Alcoholism & Ayurveda

Alcoholism is a chronic mental disorder which takes a toll on a person; not just physically, but mentally as well. Certain kinds of alcohol, if taken in small amounts, can be good for the body; but when consumed in large quantities can have far-reaching effects on the body and mind.Drinking too much slows down the brain, makes the mind and memory foggy and lowers inhibitions. Liver damage, high blood pressure, heart diseases, stroke, impotence, infertility, breast and throat cancer, brain and nerve damage and premature aging are the end result of alcohol.

What does Ayurveda say about Alcohol?

Ayurvedic scriptures talk about alcohol as both: a tonic, as well as a dangerous toxin that can take a toll on the overall health. The Charaka Samhita, while calling alcohol a toxin, provides strict guidelines for a person who wishes to consume alcohol even after knowing it's bad for the body.

These guidelines include:

  • Being mentally and physically able,

  • Sticking to seasonal food,

  • When and what food to be taken with alcohol,

  • And other things like proper manner of consumption,

  • It is very important to know body type, i.e. vat, Pitta, Kapha

The qualities of alcohol is opposite of Ojas ; laghu (light), ushna (hot), tikshna (sharp), suksma (subtle), amla (sour), vyavaayaaaal (pervading all of the body), aasuuga (swift), ruuksha (rough), vikaasa (expansive), and visada (drying). All these qualities are the opposite of qualities of ojas. Ayurveda makes clear that alcohol quickly and easily reaches the heart and has a direct effect on the ten qualities of the body’s most subtle essence, ojas. Because its qualities are opposite those of ojas – which has a direct effect on the sattva, or purity of the mind – alcohol causes agitation or intoxication. The heart, which is the seat of many of the important qualities of the body necessary for life, is afflicted by the excessive intake of alcohol.

According to Ayurveda, if consumed in moderation, alcohol could be good for us as it aids healthy digestion, relieves stress as well as gives us good sleep. In fact, Ayurveda prescribes alcohol as a co-drink with certain Ayurvedic medicines like Trayodashang Guggulu. Then there are also Aristham or herbalized wines which are a part of Ayurvedic treatments. But remember, alcohol is best avoided!

Dr Nirav Joshi, Ayurvedacharya