Obesity or being overweight is a condition characterized by excessive storage of fat in the body. When the body’s calorie intake exceeds the amount of calories burned, it leads to the storage of excess calories in the form of body fat. Increased body fat puts a person at risk for many critical conditions such as heart disease, liver damage, diabetes, arthritis and kidney problems.
Excessive weight gain is caused when people consume more calories than the body needs—occurring most commonly due to eating a diet high in fat and calories, being sedentary, or both. This imbalance between calories consumed and calories burned, however, can also be caused by a number of different obesity-related factors such as genetic, hormonal, behavioral, environmental and, to some extent, cultural. There are many other factors causing obesity such as pregnancy, tumors as well as endocrine disorders and medications that include psychotic drugs, estrogens, corticosteroids and insulin.
In Ayurveda, obesity is known as Medarog, which is caused by the aggravation of Kapha. Kapha is an Ayurvedic humor which is dense, heavy, slow, sticky, wet and cold in nature. It governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body apart from controlling weight and formation of all the seven tissues - nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow and reproductive tissues.
In a balanced state, Kapha gives nourishment to these tissues through various micro channels. However, when it is aggravated, Kapha leads to production of toxins in the body. These toxins are heavy and dense in nature and accumulate in weaker channels of the body, causing their blockage. In the case of an obese person, toxins accumulate in Medovahi Srotas (fat channels), thereby leading to an increase in the production of fat tissue (Meda Dhatu). When the body produces more fat tissues, it causes an increase in weight.
The Ayurvedic line of treatment for obesity begins with the pacification of Kapha Dosha. This can be done by eliminating Kapha-aggravating foods from the diet. Next, the treatment also focuses on cleansing of the Medovahi channels through cleansing herbs so that excess weight can be reduced.