Today, the world is united in overcoming a health crisis of unprecedented proportions. Countries, communities, and individuals are working together to keep all of the humankind safe and healthy. This crisis has highlighted the saying, "prevention is better than cure". It is the right time for us at Kerala Ayurveda to fulfill our Dharma (or purpose) of sharing the Ayurvedic principles of preventive medicine with the world. Ayurveda's holistic approach to well-being is most relevant to our current situation. Ayurveda has a wealth of knowledge that we can use to uplift and strengthen the mind and body. Considering the current pandemic panic that is set in the world across, let us take a look at ayurvedic immunity boosters and ayurvedic herbs for immunity in adults and children.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is unique amongst medical sciences as it looks at health, not as a disease to be treated but a state of holistic well-being that is to be maintained. Ayurveda believes that man and nature are two sides of the same coin. We are born from nature and we draw all our energy and nutrition from nature. Everything in nature is made up of the same fundamental materials, energies, and consciousness. And it is on this profound foundation that all of the healing methodologies within Ayurveda are built upon.
What is Ayurveda's Definition of Health?
The ancient Ayurvedic text 'Susruta Samhita' defines health as follows:
"Samadoshaha samagnischa samadhatumalakriya
Prasannatmendriyamanaha swastha ityabhidheeyate"
- Susruta Samhita
This can be translated as a healthy person is one in whom:
The Doshas are in balance
The Agnis (digestive and metabolic fire) are in balance
The tissues are in a normal and nourished state
The elimination of waste is normal
The sensory organs, the motor organs, mind and soul (Atma) are in a pleasant state"
The human body's key function is metabolism or the constant process by which energy is taken in, transformed and then output. This metabolic conversion process is performed by the Agni or digestive fire. However, the name digestive fire does not imply that this process is merely confined to the digestive system. Indeed, human bodies use the energy taken in as food to transform into tissues that make up the body. Efficient metabolic processing also properly eliminates any toxins or Ama that are formed. So, a balanced Agni is key to healthy tissues as well as efficient elimination of waste. This is why a strong and balanced Agni is central to good health as per Ayurveda.
When a person has a strong balanced Agni it results in Ojas or vitality. Ojas also translates to 'a glow of good health'. When a person is said to literally glow with good health it is a sign of a body that has achieved the optimum balance of intake of nutrition, elimination of waste and a happy state of mind. Strong Ojas signifies inner harmony, strong digestion, and immunity. Ojas protects a person's mind, spirit, and body. It is the immunity that goes beyond just the body.
Finding the Ideal Balance
Ayurveda does not view humankind in isolation. Indeed, every one of us is a part of our environment and we grow, shape and are shaped by our surroundings. These surroundings are not only the manifestations of nature that are visible to the eye but also the microorganisms around us and the microbiome that sustains us. The impact that we have on nature and that nature, in turn, have on us are important. Being surrounded by nature that is at peace and in balance outside helps us, in turn, achieve our internal balance and health inside.
So, when there is a global health problem such as a pandemic, it is a red flag to all of mankind that there is a serious imbalance between us and nature. It has shown us that nature's being in a state of disharmony has thrown the harmony and good health of mankind into a state of chaos. So, to heal ourselves within we need to look to the resources that nature offers us to heal and restore our Agni and Ojas.
When one takes the time to observe nature, it is obvious that it functions in a cyclic and rhythmic manner. Natural phenomena like the sunrise, sunset, tides and seasons all have their set times and repeat rhythmically. When we tune in and align ourselves to the repetitive rhythms of nature we find that we are able to create the same calming rhythm in our lives.
The importance of a calm and balanced mind is apparent when one learns the adverse impact that stress has on one's health. The health of the mind and the body are interdependent. A good way to achieve a healthy mind is to destress, and the best way is to prevent stress in the first place. Both these goals are best achieved through meditation. If you are a beginner, there are many video and audio resources available online to guide and help you get started on your journey towards inner peace.
Proper Breathing Techniques
We think of nutrition as being just-food. But one vital life-sustaining nutrient that we often overlook is our breath. We do not usually pay much attention to this function and improper breathing is all too common. The first step to proper breathing is to be mindful of it. Observe your breath and take a couple of minutes through the day to mindfully breathe slowly. This is a time-tested tool to calm oneself and has a beneficial effect on both the mind and the body. Additionally, one can learn traditional breathing techniques of Pranayama such as breathing through alternate nostrils.
Regular Sleep Schedules
Sleep is the reprieve that a person gets from each long day filled with the stress and strain of daily life. The mind and body perform the important processes of detoxification as well as completion of the digestive process when a person is asleep. When a person does not get enough sleep these processes are incomplete and cause stagnation and toxic buildup over time. To prevent this from happening, Ayurveda recommends the following:
Do not sleep in the daytime as it causes stagnation
Maintain a regular sleep schedule, preferably at night
Late nights are not recommended as they cause weakness
We all know how important a healthy and balanced diet is. But Ayurveda also addresses the meal schedule. As per Ayurvedic principles, the body's metabolism functions at its best when there is a regular meal schedule. Ayurvedic principles also advocate that one should:
Prefer to drink warm water as it stimulates the digestive fire or Agni
Drink enough water and stay well hydrated
Eat moist and warm foods that are easy to digest and reduce the intake of foods that are cold and raw
Nature's Medicine Chest: Ayurvedic Medicine for Immune System
Many Ayurvedic herbs for immunity are found in the spices that we use in Indian cooking. Some excellent boosters of both Agni and Ojas are cumin, ginger, and turmeric. You can also go one step further and use traditional Ayurvedic formulations such as Rasayana or Guduchi to enhance and support good health and wellness.
Ayurveda defines stress as a host of mental and physical aspects of life. Stress affects a person's immunity, digestion, peace of mind, general balance and good health. Some examples of stress as per Ayurveda are:
Being self-critical and having negative thoughts about oneself as well as others
Mental or physical overexertion
Intake of food that is hard to digest
Listening to and speaking harsh words
Ayurveda also states that though external factors such as those listed above are causes of stress, how a person reacts to it is the actual root cause of stress. When one maintains a positive attitude and has a happy mind and spirit it is conducive to a strong Agni and Ojas. This, in turn, helps you better manage stress. Following all the practices that Ayurveda recommends for good health helps one achieve wellness of mind, body, and soul in a holistic manner by strengthening Agni and Ojas.
The lotus is regarded as a symbol of hope, enlightenment, rebirth, and purity. The lotus plant grows in muddy water and yet produces blooms of brilliance and beauty. It symbolizes the potential that we all have within us to overcome difficult obstacles. The white and yellow lotus that is the logo of Kerala Ayurveda is the flower that is abundant in Kerala which has been the home of traditional Ayurveda for thousands of years. Just as the lotus infuses its surroundings with its joyous fragrance and pure beauty we seek to spread the knowledge of Ayurveda to bring a renaissance of peace, healing, and balance to our world.
Reach out to us to better understand how Ayurveda can help you boost immunity. Visit our online shop to browse through our entire range of ayurvedic medicine to increase immunity and manage stress.