Ayurveda for Immunity
Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, has a huge potential in preventive and curative healthcare. Covid pandemic has ushered in an era of renaissance for AYUSH in which enhancing immunity has been projected as the utmost strategy to combat the disease. Ayurveda, since times immemorial has emphasized more on body’s response and occurrence of disease occurs only if the Bala (Body immunity) is reduced. Ayurveda compares the concept of healthy body to a barren land. Just as a barren land cannot bear fruits or flowers, similarly healthy body cannot favour infectious conditions. Flowering depends on factors like right timing, fertile land, good quality of seed. Similarly, the infections can develop when the body immunity is low, infectious agent is strong and time refers to the depleted bala(immunity) stage. Body immunity cannot be enhanced overnight. Daily regimen, dietary intake contributes to immunity. Ayurveda has depicted various rules and regimens (Charya), regarding diet and behavior to acclimatize seasonal enforcement easily without altering body homeostasis.Nasya (instillation of medicated drops) into the nose and Kavala Gandusha (gargling of mouth) are some of the daily regimens mentioned in classics, which appears trivial, yet effective in maintaining nasal and oral hygiene.
Infact, Ayurveda has always emphasized on enhancing the body’s overall natural resistance to the disease causing agent rather than directly neutralizing the agent itself. Interestingly, body immunity is understood as Sahajabala or natural immunity (genetic and inborn resistance) Kalajabala –seasonal or age related and Yuktikrutabala (Modulated by diet, exercise, regimen and immunomodulators -rasayanas). Methods to strength host immunity like following Dinacharya (Daily regimen) and Rutucharya (Seasonal regimen) are emphasized in Ayurveda. The interventions include therapeutic cleansing procedures (Panchakarma) and certain immunomodulators (Rasayana). The choice of specific Ayurvedic therapeutic agents and practices is based on certain individual genetic characteristics known as Dosha Prakriti types (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Ayurveda boasts of many medicinal plants which can enhance body immunity like Ashwagandha (Withania sominifera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) etc. Some studies have reported that, Ashwagandha may be effective in improving host immunity through the modulation of key targets relevant to COVID-19. It can offer multi-target effects in inflammatory conditions by restoring immune homeostasis. Rasayana drugs such as Ashwagandha, Guduchi, Amalaki, and Yashtimadhu also contribute for good immunity.
Combating the infectious diseases has to be done at various stages like stopping the progression, building immunity against diseases using various measures. For unexposed asymptomatic patients, precautions must be taken to prevent infections by avoiding crowded areas, exposure to cold. Preventive interventions here can include both pharmacological as well as non-pharmacological strategies. Among the non-pharmacological interventions the practice of dinacharya measures mentioned above to maintain healthy lifestyle with adequate physical activity and good sleep, avoidance and isolation from infected persons are important. In addition, to maintain good immunity Rasayanas like Chyvanaprasha, Samshamani vati can be regularly taken.
For exposed asymptomatic patients (quarantined), in addition to Dinacharya, rasayanas like Chyvanaprash, specific drugs to prevent manifestation of respiratory infections like Shunti (Zingiber officinale) Haridra(Curcuma longa) Vasa (Adhatoda vasica) Yastimadhu ( Glycyrrhiza glabra )can be given .For mild to moderate symptoms , in addition to the above disease specific drugs like Sitopaladi churna, Taleesadi churna, Pippali rasayana, Dashamoolarishta etc can be administered . In patients with moderate to severe symptoms, rasaushadhis like Mrutyunjayarasa, Tribhuvanakeertirasa are administered. Those who have good immunity can glide through the diseased phase without much residual effects.
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M.D(Ayu ), PGDHM
Research Officer (S-2),
Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Metabolic disorders,
Unit of CCRAS, Ministry of AYUSH, Govt.of India