We, humans, have an innate immune system, which helps us fight against different diseases. By constantly interacting with the pathogens around us, we develop our immune system. However, with the introduction of microbicidal and lack of interaction with soil and plants, our immune system is getting weaker. To note, this does not indicate the lifespan or overall health both of which have improved dramatically.
In the past decade, one can find an emergence of varied types of microbes and also an increase in autoimmune diseases. Not to mention the antibiotic resistance developed in microbes. So it is better to think of an alternate rather than depending on antibiotics.
One such approach is Ayurveda. Ayurveda classifies diseases into two namely the Nija and Aganthu. Nija diseases are caused by an imbalance in one’s body and can be prevented by taking care of the tendencies. Aganthu, on the other hand, is caused by external factors like physical or mental trauma, injuries, and lack of hygienic practices.
Ayurvedic texts do cite the presence of communicable diseases. Charaka Samhita mentions that the important source of microbes as air, water, and land.
Ayurveda and Immunity
Ayurveda describes the concept of immunity under varied topics. The important ones are Bala or the concept of strength, Vyadhi Kshamathwa or the concept of resistance to illness development, and Ojas or the concept of supreme resilience.
- Bala explains the capability of a system to nourish and repair itself. It also explains the effectiveness of disease prevention. Bala elaborates the overall balance of body functions, digestion, and elimination.
- Vyadhi Kshamatwa explains the ability of our immune system to fight against diseases and disease-causing pathogens. It mostly elaborates the functions of our immune system after getting in contact with pathogens.
- Ojas describes the direct correlation between immunity and digestion. Ojas is the final product of physiological transformation happening in our body as part of tissue nourishment. A properly functioning metabolic pathway nourishes the seven layers of tissues individually. The result is Ojas. It directly correlates to the food we eat. The function of Ojas is not just explained as resistance to disease. It is resilience to any form of unfavorable environmental, physical, or mental creating imbalance, leading to disease.
Mind, emotions, and its effect on immunity
Ayurveda explains how immunity is impacted by worry, excessive anger, craving, sadness, and exertion. By understanding the connection between mind, immunity, and digestion, Ayurveda helps develop natural remedies that can help us withstand a stable state of body, mind, and soul.
Elements that affect our immunity
- An imbalanced diet – An imbalanced diet leads to a dosha imbalance. Intake of processed foods loaded with additives and sugars weakens the immune system. Also, eating disorders like anorexia leads to nutritional imbalance and weakens immunity.
- Irregular sleep – Interrupted sleep patterns or lack of sleep affects the immune system.
- Medications – Long term use of antibiotics and other medications also prove to be detrimental for immunity.
- High stress – Increased stress leads to increased cortisol levels in blood reducing the focus on immune system nourishment.
- Obesity – Obesity is an indicator of imbalance in hormonal functions and metabolism.
- Alcohol – Excess alcohol consumption weakens the immune system thereby making one susceptible to the pathogens.
- Dehydration – Dehydration can reduce the body’s resistance mechanism.
Ayurveda’s suggestion to improve immunity
- Regular exercise/yoga
- A well-balanced diet depending on your dosha
- Intake of spices. Spices are rich in oxygen radical absorbance capacity, and reduce cell damage and maintain the integrity
- Practice detox plans or panchakarma cleanse
- Consumption of herbs like ashwagandha and amla
Some remedies to increase immunity
- Start your day with Tulsi, Pippali (fruit of long pepper), and ginger tea. This cleanses the upper respiratory tract
- Intake of amla juice can supply extra antioxidants
- Add turmeric and pepper to your meals to increase immunity and reduce ama.
- Keep yourselves hydrated.
- Avoid usage of processed food and meat
- Along with these good hygienic practices should be followed.