Ayurveda and Alcohol is it Nectar or Poison?
The complexity and dangers of alcohol consumption are clearly laid out in Ayurveda. Alcohol is an example of one of the gifts in life that needs to be enjoyed in moderation. The problem is the intoxicating and addictive nature of the substance makes moderation challenging. For those who cannot moderate then abstinence is often the best and only option. Otherwise, enjoying fine wines in moderation can be of benefit.
Alcohol According to Ayurveda
Alcohol in its nature is dominant in heat. Alcohol is light, hot, sharp, subtle, sour, rough, drying and pervades the whole body. It directly stimulates Pitta Dosha and therefore affects the digestive fire Agni. This is the reason why in Ayurveda alcohol is sometimes recommended as an anupana. This is something to be taken after a meal to promote digestion of a heavy meal.
The enjoyment of alcohol is recommended more in the winter than in the summer. This is owing to its heating and drying properties and mood enlivening qualities. There are special alcoholic preparations made in Ayurveda known as Asavas and Arishtas, amongst others. These preparations are made out of all sorts of fermented herbs, roots, barks, fruits and grains.
Fortunately, these days, there are some great low alcohol and alcohol free drinks coming to the market. My personal favourite is Seedlip an alcohol free gin, L.A Brewery Lemongrass Kombucha and a pale ale from Adnams. So we can enjoy a variety of different tasting drinks without suffering from hangovers, sleep disruption and other disruptive emotional factors alcohol can bring. Other things that help alcohol moderation is adding water to wine, drinking with or after food and choosing lower alcohol volume drinks or lower overall consumption.
How to Heal After Alcohol
As we all know prolonged consumption of alcohol causes damage to the liver. Luckily the liver constantly regenerates itself so there is good scope for helping to heal the liver. There are lots of ayurvedic herbs that can be used to support the liver. In terms of diet and helping the body to heal; following an alkalising diet for a period of time can be beneficial. The hot, sharp, sour and dying nature of alcohol which causes excess acidity in the blood and digestive systems can be counterbalanced by enjoying cooling, bitter, sweet and unctuous vegetables such as; cucumber, dandelion greens, avocado and bitter melons.
There is a lot of great literature out there to support giving up alcohol such as Janey Lee Grace’s Book Happy, Healthy and Sober. She interviewed me for UK Health Radio where we talked about my book, The Ayurveda Kitchen and tips to heal the liver.