REMARKABLE ANCIENT WISDOM
Ancient wisdom from India seems to be under rated despite health science like Yoga gaining world wide popularity - probably the most successful rebirth of an ancient science in modern times. When studied carefully and analyzed one is surprised if not shocked to realize how advanced was the intelligence and how deep was the knowledge. Due to various geopolitical factors the inheritors lose the science behind the genesis of the knowledge and are only able to pass on the fruits.
Let us examine Yoga. Haven't all of us noticed regular Yoga practitioners looking younger for their age with their skin having a shine? Any good Yoga instructor will spend as much time in teaching breathing as in asans. I observed that Yoga is nothing but the equivalent of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It compresses and stretches each important organ and tissue, makes us breathe deeply and then releases the compression or stretch so that oxygen rich blood rushes in. Just hold forearm tightly for a few minutes and then release - one will feel a rush of blood entering the compressed area. If done correctly the oxygen rich blood rejuvenates the organ/tissue. Although it may not have the same intensity of rejuvenation that one can achieve with high pressure hyperbaric oxygen therapy its the regular practice over a life time that tones up our internal self. It just goes to show that there was already an understanding of the role of oxygen and circulation that was achieved thousands of years ago. As one ages our ability to saturate our blood with oxygen and circulate it thoroughly into every tissue and organ diminishes. Regular practice of Yoga alleviates this age related impairment to some extent. Of course there would be many other actions it may be effecting that may be as much if not more beneficial then the one I observed and one can write a scientific treatise on it but for this blog I leave you with just this remarkable observation.
There are many such incredible proofs of the deep level of knowledge achieved in ancient India like selection of spices in daily diet- todays scientists and researches are going bonkers over spices like turmeric which seems to have very potent benefits for our body - it has been discovered that it is a anti-cancer agent, helps relieve arthritis, controls diabetes, reduces bad cholestrol levels, its an immunity booster, heals wounds if applied externally, helps in weight management, prevents Alzheimer's disease, improves digestion and prevents liver disease! It has anti-inflammatory effect in our body and inflammation causes the most dreaded diseases in us. If one tastes it alone it is not a natural choice for its taste as a spice to be added in all meals but in India from thousands of years our curry and cooked vegetables are always yellow thanks to this ancient wisdom.
Another amazing realization that I have made is about prolonged fasting - a custom prevalent in India from thousands of years. Ancient scientist not only discovered the life extending benefits of fasting but also were clever enough to realize that prolonged fasting would be difficult to follow and garbed it with religion to create the fervor to see it through. Hundreds of scientific studies done recently have shown that our biochemistry triggers certain actions that helps us survive a famine. “We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said corresponding author Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, fat and ketones, but it also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. Longo likens the effect to lightening a plane of excess cargo.
During each cycle of fasting depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. In particular, prolonged fasting reduced the enzyme PKA, an effect previously discovered by the Longo team to extend longevity in simple organisms and which has been linked in other research to the regulation of stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency — that is, the potential for one cell to develop into many different cell types. Prolonged fasting also lowered levels of IGF-1, a growth-factor hormone that Longo and others have linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer risk.
“PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”
In lay man's terms prolonged fasting triggers the discarding of older, broken down cells that eventually lead to diseases/early death and replaces them with new cells that are regenerated - most beneficial of all would be pluripotent stem cells which would swim through the body repairing various damaged parts of our internal system - net effect: prevention of future disease and extension of life term. The above cited study only discovered regeneration of immune cells but the benefit would accrue to all cells. It is nature's secret survival weapon that stays in stealth mode:dormant and would only be triggered in famine like stress to ensure the survival of the species. This is true even in the case of say tomatoes and peanuts. Boiling them is a kind of stress and this triggers release of nutrients which make a boiled tomato and boiled peanut multiple times more nutritive then regular ones.
Ancient scientists acquired this powerful knowledge and made a practical application to ensure longer, disease free life for humans. One only limits our information about ancient Indian knowledge to the very few books that have survived but one can see its evidence in hundreds of remarkable daily items which we may not have understood or appreciated for the wise and deep and thousands of years old science behind it.