The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic is exceptional and unprecedented in several aspects and has posed a threat to health care systems across the globe. The pandemic has turned the world’s attention to the immune system, the body’s defense against disease-causing bacteria, viruses and other organisms that we come in contact with, ingest and inhale on daily basis. Along with the investigations, understanding the fundamental physiological and immunological changes is critical for the detection and reasonable design of successful therapies. Our immune system needs to get adapted with the pandemic until a potential vaccine is discovered.
Acharya Charaka, has explained Janapadodhvamsaniyam adhyayam in his treatise Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthana 3rd Chapter). Here Janapada defines a community, and udhwamsa means destruction. The adhyaya (chapter) mentions about epidemic management and methods to follow oneself to maintain optimum health.
An Ayurvedic remedy may appear to be as basic as a grandma’s kitchen remedy, whereas a medicine, may appear to have come from a chemist shop, which baffles those who are unfamiliar with its preparation and definition. In India, several initiatives have been taken to utilise the vast potential of Ayurveda during covid pandemic. The Ministry of Ayush, has releases a set of guidelines for boosting immunity and measures for self-care by using Ayurvedic principles and drugs. Further, the Prime Minister of India while addressing to the nation also mentioned about using Ayurveda medicines for improving immunity against COVID-19. This has led to huge demand of Ayurvedic medicines.
Now let’s see few methods to improve immunity and few tips which can help to prevent the corona virus
Follow Dinacharya (daily routine)
This is a period we should go within and follow a proper routine. So dinacharya is a regular routine that is intended to keep us in sync with our circadian rhythms, or internal body clock. Slight disturbance caused in the circadian rhythm leads to chrono disruption. It is proved that, these interruptions can cause health issues, including impaired cognitive function, mood and sleep disturbances, diabetes, obesity, daytime sleepiness, decreased learning skills, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and some cancers.
Try to maintain a daily pattern of waking up early, clearing the bowels, brushing and scraping the tongue, followed by intake of warm water. Optimal exercise should be followed as part of the routine. An individual should maintain personal hygiene and maintain clean surroundings. Prayer and meditation should be a part of daily regimen. A person should not fail to take his food on time and should try to avoid naps after lunch. Dinner should be taken early before 8pm and should maintain 2 hours gap before going to bed. There could be some reluctance from the body to consider this routine for the first few days. However, if we make it a lifestyle, we will reap many benefits, including happiness, joy, and longevity.
Practise Yoga and Pranayama
Yoga is a discipline based on a very subtle science that focuses on bringing mind and body into harmony. It is both an art and a science to live a balanced lifestyle. Yoga aids in the development of psycho-physiological fitness, mental balance, and the management of everyday stress and its effects. Yoga is also beneficial in situations where body and mind is stressed. Various yogic practices like Yogasanas, Pranayama, Dhyana (meditation), cleansing and relaxation practices etc. helps to modulate stress and its adverse effects.
Various studies conducted on Yoga has helped to conclude its promising effects on flu. A recent randomised study comparing meditation and exercise with a control group of adults aged 50 and older showed that mindfulness meditation significantly reduced ARI (acute respiratory infection)illness during the cold season. Not only that Yoga is also known to increase mucosal immunity by increasing Salivary Beta Defensin-2(an antibiotic peptide which is locally regulated by inflammation) levels in elderly individuals. Yogasana and Pranayama have also shown to reduce airway reactivity in patients with asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder).
Few Yogasanas to be practised daily includes – Ushtrasana, Utthana Mandukasana, Tadasana, Trikonasana, Vakrasana, Sarala Matsyasana, Shasankhasana, Vrukshasana, Bhadrasana, Vajrasana, Sethubhandasana, Ardhahalasana, Makarasana, Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana etc. Practising Surya namaskara daily also helps to keep the body healthy and fit. All these practices improves chest expansion and cardio- pulmonary functions.
Apart from the yogasanas following pranayamas are also equally important. Nadishodhana (alternate nostril breathing) pranayama reduces the sympathetic activity and stimulate vagal (para- sympathetic) activity and in turn decreases stress and anxiety levels. Ujjayi pranayama increase the oxygen saturation in body and also facilitates lung capacity. Bhramari pranayama similar to humming may increase Nasal Nitric Oxide (NO), which helps to improve blood flow to the ciliary epithelium and has anti- inflammatory activity. An healthy individual can practise 40-50 strokes of kapalabhati pranayama; helps to improve pulmonary functions. Bhastrika pranayama helps to energise the body as well as clears the air pathways.
Meditation focuses to reduces anxiety and stress by reduce the cortisol level and enhance the alpha brain wave in the body. It makes the body stable and imparts calmness to the mind. Daily practise of meditation balances the functions of neuroendocrine system thereby enhance the immune system.
General and Physical Measures to be adopted are –
- Maintain social distancing, sanitise the hands and wear mask when ever you step out of the house.
- Steam inhalation – try to do steam inhalation as soon as you reach home from outdoor. Eucalyptus oil, Pudina or Tulasi leaves can be added to water (for boiling) and inhale the steam.
- Nasal instillation – Apply medicated oil (anu taila or shad bindu taila), sesame oil, or plain coconut oil. Instil it as drops to both nostrils once or twice daily. They help to kill the bacteria’s or clear any obstruction in nasal path.
- Take bath as soon as you get back home from outside.
- Gargle daily using a pinch of turmeric and salt in warm water. Water boiled with Triphala and Yashtimadhu is beneficial to prevent from bacterial and viral infections.
- Intake of fresh and warm food is very important. Avoid eating stale food and refrigerated items.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits must be included as part of daily cuisine.
- Try to have a balanced diet with adequate amount of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and minerals.
- Hydrate the body well. Warm water can be chosen for regular drinking. Herbs like Tulasi, Pudina, or cumin seeds can be added to this.
- Include spices like cumin, pepper, ginger, methi seeds etc in daily diet.
- Milk along with turmeric powder can be taken on daily basis. (try to avoid in case of cold, and indigestion)
Medicines suggested by Ayush for Covid-19
- Ashwagandha (500mg) twice daily for 15 days or as directed by the physician.
- Samshamani Vati (500mg) twice daily for 15 days or as directed by the physician.
- Chyawanaprashana (10g) with warm milk or warm water once daily
- Guduchi + Pippali (375mg) twice daily with warm water for 15 days or as directed by the physician.
- Rasayana Churna (compound herbal preparation of Guduchi, Amalaki, and Gokshura -3g powder with honey for a month or as directed by the physician.