinpoint what was going on in my body, and assured me that I could regain my health.
The first, most important step, was assessing my digestion. The metaphor often used is equating your digestion to a fire, which should be neither too large and blazing, nor too small and weak. I naturally have a very slow digestion, and the nonstop emotional eating, high sugar intake, and long period of constant hives had slowed it down tremendously. Instead of that warm brick fireplace, I had created a drippy, leaky, pot-belly stove that would barely ignite a dry paper bag. I quickly discovered that the slow digestion explained the cause of both the hives and the weight gain.
By using the prescribed herbs and many other lifestyle practices specific to my constitutional make up, I began to notice miraculous differences in my body. My energy was higher, I was beginning to feel hungry at the right times, and my hive outbreaks were so few and far between I was beginning to forget there was a time where my face looked like Sloth from the movie The Goonies. The constant inflammation lessened and the pores became smaller. My acne became negligible and people began to comment on how wonderful my skin looked, saying I seemed to be glowing from the inside. Truly, I was.
The extra weight began to drop off effortlessly and at a healthy pace. I felt not just an external lightness, but an internal lightness, as well. I wasn’t even following a strict exercise routine. The weight loss just happened naturally, through minding my digestion and balancing the three energy states known in Ayurveda as doshas.
The best part was that it was sustainable. I had tried every diet known to woman and any small amount of weight loss I was able to achieve usually came back within six months. It has been over three and a half years now, and my body has simply refused to gain that weight back. I have maintained a 40-pound loss with effortless ease.
Ayurveda believes that your true destiny is to be happy and healthy and that you should be able to take control of your own health. Western medicine has its place, but Ayurveda gives you the true power to be happy and healthy before you reach a level of disease to wake you up to the sad state of a neglected body, mind, or soul. I often tell people, “When you don’t have your health, nothing else really matters. Trust me on this one, I lived through that feeling for years.”
If you can find a recommended Ayurvedic doctor in your area, try to create a lifestyle regimen with their advice, that is tailored to who YOU are. I would highly recommend that if you live anywhere near the Bay Area, give yourself the gift of attending the two-month course at Vedika Global. You will gain so much understanding in such a short time. Come to our bi-weekly Satsanghas for spiritual guidance. Attend our bi-monthly Sanghas (free educational talks for the community) to gain practical guidance in applying Ayurveda to your daily life. Watch and subscribe to Vedika Global’s YouTube for informative tips and real education.
I promise that any little bit of lifestyle change you can make based on Ayurveda will bring some relief and health into your life.
Blessings to you and your health!
Tracy Cunningham is a Vedika Global certified Ayurveda Health Practitioner at Vedika Global’s Wellness Clinic. She is an accomplished art director, graphic designer and 6-year beekeeper who enjoys taking classes and mentorships with the San Francisco Beekeepers Association and at the Green Gulch Garden, San Francisco Zen Center. As Coordinator of Vedika’s Sunday Ayurveda Sangha in the last 3 years, Tracy has also been contributing seva by helping disseminate Ayurvedic Wisdom to the SF Bay Area Community.