Obesity and Weight Loss Treatment Concept
Weight loss has become a trend in the modern era and can be achieved in many ways. Weight loss treatment for the long term and the consistent effect is most important, at the same time it is a bit challenging too. Failure in weight-loss treatment and its effects for the long term is mainly due to poor adherence to proper lifestyle and emotional support.
Obesity, a condition of abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in adipose tissue. It is a common but preventable disease associated with a greater risk factor for the development of many diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases like Hypertension, Stroke, Cholesterol etc., Gall bladder diseases, Arthritis, even infertility and so on.
Obesity in Ayurveda:
Obesity has been described as Sthaulya or Medhoroga in Ayurvedic texts. It comes under ‘Santharpanotha vikara’, which means – a disease caused by over nourishment.
Excessive accumulation of Medho dhatu (fat/adipose tissue) and Mamsa dhatu (muscular tissue), particularly under the chin, on the buttocks, thighs, abdomen and chest.
Causes of obesity:
- Overeating or binge eating
- Eating just because it’s time to have food
- Heavy and late dinner
- Over consumption of ultra-processed and processed foods
- More restaurant foods
- Oily, fatty and deep-fried foods
- Fast foods, excess intake of carbohydrates, sweets, dairy products, meat, even carbonated soft drinks
- Drinking more water immediately after meals
- Day sleeping, wake up late/sleep more after sunrise
- Sleeping immediately after food
- Excessive hours of sleeping (particularly in the morning)
- Sedentary lifestyle and job
- Lack of exercise and other activities including walking
- Emotional eating – use food as a coping mechanism when sad, depressed, anxious, lonely and frustrated.
- Lacking in willpower, motivation especially to lose weight
- Hereditary/Genetic cause
- Indigestion and other digestive function related
- Medicinal reasons – medicines for psychiatric illness, diabetes, Hypertension, Steroids, Hormonal imbalances etc.
- Complication of other diseases like Thyroid issues, PCOD, etc.
Pathogenesis of Obesity:
Obesity can occur mainly due to 3 reasons (as per modern science) –
- Excessive lipid deposition: Increased intake of food in the form of carbs, fats etc. converts to fats and gets stored in fat depots.
- Diminished lipid metabolism: Due to decrease in lipolytic hormones, thyroxine and adrenaline diminishes the mobilization of unsaturated fatty acids from adipose tissue and cause obesity.
- Diminished lipid utilization: Due to aging, defective lipid oxidation and inactivity diminishes lipid utilization and leads to obesity.
As per Ayurveda, poor lifestyle habits and diet choices (as mentioned in the causative factors) that weaken the Agni (digestive fire) and leads to the accumulation of Ama and blocks the body channels. This aggravates kapha and leads to the imbalance in formation of Medho dhatu (Fat & Adipose tissue).
Complications of Obesity:
Obesity can lead to deformity of several organs and organ systems
- Hemorrhoids / Piles
- Diabetes, Cholesterol, Stroke, Hypertension and other heart diseases
- Sleep disorders, Sleep apnea, Snoring
- Arthritis – osteoarthritis, gout etc.
- Even can lead to cancer!
Weight loss treatment:
The first line of treatment is to avoid the causative factors. (see the list above).
As per Ayurveda, Langhana Karma (Depletion Therapy) is the main weight loss treatment modality. Any therapies/diet/lifestyle/herbs that bring lightness to the body is called Langhana. Fasting is the best choice. But need to select according to the strength of the patient and disease.
Langhana is further divided into 2 – Shodhana Karma & Shamana Karma.
Shodhana Karma (Purification therapies):
To eliminate the accumulated toxins (ama) from the deep tissues need a deeper cleansing. Ayurveda chooses the Panchakarma therapies (purification therapies) for this. Which includes Vamana (Emesis therapy), Virecana (Purgation therapy), Vasti (Enema therapy) etc. Click here to read more about panchakarma
Shamana Karma (Palliative therapy):
- Fasting (Upavasa).
- Foods which take long hours to digest, but not nourishing foods. Example – salads.
- Low calorie and low-fat food but with proper vitamins and minerals.
- Foods which are rich in protein to utilize and maintain the amino acids.
- High fiber-rich foods
- Stay longer without foods or do intermittent fasting.
- Cabbage juice: 1 cup of chopped cabbage + 1 cup of water + a small piece of ginger + half tbsp. of lemon juice – blend all together and drink before breakfast.
- Coriander drink: 2 tbsp. of coriander seeds + 1000 ml water – boil and reduce the solution for 2-3 minutes. Filter and drink trough out the day.
- Lemon ginger honey drink: 1 glass of warm water + 1 tbsp. of lemon juice + ½ tsp grated ginger + ½ tbsp. of honey – drink in the morning on empty stomach.
- Apple cider vinegar: Drink shots of apple cider vinegar after meals to improve digestion and metabolism.
- Metabolizer drink: 1 glass of water + 1 tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar + 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger + 1 tbsp. of honey + 1 pinch of cayenne pepper or black pepper. Drink often throughout the day.
- Herbs which helps to control the Ama (toxins) and improves fat metabolism like Amalaki, Ginger, Long pepper, Black pepper, Coriander, Garcinia etc.
- Udhvarthana: regular medicated powder massage/dry powder scrubs
- Regular physical exercise like brisk walks, morning walks, swimming, cardio exercise or moderate aerobics, active Yoga or any other strong and active practices according to the strength
- Wake up with sunrise or early as possible at least before 6.30 / 7 AM
- Build up Non-food coping mechanisms such as engaging in hobbies or other mindfulness activities. This minimizes the food coping mechanism such as emotional or binge eating.
- Appreciate and focus on what you achieved, rather than what you haven’t accomplished.
- If needed, receive counseling and emotional support to avoid giving up
- Take out unrealistic expectations for weight loss outcomes, which can lead to disappointment in the degree of weight loss actually achieved and also increases the negative thoughts and self-blaming.
1. Ashtanga hrudayam sutrastanam
2. Charaka samhita sutrstanam
3. NCBI – Maintenance of lost weight and long-term management of obesity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/