The Ayurvedic Perspective to Fight Infections in the Context of the Current Pandemic – COVID 19
Different countries have different strategies to address the spread of the pandemic. The world is still figuring out what is the best strategy to fight the disease
The speed with which the spread of Covid-19 is happening in the whole world is alarming. Within weeks the virus has spread across the world infecting millions of people. It has already taxed the lives of many thousands. The trend continues even today with a lot of people contracting the flu each day across the globe.
Different countries have different strategies to address the spread of the pandemic. The world is still figuring out what is the best strategy to fight the disease. Is it social distancing and hand hygiene, always wearing masks, rapid tests or all of them together.
To be honest, the medical fraternity and the scientific community are actually experimenting on the relevance of face masks,social distancing and other hygienic measures. The scales seem to be constantly moving forward and backward. We have many hypotheses regarding the efficacy of malaria medicine and the BCG vaccine to contain the virulence of COVID – 19. There are some other theories regarding the changes occurring to COVID under high temperature and high atmospheric moisture. Many studies are being carried out by different scientific organizations on various subjects including the possibility of developing a vaccine against Covid – 19. However, all these studies are in nascent stages and require probe and hard work of many more months.
Does the modern medicine have any effective medicine to cure the pandemic?
As the answer is a big NO, we have to look into the ancient wisdom such as Ayurveda and its possible role in containing the spread of the pandemic in this context. As expected, the pro – active Government of Kerala has already resorted to the support of Ayurveda to be used as a preventive measure against the flu. The AYUSH department of the Union Government has also followed suite and came up with formulations to boost up the immunity. “Ayurveda for prevention” is a well-known slogan of the recent days.
As an Ayurvedic professional I have some difference of opinion. Should we curtail Ayurveda as just a tool for preventing a disease?
There are two major aims of Ayurveda. They are called “swasthaparayana” and “athuraparayana”. The former deals with preventive aspects of a disease while the latter deals with curative aspects of a disease. These descriptions are so absolute and the effect of the treatise is undoubtedly proven by the generations of the learned “Vaidya”s of the country. So, I firmly believe that Ayurveda should be used as the major tool for prevention as well as cure of COVID.
Initially let us discuss about the preventive aspects. Social distancing and hygiene measures can be one kind of measure against the reason of the disease.
The second step of prevention is the immensely potent medicines from the grandma’s garden. Most of these medicines are common knowledge among the elderly people of the country. As soon as the first symptoms of COVID is seen in a person, these medicines can be used for symptomatic relief. 90% of the cases can be easily contented through these medicines.
Now a days a few enthusiasts are promoting some common medicines to all to improve the immune function. This may prove to be a futile effort and sometimes dangerous. We must be very careful while tampering with body immunity. Otherwise we might end up facing a much bigger challenge from within.
All of us are sitting safely at home for the time being. But through this method can we acquire immunity against the flu? Obviously, NO. Once we come out of the safety of our houses, we will be susceptible to the wrath of the disease. This is a serious question to be pondered.
In my 25 years of experience, I have observed that “panchakarma” therapy (detoxification) is the ideal method to correct the metabolism and to balance the three “dosham” (elements) ie. “Vatha”, “Pitha” and “Kapha” in the body. In a body with balanced “dosham” the immunity tends to be optimized. A person with optimum immunity does not get affected by any antigens. This can be the third step of prevention. As the whole country is sitting at home, locked in, this is the ideal time to carry out “panchakarma” therapies under the supervision of a “Vaidya” (Ayurvedic doctor) who can be called up for consultation.
In certain cases, with severe associated conditions, even after panchakarma therapy, the immunity is not optimized. What could we do in such cases? “Rasayana” treatment is the answer. Many herbs used in Rasayana preparation are scientifically proven immune enhancers and immune modulators. They are to be used strictly under the observation of an experienced “Vaidya”.
As part of “athuraparayana” (curation) there are very specific chapters in Ashtangahrudaya which describe various types of “Jwara” (fever) and its treatment methods such as “langhana” (starving to activate the immune reactions) and the potent medicines that can be used to manage the condition. Some of the ingredients are proved to have anti-viral property while the others are anti pyretic and analgesic. There are medicines to cure respiratory symptoms as well.
Moreover while treating a person, Ayurveda considers age, body strength, “sahaja bala”(immunity), strength of the disease, duration of the sickness etc . his information will prove useful in personalizing the treatment.
My opinion is that Ayurveda and grandma’s garden should be considered as a valid tool for preventing COVID in its initial stage itself. Ayurveda should be used to build up immunity for those who are presently sitting securely at home. Tampering with body immunity should be avoided as much as possible. Instead of that, detoxification through “Panchakarma” and correction of metabolism should be the right way. In case of absolute necessity, Rasayana medicines can be utilized to boost immunity. We must not curtail Ayurveda to a preventive treatment. The curative methods mentioned in Ayurveda for “Jwara” should be made use to cure COVID – 19. All these steps are to be carried out under the supervision of an Ayurvedic Doctor. For a great country with great heritage, let the wisdom of yester ages come to succour.
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