A case study by Harriet Coleman
Problems with IBS, digestion, stress, fatigue and low energy levels were majorly affecting this patient. This health story explains the herbal treatment process behind restoring her back to health.
This patient contacted me with health concerns and wanted to work on symptoms and diagnoses made by previous health professionals. They were going through a very vulnerable time with major life changes, pressures, and losses all at once. The patient was very open and accepting of any adjustments and adaptations advised from myself. We focused on the root causes, and enhancing balance and harmony within their body, lifestyle and environment. We worked with both Western Herbalism and Ayurveda.
The patient’s health concerns and intentions:
- To settle and reduce digestive issues
- To regain and regulate energy
- To feel balance within themselves and externally
This appointment was hosted on zoom, so I was unable to do an Ayurvedic pulse check. I was however able to do a tongue check, observing features such as eyes, hair, nails and skin alongside an Ayurvedic questionnaire. My client’s constitution and prominent dosha (the individual’s constitution) was their Pratkruti (the nature of the patient’s constitution) Pitta (fire + water), Vikruti (the patient’s current imbalance), Vata (ether + air).
Throughout the questionnaire, it became apparent the patient was experiencing Vata disturbance with a Pitta imbalance. The patient’s tongue was red across the liver area, with red spotting indicating excess heat was held in the liver, a main seat of Pitta. The patient’s tongue also showed cracks and dryness across the colon area, also indicating an increase in the seat of Vata, the colon, and the patient had been experiencing constipation and loose stools regularly.
The patient’s skin was warm to touch, redness and rosacea on the face, medium sized eyes and mouth, medium-thick hair which would get oily often, strong nails with an oval shape and medium height and build. The patient’s digestion was predictable and frequent although very sensitive and reactive to certain foods. Her periods and menstrual cycle were predictable but seemed to come out of sync, rather than regularly especially when her environment was challenging and experiencing stress regularly. The patient also had dark/grey under eyes, which indicated low kidney function, again all indicating Vata disturbance with a Pitta imbalance.
The patient was diagnosed by a previous health professional with IBS, but felt this diagnosis was not useful and expressed that they felt there were other elements of their body that were out of balance, the patient expressed that they didn’t feel fully seen and had been misdiagnosed.
From a traditional Ayurvedic approach, it was evident that the patient was Vata disturbed with a Pitta imbalance.
Approach to treatment
As an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Western Herbalist, the treatment goals were to:
- reduce pitta imbalance,
- reduce excess heat in the liver and across the body,
- restore and rebalance hormone production with adaptogenic herbs and soothe Vata disturbance with Rasayana (rejuvenative) herbs.
Making adaptations to certain foods, the patient was reactive and sensitive towards acidic foods such as tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and so an elimination process was advised.
External practices were advised, such as applying medicated sesame seed oil on the body before showering with upward movements towards the heart, practicing Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self massage) this practice was advised to reduce Vata disturbance.
- Reduce stimulating foods, such as coffee, tea, chilli, sugar etc.
- Reducing external stimulating activities, watching television and being on a laptop/phone before bed,
- Going to bed before 11pm and rising for 6-7am,
- Eliminating acidic foods, increasing dark leafy greens and more cooling foods to reduce excess heat, ease digestion and avoiding astringent foods to help reduce Vata disturbance,
- Regular consumption on a Ayurvedic tridoshic drink CCF – Coriander, Cumin and Fennel seed tea 2-3 times a day, for digestion, reducing excess heat and advised as a Rasayana.
The patient expressed that they were sensitive to capsules and supplements, their preference was tincture, teas or loose powders as a preferred way to ingest herbs.
Shatavari powder (Asparagus racemosus)
3g mixed in a teaspoon of honey, then adding hot water to make a drink – 2-3 times a day,
This was to decrease vata disturbance via downward movement – Anulomana, directing flow of apana vata and to create grounding in the body. To increase rejuvenation as a Rasayana. To cool an increase of pitta and to restore the imbalance of pachaka pitta. To restore cognitive health, increasing focus and concentration.
Liquorice root powder (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
1-2 teaspoons a day in a tablespoon of honey and hot water, 3 times day
To decrease vata disturbance via downward movement – Anulomana, directing flow of apana vata and creating grounding in the body, to improve resilience to physical and mental stress and to encourage a more sattvic way of being. To soothe high pachaka pitta, decrease and rebalance pitta, reducing heat in the seat of pitta, the liver and to soothe digestive health, reducing acidity. To reduce constipation and increase regular bowel movements and it tends to dryness (increase of vata) in the colon.
Rose tincture (Rosa centifolia)
Extraction Ratio: 1:3, Alcohol Volume: 45% 20 drops in water 2-3 times a day
To balance and restore all 3 doshas, with Rose being a tridoshic herb. To soothe and soften emotions, stress and anxiety due to its nervine properties. To relieve excess pachaka pitta, cooling and flushes excess heat, to reduce skin redness, patients rosacea. To soothe the heart, emotions and loss, to increase self-love and passion in life. To rejuvenate as a Rasayana and an effective Anulomana, reducing vata disturbance by its downward moving properties.
Herbal tea blend
To be drunk 2-3 times a day.
Rose: To balance and restore all 3 doshas, with Rose being a tridoshic herb. To soothe and soften emotions, stress and anxiety due to its nervine properties. To relieve excess pachaka pitta, cooling and flushes excess heat, to reduce skin redness, patients rosacea. To soothe the heart, emotions and loss, to increase self love and passion in life. To rejuvenate as a Rasayana and an effective Anulomana, reducing vata disturbance by its downward moving properties.
Chamomile: To reduce inflammation and digestive issues, decreasing high pachaka pitta and IBS symptoms. Reducing excess heat held in the liver, also cooling and reducing redness on the skin. To calm, reduce stress and worry as a nervine and to act as a brain tonic Medhya, to help aid sleep and deep rest.
Plantago: To reduce IBS symptoms and digestive inflammation, to rebalance bowel movements, reducing constipation. To cool and reduce pachaka pitta, relieving excess heat on the skin, alleviating skin conditions, as a Kusthaghna.
Nettle: To reduce pitta and heat, excess pachaka pitta. To cool and nourish the liver and remove acidity. To increase Ojas, vigor, vitality, energy levels and focus to promote cognitive health. To nourish inflammation and heat in the skin, with Nettle’s cooling benefits. To rejuvenate as a Rasayana herb and tonic.
Yarrow: To reduce pitta and heat, excess of pachaka pitta, to be a bitter tonic for the liver. To soothe inflammation in the gut and digestion. Clearing the mind, increases clarity and transparency.
Other medications and treatments
Ayurvedic external practices: Abhyanga self massage with medicated sesame oil 2-3 times a week. Shatavari, Liquorice and Marshmallow Root infusion.
Check in appointment and correspondence with patient post initial appointment, 4 weeks into the treatment plan patient expressed positive changes.
- Digestive issues had reduced and disappeared,
- Increased energy levels, cognitive health and concentration,
- Feeling balanced, restored and rejuvenated,
- Predictable and regular periods,
- Regular bowel movements, with no signs of constipation or loose stools,
- Redness on tongue in liver area reduced and showed very little redness,
- Dry cracks on the tongue, colon area reduced and looked less dry.
The patient contacted me and my practice at a vulnerable time, they were experiencing very testing and challenging times within their environment and home situation. Processing a separation, the search for a new home due to relationship complications, homeschooling children with a child with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, financial struggles with no extra support, grieving and processing the loss of a parent and was in a place where they felt they had no transparency for themselves, which amplified mental health, stress and anxiety, which led the patient to get in contact.
The patient’s excess heat in the body, skin and tongue showed no visible signs of redness, digestive sensitivity had completely disappeared, reactions to foods had disappeared due to elimination and adjustments to diet, bowel function had felt its best for a long time, menses had become regular with minimal pain and cramping, sleep improved, they felt well rested and mentally felt clearer, positive, decision making and focus was much more transparent. The patient felt guided and understood after their appointments, and was very happy with the results from their treatment plan, so much so that they experienced a positive life changes. They enrolled on a course they always wanted to do, they generate financial stability and now have a growing a business, they moved house and have created a refreshing environment for their family. They still continues to ingest the herbs, diet and lifestyle adjustments advised.