As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, so does stress. In addition to the everyday stress, people are now uncertain about their future prospects, worried about their health, and fearful of the lack of information. This continuous exposure to stress has been found to negatively impact the immune system, making one more susceptible to other illnesses, diseases, and infections.
In India, not everyone can afford or even relies on Allopathy. Thus, Ayurveda becomes the next and natural alternative. While there has been no cure or vaccine for Covid-19 yet, there are some measures we can all take to increase our immunity specifically for protection against the coronavirus.
These natural immunity-boosting measures require everyday kitchen ingredients to be integrated with your regular diet and can be easily undertaken without making big changes. Due to the nature of Ayurveda, incorporating these measures into your daily life will lead to no side effects.
Dr. Vibhuti Tripathi, an Ayurvedic Physician, has worked with brands such as Patanjali and Jiva Ayurveda. Devadeep Chowdhury speaks to her about some of these measures the average Indian can implement to boost their immunity during these trying times.
Q: There are no medicines for Covid-19 as of now, but there are several preventive measures, and even some prophylactics, that are suggested. Can you tell me what Ayurvedic preventive medicines can be taken to boost immunity?
A: Ayurveda derives its power from nature, and several Ayurvedic immunity-boosting measures are easily available. Covid-19 affects immunocompromised people severely, therefore, using Ayurvedic medicines or nutrients can be of significant importance.
Let me list out a range of Ayurvedic natural ingredients and their usefulness for a thorough understanding.
- Tulsi (Holy Basil) – It is an antihistamine, antibacterial, antifungal, fibrinolytic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It contains a pale yellow-green essential oil which becomes crystalline over a period. It is called Basil camphor. Tulsi is extremely beneficial for humans of every age and background – essentially from warding off some of the most common ailments to strengthening immunity and fighting bacterial and viral infections.
- Giloy (Heart Leaved Moonseed) – Giloy is a universal herb that helps boost immunity. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants that fights free radicals, keep your cells healthy, and get rid of diseases. Giloy helps remove toxins, purifies blood, fights bacteria that cause diseases, and also combats liver diseases and urinary tract infections. Giloy is used by experts in treating heart-related conditions and is also found useful in treating infertility. One can use it in tablet form, powdered form, or fresh stem decoction.
- Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) – It improves the body’s defense against disease by improving the cell-mediated immunity. It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals. It is one of the most important herbs of Ayurveda used for millennia as a Rasayana for its wide-ranging health benefits. Rasayana is basically an herbal or metallic preparation that promotes a youthful state of physical and mental health and expands happiness.
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry) – It is a very special fruit full of antioxidants that are effective in reducing cell damage, which reduces the free radicals that can cause disease in the body. Being a very rich source of Vitamin C, iron, and calcium, Amla is great for boosting your immunity.
- Yastimadhu (licorice) – It enhances the immune system and the ability of the body to fight bacterial and viral infections.
- Chyawanprash – This is considered to be the most effective Rasayana for sustaining homeostasis. Chyawanprash is a potent antioxidant paste which is made up of 43 herbs.
The advantage of these products is that they are easily available, mostly cheap, and by no means cause any harmful side effects.
Q: In absence of medicines, are there any homemade immunity-boosting measures that can be adopted conforming with Ayurvedic science?
A: I recommend that everyone should imbibe some remedies/measures of Ayurveda at home and in their daily lifestyle during this time. India is witnessing a surge of cases, and some extra precautionary measures can never hurt. Moreover, there are a host of additional benefits one can derive from these practices. Let me list out the absolutely essential ones:
- Practicing yoga under the guidance of an experienced instructor can be supremely beneficial.
- Using spices like cumin, turmeric, coriander, and garlic in preparation of meals.
- Instead of milk tea, one should drink herbal tea.
Also, certain concoctions can help people who tend to catch colds or have a compromised immune system.
A decoction of basil, dry ginger black pepper, cinnamon, and raisin can be made easily at home by boiling them together in drinking water till it reduces to half. One can add a little bit of jaggery or lemon juice if the taste is too bitter. For a milder version, 5-6 basil leaves can be boiled in one liter of water till it reduces to half. One should take these twice a day.
Q: The AYUSH Minister, Mr. Shripad Naik, recently claimed that Covid-19 patients can be cured through Ayurvedic treatment. Can you explain these curative measures?
A: A cure for Covid-19 is still at an experimental stage. Even when it comes to Ayurveda, most treatments are at a nascent stage. Preventive measures are a different ball game altogether and are proven.
The treatment mentioned here is adopted by the All India Institute of Ayurveda in New Delhi and involves administering kwath. It is made of basil, cinnamon, pepper, and dried ginger in certain proportions.
Another method that has been tried is administering Anu Thailam, or an Ayurvedic nasal drop, that eliminates excess mucous from the nasal cavity.
Q: It is claimed that even after getting cured of Covid-19, there are plenty of side effects that remain. The Kerala government has also planned an Ayurvedic rehab process for such patients. Please explain how it works.
A: The Kerala model is a crucial addition to achieving the complete recovery of Covid-19 patients.
There is plenty of evidence that many people are falling sick even after recovering from Covid-19, and in some unfortunate cases, they are dying too. Therefore, it becomes absolutely necessary that even the recovered people maintain a healthy, cautious lifestyle for at least a month.
So, the Ayurvedic rehab process entails embracing the model of panchakarma – an essential cleansing ritual of the body that has been healed from a severe disease. Other Indian states should follow it as well, particularly for elderly patients who have recovered.
Q: This is a season for the common cold, fever, etc. Can you suggest some Ayurvedic remedies to prevent and cure these diseases?
A: One should remain hydrated and drink lukewarm water whenever possible.
Then, there is the oil pulling therapy, known as the gandush in Ayurvedic texts, that is very beneficial. In this, one has to put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or sesame seed oil for 2-3 minutes in their mouth without drinking it. After spitting it out, rinse the mouth with lukewarm water. It is very useful in curing dry cough and sore throat if done twice or thrice daily.
Steam inhalation with caraway seeds or mint leaves once a week is good for cleansing nasal passages too.