By Dr JV Hebbar
Rainy season is an important time period to take special care of your health. While certain types of food are good to have during rainy season, we need to restrict certain food and other habits.
Effect of Dosha on rainy season – Vata increase, Mild Pitta increase.
Body & health condition during rainy season:
Low digestion power
Low immunity and
Low body strength
Rainy Season diet
Foods to have during rainy season
Old grains, Old rice, Wheat, Barley, soup of pulses, thin supernatant water of curds, grape wine, honey.
Food having (slight) sour, sweet and salty taste.
An Ayurvedic drink made by adding a pinch of salt, pepper, long pepper and ginger is ideal to take . It helps to improve digestion power.
Food to avoid during rainy season
- Food that causes Vata and Pitta imbalance such as food having bitter, hot and astringent principles, potato, horsegram. Because there is already a low digestion strength, excess intake of these may cause gastritis, bloating etc symptoms.
- Food items that are heavy to digest.
- Frozen food stuff, ice creams.
- Oily food stuff
Health tips for rainy season
- Because it is not possible for out-door activities, you need to take special care to have indoor physical activities. Don’t let laziness grow on you.
- Foot care for diabetics – Because the feet tend to get wet all the time, it is very important for everybody and especially diabetics to take special foot care. As and when your feet get wet, make sure to dry them immediately.
- Similarly, to avoid skin infections and itching, it is ideal to add 1 or 2 spoons of neem oil to half a cup of sesame oil and use this for massage before hot water bath, at least once a week.
- It makes sense to prefer hot water bath to cold water bath during rainy season. It helps to curb Vata.
- Those who are prone to get joint pains and arthritis, better to avoid sitting or lying down on the floor. Skin contact with a cold surface will cause tremendous Vata increase, leading to aggravation of pain.
- It is better to wear footwear inside your home during rainy season and in winters.
- Cut your nails regularly. Moisture between them, will invite infection.
- Keep the body fully covered, do not wear sleeveless dress.
- Dry your hair as soon as you return home.
- It is not a good idea to sleep soon after afternoon food during rainy season, it worsens indigestion problem.
- Hot water is better than cold water to drink.
- Ayurveda recommends undergoing Panchakarma treatment during rainy season.
- make sure to use footwear with good grip to avoid slip and fall. Consider buying a new footwear.
Varsha Rtu Charya – rainy / monsoon season regimen
Due to moistness and coldness in land and plants, there is an increase of coldness and moistness in the body too. This produces sluggishness of digestive fire, which leads to accumulation of pitta. There is a simultaneous aggravation of vata in this season. Therefore one should follow regimen of this season and follow food and lifestyle practices so as to balance vata and pitta.
One should consume and follow below mentioned foods and lifestyle activities –
- Drink medicated water and rice with honey
- Sour, salt, sweet and unctuous foods to combat vata
- Old barley, wheat, rice prepared with meat soup, dal soup are beneficial
- Small quantity of alcoholic preparations with honey is allowed
- One should drink rain water, boiled, well or reservoir water
- Avoid day sleep, excessive exercise, hot sun and sex
- Medicated enemas should be given after cleansing with emesis and purgation
Added By – Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Category of Varsha season
Varsha Rtu (rainy season) is the first season of the Visarga Kala or Dakshinayana i.e. Southern Solstice. It is preceded by Greeshma Rtu (summer season), which happens to be the third and last season of Adana Kala i.e. Northern Solstice. The rainy season is followed by Sharad / Sharat Rtu i.e. autumn season, the second season of the Visarga Kala i.e. Southern Solstice. Thus, rainy season is the first season of the Southern Solstice.
Read – Dakshinayana or Visarga Kala (Southern Solstice) Definition, Seasons, Health Effect
Features of Rainy Season
Common features of all seasons of Southern Solstice
Moon is predominant in this season.
In this season, like any other season of Southern Solstice, the Sun moves southwards.
This season gives strength to the person. This happens because the heat reduces in this season as the heat predominant northern solstice ends with end of summer. The climate too becomes cold in comparison to the summer. Along with this, the sky is covered with clouds and there is raining. There is increase in watery ingredients, moistness, fluidity and strength of the plants and living beings.
The winds are present. The winds in southern solstice are not dry and fierce, but in rainy season the winds are comparably dry since the climate is closer to the summer. This further causes aggravation of vata in the body.
One should remember that vata has accumulated naturally in the summer season due to extreme dryness but had not undergone aggravation due to the presence of heat, which is antagonistic to the coldness quality of vata.
But in monsoon season, the dryness of the climate is associated with coldness. Both these together become strong aggravating factors for vata. Therefore vata aggravation takes place in rainy season. If not controlled, it may cause vata disorders.
Like other seasons of southern solstice, the moon is more powerful in comparison to the sun.
Sour, salt and sweet tastes are predominant in the food, plants, water and medicines. These three tastes increase the strength of an individual. These three tastes are antagonistic to vata. These three tastes enhance the water content of the body and keep the body hydrated. Therefore the foods and medicines having these tastes shall be consumed to keep the vata in control.
Parallel to vata aggravation, there is accumulation of pitta in this season.
Features specific to rainy season
Zodiac / Rasi of the Sun in rainy season – Cancer (Karkataka Rasi) and Leo (Simha Rasi) are the Zodiacs which fall into the rainy season.
Hindu Months (Saka varsa / masa) which constitute rainy season – According to Hindu calendar, Shravana (Nabha) month which extends from July 15 to August 15 and Bhadrapada (Nabhasya) month which extends from August 15 to September 15, fall in rainy season.
Calendar month and time period of rainy season – Varsha Rtu i.e. rainy season falls between July 15 and September 15.
Dosha status in rainy season
In rainy season, aggravation of vata takes place. At the same time, accumulation of pitta takes place. Vata aggravates due to the dryness of the climate associated with coldness. In rainy season, the medicines are of less potency owing to the cloud filled sky and water content of the earth due to constant raining. The land gets moist with rain. So the moistness in the body also gets eventually increased along with the coldness. The effect of all these events leads to reduced digestive power / fire leading to improper digestion of food. This leads to accumulation of pitta in monsoon season.
Strength (bala) of the person in rainy season –
The person is said to have less strength in rainy season.
Predominant taste of rainy season – Amla rasa i.e. sour taste is predominant in rainy season. This taste is made up of earth and fire elements. To an extent, sour taste pacifies vata. In monsoon season, as we have discussed already, there is vitiation of vata.
Sour taste helps in combating vata when taken in the form of food and medicines having sour taste. At the same time, the fiery quality of sour taste and the sour taste itself is responsible for increasing pitta. In rainy season, pitta accumulation takes place. Though the unctuousness etc qualities of rainy season are favorable for pitta accumulation, the coldness of the season being antagonistic to pitta doesn’t allow aggravation of pitta. Thus pitta only undergoes accumulation but doesn’t undergo aggravation in this season.
The climate in rainy season
Since rainy season falls in the Southern Solstice, cold and rains are predominant in this season. Due to the predominance of cold, rains and richness of sour taste in the plants and medicines, there is less unctuousness and more dryness prevailing in the atmosphere and body.
In the rainy season, the rivers are filled with water. By the force of the current, the trees on the bank of the river get uprooted and fall down. The lakes in this season look beautiful. In these lakes one can find blossoming of white and blue varieties of lotus. The earth gets covered with grass and as a result the pits cannot be made out. The earth also appears extremely beautiful with growth of different kinds of grains. The rain comes with muffled sounds without thunderbolts. The sun and stars are not seen and are covered by the dark clouds in the sky.
Regimen in Rainy Season
In the rainy season, there is aggravation of vata dosha and also accumulation of pitta dosha. Due to cold and prevailing dryness in the atmosphere and surrounding, rainy season causes increase in vata. Due to the prevailing unctuousness etc qualities and sourness in the foods and medicines during monsoon, favorable for pitta increase, the pitta accumulates. The same pitta doesn’t aggravate due to the presence of cold in the environment as cold is antagonistic to pitta.
Therefore, all regimens are targeted to combat and control the vata which has been aggravated and also to see that pitta doesn’t increase beyond limits heading towards aggravation. All food and life activities are planned accordingly.
The digestive fire will be weak and fluctuating in rainy season. It is already debilitated in the previous season i.e. summer season. In this season, it further undergoes decrease and gets vitiated by the doshas. Simultaneously, the doshas get aggravated due to the effect of thick clouds filled with water, cold wind having snow, dirty water caused due to constant raining, warmth of the earth and sourness prevailing in foods and medicines. The poor digestive fire cause dosha vitiation and these doshas start vitiating one another and consequentially cause many diseases.
The sluggish digestive fire leads to indigestion. Along with this, there will be aggravation of pitta and kapha due to improper digestion of food. Since the food is not properly digested, fewer nutrients are available for the tissues. Deficit nutrition of tissues causes tissue destruction which consequentially causes aggravation of vata in rainy season (Chakrapani). Therefore digestive fire should be carefully accessed and maintained in optimum strength in rainy season. Measures and medicines which help to keep the digestive fire in balance should be administered.
To sum up, in rainy season, all the measures, medicines, foods and therapies should be oriented towards mitigating and expelling the imbalanced doshas and to kindle the digestive fire and to keep it in balance. One should also carefully monitor to see that the digestive fire doesn’t reduce to abnormal levels.
Due to the effect of preceding adana kala i.e. northern solstice, both body and digestive fire would have been weakened. The earth too would be hot due to the previous season i.e. summer. When in rainy season, the rain, clouds in the sky, ice and cold wind in the atmosphere along with the water steam produced due to the contact of cold water of the rain coming in contact with hot earth occur, dosha aggravation takes place. These aggravated doshas further weaken the digestive fire. The food items with sour taste and unclean water once again affect the digestive fire and vitiate the doshas, especially causing aggravation of vata dosha.
Diet in rainy season
In rainy season, one should drink medicated water and rice along with honey.
One should consume sour, salt and unctuous foods. These foods are anti-vata and would pacify the aggravated vata in rainy season.
One should be allowed to use old grains for preparing foods and also to consume meat juice processed with spices.
Meat and meat soup of animals living in desert-like lands should be used.
There are variations and fluctuations of digestive fire in rainy season. Therefore, foods which balance and protect the digestive fire should be given to ear. Example – foods prepared with old barley, wheat, rice, processed meat soup, dal soups etc.
Alcoholic preparations shall be taken in small quantities and in diluted form. One can take the medicated alcoholic preparations like madhvika and arishta added with honey in limited proportions. Wine prepared from grapes and fermented decoctions which are old shall be used.
Honey usually increases vata but in rainy season wherein there is aggravation of vata, honey can be taken in small proportions. When taken in little quantities it helps in combating excessive moistness in the body. Excessive moisture in the body will cause increase of kapha and pitta which will cause diminution of digestive fire, consequentially leading to deficit nutrition to the tissues and tissue destruction eventually causing vata increase. Honey controls excessive formation of moistness in the body.
One should drink rain water, boiled water, well water or water from the reservoirs in rainy season. These waters should be well boiled before consuming.
One is permitted to consume supernatant part of curds / whey mixed with powder of sauchal salt and powder of panchakola.
One needs to avoid drinking river water in rainy season. At the same time he shall also avoid churned preparations having lot of quantity of water.
Other Regimens, Activities and therapies
During monsoon season, one should avoid the below mentioned –
- Sleeping during day time
- Exposure to mist
- Excessive exercise
- Excessive indulgence in sexual intercourse
- Excessive exposure to hot sun
- Moving about on foot
- River water
- Beverage prepared with flour of corns mixed with ghee (udamantha)
- Sleeping during day time
Below mentioned activities are beneficial and conducive in rainy season and hence advocated to be followed during rainy season –
- Rubbing the body with coarse medicated powders or thick cloth
- Rubbing the body with unctuous powders of medicinal herbs
- Wearing of fragrant garlands
- Wearing light and clean clothes
- One should expose his clothes to fragrant fumes before wearing
- Should use perfumes
- Staying in a place devoid of moisture
- One should dwell in upper stories of the house devoid of heat, snow or cold
Treatments in rainy season
Vamana i.e. therapeutic emesis and Virechana i.e. therapeutic purgation should be administered for purifying the body in rainy season. After the body gets purified following the administration of emesis and purgation, cleansing / decoction enemas should be administered to control vata.
Managing Rtu Sandhi of Rainy Season
Like all other seasons, the rainy season too runs to a period of 2 months. Rtu Sandhi is junction period between two seasons. It constitutes a time period of 14 days.
Read – Ritu Sandhi – Seasonal Junction, Meaning, Rules To Follow, Precautions
Rainy season shares two season junctions, one with its previous season and the other with its succeeding season.
Seasonal junction with summer season i.e. previous season, the Greeshma-Varsha Rtu Sandhi.
The immediate previous season for Varsha Rtu is Greeshma Rtu i.e. summer season. This is the third and last season of Northern Solstice. The seasonal junction between the summer season and rainy season comprises of the last 7 days of summer season and first 7 days of rainy season. In this period, the regimens of summer season should gradually be discontinued and the regimens of rainy season should be gradually practiced.
Seasonal junction with autumn season i.e. upcoming season, the Varsha-Sharad Rtu Sandhi.
The immediate next season for Varsha Rtu is Sharad Rtu i.e. autumn season. This is the second season of Southern Solstice. The seasonal junction of rainy season with autumn season is the last 7 days of rainy season along with the first 7 days of autumn season put together. In this period, the regimens of rainy season should gradually be discontinued and the regimens of autumn season gradually practiced and adapted. This enables one to get ready to enter into another season and get adapted to it easily. Sudden change in regimes may produce many diseases due to asatmya i.e. incompetence. Therefore the changes need to be done gradually.