Biological Rhythms

Excerpts from Maharishi Ayurveda and Vedic Technology: Creating Ideal Health for the Individual and World,

Revised and Updated from The Physiology of Consciousness: Part 2 by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016 available at Amazon Click Here

A vital part of almost all traditional systems of medicine is a knowledge of biological rhythms. Maharishi Ayurveda draws on a long-standing tradition that includes an especially rich and extensive knowledge of the impact of biological rhythms on diet, treatment of disease, behavior, and numerous other factors related to the individual body type. In modern medicine we have only recently verified the importance of biological rhythms and, as a result, the field of chronobiology—the study of biological rhythms—has received widespread attention.


The most obvious biological rhythm is the diurnal or circadian rhythm, which results from the rotation of the earth about its axis every 24 hours. Many of our vital physiological signs, such as internal body temperature, as well as many biochemical and hormone levels, follow a daily pattern. Within our brain is an internal clock that helps keep track of time and set rhythms. Scientists have found a number of chronobiotic agents that can affect our daily rhythms. The most obvious of these are the environmental patterns of periods of light and dark that constantly reset our internal clock to match our environment. Also important are the foods we eat, the drugs and stimulants (such as coffee) we take, and the times we eat, rest, and exercise.


Anyone who has ever travelled knows that the biological resetting process, commonly referred to as “jet lag,” can be very tiring and taxing. In the same way, we are all too aware of what happens if we stay up too late one night or miss meals. We put a strain on the body’s own natural rhythms and, as a result, we create a temporary imbalance in the physiology, which must be corrected later on. Health, memory, emotions, job performance, and motor coordination have all been shown to be affected by shifts in our daily rhythms.


Perhaps the most important findings have been those related to modem medical treatment. Studies have shown that some drugs work differently at different times of the day. Dr. Franz Halberg, a pioneer in chronobiology, was one of the first scientists to document the importance of timing when treating cancer with radiation or with drugs.


Dr. Halberg found that a dose of radiation that killed mice at one time of day was much less toxic at another time. The tumor cells themselves were more sensitive to radiation at different times of the day. In the late 1960s he and his colleagues showed dramatic improvements in treating mouth tumors by properly timing the radiation treatment. Since these early studies, numerous other studies have shown that the timing of both radiation and chemotherapy can make a marked difference in the effectiveness of the treatment. Drugs work at so many different levels of the physiology of matter, and each level has its own biological rhythm. DNA synthesis has its own rhythm, as do all the hormones, biochemicals, and even the cardiovascular system. For example, heart attacks strike three times more often at 9 A.M. than at 11 P.M.


The importance of understanding the body’s biorhythms applies not only to the treatment of disease but also to its diagnosis. For example, there are numerous fluctuations in blood pressure as a result of its biological rhythms. Yet in a doctor’s office, usually only one measurement at one time of the day is made to determine whether a patient has high blood pressure. It is easy to understand why misdiagnosis may occur. Some researchers have measured fluctuations in blood pressure and have used this information in diagnosis. For example, researchers have found that the pattern of these fluctuations in newborns can be used to predict their chances of developing high blood pressure when they grow older.


Maharishi Ayurveda takes into account varying biological rhythms in all phases of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. It also takes into account the interaction of body type and diet with these rhythms. The principal goal of Maharishi Ayurveda is to establish balance. Thus it places a special significance on establishing harmony between our individual rhythms and those of nature through various daily and seasonal routines. When we get out of the city into the countryside, we immediately notice the impact of nature’s regularity. All the birds and animals wake up at a regular time; nature functions in a systematic and routine way. It should come as no surprise, then, that we are also designed to follow nature’s rhythms. Maharishi Ayurveda therefore utilizes various therapeutic programs that reset our biological clocks to be in tune with those of nature.


Studies on biological rhythms include;

Halberg, F., Implications of Biologic Rhythms for Clinical Practice, in Krieger, D. T., Hughes, J. C. (Eds.), Neuroendocrinology (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1980, pp. 109-119); and Halberg, F., Haus, E., Cardoso, S. S., Schieving, L. E., Kuhl, J. F. W., Shiotsuka, R., Rosene, G., Pauly, J. E., Runge, W., Spalding, J. R., Lee, J.

K., Good, R. A. (August 15, 1973), Toward a Chronotherapy of Neoplasia: Tolerance of Treatment Depends on Host Rhythms, Experientia (Basel), 29: 909-934.

Excerpts from Maharishi Ayurveda and Vedic Technology: Creating Ideal Health for the Individual and World,

Revised and Updated from The Physiology of Consciousness: Part 2 by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016 available at Amazon Click Here