Eastern and Western Approaches to Psoriasis & A Detailed Treatment Plan Guaranteed to Work

I’ll never forget John, a 43 year old man who came to see me at my integrative clinic in Southern California. He didn’t walk into my office, he was rolled into to me in a wheelchair. He looked like he was visibly in pain. He has enormous patches of dry, scaly skin that covered the shoulders of his shirt. His wife had to help him to the chair in my exam room, as his feet were so red and swollen that his shoes did not fit onto his feet. His skin, all over his body, looked like he had sustained the worst sunburn of his life. For 2 weeks, he had been suffering from the monster of all psoriasis attacks. And he had had it. The intense itchiness, persistent flaking, and painful sores had pushed him to explore the root cause of the disorder, rather than continue with mainstream medicine that only treated the symptoms.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition where the skin cells build up in the dermis and don’t slough off properly, creating thickened, silvery plaques over the skin. It is quite inflammatory, itchy and painful. It is usually present on the knees, elbows, scalp and fingers. Often, it can be systemic and there are different types, including inverse, plaque, guttate, pustular and erythrodermic. This condition affects 7.5 million people.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

I’m happy to say that we healed John up nicely before he went home a week later. But his main concern was–how do I prevent this so the flares don’t completely interrupt my life anymore? If you suffer from psoriasis, you may be wondering the same thing. So lets explore the root cause of this autoimmune condition from a conventional, traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic standpoint. We can even explore a bit of nutrigenomics and how supplementing with certain trace minerals, while avoiding others, many drastically improve the skin.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Psoriasis

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, uses a combination of acupuncture and herbs to alleviate this autoimmune condition. This ancient healing system teaches that the skin belongs to the lung yang; both are interconnected. This is quite apparent if you consider the different lung disorders that relate to skin conditions. Examples include aspirin induced asthma and eczema and respiratory ailments in children. In fact, eczema is often called skin asthma. Think of how quickly our skin ages if we smoke!

The cause of psoriasis in TCM is damp heat in the body. Heat is a sympathetic dominant condition linked to:

  • stress
  • adrenal fatigue
  • jealousy, anger, frustration
  • imbalanced hormones.
  • constipation

As the parasympathetic system is our housekeeping system that controls digestion and elimination, people with sympathetic driven systems often suffer from constipation and difficulty eliminating toxins properly. They feel swollen and edematous. In fact, some people diagnosed with erythrodermic psoriasis actually have a fever!

TCM teaches that if you really want to heal psoriasis you will pursue acupuncture, quit smoking, and follow a clean diet low in meat. Meat slows down digestion further and can worsen psoriasis. Eat plenty of root veggies which will encourage the liver to detox. Think burdock, yellow dock, beets, ginger, and brussels sprouts. Work on integrating healing herbs into your daily routine like:

  • astragalus-found in Hormone Master
  • Scutellaria root
  • dang gui
  • flax seeds
  • fish oil
  • indigo naturalis
  • cinnamon to improve blood stasis

Studies in the British Journal of Dermatology show that TCM has proven to be extremely effective in the treatment of cases of eczema and psoriasis.

Ayurveda and Psoriasis

Ayurveda originated in India over 500o years ago and has a unique way of understanding skin conditions. Ayurveda states that we all have three doshas (or mind-body types) that are influenced by the seasons, our thinking, diet and constitution/body type. Psoriasis is a imbalanced combination of kapha and vata. It is also caused by the accumulation of toxins, or ama, inside the body. Vata represents wind while kapha represents earth and fluid balance in our body, which becomes problematic with psoriasis. Remember John, who couldn’t even put his shoes on? If the psoriasis is erythrodermic, there is also a derangement of pitta, which rules over the skin as well.

So what does this ancient science of life recommend? Yoga which can detox the skin through sweat, meditation, oils, topical treatments, stress reduction and dietary changes. Avoid foods like dairy which is very inflammatory, acidic foods, whey, flour, gluten, no tobacco, no alcohol, chile peppers, chile powder, and fried foods. Ayurveda believes skin conditions are associated with impure blood so purification of the blood is of utmost importance. Here are some recommended treatments and herbs:

  • Sesame or calendula oil massages on the skin as dry skin is a culprit in psoriasis
  • Remove synthetic soaps and lotions like those at Bath and Body Works or in retail stores. These contain parabens and dyes that can irritate the immune system
  • Tusli, rose hip, peppermint and nettles tea
  • avoid harsh hair dyes and treatments
  • lose weight if obesity is an issue
  • use a humidifier every night
  • neem oil
  • boweillia, or frankincense, to reduce inflammation-this is in Inflammation Master for a reason!
  • Navkarshk Churna
  • Psorolin ointment, which helps to control out of control cell division

Conventional Wisdom (Plus a Side of my own Experience)

I was trained in western medicine and what we are taught is that psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that is a combination of predisposing genes and environmental triggers. However, there is no KNOWN cause. Western medicine teaches that the immune system is overreactive and is attacking itself due to faulty signaling in the body. Currently, the main treatments for psoriasis in Western medicine include steroid creams and immune modulators, which do not get to the root of the problem. The skin is screaming that something is triggering this reaction called psoriasis. Putting steroid creams on the rash may help the symptoms, but will never fully improve the condition. However, lifestyle changes including diet, herbs, sleep and stress reduction have shown promise in permanently treating and even curing this autoimmune condition.

A big piece of the puzzle, in my humble opinion, is COPPER! Some of the below information is taught in western medical textbooks while others are from my experience and research. Some acknowledged triggers and links include:

  • Vitamin D Deficiency-Much research has recently linked vitamin D deficiency to plaque psoriasis. It is postulated that although low vitamin D does not necessarily cause psoriasis, it does impair the body’s ability to repair the skin. HELLO vitamin D is activated in the skin with sunlight which is why tanning often helps psoriasis!
  • Copper Toxicity or anything that exposes one to excess copper-multiple recent studies have linked high copper and low zinc levels to psoriasis and its flares. This is important since many pesticides contain high levels of copper, such as DDT which was previously used as a widespread pesticide. Careful with copper IUD, cookware, pesticides. Elevated copper is also seen as a measure of inflammation.
  • Zinc Deficiency-zinc protects the skin, encourages wound healing, decreases rampant inflammation during infection, and helps to produce hydrochloric acid during digestion which is paramount for nutrient absorption. If zinc is low, then copper is high as they have an inverse relationship.
  • Estrogen Dominance/Low Progesterone-copper and estrogen are intimately tied together and rise in comparison to each other. It is thought that an estrogen increases the absorption of copper so therefore an estrogen dominance would also have worsening effects on psoriasis. If you have symptoms of painful periods, awful mood swings where you almost kill your significant other, migraines or endometriosis, then you may be suffering from an estrogen dominance. If you have these symptoms AND psoriasis, its time to work on your copper levels.
  • Scratches or cuts-any sort of inflammation can trigger the skin if one is predisposed
  • Extreme Stress, Adrenal Fatigue, Sympathetic Dominant-zinc is quickly used up in stressful situations and this increases the levels of serum copper. Low cortisol, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is also associated with low zinc levels. Sympathetic dominant people are usually type A, have poor digestion, anger and constipation. If toxins cannot properly be moved through the bowels, they will come out of the skin. Stress is absolutely acknowledged as a trigger for psoriasis
  • Emotional Stress or Traumatic Experience-nearly all of my autoimmune patients can pinpoint a stressful or traumatic life experience that occurred, and then-BAM-their immune system’s took a hit. Shortly thereafter, they were diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Psoriasis is no different.
  • cold weather
  • dry skin-try sesame or aloe oils and creams
  • processed foods, carbs and preservatives
  • smoking and excessive alcohol-This can lower the immune system. Remember the lung and skin qi are connected so smoking anything will affect the skin integrity over time
  • birth control pills and copper IUDs-BC pills contain copper as an inert ingredient. Copper IUDs can cause toxicity and lead to imbalanced hormones
  • harsh soaps, cleaners and detergents
  • strep infections-strep throat or urinary tract infections can can leave behind proteins which cross react with our own antibodies causing confusion within the body.
  • drugs like Lithium or some malaria drugs-these drugs can lower the threshold to predispose one to psoriasis.
  • eat regularly scheduled meals to avoid taxing an already overburdened liver- the liver not only handles the processing and making of sex hormones, but also stores and metabolizes copper levels. If the liver is overburdened with processed foods and manmade fillers, it will have a hard time metabolizing and ridding the body of pesticides, copper and preservatives. Eating regular meals aids the liver in breakdown and storage of glucose and it does not have to tax the adrenals this way either.


Now that you guys understand the multifactorial factors that influence the severity and progression of psoriasis, lets formulate a plan for you! If you have psoriasis, you may not need two weeks of intensive inpatient therapy like John, but we can still incorporate some of the treatments we used on him too, because they work. Heres my recommendations for those suffering from psoriasis, eczema, hives or any other chronic skin condition.

  1. Cut out ALL gluten. I know I know, its so hard. But it really does help. No cheating. Gluten has been around for thousands of years, but now the modification of it has set many people off. In my opinion, it is actually the Round Up that is sprayed on wheat prior to harvest, that is affecting so many people in  modern times.
  2. Cut out dairy, processed foods and limit/stop meat intake. EAT ORGANIC. Dairy is so very inflammatory on top of an inflammatory condition. Processed foods often contain pesticide residues. Meat slows down digestion and elimination, slowing the rate at which toxins can be disposed of. Pesticides contain metals, such as copper, and are strong immune system irritants. It behooves anyone with psoriasis to fully eat organic, whole foods.
  3. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers and ozone treatments provide excess oxygenation for the skin and help to repair the integrity of the membrane. Ozone produces hydrogen peroxide and a reactive oxygen species in the body, which eradicates pesky viruses and increases superoxide dismutase enzyme which sweeps out excess free radicals. Hyperbaric oxygen and my ozonated olive oil drastically improved John’s severe psoriasis.
  4. Liver Cleansing herbs and Castor Oil packs-My Liver Master contains all necessary liver cleansing herbs! Think psyllium husk, rhubarb root, burdock root, beets, carrots, fenugreek, and milk thistle. Cut down on alcohol and harsh medications which can damage the liver. Castor oil packs are beneficial as castor oil has the unique ability to pull toxins from the skin and organs. Soak a flannel in castor oil and place it on the right upper quadrant of the abdomen where the liver is located. Put a hot water bottle or electric blanket over the flannel so that the heat helps the absorption. Hold for 3o minutes.
  5. Zinc 50mg daily 
  6. Get tested for copper, vitamin D and have your sex hormones measured if you suffer from any estrogen dominance symptoms. Hormone Master if you do have an estrogen dominance!
  7. Stop smoking and using excessive alcohol.
  8. Probiotics, calming teas like chamomile, Tulsi or Nettles
  9. 4-5 well balanced, plant based meals a day
  10. Yoga and meditation for stress relief. If you have had a traumatic experience which triggered your immune system, then begin journaling every night about the experience and let the emotions flow. Tears are healing.
  11. Daily oil massages after the shower with sesame or aloe oil and cream
  12. Incorporate aloe juice, kefir or coconut water into your daily routine
  13. Pull the copper IUD or stop birth control pills and opt for a safer option like the Daysy fertility monitor which is 99.3% effective.
  14. Coffee enemas or colon hydrotherapy may also be considered as this can stimulate S-glutathione in the liver for proper detoxification. They can also improve bowel movements which decrease toxin load.
  15. MSM, alpha lipoic acid and curcumin IVs or oral pills-If all else fails, these anti inflammatory compounds can drastically improve the pain and swelling of psoriasis. They are also available in oral forms, but IV goes straight into the bloodstream where you will see quicker results. Inflammation Master is also your best friend when it comes to swelling and pain!

Congrats! You are becoming your own best doctor!

Much love

Dr Jess




  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/psoriasis-and-vitamin-d-deficiency
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375770/
  3. www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/08/23/treating-skin-conditions-traditional-chinese-medicine
  4. lieske.com/channels/5e-lung.htm

Sleeping in This One Position Can Improve Digestion, Drain Lymph and Improve Overall Health

When it comes to full health, getting enough sleep is paramount. We all know this on an intuitive level, but it doesn’t mean that life doesn’t barge in and get in the way of our precious rest. Friends keep us out late, alcohol interrupts REM sleep, and many of us have undiagnosed conditions like sleep apnea which affect our quality of sleep and can even damage the heart. Even if we have the best of intentions, there can be hidden reasons for our aches, pains, and chronic conditions that are linked to our sleeping behavior.

For example, here are some common reasons that patients have undiagnosed pain or tight muscles that can be traced back to sloppy sleeping positions:

  1. Sleeping on your Stomach-I’m guilty of this one! It took me a long time to train myself to not roll over in the  middle of the night. We humans have an innate tendency to protect our underbelly, or stomachs during periods of vulnerability, like during sleep. What happens, however, when we enjoy prolonged belly time, is that our shoulders collapse inward, rounding towards the heart. This pulls the neck forward and causes tight cervical and upper back muscles. This is similar to text-neck syndrome and can cause cervical and thoracic problems. I have a sneaky suspicion that my bad habit lead to closed shoulders over time. If you have this poor sleeping habit too, look into a body pillow which can rest between your legs and still gives the feeling that your abdominal area is protected.
  2. Sleeping on the Back is Ok unless.…patients with sleep apnea may experience a choking or gasping sensation when sleeping on their backs unless they are completely compliant with their CPAP usage. (A CPAP is a machine that uses positive pressure to keep the throat open during sleep which prevents oxygenation levels from dangerously falling). If this is the case, then opt for an orthopedic pillow and an inclined sleeping position.
  3. Sleeping on the Right Side-This position has been associated with increased heartburn, poorer circulation and digestion. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology showed that patients who laid on their right side suffered from significantly worse heartburn after a fatty meal.

So whats the best position to sleep in?


And believe it or not, this has been verified by science and taught by Ayurveda, the ancient eastern medicine that originated in India over 500o years ago. Ayurveda believes that each side of the body is distinctly different and carries energies and issues all on their own. Heres some of the ways you can improve your health by incorporating this one sleeping trick.

  • Facilitate lymphatic drainage-In the body, the lymphatic system is the sewer system. It transport waste products that the body no longer needs to the thoracic duct. In medical school in my gross anatomy class, I remember finding it so odd that the thoracic duct was only on the left side and NOT on the right! The remaining lymph fluid is filtered and purified and then dumped into the left side by way of the heart. In Ayurveda, edema caused by chronic lymphatic congestion or heart failure will more than likely occur on the left side in the early stages. Alternatively, early stage edema caused by liver failure will usually occur on the right side as this is where the liver is found.
  • Better digestion and bowel movements-This all makes so much sense when you understand the anatomy of our digestive system. During digestion, food moves past the ileocecal valve where it enters the colon. Food is then propelled across the right side of the abdomen and down the left side of the body into the descending colon before it hits the rectum. Sleeping on the left side throughout the night encourages easy transit of waste products due to gravity. One of the first questions I ask my patients about are bowel movements! They are so important for proper elimination of toxins and overall health. Not only should everyone be having 1-2 bowel movements a day, but all of us should be headed straight to drop the kids off at the pool first thing in the morning. If you are not going first thing in the morning, this is constipation! Try incorporating more fiber, water, my Colon Master and sleeping on your left side!
  • The Heart is on the Left Side-Sleeping on the left side encourages blood flow through the aorta down to the descending aorta on the left. It is actually medically advised to sleep on the left if pregnant as this encourages return blood flow to the heart. This allows the intestines to hang away from the inferior vena cava which brings blood back to the heart. When there is no pressure from the intestines, the vena cava can fully fill with blood. The intestines is free to hang without any pressure from other organs so that it can fully appreciate adequate blood supply as well.
  • Decreased Acid Reflux-As mentioned above, The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that after lying on either side for four hours after indulging in a fatty meal, participants experienced more heartburn when lying on the right, rather than left sides. This is not fully understood, but is thought to be due to the gastric secretions lying below the level of the esophageal sphincter when sleeping on the left. This means it is more difficult for them to reflux back up into the esophagus where we feel it! Since the pancreas is on the left, it is also postulated that perhaps digestive enzymes are more effectively produced when lying on the left and this helps to digest and breakdown nutrients better, leading to less GERD symptoms.
  • The Spleen Is Also on the Left! The spleen is an almond shaped organ on the left side of our bodies right above the kidney. It loves high blood flow as its job is to filter the blood and remove debris or signal immune cells if there is a problem. When sleeping on the left, we are again increasing blood flow to this organ passively through gravity. This can improve lymph flow and immunity, or our ability to fight infections.



  1. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/410292
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8071510?dopt=Abstract
  3. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/the-benefits-of-left-side-sleeping/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275245/

Food (+Herbs) That Can Destroy H. Pylori, the Bacterium Responsible for Stomach Cancer and Acid Reflux

If you guys read my blog, you know I’m currently obsessed with broccoli sprouts and try to use them in my salads or smoothies frequently. Not only do broccoli sprouts turn on the NRF-2 gene pathway which can turn off genes that lead to cancer, but they have shown promising benefit in being able to eradicate Helicobacter Pylori, better known as H. Pylori.


H. Pylori is a corkscrew shaped bacterium that affects 50% of the American population and about 1/3-2/3 of the rest of the world. This little bug is classified as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing, by the World Health Organization as well as the International Agency for Research. It is strongly linked to the development of stomach issues like gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and stomach cancer. Sadly, due to antibiotic resistance, the proton pump inhibitors and antibiotic combo given by allopathic medicine is not as effective as it once was and many patients are now failing the standard treatment. Since everyone is different, the efficacy of a particular therapy may vary with each patient, environment, genes, age, food and hygiene.


As mentioned above, the standard treatment for H pylori eradication is to administer a proton pump inhibitor, like Nexium or Prilosec. Unfortunately these medications have risks associated with them-like the new study that just showed a 25% increased risk of death after a year of use. These acid blocking agents are paired with a several antibiotics for two to three weeks.


My very favorite, and probably the MOST natural alternative to wiping out this pesky bacteria is BROCCOLI SPROUTS! When you chew or cut the sprouts, they release a stress chemical that eventually forms sulfurophane, the potent anti tumor agent and natural antioxidant, that fights H pylori. Studies show that this biochemical appears to trigger cells in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, to produce enzymes that protect against free radical damage and inflammation.

In a small pilot study published in 2009 in Cancer Prevention Research, the researchers found that eating 2.5 ounces of broccoli sprouts every day for two months may protect against H pylori. They did note that the levels of a very specific byproduct called HpSA released by H pylori, had decreased by 40% in the stool of these patients but reappeared after they stopped the broccoli sprouts two months later. This indicates that broccoli sprouts prevent full colonization but by themselves, don’t eradicate the bacterium. I don’t know about you, I would choose broccoli sprouts over a proton pump inhibitor. Nexium also does not often eradicate H pylori and comes with a host of other side effects.

In earlier animal studies performed at Johns Hopkins University, mice infected with H pylori ate broccoli sprout smoothies for eight weeks daily. The H pylori in their stomachs decreased by 100 fold while there was a concomitant four fold increase in enzymes like sulforophane that protect against oxidative damage!

In another study published in 2004, consumption of oral broccoli sprouts was temporarily associated with eradication of H pylori infection in only three out of nine patients.

It looks like it may be more ideal to prevent rather than ridding yourself of the bug, so what else can you do?


My best advice is to pair some of these options with daily broccoli sprouts

  1. Pau D’Arco: This South American leaf also revs up the NRF-2 pathway just like broccoli sprouts! The results of a 2014 study published in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences found that the activation of NRF-2 could mediate the beneficial effects of Pau D’Arco in the intestine and with inflammation. It is also antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal. It is known to fight candida and cancer. That is one of the main reasons I chose to put it in Microbiome Master, which has been successful at eradicating antibiotic resistant H Pylori in a handful of patients.
  2. Cranberries: This fruit is native to North America and has been shown to keep H pylon at bay. They work by preventing bacteria from adhering to cell walls-like in the bladder or stomach, hence why they are known for treating urinary tract infections. This is also why they are beneficial in preventing H pylori from taking hold in the stomach mucosa. In one study, a 90 day trial of cranberry juice compared to placebo in 189 patients, exhibited an increase in eradication rates of H pylori.
  3. Garlic: Garlic and its active ingredient, Allicin, produce organosulfphur compounds that deter oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals. Allicin is also revered for its potent antibacterial activity. Again this is another reason garlic was chosen for my gut cleanse, Microbiome Master.
  4. Curcumin: Although In-vivo tests in humans are lacking, one study did show benefit for long term cucurmin, the active ingredient in turmeric, in aiding in healing peptic ulcers and possibly, H pylori. Ulcers measuring up to 1.5cm were found in the duodenum of the stomach were treated with 300mg, five times a day of turmeric. 4 weeks of treatment revealed no ulcers in 48%. After 12 weeks, 76% had no ulcers!
  5. Ginger: Ginger has been used for centuries for ailments like nausea and dyspepsia due to its anti inflammatory and anti ulcer properties. Ginger has been shown in one study to restrict the growth of H pylori by inhibiting hydrogen and potassium released for gastric acid secretion. Gingerols and extracts, present in ginger, inhibit the development of H pylori in vitro in 19 clinical strains.
  6. Pistachia or Mastic Gum: This gum is produced by the Pistachio lentiscus plant in the Greek isles. It has been studied since the 1980s for its positive effects on the ulcers and stomach ailments. Mastic gum seems to work by inducing protrusions, or poking holes, in the cells of H pylori! A 2011 study proved that mastic gum prevents H pylori inflammation by inhibiting our white blood cells’ reaction in vivo. However, other animal and human studies have not replicated these findings.
  7. Artemisinin: This antimalarial drug has shown remarkably strong activity against H pylori infections. It was proven to have activity in vivo in a study published in 2012
  8. Zinc/Probiotics/Digestive Enzymes: Since H pylori is able to take hold of us due to lowered immunity, anything that helps us reset the bacterial balance and digestive properties in our guts will aid in an immune boost and also help fight this bacteria. Probiotics help to tip the bacterial balance in a favorable manner so that the improper bacteria can be recognized and disposed of. Digestive enzymes should not be supplemented forever but do help the body breakdown nutrients especially if the pH or digestion is off. Zinc works in tandem because it is necessary to help produce hydrochloric acid, which triggers our own natural digestive enzymes. Zinc also works to protect the stomach lining. It helps in wound healing and is anti inflammatory.

Check out my Microbiome Master in the Dr Jess which has eradicated H pylori in antibiotic resistant patients before!

You are becoming your own best doctor!

Dr Jess



  1. Zhang L, Ma J. Pan K, Go VL, Chen J., You WC Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double blind, randomized placebo controlled trial. 2005; 10:139-145
  2. Shmuel, H. Domniz, N. Yahav J Non-Pharmacological treatment of Helicobacter pylori: World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  3. Prucksunand C, Indrasukhsri B, Leethochawalit M, Hungspreugs K, Phase II clinical trial on effect of the long term turmeric on healing of peptic ulcer. Southeast Asian J Tropical Medical Public Health 2001: 208-215
  4. Malady GB Pendland SL, Yun GS, Lu ZZ, Soia A, Ginger and the ginger’s inhibit the growth of Cag A+strains of Helicobacter pylori. Anticancer Research. 2003: 23: 3699-3702
  5. Goswami S, Bhakuni RS, Chinniah A, Pal A, Kar SK, Das PK Anti-Helicobacter pylori potential of artemisinin and its derivatives. Antimicrobial Agents in Chemotherapy 2012

5 Herbs That Help To Balance Hormones

If you have been feeling down lately, noticed weight gain or weight loss, you may have an underlying issue that affects millions of people. Sudden changes in your body may be the result of hormonal imbalance. Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, insulin, testosterone and adrenaline help in keeping us healthy.

Hormonal imbalances can be the cause of diseases like diabetes, depression, fatigue, infertility, mood swings, migraines, and especially endocrine disruptors in the environment. These include BPA, plastic, and parabens. Hormonal imbalances are more common in females. Hormonal changes in women happen during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. There seems to be more rapid changes in today’s world because of environmental pollution and a poor job of the EPA and FDA in protecting us from this. Because of this, women are more prone to hormonal imbalances.

Weight problems, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, hair loss or hair growth, acne, mood swings are some of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance. You can notice the problem by observing your energy, eating patterns or hunger. If you notice any changes, consult the doctor and start the treatment with lifestyle changes, herbal supplements (see my Hormone Master), dietary improvements, stress relievers and possibly, bioidentical hormones. You can also resort to homemade remedies and herbs to recover from hormonal imbalance.

Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalance:

Ashwagandha :

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is a popular herb used in Ayurveda, for medicinal purposes. It has positive effects on the mental, physical and emotional health of a person. It helps in balancing the hormones as it acts as an adaptogen and reduces cortisol. Ashwagandha can increase the production of testosterone, androgens and DHEA. This herb is also useful to improve the thyroid function. It is good for menopausal support as it works on the endocrine system to improve the hormonal balance. This reduces the symptoms like anxiety, mood changes, hot flashes, which women experience. Ashwagandha is good for energizing and reducing the fatigue, as it reduces the stress-related disorder. This herb supports sexual health and fertility. Ashwagandha also fights mood fluctuations and helps in relaxing.
Holy basil:

Also known as Tulsi, this herb is wonderful in balancing hormones as it acts as natural adaptogen, meaning it gives you energy when needed or provides calming energy when needed. This assists in the biochemical development of stress by balancing cortisol levels. Tulsi helps balance the blood glucose levels and indirectly balances the secretion of cortisol. High levels of cortisol negatively affects the thyroid gland, pancreas and ovaries. This herb is useful for improving mood and mental health and we all know, a better mood keeps us stress free and calm.
Maca root:

Maca root or Lepidium meyenii, improves normal hormone production. The Maca root has a positive effect on the energy levels, mood and fertility. This herb is endocrine adaptogen, which boost hormone production and contains nutrients which are needed to help normal hormone production. It has minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc and includes carbohydrates, amino acids and proteins. Consuming this herb, increases the energy levels and reduces fatigue and the stress levels. This is exactly why we put it in our Hormone Master, and have been very successful with this wonderful herb!

Ayurveda has always recommended Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) to recover from hormonal imbalance and the diseases which might occur as a result of this. It improves hormone levels and increases fertility. The herb nourishes and cleanses the blood and the reproductive organ of women, thus improving female fertility. Shatavari is an adaptogenic herb, so again, it gives you what your body needs. It balances the endocrine system, which affects the production of all the hormones that regulate our response to stress and mood swings. Shatavari can drastically improve hormonal imbalances caused by stress and anxiety. It manages menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and controls the pain and blood loss during menstruation.

This herb is great for hormonal balance for women. It is a natural source progesterone and balances the estrogen and progesterone. Consequently, it reduces the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome like cramps, acne, bloating, etc. It is beneficial for most menstrual irregularities, pain and mood swings. The herb improves fertility and helps in sustaining pregnancy. It controls the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause. Chasteberry lowers testosterone levels and can assist in preventing prostate cancer.
Before you start using any of these herbs, it is better to consult the doctor. Along with these herbs, it is essential to have a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

5 Herbs That Help To Balance Hormones

Hormonal imbalances can also be caused by irregular sleep or unhealthy diet.

●  A good night’s sleep is essential in keeping the hormones balanced. Proper sleep 
is essential for a good health and to avoid any of the health issues. Most of the health issues are caused because of lack or sleep or irregular sleep. Try to get 7 -8 hours of sleep every day, which restores energy and allows the body to recover.

●  Exercising regularly lowers cortisol levels. Physical activity, absolutely balances hormones. Exercise releases endorphins which makes you happy and relieves stress. Also you can’t beat the healthy weight loss it provides!

●  Vitamin D influences the pituitary gland, which produces hormones. Deficiency of vitamin D can result in an abnormal release of parathyroid hormone. Vitamin D can affect your weight and diet and alleviate the symptom of low estrogen levels. It is actually more of a hormone that vitamin because it has far reaching effects throughout the body!

●  Coconut oil helps in balancing the hormones. Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids, which encourage healthy thyroid functioning, as they can be broken down quickly and used by your brain and glandular organs for quick energy. It assists in weight loss, improves immunity, balances blood sugar levels and your metabolism. 
All these remedies reduce the hormonal imbalance and improves the overall health.

This way you can become your own best doctor!

Much Love Dr Jess

Fast Food Diet

Kapha Dosha: How Emotional Eating Can Cause Sinusitis

This is part 3 of my three part blog series on the three dosha in ancient Ayurveda Pitta, Vata and Kapha Dosha. We have discussed the two other mind-body types, Pitta and Vata. You may go back and read both part one and two posts in detail by clicking these links.

  1. https://drjess.com/pitta-dosha-why-you-should-be-dry-brushing-everyday-if-you-are-reactive/
  2. https://drjess.com/vata-dosha-why-you-should-not-eat-raw-foods-or-have-meaningless-sex-if-you-are-anxious/

Last but not least, it’s time to discuss the Kapha dosha.

Review of the Three Dosha

  1. Pitta-pitta is a mind body type that aligns with the summer. It is lively, competitive, first responder, spicy, and fire based. Pitta predominant constitutions usually have a muscular build, oilier skin, are prone to bleeding or ulcers and are very intelligent and quick witted. The organs most affected include the liver, eyes, and skin. To pacify pitta imbalances, one must eat a pitta satisfying diet of astringent/bitter herbs and cooling foods/spices.
  2. Vata-vata is a mind body type that aligns with autumn and winter. It is sweet, airy, fluid, expressive, agile, dry, changeable and movement based. Vata predominant constitutions usually have long extremities, drier skin, large eyes, are prone to anxiety and distractibility, and are grounded by heavier or sweeter foods. Their minds never stop. Imbalances lead to a different energy blockage and stagnation of proper prana flow. The organs most affected by a vata excess include the colon, lungs, and nervous system. To pacify vata imbalances, one must eat a vata pacifying diet to include sweeter and more grounding foods.
  3. Kapha-kapha is a mind body type that aligns with spring and winter. It is sweet, loyal, caring, grounded, and water/earth based. Kapha predominant constitutions usually have heavier set builds, glowing skin and lustrous hair, are prone to emotional eating and clinginess, and are supported by social interaction and exercise. Emotional eating and coveting can lead to stagnation of prana that causes heaviness and depression, affected certain organs. When imbalanced, Kapha predominant types can become clingy, stingy, controlling, lethargic, sluggish, have brain fog, laziness, and even depression. They often suffer from chronic bronchitis, mucus congestion, a thick, white coating on the tongue, and can become overly emotional. The organs most affected by a kapha imbalance include the sinus cavities, stomach, and lungs. To pacify kapha imbalances, one must eat a kapha dosha satisfying diet that avoids heavy or sweet foods. should be light/spicy and easily digestible. Stimulation, keeping warm and regular exercise are paramount for Kapha personalities.

Keep in mind that we are all born with all three dosha, but 1-2 usually predominate. Some people have all three in equal amounts and are rather balanced, however.

How Do I Know If I have a Kapha Imbalance? 

Many of us may be feeling sluggish due to the cold temperatures outside. After all, winter is partly Kapha season! Thats why we often hibernate inside our homes and gain weight during the holidays. Its hard not to emotionally eat with all the good food and family (that may or may not trigger emotions in us) around during this time of year. All of that can leave us feeling heavy, depressed or even fighting weight gain. You may also notice that you are prone to feeling stuffy, having phlegm, bronchitis symptoms or frequent sinusitis. This makes sense since Kapha is an earth and water mind body type, so adding heavy meals or feelings to the mix can make you feel cold and water logged. This contributes to mucus production. In fact, congestive heart failure is a sequelae of an out of balance kapha dosha. These patients are literally drowning in their own fluid.

Kapha have beautiful round faces, thick hair and white, shining teeth. They are a joy to be around when balanced. They are a bit more hesitant than the quick witted pitta, but once they have grasped a concept they never forget it. If you suspect that you are a Kapha dominant, it is important that your diet be very controlled and that you do not keep “cheat foods” in the house. If imbalanced, the downfall of Kapha is that they will eat their emotions, making this dosha very susceptible to weight gain. You may notice that these symptoms worsen in the colder months. 

Symptoms of a Kapha Imbalance include: excessive mucus and phlegm, thick and white coat on tongue, sluggish bowel movements, heavy build, brain fog especially in the morning, feeling sluggish, possessive, overly sentimental, stubborn, lazy, emotional eating, raw foods may worsen symptoms, craving highly processed foods, feeling stuck, depression. Since the organs associated with Kapha include the stomach, lungs and sinus cavities, it makes sense that these organs may show signs of dysfunction when Kapha is in excess. This water based dosha can cause stickiness and mucus in the respiratory tract and lead to improper digestion concerning the stomach. Of note, shame and grief are held in the lungs so often the overly sentimental Kapha types turn inward on themselves, leading to disease in these representative organs. 

How Do I Help To Correct a Kapha Imbalance? 

Like I always say, be your own best doctor. Nearly every imbalance in the body can be corrected if caught in time and especially when we are armed with the right knowledge, tools and determination! If the Kapha dosha resonates the most with you, there are some lifestyle and diet changes that can help to energize and revitalize your life, while bringing you back into balance.

When the lungs and respiratory tract becomes congested, this is a sign that we are not clearing toxins properly from our bodies. Heaviness is a sign of stagnate energy, or Prana flow. It is extremely important for Kapha’s to NOT eat when they are upset or feeling down. Do not use your emotions as justification for a “deserving” meal when you know you will not be happy with your decision later. You may also notice that you sink into the couch in the winter when you should be a bit more adventurous, or that cheese (although you love it), does not sit well with digestion. You may notice that you are easily hurt by others’ comments and this you often turn inward on yourself, which makes you more prone to feeling victimized, hiding from the world and self punishing behaviors. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may notice that you can become clingy and possessive when these characteristics surface.

  1. Indian Triphala-Yes I listed this healthy digestive herbal under every dosha. It is a tridosha balancing herb used to encourage healthy elimination. If we closely examine each dosha, we see that each one has their respective organs in the digestive system. Pitta is the small intestines while Vata is the colon and Kapha is the stomach. When imbalanced, each affect proper digestion and elimination. Triphala is one of my favorite gentle laxatives to remove toxins and balance all three dosha. Not to mention it contains some of the highest vitamin C on the planet.
  2. Eat Foods that are Pungent, Bitter or Astringent in Flavor-kaphas are known to indulge in delicious food, however sometimes it is not exactly what is ideal for their mind and body type. Be sure to include ginger, coriander and turmeric to your daily dishes. Bitter herbs help to decrease water retention and bloating. Astringent herbs naturally help to purify the blood. As far as foods go, look for bitter melon, eggplant, fenugreek, leafy greens, barley, basil, nettle, jicama, aloe vera, green apples, pomegranate, pear, quinoa, and lentils.
  3. Try To Indulge in Warm Foods and Spices-Just like Vata, Kapha needs to lean towards warmer meals. Both Vata and Kapha are representative of cooler months and therefore, like to warm up! Raw food diets tend to exacerbate the stagnation of cold energy leading to depressed moods for Kapha. Look for warming spices as well as bitter and astringent. Think cinnamon, cardamom or cumin.
  4. HONEY-If you are not vegan, honey is your best friend as a Kapha! Honey is an excellent expectorant and coats the respiratory tract preventing infections. It can actually ward off upper respiratory infections or mucus production.Kapha Dosha - Dos & Don'ts
  5. Avoid Heavy Foods-as a Kapha, you do not want foods that are heavy in your stomach, take hours to digest or leave you feeling heavy. Avoid all the good stuff that we regret later like heavy oils, pasta, rich sauces, breads, puddings, refined sugar, processed foods, or heavy desserts. Kaphas, more so than any other dosha, should avoid dairy like the plague. Dairy CAUSES mucus production in someone who is already prone to it. This goes for the Ayurvedic staple, ghee as well.
  1. Break Away From Emotional Eating-Kaphas have very sensitive and slower digestive tracts so emotional eating will always be regretted later! You know what they say-a moment on the lips, forever on the hips. It is just not worth it! Try a new pattern when you feel upset or emotional. Go for a walk, go to a coffee shop, talk on the phone or keep yourself busy. Emotional eating can lead to heaviness and stagnant energy which can predispose you to the Kapha’s weakness-sinusitis and congestion. Remember that emotions pass and you can conquer your yo-yo eating by just doing something different.
  2. Get Out and MOVE! I can’t stress this enough. Often the thing we dread the most is the thing we need the most. Movement is key for a sluggish kapha. If you have been feeling down on yourself, heavy with brain fog and stuck in a routine, it is SO self loving to be brave enough to break out of that pattern. Be sure to give yourself 20-30 minutes of daily vigorous exercise. Ride a bike, run, do vinyasa yoga, hike, or any other challenging exercise is imperative for the Kapha.
  3. Be Mindful Of Clinginess and Separate Your Own Energy-An imbalanced kapha will often “covet” their possessions or even people. When feeling insecure, they can become controlling of things or those they care about. They come from a good place and often do not see themselves. If you have been feeling this way, be sure to set boundaries with people and possessions. Realize that the insecurity is from you and take back your own power by disengaging in any drama and needless worry. Don’t mix energies with loved ones as this can confuse you more.
  4. Daily Self Massage-also known as Abhyanga, this Ayurvedic practice relieves tension and balances bodies if the proper oils are used for each dosha. Abhyanga can nourish the body, increase immunity, decrease aging effects, and stimulate circulation. The best massage oils for a Kapha excess are warms oils, like sesame, almond, olive and even dusting powders before or after the massage such as Calamus powder.
  5. Keep Warm and Dry in All Seasons/Do Invigorating Activities-Kapha is cold and just like Vata, needs to be cognizant of staying warm throughout all seasons and climates. Also, be sure you are having fun everyday. Never lose your joy for life and let fear creep in to make you stagnant.

Happy Kapha Balancing!

Much Love

Dr Jess


Vata Dosha

Vata Dosha: Why You Should Not Eat Raw Foods (Or Have Meaningless Sex) If You Are Anxious

This is part two to a three series blog on the three doshas, or mind-body types that are the foundation in Ayurveda, the ancient science and medicine that originated in India. Today we are discussing a Vata imbalance. Just to review, lets briefly go over the three different dosha. For a more detailed description, go back and read the first blog post on the pitta dosha here.

Review of the Three Dosha

  1. Pitta-pitta is a mind body type that aligns with the summer. It is lively, competitive, first responder, spicy, and fire based. Pitta predominant constitutions usually have a muscular build, oilier skin, are prone to bleeding or ulcers and are very intelligent and quick witted. To pacify pitta imbalances, one must eat a pitta satisfying diet of astringent/bitter herbs and cooling foods/spices.
  2. Vata-vata is a mind body type that aligns with autumn and winter. It is sweet, airy, fluid, expressive, agile, dry, changeable and movement based. Vata predominant constitutions usually have long extremities, drier skin, large eyes, are prone to anxiety and distractibility, and are grounded by heavier or sweeter foods. Being on the go, movement and constant change is part of the characteristics of Vata. They also tend to be quite creative, expressive, and energetic. Their minds never stop. When imbalanced, this air based dosha can become too stimulated and lean towards anxiety, flightiness, insomnia and shallowness. Imbalances also cause drier skin and hair, cold hands and feet, sensitive digestive issues like constipation. Long term Vata excess can manifest as arthritis, hypertension, weight loss, mood disorders and IBS. Imbalances lead to a different energy blockage and stagnation of proper prana flow. The organs most affected by a vata excess include the colon, lungs, and nervous system. To pacify vata imbalances, one must eat a vata pacifying diet to include sweeter and more grounding foods. Simple lifestyle changes can have a big impact! Keep reading as this blog is about Vata!
  3. Kapha-kapha is a mind body type that aligns with spring and winter. It is loyal, caring, grounded, and water/earth based. Kapha predominant constitutions usually have heavier set builds, glowing skin and lustrous hair, are prone to emotional eating and clinginess, and are supported by social interaction and exercise. Emotional eating and coveting can lead to stagnation of prana that causes heaviness and depression, affected certain organs. The organs most affected by a kapha imbalance include the sinus cavities, stomach, and lungs. To pacify kapha imbalances, one must eat a kapha satisfying diet that avoids heavy or sweet foods. should be light/spicy and easily digestible.

Vata Dosha: How Do I Know If I Have a Imbalance?

If you are reading this and thinking, “Gosh Vata is all me,” then some of the imbalances may have really resonated with you. We all have all three, but usually one or two dominate and one is lacking. In today’s world, its quite easy to feel out of balance in any of our dosha, especially when we are rushed on deadlines, multitasking, attending to multiple responsibilities or skipping meals because of the daily grind. This is especially hard on sensitive Vata types. Busy schedules, frequent travel and excessive sex can also exacerbate an excess of Vata, and make you feel ungrounded and flighty. And if you are flying and traveling quite a bit, then this makes sense-you are not very grounded! When pulled in different directions, it is Vata’s natural tendency to attempt to multitask, to skip meals, to begin to worry. This can spiral out of control if we are not taking proper self care during these stressful life periods.

You may also notice that these symptoms can worsen in the fall or winter, which is Vata season. Vata types are also known to have freezing hands and feet during this time. But for real though, are you one of those girls that puts your ice cold feet on your man at night?

Some symptoms that you may have a Vata excess or imbalance include: freezing hands and feet, insomnia, inconsistency, moodiness, feeling worse after heavy exercise, skipping meals and poor digestion, irregular periods, constipation, anxiety, worry, indecisiveness, shallowness, breathlessness, dry skin and hair, and feeling worse when you indulge cold or raw foods. Since the organs that are associated with Vata are the colon and nervous system primarily, you may notice that anxiety and irritability as well as interrupted digestion like leaky gut, indigestion, bloating and you may even notice undigested food in the stool. This indicates malabsorption issues! You likely have a Vata excess. 

How Do I Help To Correct a Vata Imbalance? 

Never fear health warriors! Any imbalance can be corrected in the body. It only takes the proper tools and knowledge. If the Vata excess symptoms resonate with you there are some lifestyle and diet changes that can help ground you, relax you and bring ease to your life.

When the colon becomes sluggish, this means you are likely not having 2-3 bowel movements per day. This keeps toxins inside our body and does not let the elimination system flow properly. If you err on the side of anxiety, you need to be mindful about eating when you are upset or stressed. Digestion and absorption are very affected by emotional states. You may notice that you get nauseated when you are anxious, or that you see issues with food in your stool when you eat while stressed out. This affects our colon primarily and the colon then goes on the cause imbalances in the liver, where reactivity and anger can set in due to high anxiety. Since anxiety is often present in Vata excess, the nervous system is also affected and this makes logical sense-the gut is attached to the brain via the vagus nerve. We may also notice heavy respiratory breathing or breathlessness which affects the lungs. The lungs are also involved so there can be the feeling of breathlessness as well. Like I always say-leaky gut equals leaky brain!

Natural Remedy to correct Vata Dosha Imbalance

Medicinal Haritaki Fruit of Indian Triphala

  1. Indian Triphala-I listed this herb in the Pitta dosha post and it is also included here because it helps to balance all three dosha gently. It consists of fruit like Haritaki and alma, boasts one of the highest vitamin C content, and does a great job of stimulating the bowels to remove waste products. It can be taken daily and should improve digestive or liver issues. Some other herbs that are beneficial in warming and grounding Vata include ashwagandha, gotu kola and even the mineral, magnesium.
  1. Avoid Raw Foods-Many Vata types are health oriented and enjoy working out. You might even enjoy a raw foods diet. This is advised to be avoided especially during the cold winter months or in an anxious Vata personality. Vata is naturally cold and dry, so adding cold liquids or raw, cold foods to the diet can exacerbate their already anxious and flighty disposition. Try to enjoy cooked, warm or stewed organic fruits and veggies. Putting warm things in our bodies also warms us up internally. High quality oils, ghee and warming spices should be included in the diet. Look for sweet, sour and naturally salty foods. Avoid eating fruit within 30 minutes of any other food.
  2. Routine Times for Meals, Sleep, and Exercise-Dont overdo the exercise. Vata types naturally enjoy movement and adventure. If imbalanced, they can overindulge in heavy exercise with can make them feel dizzy or overworked. Try yoga, light weights, and mild cardio. Time your meals daily. Skipping meals or eating on the fly also makes a Vata excess worse and can impede digestion as the gut is always trying to anticipate its next meal. It is imperative that you also find regular sleeping patterns. Insomnia is a killer for the immune system and can worsen any mental conditions. As the nervous system is greatly affected in Vatas, it makes sense that a lack of sleep or irregular sleeping patterns will most likely affect this organ system…and you will notice it! 2am to 6am rules Vata time so if you awaken or cannot sleep during this time then it may indicate that the nervous system or colon needs some TLC! It is also wise to work out or have some healthy movement from 2pm to 6pm as this is also Vata time. Eat in a peaceful environment with kind thoughts.
  3. Warm and Grounding Spices-Vata likes spices that are hot, but not too spicy. Avoid cayenne pepper, but enjoy cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and black pepper. Avoid cooling spices like fennel that could work like raw foods in aggravating Vata excess. Avoid drying foods and spices or any soy products.

    Meaningless sex can rob you of balance

  4. Do Not Have Excessive Sex-It is well known in Ayurveda that having excessive or meaningless sex can worsen a Vata’s anxiety. This is not to be mistaken with loving and connected sex which can nourish us spiritually. Sperm and sexual fluids are known as sukra dhatu while female sexual organs are known as artava dhatu. Orgasm with these organs obviously has a stimulating effect and can deplete our bodies if sex is in excess. It often can sacrifice our lubrication and sexual essence. Too frequent or meaningless sex can deplete our apana vayu, or wind of the body that resides in the lower half of the body. This results in ungroundedness and if the apana vayu becomes depleted, it can lead to insomnia, anxiety and constipation. Careful who you choose to lay in bed with!
  1. Daily Massage-known as Abhyanga, or the daily Ayurvedic self massage. Vata pacifying oils include sesame, olive, ashwagandha, passionflower, Licorice, Tulsi and valerian oils. You can also line the nasal cavities with oils to prevent coldness and dryness in the nasal cavities, especially during the winter months.
  2. Do Not Travel Excessively-I won’t say not too travel too much because I’m just not mean! In all seriousness though, just be sure that you are able to have sufficient amounts of time at home to recoup and rest up before your next wild adventure. We all love to travel but ensure that regular routines are also a part of life for you.
  3. Dress Warm No Matter The Season-If you’re always cold even when others are not, then you may have excessive Vata. Are your hands and feet always cold? Do you have poor circulation? Always dress warm, no matter the season. Vata constitutions also need to take a deep breath after their last bite of food before moving onto the next activity. Pause each day or mediate briefly to gather your thoughts.
  4. NO Multitasking/Pausing Each Day to Gather Thoughts-Multitasking is one of those things that all of us think we are good at, but none of us really are. This activity really aggravates an anxious mind and can worsen ADD. Be sure to attempt one task at a time and write things down if you can’t remember.
  5. Avoid Caffeine, Stimulants, Nicotine, Refined Sugar, Alcohol-All of these choices will increase the anxiety level, aggravate digestion, and impede proper sleep patterns.

Happy Vata Balancing!

Much Love

Dr Jess

Pitta Dosha

Pitta Dosha: Why You Should Be Dry Brushing Everyday If You Are Reactive

Pitta Dosha

If you aren’t familiar with the ancient science of Ayurveda by now, a quick internet search will lead you to a large amount of invaluable knowledge of this 5000 year old practice. The wisdom of this old medicine is impressive and could teach western society some new perspectives on what health actually entails. Ayurveda also has a unique way of describing how health is not only a physical practice, but takes mental discernment and spiritual grounding into account for a more complete health assessment.

Just to review the basics, there are three doshas or mind-body types. We all have all three constitutions, but often times we mirror the world we live in. The world is polluted and chaotic, so our bodies follow suit. Our minds become polluted with judgments and anger while our body holds onto toxic chemicals and heavy metals representative of the industrial society we live in. It is hard to say whether the thoughts cause disease in the body or the physical degradation leads to negative thought patterns. Think which came first-the chicken or the egg? No matter the case, once this process has started it is a steep decline unless we can become AWARE. Depending on our family history, past and present life trauma, genes, or unique weaknesses in the body/mind, our doshas can become imbalanced. One or two may dominate while another is lacking. This imbalance eventually manifests into physical disease as the body is only trying to alert us that there is a problem that needs attention. It’s a bit like ignoring the check engine light on your car’s dashboard!

So what are the three Doshas?

There are pitta, vata and kapha. This is a three part blog series which will explain each dosha in detail and then elaborate on what you can do to prevent or correct an imbalance.

1. Pitta

Pitta Dosha

Pitta is a mind body type that aligns with the summer. It is lively, competitive, first responder, spicy, and fire based. Pitta predominant constitutions usually have a muscular build, oilier skin, are prone to bleeding or ulcers and are very intelligent and quick witted. When imbalanced, this competitive drive can often overtake the softer parts of the personality. “Winning” and being right can lead to stagnation of prana, or energy, causing emotional blockages that then affect certain organs. The organs most affected by a pitta excess include the liver, skin, eyes, and some digestive organs. Since the liver filters all of the blood in the entire body, the blood is also subject to toxicity if the liver is diseased. To pacify pitta imbalances, one must eat a pitta satisfying diet of astringent/bitter herbs and cooling foods/spices. There are also some easier than expected lifestyle changes that one can adopt if they are truly ready to be the captain of their own health ship. Keep reading as this blog is about Pitta!

2. Vata-

vata is a mind body type that aligns with autumn and winter. It is sweet, airy, fluid, expressive and movement based. Vata predominant constitutions usually have long extremities, drier skin, large eyes, are prone to anxiety and distractibility, and are grounded by heavier or sweeter foods. When imbalanced, this air based dosha can become too stimulated and lean towards anxiety, flightiness and shallowness. This leads to a different energy blockage and stagnation of proper prana flow. The organs most affected by a vata excess include the colon and nervous system. To pacify vata imbalances, one must eat a vata pacifying diet to include sweeter and more grounding foods.

3. Kapha

kapha is a mind body type that aligns with spring and winter. It is loyal, caring, grounded, and water/earth based. Kapha predominant constitutions usually have heavier set builds, glowing skin and lustrous hair, are prone to emotional eating and clinginess, and are supported by social interaction and exercise. Emotional eating and coveting can lead to stagnation of prana that causes heaviness and depression, affected certain organs. The organs most affected by a kapha imbalance include the sinus cavities, stomach, and lungs. Eating heavy foods can predispose one to water accumulation, depression and weight gain. To pacify kapha imbalances, one must eat a kapha satisfying diet that avoids heavy or sweet foods. should be light/spicy and easily digestible.

The Pitta Dosha: How Do I Know If I Have an Imbalance 

So if you are pitta predominant, some of the things I listed above may have really resonated with you. I think it’s quite easy to become overly competitive and egotistically imbalanced as society promotes this. We are rewarded for hard work at the expense of self-care. Stepping on others to get what we want seems like a normal behavior. This type of behavior and belief patterns exacerbate the pitta dosha and can lead to an excess that then affects our happiness. If you have found yourself to be overly reactive, impatient, envious, or overly analytical/judgmental (especially about yourself), then your liver may be suffering from too much heat from an over exhausted pitta predominance.

Symotoms of excessive pitta imbalance:

-fever, ulcers, acid reflux, skin issues like eczema or other eruptions, oily skin/hair, cellulite, hives, anger, reactivity, frustration, envy, inflammation, nausea if meals are skipped, sweating, perfectionism, or impatience

-symptoms may worsen in heat or the summer. This is pitta’s season overall.

How Do I Help To Correct a Pitta Imbalance?

Once you recognize the problem, awareness is key to resolving it! There are lots of solutions I speak from personal experience here! I had a diseased liver due to overworking in a competitive field and ignoring my inner guidance. I become angry and reactive (this is often how doctors are prepared and trained to be first responders). The liver, which is the seat of the pitta Dosha, had caused toxicity in my blood and the lymph is filtered by the blood. Lymph carries all our “waste” from the blood including heavy metals or endocrine disrupters. Since the liver wasn’t doing it’s job adequately, my circulation and lymph suffered. Therefore I had cellulite all over my thighs that never seemed to go away with all my hard work dieting and exercising. What’s a girl to do?

1. Indian Triphala-this herb is wonderful at balancing all three doshas. I still take it! It is a gentle and natural laxative that also contains some of the highest vitamin C content. It helped my liver wade through and process all the junk I was exposed to while providing regular bowel movements which eliminated that waste. Regularity is health! If not you are holding onto toxins that are not meant to be stored in the body.

Direction of Skin Brushing Strokes for Pitta Dosha Correction

Direction of Skin Brushing Strokes for Pitta Dosha Correction

2. Dry Brushing-dry brushing is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. It is recommended to dry brush first thing upon rising before you shower. It’s purpose is to stimulate sluggish lymph, often caused by blood toxicity and liver dysfunction. It helps to stimulate immunity by circulating white blood cells and if done consistently, helps to improve or eliminate cellulite (which is really only toxins stored inside fat cells). The method is done by using a natural bristled brush and using long, sweeping movements starting at the ankles and moving in an upwards motion towards the heart. If you are brushing on the arms or above the heart, you will brush downwards towards the heart. The general gist is to always be moving the lymph back to the heart where it can eventually be flushed out. If you err on the side of reactivity or frustration, you should consider dry brushing daily as this is a sign of liver heat.

3. Finding Peace and Forgiveness-Anger is deceptive. We hold grudges believing we are protecting ourselves, but ultimately that is a poison that we end up drinking. Prolonged anger eats away at the one who holds it and disrupts our internal peace. Meditation or silencing the brain is a great way to find peace. Exploring new perspectives and finding time to destress is imperative if you are on overworked overachiever!

4. Gentle Exercise-the last thing someone with excess pitta needs is competition during their workouts. Even highly competitive workouts like cross fit can release the stress hormone, cortisol which is already being overly produced due to pitta’s flight or fight response.   Yoga, Qi-Gong and Tai Chi are more suitable choices for overexhausted pitta predominant people. The spinal twists of yoga help to rinse out the liver and spleen that then work to purify and protect the blood.

5. Regular Eating and Sleeping Patterns-Again, due to a sluggish liver, Pittas often do not have stores of glucose, known as glycogen, being held for quick release. For this reason, they often feel dizzy in between meals due to low blood sugars. Regularly scheduled meals throughout the day helps to stabilize the blood sugar drops and moods. The same goes for sleeping patterns. Pittas are infamous for staying up and eating past their bedtime. From 10pm to 2am is the liver’s time to rest and rejuvenate. If you awake and eating during this time, however, you are impeding this healing. Pittas do best if in bed, preferably before 10pm, and rise with the sun. Avoid spicy, hot, fried or oily foods.

6. Raw, Cooling Foods and Spices-Raw, organic fruits and veggies like melons or peaches and cooling spices like fennel, neem and coriander help to lessen the blazing pitta fire. Eating around noon, when the the sun is at its highest, also promotes good digestion as the digestive fire burns the brightest at this time too. Drink room temperature or slightly cool liquids but never too hot or too cold as this stagnates digestion.

7. Take Cold or Lukewarm Showers-morning showers that aren’t too hot is also advantageous for pitta predominant types. The cool water helps to calm the mind, reset immunity and calm any inflamed skin issues. Always try to dry brush beforehand.

8. Decrease Alcohol and Caffeine Intake-Both substances are sharp and hot, qualities that are already in excess in pitta. Indulging can result in anger explosions and frustration as heat is added to the body.

9. Daily Massage-Also known as Abhyanga, involves anointing the body with oil to soothe imbalanced doshas. Besides rejuvenating the skin, decreasing the signs of aging and stimulating the internal organs, daily oil massages help to soothe the mind, which is very important for the perfectionist pitta. Try cooling oils like coconut, neem or sunflower oil.

10. Seek out sweet rather than competitive friendships-Pitta personalities are likely to place themselves in demanding, stressful and competitive jobs so the last thing that should seek out is that same type of relationship in their personal lives. Look for friendly, trustworthy company that does not engage any competitive or resentful behavior.

My Liver Master, which you can find in my store, is also an excellent choice of liver purging and calming herbs that will accentuate pitta imbalances and is made just for this purpose!

Happy Pitta balancing!

Much Love

Dr Jess


Whats My Dosha? How Understanding Your Personal Mind-Body Type Can Improve Your Life

Whats My Dosha? How Understanding Your Personal Mind-Body Type Can Improve Your Life

What is Ayurveda? My Experience

Ayurveda translates to the science of life. Along with Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is arguably the oldest medical system in the world with 5000 years under its belt. What sets it apart from conventional western medicine is that it includes mind, body and spirit in healing. Ayurveda prides itself on being a complete wellness system that includes disease prevention, diagnosis, observation, and then personalized treatment. It is an instruction on how to enhance your life!

I was first introduced to Ayurveda when I visited India for a yoga and meditation retreat. I fell in love with how this ancient medicine system still was quite relevant today. My biggest impression came with my consult with some Tibetan doctors who promptly informed me that I needed a liver cleanse. It was so urgent, in fact, that they said if I had been staying longer they would have done a more active cleanse with observation! This confirmed my suspicion that I might have a struggling liver as my liver enzymes had returned a point higher than the normal reference range earlier that year. I was given 25 different herbs rolled up into a ball from the Tibetan docs, which I still take today. The most memorable part of this whole experience for me, however, was HOW the docs came up with my diagnosis. There were no labs or handy gadgets used in my evaluation. They simply felt my pulse, looked at my eyes and tongue, and asked very detailed questions. But it was right on the money.

Ayurveda is very similar to Chinese medicine in that it uses very “bipolar” terms in its descriptions. Rather than saying Yin and Yang as in TCM, it uses Shiva and Shakti. These are very similar to masculine and feminine. What I found out is that I had too much fire, or yang, in my liver and gallbladder. It was affecting my blood and circulation as well and going on to compromise my digestion. My spleen, whose job it is to make antibodies that lovingly protect our immunity, was struggling too!

This makes perfect sense to me. How can you be diseased in one organ but not in another? When we think about it, western medicine knows this on a partial level, but seems to disregard it in the big picture sense. If blockages or plaques are found in the heart, you can bet they are likely in the brain too as the same process goes on throughout the whole body. This why heart attacks are a risk factor for strokes.

Modern medicine is flawed because it views the body in parts rather than teaching that it functions as a whole. As a result, the doctors aren’t properly educated and this view is funneled into patient care. We don’t realize that our improper digestion can affect blood toxicity which can then affect the kidneys and adrenals. This throws the entire hormone cascade off. Our bodies do not function in specialized parts. Quite the contrary actually, everything affects everything else. 

It is a shame that medical students are forced to specialize and pick a certain organ group to be experts in as this affects how patients are seen and treated.

The Tridoshas in Ayurveda: How Knowing Yours Can Empower You to Make Better Choices 

Tridoshas in Ayurveda

Tridoshas in Ayurveda

In Ayurvedic medicine, although the total system is quite complex, there is a dominance of the three dosha (tridosha), or mind body types: kapha, pitta, vata (also called vayu). Ayurveda also likes to describe transformation of food in the body and focuses on how the ingested food is broken down and converted into the essential building blocks that comprise the body.

Although all of us carry all three doshas with us, there is usually a predominant one in most people. The doshas can also become too Shiva or Shakti, or imbalanced if our mind or body is sick. Here is a description of our three dosha:

Ayurveda illustration doshas vata, pitta, kapha. Ayurvedic body types.

  1. Pitta:  Pitta represents the fire and water elements. It is hot, sharp, oily, and often represented by bile. This is because this constitution oversees digestion and transformation which includes biles that emulsify fats needed for proper nutrient absorption. Fiery pitta is in charge of all catabolic physical and chemical activities. When functioning and properly balanced, pitta maintains proper digestion, bodily warmth, visual acuity, hunger, thirst, skin luster, intelligence, determination, and bodily softness. Its most positive mental attribute is courage and determination while in its most negative attributes when imbalanced include anger and inappropriate audaciousness.The Primary seat of the pitta dosha is the liver/gallbladder, and small intestines. (You will notice that all three doshas have the digestive organs as their seats-thats how important digestion is!)  Its flavor is pungent or spicy and is often more yang.  It is strongly associated with all digestive secretions including acids and bile.I am a predominant pitta all the way. This explains why my liver was so damaged. I was overworked, competitive, angry and totally imbalanced. I know my fire element was imbalance due to work and poor dietary choices. I craved spicy and salty food all the time. Pitta can also become askew due to excessive sexual activity, acid, salty and pungent flavors, hot, indigestible foods, fish, buttermilk, whey, fasting, acidic fruits, alcohol, meat and fatty, oily foods. It is also harmed by excessive exposure to sunlight, summertime, noon, midnight, injuries and blood toxicity. Often, symptoms that manifest approximately one hour after the digestion of food are caused by Fire imbalance.Other symptoms include bleeding, jaundice, yellowing of the feces, eyes and skin, boldness, excessive hunger, thirst, burning sensations and insomnia. In addition, symptoms of fever, infections, inflammation, cold sores, burning sensations such as ulcers and acid stomach, hepatitis, thirst, excessive perspiration and restlessness may be associated with a Fire imbalance. Mentally, this translates to anger, heat, impatience, frustration, jealousy and reactivity.If the pitta mind body dosha is deficient, it is balanced by foods and medicines that are spicy and moderately cool as well as moderate physical exercise. For excess fire or Pitta, we would use uncooked, bitter, astringent and sweet flavored foods with mild physical activities. Once I learned that I had a Pitta excess, I began solely doing yoga and taking the herbs that were given to me in India by the Tibetan doctors. A couple of the ingredients were Amla, a fruit high in vitamin C as well as Indian Triphala or gooseberry, that is a natural laxative. In excessive Pitta, you want herbs that are cooling, soothing and laxative-like in nature so that the heat is being removed.  Constipation is often a problem. When there is no constipation, one can use alterative or cholagogic herbs such as red clover, sarsaparilla, oregon grape root, barberry root and dandelion root. What should you eat in your Pitta is imbalanced? Think raw! Fruits, veggies and kitachari or rice are acceptable. You definitely want to hold off on aggravating spices, oils, peppers and fried foods.  If you lack Pitta, then look for herbs like ginger, cayenne pepper or turmeric.

    Understanding Your Personal Mind-Body Type

    Amla, or Indian gooseberry is the second highest vitamin C containing fruit.

Pitta constitution rules the late spring, summer, and indian summer. During that time, you would want to eat food that calms the body like more salads, raw fruit and veggies and chilled soups. During colder months, avoid these foods which can cause cold/dampness in the body. Pitta’s oversees digestive fire and this explains why our biggest meal should be at noon when the digestive fires, or agni, are the strongest. Therefore this constitution rules 10am to 2pm and should definitely be asleep by 10pm as this is when liver detox and processing is occurring  Ayurveda is all about eating with the seasons!

 2. Vata or Vatu: Vata represents the air and ether elements.  It is represented by anything with movement in the body like the colon, nervous system, and ears. It helps to also MOVE or push things through the system so it oversees bowel movements, the blood pumping heart, the kidneys and urination, each breath, and even childbirth. Just like wind, Vata is responsible for CHANGE. The primary seat of Vata is the colon-see how important digestion is? This constitution is dry and cold and can become especially problematic in the winter, when it is colder and drier! In its most positive aspect, Vata is sensitive, sweet, malleable, and joyous. In its negative, imbalanced aspect, Vata can become fearful, indecisive, anxious and flighty.  Activities and foods that aggravate Vata include raw foods, chilled soups, fasting, excessive juicing, traveling, overextending yourself, sex, fighting, staying up too late, skipping meals and cold weather/rain. Symptoms that occur immediately after eating are an indication of Air imbalance as are feeling cold, sleepy, fatigued, constipated, irritable, and having abdominal distention.

If you are deficient in Vata, you would want to seek out herbs/foods that are spicy, bitter and light in nature. For excessive Vata, meaning too much “wind,” you want grounding and soothing foods and herbs that have a sweet, salty or sour flavor and come from the earth, such as healthy grains and even clean animal products occasionally. A person who has too much Vata is lanky, sometimes very thin or frail and seems hyper anxious. They often have cold hands and feet due to poorer circulation. They do  not tolerate cold, wind or rain very well and often need extra rest to feel well. It is extremely important for these individuals to set a proper schedule of sleep, eating and routine activities as irregularity seems to exacerbate their symptoms.

Vata constitution rules the autumn/winter months. During that time, you want to eat soothing, warming foods like warm soups, cooked sweet vegetables, and herbs that encourage grounding. Avoid processed sugary foods, skipping meals and try to curb these foods during the summer. Vata constitutions fair very well with castor oil on the body because of how viscous it is, which helps to ground the air imbalance. Herbs like slippery elm bark, comfrey and marshmallow root are all help to soothe excess Vata. Seek out herbs that are bitter, drying and pungent. Vata oversees the time from 2am to 6am and from 2pm to sunset. This should be a time for task making lists and exercise (movement, get it?)  So any issues during these time frames can link back to a possible Air deficiency or excess. 

3. Kapha: Kapha represents the water and earth elements. It is cold, wet, heavy, slow but steady and often cloudy. It oversees weight gain/loss, stability, tissue repair and growth. Since it is a water element, it is responsible for lubricating the joints and organs. This dosha’s primary seat is in the lungs, but the stomach, pancreas, throat, and sinus cavities also are included. (Digestion again!) This means that if you have consistent sinusitis or bronchitis, your kapha constitution is likely askew! Kapha predominant people often eat when they are upset, they are loyal and sweet and quick to forgive. In its most positive aspect, it is responsible for the qualities of forgiveness, patience, altruism and generosity. However, when imbalanced, Kapha can lead to coveting, laziness, obesity, greediness and clinginess. Physically an imbalance looks to cause indigestion, mucus/bronchitis, sinusitis, heaviness, coldness, breathing issues, coughing, pneumonia, congestive heart failure (you are literally drowning in your own fluid excess), goiter, obesity, depression, constipation, and edema. These symptoms often manifest while still eating.

It is aggravated and made imbalanced by excessive cold and damp climates, heavy and rich foods like breads and pastas, fatty foods, excessive sleep and laziness, dairy, sugar and sweets, and salts.

If deficient, Kapha should be balanced with heavier and sweater foods from the earth. If in excess, avoid rich, fatty foods, dairy and refined grains/wheat/sugar which increase mucus production. Seek out Kapha balancing herbs that are light, spicy, and bitter. Kapha predominant people should also try more vigorous exercise as you want to counteract the heaviness feeling that can be so much worse in the colder months. Please seek out herbs and foods that are warming, stimulating, expectorant, produce dieresis and mildly laxative are appropriate for this type. You want to be motivated to get out and do things in the colder months.

Ayahuasca helps the Kapha dosha immensely by inducing vomiting which is the prime way to remove mucus and phlegm from the body.

Kapha constitution oversees the winter/spring months. During that time, you want to eat light and spicy foods that do not weigh you down. Avoid heavy oils, dressings, sauces, pastas, dense meats, and breads. Try not to indulge in too many sweets. I feel this is why we feel so down after overindulging in holiday treats; our Kapha becomes imbalanced! Seek out herbs and foods like light fruits, millet, honey, ginger, turmeric, tulsi, peppers, cardamom, and lots of veggies. Kapha oversees time from 6am to 10am and from 6pm to 10pm during which you should be enjoying time with family/friends, producing tasks and eating light meals/snacks. 

This is a very brief discussion of the Ayurvedic Dosha. Of course, it is too detailed to cover even a fraction here. However, above all, it is necessary to protect the Agni, or digestive fire, above everything else. This fire assimilates our food into nutrients and if there is weak physical digestion, it will lead to weak mental digestion (brain fog) as well. Avoid EVER drinking liquids that are too hot/cold (no ice water especially in the winter/kapha months), improper food combining, disturbance of sleep or eating patterns, and especially negative thinking patterns. Remember that feelings such as envy, fear, greed, anguish, misery, shame and anger can be stored in the body and lead to malfunction of organs/doshas and eventual disease.