Prevention is better than cure, we have heard that many times. Ayurveda truly emphasizes on prevention of diseases and health promotion. There are different dietary and lifestyle recommendations recommended by Ayurveda for each season of the year. Common herbs and herbal mixtures, and special preparations known as Rasayana are used for disease prevention. Immunomodulators are considered as one of the most potent tools in the management of disease in Ayurveda. The more recent understanding of neuro – endocrine – immune axis; the influence of exercise, circadian rhythms, seasonal variations, different psychological states on immune system are bringing the modern concept of “immunity” closer to the principles of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda defines immunity in two terms:
- Capacity of body to fight against the manifested diseases
- Capacity of body to resist the pathogenic process of forming diseases
Factors which reduce immunity according to Ayurveda are: obesity, over emaciation, unwholesome food, acute imbalance of Vata-Pitta-Kapha, infections, dehydration, depletion by chronic diseases, over exertion, excess intake of alcohol, keeping awake at nights and mental stress, fear and anger.
Ayurveda explains the modes of transmissions of communicable diseases as – close interaction, physical contact with diseased, through inhalation and droplet infection, sharing food, sleeping together, sharing clothes, wipes, cosmetics, etc. Ayurveda completely supports the concept of social isolation and social distancing for the prevention of communicable diseases.
Follow the below mentioned tips for improving your immunity. Note that these are not medicines for infectious and communicable diseases.
- Nutritious food, regular exercise and being optimistic, cheerful, positive disposition improves our immunity. Always consume warm food and freshly prepared food.
- Social isolation is not stopping you from daily walks or mild exercises; remain physically active throughout the day.
- Reduced quality and quantity of night sleep adversely affects the immunity as per Ayurveda.
- Sleeping in the daytime increases mucous secretions and congestion in the respiratory system.
- Favor Deepana and Pachana herbs for improving immunity: Deepana medicines are those that kindle metabolic fire. Examples are piper longum, dried ginger, black pepper, asafoetida, dill seeds, cumin, black cumin, ajwain, terminalia chebula. Pachana medicines are those that help in digesting metabolic toxins and removing them from the cells. Examples are coriander, black pepper, dried ginger, turmeric, terminalia chebula, cardamom, bitter gourd, drumstick, mustard, snake gourd.
- A combination of black pepper, dried ginger and long pepper – known as Trikatu Churna – is an excellent combination for seasonal respiratory problems. One can prepare a recipe at home by mixing powders of: dried ginger (1 part), black pepper (1 part), long pepper (1 part), turmeric (2 parts). Consume half to one teaspoon mixed with honey or ghee daily.
- Ghee improves Ojus as per Ayurveda. There are famous Ayurveda ghee formulations like Indukantham ghritham or Kalyanakam ghritham, which are commonly used against fever on prophylaxis basis. One should ensure proper digestion and metabolism before consuming ghee preparations. Consult an Ayurveda doctor.
- Ayurveda recommends some classical medicines to improve respiratory health which can be taken daily after consulting with your Ayurveda doctor.
- Fumigation of the house with garlic, turmeric, Acorus calamus, mustard seeds, are recommended for improving respiratory health.
- Eat easily digestible food items. Reduce oil, fried items and cold food items and yoghurt. Eat only cooked food after sunset, avoiding fruits and salads.
- It is also important to stick with the habituated and culturally followed food in the family than trying new foods and cuisines during such times. Kanji (gruel of red rice) or kichdi is a healthy and easy digestible option.
- Consume water boiled with one or more of these herbs – dried ginger, black pepper, coriander seeds, basil leaves and cumin seeds. Half teaspoon of any one or a combination of a few of these herbs should be enough for preparing a litre of herbal water.
Make sure that social distancing and self-isolation are not affecting your mental health. The goal of social distancing these days is to be separated but not to feel lonely. Set up a family chat or have regular video meetings with co-workers while you’re not in office. Do meaningful things – from housework or reading a book or starting a project you’ve been unable to. It is also important to keep your sense of humour and to preserve your smile.
Dr Shyam VL MD, Mphil