Pairs of Opposites

by Ingrid Naiman

Ayurveda has a system of pairs of opposites that explain a great deal to those who take the time to understand the ramifications of hot and cold, dry and moist, and so forth.

Since I am first and foremost an astrologer, I'd like to present an astrological system for embracing this information.

The twelve signs of the Zodiac are each associated with one of the four manifest elements: fire, earth, air, and water.


Without becoming inordinately complicated, let us just say that each person is born with a particular constitution that generally tends to favor one of the elements. Health requires the ability to express all the elements adequately but if this is not the case, symptoms can be managed through diet and herbs as well as life style, including thoughts, meditation, environment, and activities.

When an element is predominant, you start to see the traits associated with that element. For instance, if the subject of conversation is not itself a giveaway, I can easily determine the fire-water balance within seconds of listening to a voice. Fire has emphasis and water lacks punctuation. In itself, this is neither here nor there, not good or bad. Basically, a fire type does not want to be a water type and vice versa; however, no one wants to suffer from the imbalances either.

For instance, while fire thrives on enthusiasm and resents attempts to throw wet blankets on its ideas and projects, it does not want a fever not to be deprived of the buffering and soothing effects of water. Likewise, water wants emotional safety and therefore can be apprehensive of fire's swiftness and apparent unpredictability but it does not want to be afraid or cold.


In a certain way, fire and water are perfect opposites:


I have a lecture on just this part of the system that is 75 minutes so this has to be shorter! Fire represents the catabolic part of metabolism and water is the anabolic part. Metabolic balance means having both working perfectly, but if one is emaciated, it may be wise to promote water until balance is achieved . . . and then to adjust the protocol. Contrariwise, if one is overweight, it may be useful to stimulate the fire element until reaching an optimal weight.

This system works with temperament as well as body types. For instance, fire is progressive and water is conservative. We all have some of each element, but the proportions vary. They vary from individual to individual as well as from moment to moment. If you move to a humid place, the water element will gradually become stronger and maybe predominant whereas if you move to a hot place, the fire element will become more pronounced, but these same rules apply to the rainy season and summer . . . and to food and feelings. If you eat ice cream, you augment the water element. Depending on your capacity to metabolize sugar and dairy products, you will either be more relaxed or almost sedated. Diabetics may even go into a coma because ice cream is sweet. It is cold, wet, and heavy. However, yoghurt at room temperature is not nearly as water-deranging as ice cream because it is less cold and heavy. It is less cold because it is not frozen and less heavy because fermentation is a fiery process. Yoghurt is hence much easier to metabolize than ice cream.

I "designed" an ice cream that is almost as easy to digest as yoghurt. It just takes a little understanding of this system to see how to do this. First, instead of using only milk or cream, I used half carrot juice, but I ran some fresh ginger root through the juicer with the carrots. I also put some pieces of candied ginger and a little bit of crushed cardamom into the ice cream. While I would not consider this a fabulous food, it is far better than the most "offensive" ice creams. These would be the ones that are made with milk containing bovine growth hormone, various gums and synthetic sweeteners. Yes, of course, my ice cream was delicious, but I could never make enough to please everyone.


Physically, fire rules the secretions of the gastrointestinal system: hydrochloric acid, bile, chyle, enzymes, and insulin. When fire energies are low, the appetite is weak, a sign that a normal meal will be too much at such a time. One therefore needs to skip a meal, eat less, or eat something very easy to digest, such as fruit since fruits, especially sour fruits, have acids that make them easy to metabolize.

Fire also rules the sense of sight, the light that enables us to see. When the fire element is weak, vision is blurry and there is a tendency towards near-sightedness. With the right protocols, even serious astigmatism and myopia will gradually correct so long as there is no mechanical impairment to the eyes.

Excess fire expresses as heat, impulsiveness, and temper. It hides in the liver where it damages liver function and blood chemistry. It is generally acidic and is therefore neutralized by alkaloidal herbs: leafy green vegetables and bitter herbs. Over a period of several months, all the symptoms of toxic fire and repressed fire are cleared, and the temperament becomes less turbulent and more focused.

Interestingly, these same herbs well for water also. They relieve congestion and drowsiness, but not coldness. Only heat relieves cold and only pungent (spicy) and sour foods are hot enough to relieve cold. We all know that if you consume a very spicy curry soup, your sinuses will run, but you never think you have an infection or a cold because you know it's the spices. Likewise, we know that cold hands and feet might be relieved by a glass of wine (sour - acid) so we really do know that the energetics work, but we simply have to become familiar with the actions of all the different foods.

In the months ahead, I'll keep posting more on each of the elements and the foods that stimulate or pacify the elements. In time, you will realize that you can completely avoid indigestion through proper use of spices and you can even overcome most forms of infertility through diet. You can correct for immune deficiency and even forgetfulness with diet and herbs. It's just a question of knowing what to eat and when . . . and what to take and when!

Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2004



Article on Air Derangement

Excess Estrogen
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