Kasturi Turmeric (Curcuma aromatica): The Retin A of the Ancients

If there is a plant that is medicine and magic in equal measure, it is turmeric. By now, you have probably heard about turmeric’s astonishing therapeutic properties. Thousands of research studies validate its healing prowess in calming inflammation, warding off infections, fighting cancer, lifting depression, reducing cholesterol, healing the liver, soothing the digestive system, making skin radiant and much much more. Most studies done on turmeric refer to the common variety of the spice-herb, botanically known as Curcuma longa. However, today I want to shine light on the lesser-known and wilder cousin of common turmeric, also known as wild turmeric, kasturi turmeric or vana-haridra in Sanskrit. The botanical name of this variety of turmeric is Curcuma aromatica, referring to its vibrant, camphoraceous aroma.

Belonging to the family Zingiberaceae or the ginger family, Curcuma aromatica is mainly cultivated in Kerala and West Bengal in India. It is considered an annual plant because the plant grows rapidly from spring to late autumn and the shrubbery dies down in winter. However, the rhizomes of the plant that remain latent produce new flowers and leaves during subsequent seasons.

It was the Retin A of the Ancients

Kasturi turmeric was historically used as a medicinal and aromatic skin healer and complexion enhancer. It was the Retin A of the ancients. Ayurvedic texts record at least 53 different Sanskrit synonyms/names for turmeric, out of which names such as, gandhaplashika (has a lovely fragrance), hridayavilasini (which delights the heart), nishawa (clears darkness and imparts light), varnini (which gives color), varavarnini (which makes you fair), varnadhatri (makes the skin radiant) and yuvati (young girl), probably refer to the skin radiance enhancing properties of kasturi turmeric.

It was (and still is) the go-to remedy for most common cosmetic complaints such as acne, sunspots, hyperpigmentation, dullness of complexion, etc. The herb’s strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it supreme for healing acne, erasing sunspots, and bringing radiance to the skin. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that with long-term use, the herb inhibits facial hair. With its in-built musk like fragrance, the herb has an inherent elegance that makes it well suited for cosmetic purposes.

Scientific research validates what the ancients held true. A 2010 study published in Journal Cell Biology Toxicology reported that extracts of Curcuma aromatica (along with extracts of Alpinia galanga) protected the skin from UVA induced melonogenesis. An overproduction of melanin (skin pigment) due to sun exposure can lead to hyperpigmentation commonly and melanoma (skin cancer) in extreme cases. The researchers concluded that the herbal extracts worked by inhibiting cellular oxidative stress and improving antioxidant defenses to protect the skin.

My Experience with Kasturi Turmeric

Kasturi TurmericIf you are from the southern region of India, there is a good chance that you have been exposed to kasturi turmeric. Growing up, our bathroom shelf at home always held a bottle of the powdered herb mixed with gram flour/garbanzo bean flour and we used the homemade formulation as a face and body scrub. Unlike regular turmeric, kasturi turmeric is relatively non-staining and will not leave you looking yellow and jaundiced after using it.

I had forgotten all about the herb until I experienced a recent bout of stubborn, hormonal acne along my jawline. Intuition guided me to make kasturi turmeric my herbal ally instead of the typical pharmaceuticals that are promoted to treat acne such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Just when I was wondering about how to source the herb, a friend (when I was discussing the herb with her) gave me some of the powdered herb along with some rhizomes (that I could grind into a paste) that were grown organically in her father’s farm in Kerala!

I am back to my childhood days now, joyfully experiencing the sensory and tactile pleasures of communing with a delightfully colorful, aromatic, magical and somewhat messy herb. The hormonal acne is gone, hope the hyperpigmentation left behind follows it too.

What is left to Say?

In addition to its topical use for enhancing the complexion and for various skin complaints, Ayurveda prescribes the herb for respiratory, circulatory and cardiovascular conditions. Recent research confirms that when Curcuma aromatica is ingested in the form of an extract, it has protective and healing abilities for various infections, inflammation, cancer and diabetes.

If Curcuma longa, the common variety of turmeric, is immensely healing, Curcuma aromatica, its wild cousin, is infinitely magical too. After all, it is the wilder cousin. Characteristically, a powerful, enduring life force is built into the nature of wild things. And coming in contact with a powerful life force, puts us in touch with our own life force, our own power, our own vitality and our own radiance.

What Else is left to Say?

You may have heard about the parable of the restless deer that scours the entire jungle in search of a beautiful aroma that always seems to follow him. The deer searches far and wide to no avail. It is only when he looks within, that he discovers that the musk (kasturi) was all along in his own belly.

I have seen women on a long-term regimen of kasturi turmeric literally glow and glisten. It is probably because they have a strong sense of their inner kasturi, their inner radiance, and outwardly reflect it.

Kasturi turmeric can do that for you also. Find a way to source the wonderful herb and work it into your skin care regimen.


  • Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry; Pharmacological activities of wild turmeric (Curcuma aromatica Salisb): a review.
  • Cell Biology and Toxicology; Modulation of antioxidant defense by Alpinia galanga and Curcuma aromatica extracts correlates with their inhibition of UVA-induced melanogenesis.
  • Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition; Turmeric, The Golden Spice





Satya, Chitta, and Ananda

All of my favorite health and wellness bloggers were making delightfully wholesome round sweets such as truffles and macaroons for the holidays and I decided that it was time for me to make a handcrafted contribution to the spherically sweet corner of the culinary universe. It was a given that the confectionary(s) had to be gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. The ingredients and sweeteners making up the treats had to be nourishing and wholesome. And what is the point in creating ‘treats’ if they are not delicious? They had to serenade the tongue. But that was not all, I was looking for something more..an ineffable quality that would make them achingly good.

I had been reading “Women who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and was re-introduced to the word numinous in it. I had encountered the concept of numinous earlier in Carl Jung’s writings. Numinous, in Jung’s writings refers to extraordinary and awe-inspiring moments of awareness. Modern dictionaries define numinous as a reverential quality, a quality that encompasses divinity. Although I’m relatively new to the concept of numinous and don’t understand it completely (perhaps, because it is beyond logical understanding), I’m awed enough that it stays in my consciousness. The word itself has a palpable vibration that stirs me in a way that is not easily describable.

The Laddoos

The laddoos were inspired by the word numinous.

Satya, Chitta and Ananda were born. Sat-Chitt-Ananda is a compound Sanskrit word and a yogic concept that refers to the presence of divinity in all of us. Our essential or true nature is Satya, Chitta and Ananada. Satya means absolute or truth, chitta is consciousness and ananda is bliss.

Just like Jung’s concept of Self refers to the unchanging and god-image part of the psyche, Sat-Chitt-Ananda refers to our true nature that is already transcendent and divine. We don’t have to improve or embellish anything, instead we just have to meet that part of our Self that is already whole.

Inspired by these concepts, the laddoos are not created to remedy or cure any sickness, they are intended to put you in touch with your essential nature, that is already divine and whole.

The Nitty Gritty

Oats and sesame seeds were going to be the core ingredients for all the treats. Oats (gluten-free) are calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory and rich in Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 boosts levels of serotonin in the body and creates a feeling of peacefulness and well-being. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese and zinc. The seeds also contain beneficial fibers called lignans that induce cholesterol reduction and protect the liver. In addition, Yogic scriptures praise sesame seeds for their ability to absorb and emit high amounts of Sattva (a calm, steady and peaceful state) frequency.

I powdered gluten-free oats into a fine powder in a Vitamix dry grinder and used organic tahini for all of the recipes. I don’t have exact quantities for the ingredients as this was a very intuitive (and magical) exercise for me, but I’m sharing all the ingredients and the method I used here.



  • Gluten-free rolled oats powdered fine in a high speed blender
  • Organic Tahini
  • Sunflower Seed Butter
  • Sweetened Organic Montomorency Cherries
  • Madre Labs Cococeps (combination of raw cacoa, reishi and cordyceps mushrooms)

The sunflower seed butter and Montomorency cherries used were already sweetened, so I did not use additional sweeteners in this recipe. Montomorency cherries are packed with antioxidants and their bright red color adds a lovely hue to this treat. Raw cacoa, in addition to its deliciousness, is a powerful heart opener. In Chinese medicine, medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps and reishi are said to promote Shen (spiritual radiance). The sea-salt in the sunflower seed butter and the natural bitterness of the mushrooms suggest an alchemical return to Satya.



  • Gluten-free rolled oats powdered fine in a high speed blender
  • Organic Tahini
  • Ashitaba
  • Ashwagandha
  • Bella/Gur/Jaggery as the sweetener
  • Cardamom

Bella or Jaggery, the honest country cousin of white sugar, used in this recipe is chockfull of minerals and has a complex and a nuanced sweetness. A rich source of vitamin B6 and B 12, Ashitaba, is known to be a vegan blood builder. In traditional Chinese medicine it is prescribed both for boosting the immune system, and for nourishing the ‘heart-mind’. Cardamom is calming and acts like a catalyst for all the other herbs. Ashwagandha is known as an elixir of life in Ayurvedic medicine and encourages a calm internal state of awareness and Chitta.



  • Gluten-free rolled oats powdered fine in a high speed blender
  • Organic Tahini
  • Sun Potion’s Anandamide
  • Dates
  • Maple Syrup
  • Vanilla

Sun Potion’s Anandamide has a abundance of herbs and spices in it such as Mucuna Puriens, reishi mushrooms, astralagus, suma, turmeric, rose, cinnamon, etc that promote a surge of happiness as soon as it is ingested. Dates are a great source of iron and are a dream to combine into any dessert recipe. Maple syrup, with its woody buttery flavor and reminiscence of lush green forests, sweetly sweetens the laddoo. Vanilla, though rarely used for medicinal purposes these days, is an aromatic well-being inducing agent. Together these ingredients take you towards bliss or ananda.


Process all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until they are well-combined into a cookie dough like consistency. Roll into small laddooos.

What’s Left to Say?

These recipes, rather than being absolute, are conceptual. Throughout history, alchemists and magicians have shared the ingredients of, but never the exact amounts of the ingredients of their potions. Keeping in line with this tradition, my recipes are intended to be catalysts to make your own magic. Hope that these spark an idea to create your own laddoos. Here is to meeting your Sat-Chitta-Ananda state in 2016. May your new-year be filled with numinous moments.

The Healing Gentleness of Palo Santo

My first encounter with Palo Santo was in the Bastyr University’s annual health fair, a couple of years back. Instantly drawn to the booth, where small bundles of the wood were displayed for sale, catching a whiff of the burning Palo Santo stick was like catching a whiff of something otherworldly. The fragrance was at once achingly familiar and impossibly exquisite. Uplifting, vibrant and calming at the same time, it felt like the scent-substance that I had been waiting to discover all my life.

Needless to say, I came home with a small bundle of the wood. The small bundle of wood has been an integral part of my ‘raising my vibration, ‘bringing me back to myself’, ‘clearing negative energy’ or simply ‘removing musty smells’ arsenal. Whenever I feel moved to, I light the end of a Palo Santo stick, blow out the flame in a few seconds and allow the fragrant smoke that trails from the smoldering wood to purify a space. I also circle the smoke around my family and myself when they or I feel the need for an energetic cleanse. Palo Santo, when it touches fire, gives out a spurt of thick smoke that works like an instant reset button. The before and after is distinct and palpable.

Originally from South America, Palo Santo, literally meaning ‘wood of the saints’ is extensively used both in urban homes and in rainforests in Shamanic ceremonies. In homes in Ecuador and Peru, the smoke from the sticks is used both to symbolically purify a space and to literally ward off insects and mosquitos. In fact, most shamanic rituals begin with the burning of a Palo Santo stick to ‘clear negative thought-forms and bad spirits and reestablish balance and peace.” In addition to its use in smudging and as incense, the essential oil in Bursera graveolens, the botanical name for Palo Santo, which imparts the wood with a unique fragrance, also has immense healing properties.

The Healing Gentleness of Bursera graveolens

Bursera graveolens is widely used as an anti-inflammatory agent both in aromatherapy and folk medicine. In aromatherapy, the essential oil of the wood is used in massage to relieve pain and control inflammation. Folk medicine uses both the wood shavings and essential oil of the mature wood of Palo Santo to relieve symptoms of asthma, allergies, headaches, migraines and all manner of aches and pains.

The wood shavings are simmered in water and strained and the resulting tea is supremely delicious and healing. The shavings can also be added to boiling water to create a fragrant steam that is effective against a variety of pathogens and viruses. The expectorant properties of the wood also make it an effective medicine for thinning mucus and clearing the lungs of infection.

The Magic of Sesquiterpenes

The essential oil of Palo Santo is rich in a class of compounds known as sesquiterpenes. Sesquiterpenes, also present in the essential oils such as frankincense, cedarwood and myrhh are compounds that impart the characteristic herbal, woody and minty fragrance to these woods and resins. Research shows that these aromatic compounds can have an oxygenating effect on the brain and can prevent neuronal cell death. The oxygenating effect on the brain is probably the reason why Palo Santo has traditionally been used in folk remedies to ease symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Palo Santo’s capacity to prevent neuronal cell death can make it potentially beneficial for degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Power of Limonene

Limonene, as the name suggests, is a compound that lends citrus fruits their characteristic, ‘lemony’ scent. Also called D-Limonene, the wonderful natural substance that is abundant in citrus peels, is also plentiful in the essential oil of Palo Santo wood. The oil nutrient is excellent for detoxification, liver detoxification especially, and has been associated with several healing benefits including treating cancer.

A small 2012 study published in Journal Natural Product Communications showed that the essential oil of Bursera gravelons inhibited the growth of a specific type of tumor called MCF-7. The study concluded that the essential oil showed promise in treating breast cancer.

What is left to Say?

We usually think about healing substances in terms of what we ingest through our mouths, but what if scents we ingest through our noses could heal?

The plant world is infinitely glittering. It has lavished us and continues to bestow us with enormous gifts. Palo Santo, the fragrant wood of the saints, is one that I am tremendously grateful for. The smell of this divine wood makes my heart-strings sing every single time. Watching its gentle smoke travel heavenwards is a beautiful experience. I become familiar with a more refined, less dense part of myself when I’m in its company. That it contains D-Limonene, sesquiterpenes and lignans (shown in other studies) and has been clinically proven to have neuroprotective effects and shrink tumors is a huge bonus.


  • FoxNews; Pala Santo: A Fragrant Wood with Cancer Fighting Properties
  • Wellness Resources; D- Limonene
  • All about Smudging, Margaret Ann Lembo
  • Dr. LoBisco; The Power of Palo Santo – The Missing Quadruplet?
  • Natural Product Communications; Chemical Composition and anti-proliferative Properties of Bursera graveolens
  • Fitoterpia; Four new Sesquiterpenes from Commiphora myrrha and their Neuroprotective Effects.

The Therapeutic Potential of Massage

“Soothing touch, whether it be applied to a ruffled cat, a crying infant, or a frightened child, has a universally recognized power to ameliorate the signs of distress. How can it be that we overlook its usefulness on the jangled adult as well? What is it that leads us to assume that the stressed child merely needs “comforting,” while the stressed adult needs “medicine”?” — from Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork by Deane Juhan

Right now, maybe you are that jangled adult hunched over a computer, who could derive immense and immediate benefits from a great massage. If you think that massages are just a form of frou-frou pampering, think again. Massage has been linked to such an array of substantial and scientifically researched health benefits that The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society officially recommend massage as a part of a treatment for lower back pain. It may seem obvious that massage would reduce and soothe aches and pains, however as a therapy, its benefits are more far-reaching and profound than simple physiological improvements in the body. A large body of scientific research not only points to the tangible benefits of massage, but also uncovers the underpinnings of the therapeutic practice.

Mitochondrial Growth

In a fascinating small study done with just 11 participants at the Mc Master University, researchers discovered that massage aids muscle healing by activating compounds that calmed inflammation and promoted the growth of new mitochondria. In the study, 11 young men who pushed themselves to exhaustion on exercise bikes received 10-minute massages after exercising. Their leg muscles were biopsied prior to exercise, soon after the massage and 2.5 hours after the massage. The researchers found that just 10 minutes of massage had reduced signs of inflammation in a mechanism similar to pain medications. In addition, massaged muscles showed new mitochondrial growth. Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of our cells. They generate chemical energy in our cells and have them working in an optimal manner. More mitochondria translate to more energy. The new mitochondrial growth detected in the cells of the massaged muscles of the participants, further promoted quicker recovery from the exercise related muscle wear and tear.

Voice Restoration

Emerging evidence suggests that massage can make contributions to healing in avenues where conventional medicine doesn’t have all the answers. Dr. Claudio Milstein, a voice specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Head and Neck Institute treats functional dysphonia, a condition in which the muscles that control the vocal cord contract, tighten and lock and the patient loses his/her voice, with something as simple as a throat, neck and shoulder massage. A 2010 story in NPR reported the case of a mom, suffering from functional dysphonia, who got her voice back after Milstein did seven minutes of massage on her that carefully focused on loosening the muscles on her voice box! Earlier, CT Scans, an MRI and other conventional treatments had not resulted in any relief for the patient.

Other Studies point to a Wide Range of Benefits

Several studies have linked massage with various physical and mental benefits. There are too many to list, but here are a few significant ones. Massage therapy has been found to boost immune function in women with breast cancer, lower blood pressure in women with hypertension, reduce anxiety in patients who are about to have surgery, improve lung function in children with asthma and strengthen grip in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. And on the tiniest of all patients, premature babies, massages have helped with the all- important task of gaining weight. The perfect double blind study in a population that is devoid of any sort of bias!

My Story

Yesterday, I had an extraordinary massage. After writing down standard and somewhat vague answers to standard and somewhat vague questions, on the intake form, in the waiting room, I entered the therapy room that felt tranquil and safe. I lay down on my (new)massage therapist’s table not knowing what to expect.

Five minutes into the session, I knew that I was in the hands of a savant. My massage therapist and I had entered into a somatic and emotional space where there was little room for words. The standard and somewhat vague words on that form did not matter. My body told her a story and she responded with a knead, a roll or a push. On one level, the massage was about tense knots and soft tissue, but on another, it was far deeper than the physical.

I learned that the muscles in my shoulders and upper back were tense, tight and contracted. I also learned that I hold sadness and grief in my shoulders. After sixty minutes of massage, where my therapist worked primarily on my shoulders, I felt such pure, deep, unbridled joy and gratitude that I could have cartwheeled my way home. The sixty minutes brought back intensity of emotions that were seemingly lost to me in the last few years.

My story is yet another instance of the therapeutic potential of massage. Whether it is Deep Tissue, Swedish, Ayurvedic, Chinese or just a quick 10 minute chair massage at your pharmacy, make time for this safe, non-pharmacological, relatively inexpensive self care practice. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for this health edit.


  • Massage School Notes; Massage Quotes
  • NPR; With a Quick Massage, a Voice Returns
  • WSJ; Don’t Call it Pampering, Massage Wants to be Medicine
  • National Institute of Health; Massage
  • International Journal of Preventive Medicine; Durability of Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure
  • Image Credit; freedigitalphotos.net

Celebrate Earth Day with Mindfulness

On April 22nd every year we pause and reflect on the state of the planet. First celebrated in 1970, the Earth Day we celebrate in our present times honors what is considered the day on which the modern environmental movement was born. On this day, every year, we resolve to recycle, ditch plastic, save water, plant trees, support farmers and consume less. Anything you choose to do (or stay away from) to celebrate the day is honorable and every effort, big or small, counts.

This post is a gentle reminder to connect with nature and your surroundings today in a way that not only helps the environment but also benefits your health, because both the earth and you always have room for more tender love and care.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” — John Muir

Ideally, one should not wait for Earth Day to roll around to take a walk with nature. But if the weariness of winter has stayed with you for some reason, today is a fine day to shed it. Go out and walk in a natural environment for 30 minutes. Several research studies have demonstrated the immense benefits of walking, ranging all the way from reduced blood pressure to a boost in creativity, but a 2012 study from Toronto published in the Journal of Affective Sciences reported that walking in nature significantly improved memory and cognition in clinically depressed patients as compared to walking in busy urban environment. Whether it is a walk in a park, a meandering in a deep dark forest or a leisurely stroll on the path along a river that flows close to where you live, the idea is to seek a place that is wilder than what you are used to. A spot where nature gently tugs at you, a place where you can smell the earthy smells of beginnings and endings and ultimately a setting where you are reminded that, “the earth is all we have in common.” (Thanks Wendell Berry)

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” –Thich Nhat Hahn

Mindfulness is a wonderful thing. Although the word itself may sound like it implies to a concept that is primarily of the mind, it primarily implies to awareness; of the mind, of feelings, of physiological sensations and of the surrounding environment on a ‘at the moment’ basis. Medical and social research has established that practicing mindfulness for even a few minutes a day can ward off stress and depression, make us smarter by increasing gray matter in the brain, increase attention spans, boost the immune system and even help fight obesity.

If you have pledged to become mindful of your environmental choices today, why not extend them to other areas as well? Pay attention to your breathing, your physical sensations, your feelings, your thoughts, the foods you eat and your surroundings. Start a mindfulness practice today where you pause whatever you are doing to claim the beauty in the now. Derek Rydall in his book Emergence: Seven Steps to Radical Life Change recommends a daily mindfulness practice that only takes a minute. It “simply is to stop whatever you are doing, check in, breathe, reconnect and give thanks to life. And then you can go back to whatever you are engaged in.”

Happy reconnecting with the earth and with yourself!

Happy Earth Day.


Baycrest; A ‘walk in the park’ gives mental boost to people with depression

Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life; What is Mindfulness?

Derek Rydall; Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change

Image Credit: Sridhar Chandrashekar

Five Reasons you Should Eat Ghee

The Sanskrit word for Ghee is Grhita, which means flowing luminosity, radiance and clarity. Take one look at a cup of freshly made warm ghee, and you will know that the ancients were right on their money. Ghee is the filtered golden liquid oil that is leftover when you gently heat butter until all the moisture and milk solids are removed from it. The resulting golden liquid is pure delight. It is delicious, nourishing and wholesome beyond compare. Here are five reasons why you should add ghee to your diet, pronto.

An Excellent Source of Vitamin A and Vitamin D and Vitamin K2

A spoonful of ghee contains a good amount of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K2, especially if the ghee is made from milk produced by grass fed cows. Vitamin K2 is as important as vitamin D when it comes to bone and skeletal health and heart health and grass fed ghee is an excellent source of vitamin K2. Also, ghee also contains a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a wonderful weight loss promoter in addition to slowing down certain forms of cancer and heart disease.

A Butyric Acid Dynamo

Meet Clostridium butyricum, a friendly gut microbe that lives deep down in your small and large intestines. If the name of these teeny tiny creatures sounds important, that is because they are – they are important for the production of a short chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which is in turn responsible for healthy digestion by promoting optimal gut mucosa, by blocking the growth of toxic bacteria in the gut and by maintaining electrolyte balance in the intestinal tract.

So what does ghee have to do with this microbe? Ghee is a natural and concentrated source of butyric acid and it helps in maintaining an optimal environment for these microbes to thrive and produce more butyric acid in turn! Essentially, ghee is both a butyric acid containing as well as a butyric acid producing food. Butyric acid is the prime energy source for your colon cells and super significant for digestive health, but its benefits are even more wide reaching in the body. It reduces inflammation, promotes thermogenesis, improves metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity.

Has a High Smoke Point

A high smoke point is a good thing when it comes to cooking, and ghee has a higher smoke point than many cooking oils. World’s Healthiest Foods estimates ghee’s smoke point between 400˚-500˚F (204˚-260˚C), as compared to butter’s 325˚-375˚F (163˚-191˚C). Smoke point is the point at which fats and oils begin to visibly smoke when heated to high temperatures. At their smoke point fats begin to disintegrate and form free radicals that are considered carcinogenic. So ghee, due to its stability is a dream to sauté, fry and cook with!

Two Words: Sensory Delight!

Whether it is its rich golden hue, or its nutty flavor, or its tempting aroma, ghee is a lovely fat, eating it is sheer pleasure and it invokes strong emotions! Food writers and chefs have a tendency to wax lyrical about it. Here is what some of them have to say about ghee.

Ratna Rajaiah, an Indian health food columnist writes, “Shut your eyes and imagine the unmistakable irresistible fragrance of food cooked in ghee wafting out of your kitchen!”

Susan Jane White, an Irish nutrition writer, declares, “Seriously. I want to smell like hot ghee for the rest of my life!”

Chef Carrie Nahabedian of Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago called Naha says, “With a rich, nutty flavor, it’s delicious on everything from lobster to Brussels sprouts.”

Rujuta Diwekar, nutritionist to Bollywood stars asserts, “Above all, nothing can compare with the taste of fresh hot ghee on dal, chawal or garam rotis—or even sautéed mushrooms.”

Deborah Madison, chef of Greens restaurant in San Francisco says, casino online “The flavor of this organic ghee (referring to Ancient Organics ghee) is so deep and rich with caramel overtones, that it transforms the simplest things, from a baked potato to a bowl of polenta.”

Ghee is a High Vibration Food

Our present day nutritional sciences are heavily based on the physical dimensions of food. However, there is much to food beyond the realm of calories, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Whether we are aware of it or not, what we eat has an effect on our subtle, subliminal bodies.

The Bhagvad Gita first classified foods that promote the purity and vitality of not just the body, but also the soul as satvik. According to Ayurveda, foods that bring forth the qualities of equanimity, peace, purity and joy are considered satvik. These foods are known to increase ojas or an inner radiance. Eating these foods result in the body and mind vibrating at a high vibration, which in turns results in bliss

Ghee is considered supreme among all satvik foods. The Bhagvad Gita simply states that ghee is God. While I’m not aware of the exact frequency in Hertz measure for ghee, I’m pretty sure that it is pretty high. I don’t have to make a case for ghee, it makes a case for itself. Its high vibration is palpable.

To Sum it Up 

Thousands of years ago, in the Vedic times, ghee was considered a symbol of purity and was used both as a food and in spiritual rituals such as lighting lamps and for fueling sacrificial fires. Not much has changed since then; ghee is still a divine aid that has great power to heal. We continually interact with the foods we eat, and in turn those foods exert a huge influence who we are and who we become. An ancient food, as old as the human race itself, ghee reminds us of the divine grace that permeates everyday life. So, make sure that you “interact” with it frequently, as it is not just a nourishing food, but also, sacred sustenance.


  • Elephant Journal; Why our Bodies Love Butter and Ghee
  • Ratna Rajaiah; How the Banana Goes to Heaven
  • Deanna Minnich; Chakra Foods for Optimum Health
  • Andreas Moritz; Timeless Secrets for health and Rejuvenation
  • Susan Jane White; Gheelicious Stuff
  • Outlook India; In Praise of Ghee
  • Facebook; Ancient Organics
  • World’s Healthiest Foods; What are the advantages and disadvantages of butter and ghee when it comes to cooking?

We are Such Stuff that Dreams are Made On; Lucid Dreaming and Metacognition

A January 2015 study published in the prestigious Journal Neuroscience established a firm connection between metacognition and lucid dreaming. Metacognition is the brain’s ability to think about thinking. Lucid dreaming is a state of dreaming where the dreamer is aware that she/he is dreaming. Not only is the dreamer aware that he or she is dreaming, but the dreamer can actually steer the dream in a direction that he or she wishes to go by manipulating conditions in the imaginary confines of that dream. Sounds like a science fiction movie, doesn’t it?

A buzzword in recent times, metacognition is emphasized for success in the world, all the way from classrooms to boardrooms. A 2012 blog post in the Harvard Business Review proposed that metacognition was a skill that every global leader needed. Educational psychologists stress that higher order thinking and metacognitive abilities lead to successful learning. A metacognitive learner is more conscious, perceptive, reflective and aware of her/his progress along the learning path.

The fascinating study done by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry reported that lucid dreamers had both a bigger anterior prefrontal cortex, and also higher levels of activity in that area of the brain. The anterior prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for complex cognitive processes, such as self-reflection, which is basically the ability to think or meditate upon about one’s thinking, behavior and actions, also known as metacognition. Commenting on the results of the study, lead researcher Elisa Filevich said, “Our results indicate that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams.”

 An earlier study from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom concluded that lucid dreamers were more insightful and better at problem solving. The researchers said, “This suggests that the insight experienced during the dream state may relate to the same underlying cognition needed for insight in the waking state.”  

Artists, Metacognition and Lucid Dreams

Artists have intuitively known that the shape of their dreams has a profound effect on the shape of their art and life. Reflect on these quotes that were said or written at least decades before the above-mentioned studies were conducted.

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams, awake.” – Henry David Thoreau

“You’re never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true,” – Richard Bach

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” – Vincent van Gogh

“To concern ourselves with dreams is a way of reflecting on ourselves-a way of self-reflection.”- Carl Jung

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” – William Shakespeare

To Sum it Up

Our sleeping and wakeful states are inextricably linked. It may seem like a no brainer but it has to be said, awareness during wakefulness translates to awareness while dreaming. Conscious focus is a hallmark of both of these states. If lucid dreaming leads to metacognition, metacognition in turn leads to lucid dreaming. Our nighttime meanderings inform and illuminate our daytime paths. Lucid dreams may be key to bringing ‘you’ back to yourself.

So can you teach yourself to lucid dream? The Internet is full of tips and techniques, but the first tip is already available in the above-mentioned study, start reflecting on your thoughts when you are awake. It helps “to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”(thanks Carl Sandberg)

Paying attention to your dreams and keeping a dream journal also help.

Sweet (lucid) Dreams!


  • Journal Neuroscience; Metacognitive Mechanisms underlying Lucid Dreaming.
  • Medical Daily; Lucid Dreaming Associated With More Pronounced Self-Reflection In Everyday Life
  • Medical Daily; Lucid Dreamers Benefit From Insightfulness, Have Better Problem Solving Skills
  • Harvard Business Review; A Skill that Every Global Leader Needs
  • Goodreads; Dreaming Quotes

Walking, Wordsworth and Creativity

Can walking turn you into a poet or an artist? Can it bring forth the innate creativity that lives in you? It just may, says a Stanford April 2014 study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and CognitionThe study was performed by recruiting 176 participants comprising of college students and other adults and was divided into four experiments. Led by researchers, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz, the participants completed standard tests of creative thinking such as coming up with alternate uses for common objects and thinking of complex analogies for sentence prompts.

The four experiments took place in four different conditions. As a part of the first condition, participants walked indoors on a treadmill facing a blank wall. In the second, they sat indoors facing a blank wall. The third condition involved walking along a selected path in the Stanford campus. The fourth one included being pushed on a wheelchair (for a sense of visual movement) along the same selected path in the campus.

The study findings reported that participants were a whopping 60 percent more creative in ‘divergent thinking’ (in a test to come up with alternate uses for common objects), when they were walking as opposed to when they were sitting. In the experiment where participants had to come up with novel analogies, 100 percent of the walking participants were able to come up with at least one novel analogy as opposed to 50 percent of the sitting participants! Both indoor and outdoor walking worked equally well in this study and the effects of the walking lasted for a while after the activity stopped.

Commenting on the research conclusions, lead researcher Dr. Oppezzo, in an interview with the New York Times explained that walking may have a role in redirecting energy that would otherwise be spent on raining on one’s own creativity parade. Essentially, walking helps you get out of your own way and “may allow the brain to break through” some of its own, hyper-rational filters”, she said.

 Walking, the channel for William Wordsworth’s Transcendental Poetry

William Wordsworth is said to have walked around 175 thousand miles during his lifetime. Whether it was the epic twenty thousand miles he walked along with his class-fellow Robert Jones (instead of studying for his Cambridge University exams) to the Alps, or the daily 12 mile walk from Dove Cottage to the ‘post’, or the pacing back and forth in the premises of his own garden muttering the words “bum, bum, bum, stop” in his latter casino online years, walking was a way of being for the poet.

In a paper titled Poetwalker, author Polly Atkins writes that for Wordsworth, “the act of walking is indivisible from the act of making poetry. One begets the other.” His poems were a “rhythmical creation of beauty” (thanks Edgar Allan Poe) that he felt during his walks.

From The Prelude

“The earth was all before me. With a heart

Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,

I look about; and should the chosen guide

Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,

I cannot miss my way.” 

From The Solitary Reaper

“I listened, motionless and still;

And, as I mounted up the hill,

The music in my heart I bore,

Long after it was heard no more.” – The Solitary Reaper

Wordsworth’s walking was integral to his poetry. Walking was poetry and poetry was walking for him.

What is Left to Say

To walk is to experience the sacred. To walk is to walk towards joy. To walk is to walk away from the cares of the world. To walk is to connect with the earth. To walk is to become a part of the landscape. To walk is to shed your identity. To walk is to feel oneness. To walk is to heal. To walk is to be. 

Sometime late last year I started going on long 6 mile walks on a nearby nature trail with my husband on Sunday mornings. When I look back on 2014, those long walks have been some of my most cherished times of the year, they were sometimes intense, sometimes serene, but always wonderful. I noticed that I wrote more during that time. Who would have thought that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other would bring such joy, peace and creativity?

This is my first post in the New Year. I don’t make resolutions but this year I have a prayer, I pray for chances to walk more. Hikes, short strolls, long walks, slow walks, fast walks, challenging steep uphill walks, tumbling down the hill walks, and even pacing up and down my garden (or my living room) muttering, “bum, bum, bum, stop” will all be considered blessings.

Happy walking and creating. Have a wonderful 2015!

Further Resources:

Courageous Creativity; Walking as Creativity


The New York Times; Want to be more Creative? Take a walk.

Stanford University; Stanford Study finds Walking improves Creativity

Brown University; The Legs of William Wordsworth

Academia; How Did Walking Serve as an Integrative Activity for Wordsworth?

Poemhunter; William Wordsworth


Friday Five: December 19th, 2014

Today’s Friday Five guest post is by Dharini Vivek. Dharini is a poet, a student of classical music, and a nature lover. Here is her personal exploration of the five thoughts and ideas that are currently resonating with her. Her loving encouragement “simply to wake up to the very life we’re living” (thanks John Cage), whether it is through a handwritten note or a cup of warm water, is lovely and refreshing. I hope that you enjoy reading her Friday Five as much as I did.


Yes, I am talking about H20. It kick starts my day. The first thing that goes into me after I wake up and freshen myself is a glass full of warm water. And I love it! Most of us start our mornings with a hot cup of coffee or tea to warm our bodies after getting out of bed. According to Ayurvedic medicine, regularly drinking very warm water, especially in the morning, can heal our bodies, providing digestive power and reducing metabolic waste that could have built up in our immune system. The usual tricky question is ‘how much to drink’, and trust me, you will find all sorts of answers when you search online ranging from 7 glasses per day to 11. Instead of trying for answers online, I feel the best way is to try asking your own body for answers. Drink enough water to keep yourself from dehydration, especially during winters when the need to drink water doesn’t arise often, but your body feels depleted due to the artificial heating sources that we surround ourselves with.

That’s about the water intake from a health perspective. But my love for this liquid goes beyond that – its presence in oceans, rain, streams, lake, ice, snow or tears! And to me, the most beautiful life lesson it teaches – Go with the flow.


Music is my meditation. My vipassana. My Kriya. While I have always loved music since childhood I surprised myself when at the age of 30, I developed this sudden interest to learn classical music. While Bollywood, Sufi and Tamil melodies have ruled all my life – I was surprised when I suddenly took to classical music which I never understood hence never appreciated. I didn’t even know if I could sing. But today, a year old student of this beautiful art, as I learn and sing the notes – I am discovering a whole new world through my singing and practice. Increased awareness, keen listening skills, focus, multi-tasking ( Rhythm, Taalam, shruti, memorizing… all parts of your brain is engaged) and most importantly – pure enjoyment! Learning music has such healing effects that one almost doesn’t realize its power to transform you. The beautiful dance of the seven notes is a journey of self -discovery. And it heals. Yes, it does. No wonder then that the seven notes of the music corresponds to the seven chakras in our body! Trust me, it is never too late to discover music, and yourself through it. So for all you people who always wanted to learn singing but never could and feel its too late to start – I did it, so can you!

Plants/ Trees/ Nature

Oh my…. What do I say about these beauties! I only wish everyone looks at them through my eyes. My eternal love affair with nature, the palettes, the seasons with their moods, the mountains, oceans, sky, earth, mud, space – Yes, I can gaze, admire, lech at them for hours …sometimes much more than I would do for a Shahrukh or a Ranbir Kapoor.  To me nature is a symbol of creator’s aesthetic sense and it fascinates me. Trees, again in particular are one aspect of nature that I love. To me, it is symbolic of unconditional giving and strong rootedness. And yet how happy and graceful they look swaying to the music of the breeze. Yes, that’s why I repeat – you’ve got to look through my eyes. No wonder in ancient traditions or religions all over the world, there is always a sacred symbolism for trees. Wisdom with beauty – now wouldn’t we all wish to be perceived like that! I love tending to my plants (a recently developed love), getting my hands mixed with mud, dirt grounds me completely! So I recommend everyone to develop your relationship with nature or any aspect of it – and spend some time to bask in its presence. And trust me, no one will mind this healthy affair. 


In this day and age where everything happens at the click of something, the art of holding a pen and putting the ink to the paper is lost. I find writing incredibly charming. A persons handwriting has a unique touch of his/her personality and there is a sense of intimacy or closeness in a hand written note or letter or for that matter even a to do list! I always carry a pen and a note pad in my bag, my to do lists are handwritten on post its, I still write letters ( usually hand delivered), my poetry is first written in a book, and even at work I have a note pad to jot down during meetings and yes, I have a music book where I write all the songs/ notes that I am learning! Okay, before you roll your eyes on this one -Try this today – leave a note of love something’s , on a post it for a dear one at home or for a friend – And it is sure to make their day brighter; for pronounced effects try it on a cloudy/ rainy day.

A healthy dose of ‘Inspiration’, Play and Creativity

This tip is strictly for adults. While children have no trouble sourcing these happiness ingredients, it is very important for us to get a dose of this in our everyday life and higher the doses, the better! I feel we beat ourselves so much in so many ways each day that it has become a necessity for sanity and peace to find ways to stay inspired. And this doesn’t only mean you have to have a hobby, it means spending that little time with something which fuels the lightheartedness within you. Well, if this ever comes bottled as a pill or a herb I will surely recommend it – until then try sourcing it yourself. Just stay curious, healthy and spend at least a few minutes to unwind and get inspired.


Medical Daily; Health Benefits of Warm Water: 6 Ways Drinking Warm Water can Heal your Body

Curcumin, the Active Compound in Turmeric and its Potential to Heal PTSD Symptoms

There is yet another feather in turmeric’s heavily decorated healing potential cap. Along with Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, Crohn’s disease, depression, heart disease and mesothelioma, brand new, not yet published research reports that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, helps relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In a study done in the Psychology Department of Hunter College, researchers reported that curcumin weakened the creation of fear memories after a traumatic event. In a press release Glen Schafe, a professor of psychology and the lead researcher of the study said that when rats were fed a curcumin-enriched diet they were less traumatized by memories of fear.

In addition, according to Dr. Schafe, curcumin not only inhibited fear memories that were newly acquired, but also memories of fear that had been reactivated. He said, “We also showed that rats with a pre-existing fear memory can lose that memory when it is recalled while they are eating a curcumin-enriched diet.” The researchers concluded that while this study was by no means definitive, it had, “important clinical implications for the treatment of disorders such as PTSD that are characterized by unusually strong and persistently reactivated fear memories.”

Turmeric: The Sacred Golden Goddess

Turmeric has long been revered in traditional Indian medicine and culture. Dr. David Frawely, founder and director of the American online casino Institute for Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico says, “If I had only one single herb to depend upon for  all possible health and dietary needs, I would without much hesitation choose  the Indian spice Turmeric. There is little it cannot do in the realm of healing and much that no other herb is able to accomplish.” 

It may be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anticancer and anti- fill in the blank any other disease in the research world, but for most Indians and people of many other Asian cultures it is the most beloved spice in their kitchen. It is also the most important, the most holy, the most gorgeous and the most healing one in their kitchen cabinets. A symbol of purity, fertility and prosperity, turmeric is a part of prayer and wedding rituals. In fact the Sanskrit names for the Goddess and for the spice are the same! Such is the communion and fellowship between nature’s most beautiful spice and the divine feminine that the names Kanchani and Gauri in Sanskrit are names for both, turmeric and goddess Parvati.

So inextricably is the spice tied with Indian food and culture, that we use clinical amounts of it in our everyday life. We buy it by the pound, we use it for prayer, we use it instead of Neosporin to heal cuts and burns (Band-aids in India come built-in with turmeric), we use it as a beautifying agent and we use it liberally in our cooking.

A lasting (at least until now) consequence of a traumatic event, PTSD is often characterized by reliving thoughts and memories of the event that caused the trauma. That turmeric (curcumin) is responsible for selective blocking, erasing or reframing memories of PTSD that no longer serve, is a matter for marveling. The ancients who declared the spice holy, did not have access to research labs or funds to conduct elaborate studies, but they intuitively knew that the spice had such astonishing abilities to heal that it was a blessing, that it was divine. They knew that the spice aligned us with a higher consciousness and allowed our innate and intense healing potential to surface when we cooked with it. These days, labs all over the world are busy proving that our ancients were right. Now that makes for some divine news, doesn’t it?


  • Neuropsychopharmacology; A Diet Enriched With Curcumin ImpairsNewly Acquired and Reactivated Fear Memories
  • Medical Daily; Curcumin, Compound In Turmeric, Found To Impair Fear Memories And Ease PTSD Symptoms
  • Ratna Rajaiah; How the Banana Goes to Heaven
  • The Healthier Life; Revisiting the Benefits of Turmeric