All of us wish to live a healthy and happy life free from all diseases, but very few of us make right and really serious efforts in this direction. Nature has provided a variety of food items to us, but instead of including them in their natural form in our diet, we go for hot and spicy food. It has been found that the diet of raw food and juice can help us remain healthy. Juice- diet, especially can cure us of chronic diseases and keep our mind and body healthy. Here is an attempt to provide information regarding various fruit and vegetable constituents and its use in different diseases.
Various fruits and vegetables can be used as medicine/ or supportive therapy if their properties and uses are known. Their properties and uses are listed below:
Qualities: Apples of the Indian breed are usually sweet and sour. Since they have more fiber, they are easily digested and thereby relieve constipation. It is called the VAYU NASHAK, which means the destroyer of wind and therefore reduces vayu symptoms in the body. As it is a good multi-vitamin and good in iron content, apple strengthens the body and therefore is known as the Balawardhak. It is alkaline in nature and therefore helps in reducing acidity. Its high iron content increases the hemoglobin count and thus in turn reduces tiredness. The pectin in apple is a good antioxidant, which leaves behind a feeling of freshness in an individual.
Benefits: American Medical Association has stated that apple is very useful in the cases of diarrhea in children. Apple has laxative qualities, but its pectin content keeps diarrhea in check.
Apple is an excellent disinfectant for the stomach and intestines. As it helps in the washing of bile, it’s use is recommended during illnesses such as jaundice. Apple is also used in gout and arthritis. Being a vayunashak, i.e., the destroyer of vata, apple aids in reducing pain due to which indigestion improves.
Qualities: Beetroot requires more body heat for its proper digestion, and therefore should be properly boiled before eating. This occurs due to its oily nature, which has more fats which makes it nature-wise more difficult to digest. Since beetroot controls bile secretion, it is used in jaundice.
Benefits: Since it has a high fat and carbohydrate content, it is energizing, and thus its consumption is advisable while recovering from any illness.
Qualities: Bel is vayunashak, depan (a kindler of gastric fire), pachak (digestive) and madhur (sweet) in quality. Apart from its vayunashak qualities, it also balances aggravated pitta and kapha of the body. Therefore, bel is known as the tridoshhar.
Benefits: Due to the tannin content in bel, it is digestive as well as appetizing. It is mildly constipating and therefore can be used safely in dysentery.
Bel can be consumed as juice or sweet pickle. Half a cup of bel juice taken twice a day is said to be sufficient. Bel is also said to have anti-helmenthic properties, thereby killing the intestinal worms and relieving abdominal cramps.
Bitter Gourd (Karela):
Qualities: Bitter gourds are bitter in taste, a stimulant of gastric fire, light for digestion, warm, purgative, soothing and conducive to digestion. They also have other properties like curing blood impurities by destroying the aggravated kapha, and also reducing the bile content.
As bitter gourd reduces both, kapha and bile; it is believed to be very beneficial in skin diseases. It also increases sensitivity of insulin receptors all over the body. They also stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin.
Benefits: Bitter gourd juice is believed to be beneficial in purifying the blood. It is also said to be an excellent appetizer. It puts a stop to bleeding piles, and also gives relief in burning micturation. To a certain extent it also helps in dissolving gall and kidney stones.
As bitter gourd stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin and increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors, it is said to be helpful in both, diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2.
Consumption of juice made out of 5 bitter gourds on an empty stomach, in the morning for a period of one month could aid diabetes patients. This juice is believed to have the ability to significantly relieve diabetes patients from all diabetes related tablets and insulin injections, provided they also follow a proper diet as well.
Cabbage (patta gobi):
Qualities: Cabbage is anti-carcinogenic. It is digestive and vitalizing to the body. It has antioxidant properties and is therefore believed to be a good cardio-protective. It decreases the production of bile in the body.
Use: As the outer parts of cabbage are greener, they are high in chlorophyll and vitamin A content, as compared to its inner parts. It is also a good source of trace elements like phosphorus and magnesium, and therefore it should not be over boiled. Over boiling this vegetable may destroy its trace elements and vitamin B and C content. This vegetable is believed to be useful in skin, hepatic, gastric, pancreatic, and spleenic diseases.
Benefits: As cabbage decreases bile production, it is highly recommended during peptic ulcer disease, or during any pruritic condition. Cabbage contains a new vitamin which is said to be able to cure gastric and duodenal ulcers. This new vitamin is called the ‘U’ vitamin.
Qualities: The outer part of carrot is sweet, warm, stimulates gastric fire and a good appetizer; unlike the inner portion which is bitter, increases body heat, and stimulates bile production. Carrot is commonly used as Vayunashak.
Use: The middle portion of carrot should not be used.
Benefits: It is high in vitamin and magnesium content; therefore it can be used in all sorts of eye diseases and also as a stress reliever. Its high magnesium content helps the people who are suffering from excessive laziness and sleepiness, to get more alert and fresh. Tocokinin, present in carrot, helps in relief against diabetes to a certain extent. Since vitamin A and E are also good for skin diseases, they help in curing eczema. It is a good diuretic and thus can be used in cases of acute kidney failure.
Carrots by binding with the uric acid in the body and getting eliminated reduce the inflammation and pain in gouty arthritis. Thus, its juice is believed to be beneficial for patients suffering with gout.
Vitamin E is known for its cardio-protective and anti-sterility function, thus it may be useful in all sorts of cardiac diseases and decreased sperm count.
Experiments on animals have revealed that vitamin E increases their procreative capacity. It has been stated that cancer cells cannot thrive in the blood because of the presence of vitamin E. Animals fed on a diet containing sufficient vitamin E are said to develop a resistance against cancer. Experiments regarding this have also been conducted on humans and are said to have yielded a good deal of success.
Qualities: Green coconut water is cooling and very nutritious. Coconut is a very good diuretic. It moderates the color of urine and aids in quenching the thirst. When a coconut is not ripe and the formation of the inner kernel has not taken place, its water is less sweet, sour or to some extent even astringent in nature. Its water becomes sweet as soon as the formation of the inner kernel takes place. The sugar present in its water quickly gets absorbed by the body. It is said to be safe because it is naturally sterilized and therefore is free from bacteria.
Analysis of its contents: Water, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Chlorine, Vitamin B complex, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Riboflavin, Pyriodoxin.
Use: Green coconut water contains the above mentioned elements and vitamins.
Benefits: As green coconut water is diuretic; it is efficacious in urine troubles and also against kidney-stones. It is very useful in cholera. In case of cholera-induced vomiting and diarrhea, the body sometimes gets dehydrated and loses its valuable minerals. This could perhaps prove to be fatal. Under such circumstances coconut water consumption is said to provide the necessary moisture and salt to the body.
As coconut water is anti-bacterial, it extirpates the cholera germs from the intestines. Scientists from the school of tropical medicine believe that the rich natural potassium content in coconut water is superior to the injectable potassium salts used while treating cholera and its related complications.
Vitamin B complex contained in coconut water strengthens the heart and vitalizes the nerves and the digestive system.
Qualities: Cucumber is sweet, cooling, and a good diuretic. Dhanvantri Nighantukara is said to have stated that cucumber calms down the bile and has a soothing effect. It cures the diseases related to urine. It allays burning and checks fainting. As per the latest researches conducted, cucumber has a property that gives relief in arthritis. Therefore the cucumber is regarded as an important vegetable.
Benefits: Cucumber benefits in rheumatic conditions. It helps in decreasing uric acid of the body and therefore can be used in gouty arthritis.
Indian Gooseberry (Amla) OR Emblica Myrobalan:
Qualities: The taste of amla is somewhat acidic and also acrid, to some extent. Though it is sour in taste, it turns sweet when digested. It is high in vitamin C, which is commonly known as the anti-ageing vitamin. It is virya wardhak, meaning it increases the sperm count and semen production. It is very good for the eye and blood.
As amla is tridoshhar and vitalizing, it is known as Vishnu priya, i.e. the favorite of Lord Vishnu. Amla is regarded as a regimen for man in all the seasons without any discrimination of nature, time, place or age. Of all the fruits, amla is said to be the richest source of vitamin C.
Vitamin C contained in one amla fruit is said to be more than the vitamin C content in 16 bananas or three oranges.
Benefits: Amla juice is said to be very beneficial in gouty arthritis. Drinking fresh amla juice for two to three months may be very helpful in conditions like sterility and semen weaknesses. Amla juice is the sure remedy for eye-weakness and deafness. It is very helpful in constipation, blood impurities, dyspepsia, jaundice, etc. It also provides relief in nerve or heart weakness.
Qualities: Fresh figs are very nutritious and helpful in relieving constipation. The iron content in fig is easily digestible, thus they completely assimilate in the body. Figs are cool, delicious and heavy. They check derangement of the bile and windiness. They eliminate impurities from the blood. In their matured state, they are sweet, soothing and laxative.
Benefits: The juice of fresh figs is diuretic. It therefore alleviates uric troubles. Figs consumption keeps the liver, stomach and intestines efficient. It particularly gives relief in coughing fits.
Qualities: They are high in fats, vitamin A, B and chlorophyll content, and are hard to digest.
Benefits: Therapeutically, its juice stimulates the nervous system and has been said to be capable of stimulating insulin production because of which it is recommended in diabetes mellitus. For this purpose, about 150 ml. of its juice per day is considered to be a sufficient dose. In case of diabetes, the usual requirement is said to be about 275 ml. per day.
Qualities: Garlic is the best Vayunashak (destroyer of vayu), Tamasic, Ushnavardhak (ignites heat in body), Kam uttejak (aphrodisiac), Pachak (digestive), and Balwardhak (gives strength). It improves voice and eye-sight. It helps in the process of calcification in fracture and also is said to be useful in dyspepsia, cough, windiness, worms, heart-disease, edema, hiccough, asthma, leucoderma, acidity, piles, hard-breathing, colitis, chronic fever, loss of appetite, catarrh, constipation and tuberculosis.
Benefits: Garlic has a wide spectrum of killing bacteria, viruses and fungi and therefore is a very good anti-septic. Garlic juice mixed with equal quantities of water destroys cholera germs. Its wide spectrum covers both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. It is said to be a good medicine for hair problems.
The essential oil sulphide in garlic is said to be a very good remedy for upper and lower respiratory diseases. Garlic is believed to be the best remedy in pneumonia because of its wide anti-bacterial spectrum.
As garlic is the best vayunashak, it is useful in curing all sorts of diseases that evolve from an aggravated vayu like paralysis, stiffness of the whole body, heart-trouble, stomachache, pain in any part of the body and various other ailments.
Garlic has been proved to be effective as an expectorant and also in bronchitis. Garlic dislodges mucus, induces sound sleep, improves appetite and thereby helps in gaining weight.
In wounds and ulcerations, garlic is used for counteracting putrefaction. Garlic juice may be diluted with three parts of warm water and used as an anti-septic solution over infected wounds. It is said to be more powerful than the regular antiseptic available in the market. Thus it decreases the pus formation. It enhances healing and thereby closes the wound faster. As it is a vayunashak, local pain is relieved when used as a solution. Garlic is also useful in gout, kidney stones and gall bladder.
Aggravated vayu causes high blood pressure and therefore garlic since ages, is said to be one of the best medicines for curing high blood pressure. For this purpose, one clove of garlic should be consumed thrice a day. It also reduces atherosclerosis and gives relief to the heart, thus vitalizing it. In the case of earache and deafness, a drop of garlic juice in the ear may prove to be beneficial.
Dr. Hiren Parekh.