How One Woman Fell In Love With Naturopathy & Ayurveda

Nicole Lee lives a very glamorous life. As a Senior PR manager, you’ll find her in the hottest events that KL has to dish up. However, she has a surprising passion I never have expected her to have. For over the past ten years, she’s been a strong proponent of naturopathy. When I spoke to her, she had recently finished an Ayurvedic detox.

“It’s something I do to detox myself. You have to go through a program in the Ayurvedic centre. It’s done by an experienced Ayurvedic doctor, and he puts you on a detox program whereby for the first five days, you can only drink ghee and have a small bowl of white porridge at 4pm.”

How does she sustain a diet of ghee and porridge? Doesn’t she have cravings?

“It does take a lot of willpower, but it’s satisfying when you know you can resist the temptation!”

“I was going crazy! I was feeling very lethargic and very tired. I had headaches, because the body is actually detoxifying. That’s the time when you need rest and sleep, which I didn’t have because I continued working. I have strong willpower, but it’s not easy, because your body is without food. You know, I’m a foodie. I’m a Penang girl, I eat hawker food, intestines, unni, fois gras, all that! During this Ayurvedic programme, I needed to be vegan for eight weeks. I couldn’t wait to have my fish, meat and lamb! Every time I went out to eat, I could only eat the salad or vegetarian pasta, while I watched everyone else indulge. It took a lot of willpower, but it’s satisfying when you know you can resist the temptation!”

nicole lee ayurveda penang food
It was tough for this Penang girl to give up her local delights!

My God! I don’t think I could pull through even one day of this. Nicole, however, had finished the program and was continuing it.

“I’m continuing it because I’ve discovered I have a small fibroid. It’s only 2cm, so I don’t have to do anything with it, but I’m trying to find a natural way to get rid of it. I’ve always been doing naturopathy, like juicing, smoothies and Chinese herbal teas and soups. I’m very interested in Ayurveda, and I do Ayurvedic practices like oil pulling and jala neti.”

Oil pulling and jala neti? As someone who has no idea of anything Ayurvedic, I ask her what they mean.

“Can you imagine putting oil in your mouth and swirling it?”

Jala neti is like nasal irrigation. You use a neti pot and you put warm salt water. You put in water through your right nostril and it comes out of the left nostril. It clears up your nasal passages. If you have migraines or headaches, you can actually cure it with time. Oil pulling is using your mouth to ‘pull’ the oil, like swirling it. It’s something you do first thing in the morning. You don’t brush your teeth and you don’t drink any water. You know when you wake up, and you feel like your mouth has this gunk and is quite smelly? I take a tablespoon or two of organic cold pressed coconut oil. Can you imagine putting oil in your mouth and swirling it? Some people find this very repulsive. The first time I did it, it was a bit uncomfortable. It’s an acquired practice. It means you have to do it a few times before you get used to it. It’s not something you will enjoy the first few times. Having oil inside your mouth is going to feel a bit yucky. I’ve been doing it for two years consecutively, every single day, even when I travel. I take these small containers of coconut oil wherever I go. I can’t live without it!”

What are the benefits of oil pulling? So far, it doesn’t sound very pleasant!

“The practice is, you pull it for 20 minutes. For starters, you do it for 10 to 15 minutes. After you pull, you spit it out into the toilet bowl because it’s all toxic. Then, you gargle with warm sea salt water and brush your teeth. You’re basically pulling all the toxic germs, cavities and plaque from your mouth, and then you’re spitting it out. It helps you. You can reduce bad breath. I don’t have any more bad breath! It reduces gum disease and plaque too. You’re actually cleansing your mouth. I find my immune system to be much better.”

naturopathy nicole lee penang girl ayurveda
A rough incident happened to Nicole – which made her foray into naturopathy.

What made Nicole get into naturopathy?

“It burned my whole face!”

“I got into it 10 years ago. It was an accident. I went to a friend’s house in Singapore for a wedding. I forgot to bring my moisturizer, and I told her I’d use hers because she also uses it. I was using the common bathroom, but little did I know, that the container that I was using contained Woolite! Her maid has put Woolite in the container to recycle the jar!”

(Woolite is a laundry softener!)

“It burned my whole face! I was applying it on my skin, and then I’d put makeup on. I’d also apply it before sleeping. After two nights, I suddenly discovered my face was burning. I asked my friend, why is my face burning? Sometimes, my face is quite sensitive. But my face was really red, and then we both rushed to the bathroom, and we looked at the container and she cried, “Oh my God, my maid recycled it with Woolite!””

“I was even thinking of going for reconstructive surgery.”

“I immediately went to the doctor to get an injection, and took the first flight back to KL. When I went to the dermatologist, he told me my skin was going to peel off. You know when you fall down, and you have that scab that’s going to peel off? He told me that I was going to go through that process. I was freaking out. It was my face! He gave me some steroids to apply. At the same time, I started juicing and finding concoctions on how to clear allergies and how to detox. That’s how I got into naturopathy. It was the worst time of my life. Can you imagine, if I had scars? It was really stressful. I cried like crazy. I was even thinking of going for reconstructive surgery. I was really lucky and blessed that I didn’t end up having to go through it, and it was a blessing in disguise because my skin actually became better after that! It became clearer. I used to have pimples and scars, but my complexion became flawless. But of course, don’t go putting Woolite on your face!”

Nicole is also a strong proponent of yoga and meditation.

stretch ayurveda naturopathy nicole lee penang girl

“Yoga is something that helps me calm down. I have a very active mind. I have immense energy, and I’m always multitasking, going from one event to another. How I cope is I balance myself out by doing yoga. Yoga helps me calm down and center myself, and it’s through yoga that I’ve learnt self awareness. When you hold the pose, you become more aware of your body, your mind and your breathing. I also meditate twice a day, for 20 minutes per session. First thing in the morning and in the evening.”

How does she feel meditation helps her?

“It helps quieten the mind. It’s through practice that you find you can really quieten the mind. When your mind is blank, it feels so beautiful and peaceful. Then, everything is clear.”

Nicole meditates every single day, something which I’m in awe of. I would love to get down to that level of discipline, but right now I probably meditate once a…quarter.

“It took years for me to get to this stage. Sometimes you slack, and sometimes you’re tired or you’re very sleepy. Sometimes you feel like, oh my God, 20 minutes is too long. But I treated it like a 40-day challenge at first. And once you get it, wow, you can’t live without it. It becomes part of your life, like brushing your teeth. When you meditate, you feel so relaxed and so calm. You have this surge of positive vibes, and I feel so grateful. Every time I meditate, I feel grateful that I can sit here and enjoy the present moment.”

Since she has been on this naturopathy journey for over 10 years, how does she feels she has changed as a person today and a decade ago?

“I feel I’ve evolved to being a much better person. I used to be very drawn by materialism. I always thought money could buy you happiness, and all these things. I was driven by it, but once I got into naturopathy, it helped me let go and see that these material things don’t matter so much anymore. I’ve really gotten to know myself. I’ve gone back to basics, back to the simple things of life, which is what really matter at the end of the day. Your state of mind, your peace of mind and good sleep are things that money can’t buy. But, it’s a journey. It takes time, and it’s not like I immediately jumped on this path. It’s through the trials and tribulations of life that it slowly let me let go and embrace life. It’s a spiritual journey.”

Nicole’s grateful for every little moment life has to offer for her.

Nicole highly stresses on the importance of being grateful.

“Meditation and yoga have taught me about being grateful and contented with life. I feel like I’ve been blessed to be able to do the things I can do. Every day when I wake up, I’m so grateful I can start a new day. We see people around us passing away, and so many things happening in the world. Each day is like a new beginning for you to do the things you really want to do. Once you have your health and your peace of mind, you have everything.”

If you’d like to know more about Nicole and her Ayurvedic journey, follow her on her Facebook page here!

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Ann Jie

Loves good conversations and hates small talk. Finds people fascinating and wonders why meanies exist. Loves writing violent, graphic short stories but finds horror movies too scary to watch. Follow me on Instagram @annjieslices or tweet me a slice of YOUR life at @annjieslices!

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