By Svetlana Kogan, M.D.
Somehow the title of this popular 80’ies song felt appropriate for what I had to say in this article today. Autumn is upon us. It may not be obvious when you live in Florida, where beautiful blue skies and lush palm trees can make you feel like you are perpetually in paradise. However, if you have just arrived from the Northeast or the Midwest, you have most definitely seen the foliage, the days getting shorter and the darker rainy skies dominating the picture. Nature is seasonal and so are we. Unfortunately, we often forget that humans are an extension of Nature and tend to ignore Nature’s seasonal calendar, and continue living on an autopilot – eating the same things, wearing the same things, and performing the same daily routines. One of the most exciting parts of my holistic medical practice is to educate the patients about the changes that take place inside our bodies as we move from season to season and how to adjust accordingly – to preserve homeostasis with our surroundings. The idea behind this is expressed in various cultures around the world. My personal take on this stems from Ayurvedic wellness philosophy which took its origins in India thousands of years ago.
Ayurveda treats humans as being of energy and aims to classify common expressions of temperament, behavior, and visual characteristics accordingly. There are three main energetic imprints ruling the big picture of our Mind-Body physiology: Pitta, Kapha, and Vata doshas. Pitta runs metabolism, digestion, and passion aspect of what you do. Kapha underlies anatomical and cellular structure, water content, thoughtfulness and loving disposition. Vata rules nervous system, creativity, and detoxification via elimination. Each of these categories has its own associated set of physical characteristics. Pitta will tend to express itself with piercing gaze, thin hair, and mesomorph type of body built. Kapha is usually associated with soft peaceful gaze, heavy or big boned built and lush thick hair. Vata is classically attributed to thin, lanky build, cold hands and feet, and dry skin. There are many physical attributes which tend to be associated with respective Ayurvedic doshas. Most people possess all three, though within one person some are expressed more than others. Each energetic category is associated with temperament characteristics. While Pitta-dominant people tend to be workaholics, Vata-dominant folks are often artists and writers, and Kapha-dominant ones are frequently engaged in physical work and strength-based workouts.
Each energetic category is also classically associated with the set of illnesses to which it is predisposed. If the person leads an unhealthy lifestyle – he or she is more likely to drive their dominant dosha out of balance – and the malady follows. For example, if you find yourself hungry often and have ravenous appetite for food – this is typically associated with Pitta – an energetic blueprint which is an energetic, fiery, and sharp quality. Becoming aware of Pitta qualities in yourself can help you balance them with the world around you. For example, it would be unwise for Pitta-dominant person to eat many hot and spicy foods – he or she would just build more fire in his or her Mind-Body System. As a result, he or she could become prone to developing Pitta-
associated diseases such as Gastric Ulcer, Psoriasis, Acne, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Each season in Nature represents a predominance of certain energetic qualities as well. For example, early autumn is characterized by Pitta quality, which is wet and oily. However, late fall is dominated by Vata quality, which is colder, drier, and windier. Ideally, we should try to be aware of this internal clock that we have in order to balance it with the external change of seasons. If the transition is smooth, we feel on top of our game and full of energy. If there is a sharp discrepancy between how I treat my body and mind and the seasonal change, I will feel tired, blue, and listless.
It is not enough to know charts of Ayurvedic doshas and associated disorders. There are plenty of people who exhibit a seemingly classic energetic quality and yet never develop imbalance despite doing all the wrong things. And there are some folks who do all the seemingly right things and yet succumb to maladies characteristic to their energetic predisposition. In the hands of an experienced medical doctor who understands Ayurveda and incorporates it into her medical practice, it becomes more than just lists and associations – it evolves to be an indispensable tool in wellness and prevention, customized to a given patient’s unique set of life circumstances.
Svetlana Kogan, M.D. is a Board Certified Medical Doctor with 20 years of experience. She has appeared as a health expert on FOX, ABC, CBS, and NBC prime time TV, and has authored hundreds of publications for internet and print. She just moved her Concierge Internal Medicine practice from Manhattan NYC to Naples, where her focus is on fusing traditional medicine with holistic approach to illness and prevention.
720 Fifth Ave S, Unit 209
Naples , FL 34102
Phone: (239) 676-6883