The significance of 'Immunity' never got this much significance and buzz around us ever before. Fortunately, and unfortunately, it took a deadly virus with a size of nanoparticle made us realize how preserving and building immunity is essential for us. The modern-day concept of 'Immunity' is nothing new but an extension of the theory of 'Ojas' mentioned in the ancient Ayurveda literature.
There is no time like some wrong time, and there is no time like some right time. When you start taking care of yourself, it becomes that 'Right Time' for you towards building your Immunity. And given the pandemic situation that we are facing across the globe; this is the most critical time for us to revisit some of the basic principles laid down by our Ayurvedacharyas centuries ago.
Also, before we delve into the details as to how we can build our Immunity with Ayurveda recommendations, lets briefly touch upon the types of 'Immunity' we discuss these days and how these can be built.
1. Innate Immunity- Every human being borns with some level of Immunity towards foreign invaders(Virus, Bacteria, and Parasites, etc.). The innate Immunity comprises of external barriers of our body like skin, mucous membranes of the throat and gut. These barriers stop the invaders from getting pass through the body as the first line of defence. If the invaders still pass this line of defence, the acquired or adaptive Immunity comes for the rescue to save you from foreign attack.
2. Acquired or Adaptive Immunity- The acquired Immunity is developed as we grow through life by exposing ourselves to diseases or get vaccinated. This is like immunological memory as our immune system remembers the previous attack of the invaders(virus, bacteria and parasites).
3. Passive Immunity- Borrowed from another source, this type of Immunity stays temporarily. E.g., A baby receives antibodies from the mother before birth and in the form of breast milk after birth. This Immunity protects the baby from the infections in the starting years of his/her life.
Now that we have understood what 'Immunity' is and how it works, we would focus on discussing as to how this can be built and protected in an individual while following the basic Ayurvedic principle of 'Aahar, Vihar and Aausdh'.
1. Diet (Aahar)- The concept of diet has a vast ambit as per Ayurvedic science. The globalization has brought American Burgers, Thai Curry, and Chinese Manchurian etc. on your dining table or even Southern India's Coconut water in your easy reach. But if you are not following the principle of eating locally grown seasonal and regional meals as per your 'Prakriti'( Ayurvedic mind-body constitution or Humors). It will hamper the functioning of your gut and produce Aam(Toxins) in your body, which poses a direct threat to your Immunity. This point has immense importance though the following principles need to be practised as a routine task if you are thinking of building Immunity naturally-
• As emphasized above, eat 'Seasonal and Regional' meals only to keep the gut light and healthy.
• Avoid eating dry, cold meals as it aggravates 'Vata' in the body, which further aggravates all the 'Doshas' which could put you more at risk of any infection while being detrimental to your Immunity.
• Drinking warm water or water from Indian pitcher which keeps digestion process functioning in an optimum way.
• Eat warm, fresh and unctuous meals only that stops the formation of Aamdosha (Toxins) in your body.
• Eat only when you feel hungry, you should eat when you feel hungry from your gut and not from your mind. Eating an injudiciously less or large quantity of meals will always keep you more prone to any infection.
• Seek the guidance of your Ayurveda physician to go for seasonal and regional cleansing regimen(Ayurvedic Detoxification) which goes in sync with your Prakriti and helps you in preparing for the next season always.
2. Lifestyle (Vihar)- Like every good thing takes time to make, 'Immunity' also takes time to develop and no good thing ever achieved in hassle. Patience, persistence, perseverance and above all 'Sadvrata'. So, what kind of lifestyle you should follow, here is a brief snapshot of the same-
• 'Ojas'(Immunity) has the exact opposite qualities of 'Madh'(Alcohol). So, if you drink alcohol injudiciously without understanding your 'Prakriti'; you are exposing yourself to future co-morbidities. Alcohol acts as an immunosuppressant. The use of immunomodulators will not yield the same results if you have been using alcohol or any substance abuse for long. So, choose health over addiction.
• Ayurvedic Abhyangam(Medicated Massage) not only makes your body healthy from outside but also provide you with much needed mental and physical strength.
• Adequate sleep is crucial as it counters the aggravated Vata in the body doesn't make it an anxious fertile ground for any infection.
• Avoid direct exposure of hot, humid, windy and cold environment as this leaches 'Sneha' or healthy lipids from your body and less combat for any disease.
• Daily workout as per your body capacity, needs, and health ailment(if any) is significant to build long term immunity. Adding to it, 'Yog-asanas' and 'Pranayams' advocated for both healthy and unhealthy people that can boost up your ability to fight with any foreign attack.
Do always remember that your everyday meal and your daily workout counts. Follow the mantra of becoming a daily achiever and start workout now!
3. Medicine (Aausdh)- There are scores of medicinal herbs are mentioned in the ancient Ayurveda literature that promotes healthy living. These herbs can be used for people who are looking for the treatment of specific ailment and also for the people who seek no therapy but only wellness. Ayurveda works variously in terms of restoring your health even when you do not have any ailment. In contrast, modern medicine comes for your rescue only when you report some health issue. Some of the herbs and formulations given below have been proved to be potent immunity modulators since time immortal-
Haridra- Turmeric is one of the most potent herbs available in Indian kitchen that is anti-inflammatory and boost Immunity. 'Gold milk' or Turmeric milk is ages old remedy for the allergy in Indian households which have been accepted in the western world as well now.
Tulsi- 'Tulsi' or 'Holy Basil' acts as a decongestant which helps in common cold.
Kutki- Known for its decongestion properties, it reduces congestion and treats cough.
Ashwagandha- The herb helps in promoting physical and mental health, increase longevity. It paces up the healing process in the people fighting long term debility from chronic medical ailments.
Giloy- It is highly effective in building Immunity, digestion and in chronic fever.
Chyawanprash- Rich in Vitamin C, it acts as a 'Rasayana' and medicine for various ailments. This formulation builds long term immunity and a family tonic for keeping you safe from seasonal woes of cold, cough and allergies.
which aids in the treatment of cough and for reducing congestion
'NASYA' therapy- This therapy is done with medicated oils such as AnuTailam, Sesame oil etc. that helps in clearing the nasal passage. It also lubricates the nasal cavity, removes dryness and prevents nasal allergies.
‘Swarnprashan’- This Ayurveda therapy has found a recent buzz in Indian and global market as it has been very effective in building immunity of the children up to the age of 16 years. The therapy has the potent combination of SwarnBhasma and Medhya (drugs that promote intellect and immunity) which makes a formulation of choice among modern age parents.
Sweet Caveat:Although most of the medicines above are harmless and have immense benefits yet self-medication of any Ayurveda medicine can be harmful to health. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the consultation of your Ayurveda physician who determines your 'Prakriti' and 'Dosha' imbalance before penning down your immunity regimen.
With billions of money go into immunization every year. Yet, we are unable to withstand the attack from viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. The researches have referred to that there over 250 viruses that can harm human beings, and this is not to mention that we are currently battling one(COVID-19) and vaccine for which is still due. Think more and ponder little more, you have seen as small as a baby of 3 months and as old as a couple of 90 years recovering from COVID-19. The answer lies in a straightforward word, i.e., Immunity, which provides you with this ability to combat viral, bacterial attacks.
With every old and new antibiotics becoming resistant on us, the buck stops at the point of saving yourself with building Immunity against these deadly non-living creatures that are posing a threat to the human civilization like never before. Therefore, it is the right time to help yourself in choosing Immunity over Infection and doing what is healthy for you, your family, your neighbors, your country and humanity.
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