Corona is Different and Difficult: Ayurvedic Challenge to COVID-19

There are guidelines for the management of COVID-19 infection through Ayurveda. Since there has not been a definite cure till date, these guidelines will definitely boost the immunity and keep the infection at bay.

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Ayurveda and Covid-19

The 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) infected patients developed symptoms within a few days of infection and the transmission from person to person didn’t happen until almost a week after the symptoms became severe. As the symptoms like fever and difficulty in breathing were very obvious, it was easier for the medical authority to isolate and quarantine the patients. Hence, restricting the spread of SARS was possible and it was mostly confined majorly to Hong Kong and Canada. The total number of cases was around 8000 resulting in about 800 deaths. This is not the case with Corona and that is what makes it extremely dangerous when compared to all previous pandemic attacks. Symptoms start showing very late in persons who are infected, with symptoms sometimes remaining very mild or even none. However, any such person still is a carrier and can infect others.


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Another interesting history of an epidemic is the Spanish influenza in the year 1918. It spread well in the military camps during the World War II. After the war got over the soldiers returned to their respective lands and infected the common man. Roughly five crore people died worldwide. Spanish influenza was the H1N1 strain. Interestingly there was another pandemic in the year 1957, the H2N2, and this consumed the strains of H1N1 and almost ending the virus. Hence, something which medical science could not achieve for 40 years nature did. “Nature can do it, we cannot,” says virologist Florian Krammer, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York.

Since Corona or COVID-19 virus is altogether a different, difficult strain, for which we don’t have any cure or prevention (vaccination) till now, staying safe is the best and the only option. The lockdown, which the world has adopted, is the best way to tackle the rampage. Especially India has done a great job by announcing the lockdown at the right time. Countries in Europe and the US initially didn’t take this seriously and thereby exposing most of their population to the virulent first attack of corona.

Any pandemic is bound to get weak over a period of time and die a natural death. However, we are not sure of the duration of time, as it could be three months or even two years.

Dr. Nambi at his clinic

Since the virus mutates itself pretty fast, even after a vaccination is created, it would require constant upgrade, like the flu shot. We have to get the “herd immunity” to feel safe. Till then we coexist with the COVID-19 virus. And when the India has entered into lockdown 4, one would notice that the government has taken measures to see that most establishments reopen and function. People have been asked to get back to work. This is keeping in mind the herd immunity. The major concern is regarding the health of senior citizens and children. Also people with comorbidity are more susceptible to succumb to Corona. Countries like New Zealand and Australia have completely contained the infection from spreading. In a way it looks and sounds good, though sometimes this can be risky too as the population doesn’t develop the needed immunity. Once international borders open and people start travelling back and forth, these countries stand a chance of a major wave hitting them, which is just a possibility.

Ayurveda and Corona

The Ayush department has contributed to a large extent in combatting the virus. Ayurveda, its principles and drugs, were utilised to the maximum in many states including Kerala, Gujarat and Maharashtra with very good results. The Ayush department also came up with a fantastic protocol keeping in mind the nature of the virus without compromising with the principles of Ayurveda. Ayurveda focuses more on maintaining health. Or in other words, keeping the healthy, healthy (Swasthasyaswaastharakshanam). There are a few things which we have to bear in mind to stay healthy and pull our immunity up to withstand any infection. This high immunity will prevent the person from getting infected or worst come worse reduce the ill-effects of the infection. The approach to a healthy life is in three steps such as Ahara (diet), Vihara (lifestyle) and Oushadha (treatment), in the order of importance.

Ahara

At no point of time should one get indigestion due to wrong food or over eating. Indigestion leads to reduced metabolism. This is the cause for all discomforts and diseases. A higher metabolism means better immunity.

Some of the few points one has to keep in mind while indulging in eating are: a) Eat to satisfy hunger and not to fill the stomach; b) Eat nutritious food, no eating in between meals and no junk; c) Eat warm and cooked food; d) While cooking add turmeric, cumin, coriander, garlic and curry leaves to your dishes and garnish your food with spices like pepper, dry ginger, etc. which will assist in faster digestion; and e) Drink warm water throughout the day. Water boiled with jeera or dry ginger will help.


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Vihara

Maintaining a good personal discipline apart from wearing the mask, frequent washing of hands with soap and social/physical distancing will help in boosting the immunity.

A few tips: a) Mild to moderate physical activity for about 30 min in the form of walking or Yoga will definitely help, which along with meditation improves the overall physical and mental health; b) Steam inhalation is one way to combat congestion. Use mild volatile oils or tulsi or pudina leaves in the boiling water to inhale; c) Salt water gargling and night brushing is very important to handle most of the infections from the head to the chest; d) one or two drops of coconut/sesame oil into the nostrils daily; e) one teaspoon of coconut/sesame oil for holding in the mouth. Hold it for 2–3 minutes and spit. Rinse mouth with warm water; and f) Getting a good night’s rest is very important for the body to repair and heal. When rested the body is ready to fight any infection, while a tired body succumbs.

Oushadha

Even though volumes have been written about medicines, one should understand that in the order, least importance has been given to therapies and medicines. If one’s diet and lifestyle is maintained, there is a very less chance of one falling sick. However, in preventive medicine we have been prescribing a few medicines in accordance with the Ayush protocol and found very encouraging results. These are: a) Chyavanaprasha Lehyam, one teaspoon after breakfast, but diabetic people should resort to sugar-free version; b) For mild cough or throat irritation, make a paste of honey and clove powder and consume one-fourth teaspoon 2–3 times daily; and c) Mix half teaspoon turmeric in 150 mL of milk and consume once or twice daily.

These are guidelines for the management of COVID-19 infection through Ayurveda. Since there has not been a definite cure till date, these steps will definitely boost the immunity and keep the infection at bay. Apart from all these principles mentioned above, Ayurveda focuses on maintaining a relaxed mind for health. Panic and fear do not help. Stay safe and follow what is being asked to by the authorities.

(Disclaimer: These are protocols laid down by the Ayush Department, Government of India, to assist in treating COVID-19. The writer does not claim them as a cure)