Ayurvedic Perspective of Drinking Water

We can survive without food for a couple of days, but can we without water? Every single cell in the body needs water for their survival. We have learnt a lot about water in the school. Is there anything more to know about drinking water?

According to the philosophy, water is one of the five basic elements combined in creation of the universe. In Vedas (ancient treatises), there is a common saying “As is the individual, so is the universe, as is the universe, so is the individual”. Hence, the concept of basic elements is common for every living being. Water is an essential substance of  life that nobody can live without it. The sensation to consume water- “thirst” is one of the “Non-Suppressible Natural Urges” described in Ayurvedic Medicine. In other words, suppression of thirst causes both acute and chronic ailments.

In general, drinking adequate amount of water improves metabolism, flush out toxins and waste products from the body. It promotes stamina by preventing dehydration, maintaining the moisture of the cells, particularly enhancing a healthy glowing skin! It thins the blood and hence, lowers the risks of a heart attack. Most importantly it can prevent colon cancer, bladder cancer and, breast cancer and other types of cancer particularly because water is an essential factor in maintaining proper metabolism.

It is mentioned in Ayurveda to avoid cold water as much as possible, and to consume water in the room temperature. It is also advised in ancient treatises to drink two sips of lukewarm water as the first thing in the morning. A special, but simple method of preparation of water described in Ayurvedic Medicine is called “Ushnodaka“. Ushnodaka simply means warm water. Though the preparation sounds simple, the method is specific. The water should be boiled down to a certain quantity. For instance, if you start with one cup of water, you can boil it down to ¾, ½ or ¼ cups, respectively becoming more effective.

Ushnodaka increases the digestive power, detoxifies the waste/ toxins [ama] in the body preventing from diseases. It is also effective in constipation and flatulence. Since it eliminates Vata and Kapha doshas, it’s effective in headache, rhinitis, sinusitis, etc. One of the important benefits of Ushnodaka is that it helps in losing weight. According to Ayurvedic Medicine, most of the ailments are related to impaired digestive power and, obesity is also due to improper digestion in stomachic and cellular level.

However, if you are suffering from burning sensations, hot flushes, very high appetite, eczema or other skin diseases, alcoholism, mainly Pitta and Rakta [blood] ailments, it is highly recommended to ask your Ayurvedic physician before consuming Ushnodaka.

Drinking water with meals is another important subject. It is however, depending on your appetite. In general, it is recommended to drink water at least half an hour before or after meals. If the appetite is lower, it is not advisable to drink water before meals. Also, the stomach must not be heavily loaded; half of the stomach should be filled with solid food, one fourth with watery portion and one fourth empty. It is also recommended to take small sips of lukewarm water/ Ushnodaka while eating, in order to soften the food and to prepare the ingested food for digestion.

Drink adequate amount of water and enjoy the gift – a healthy life!

Dr. Indunil Weerarathne
05 March 2015

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