The concept of immunity is described in texts of Ayurveda as ‘Vyadhikshamatva’ . The meaning of ‘vyadhi’ is diseases and ‘Kshamatva’ means the capacity of body to resist diseases. Ayurveda acharyas like charaka, sushruta, vaghbhata explain about ayurvedic foods or diet , herbs and lifestyles which boost immunity and help both body and mind to get equipped to fight diseases.
Ayurveda and Immunology
Ayurveda has emphasised the importance of preventing diseases than getting succumbed to them. That is prevention is better than cure. When we keep our body immunity in optimum level we can prevent many ailments. Our body can fight the external invaders effectively if our immunity is strong.
Falling repeatedly sick is the indication of impaired defence mechanism of body. We have to take steps to strengthen the immune system. Texts of ayurveda explain simple steps and methods to keep diseases at bay. Almost all these can be incorporated in daily routine easily.
Concept of Immunity in Ayurveda
Ayurveda has classified immunity into two division.
• Vyadhibala virodhitva (Capacity to resist any disease)
• vyadhi utpaadaka pratibandhakatva(Capacity to resist causes of diseases)
Synonyms of Immunity in Ayurveda:
- Bala – Strength of immunity is also referred as bala or strength of body (deha bala) and strength of mind (mano bala).
- Ojas – Ojas is the final essense of all body tissues or 7 dhatus (sapta dhatu). If ojas is healthy and strong, our body and mind will resist any fluctuations or changes in environment.
Ayurveda Causes for Low Immunity:
- Vitiation or imbalance of doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha
- Contamination of inner body environment by outside factors like infections, change of seasons, pollution etc.
- Loss of water from body or dehydration which cause electrolyte imbalance.
- Chronic diseases which weaken body and mind.
- Too much of physical exertion which leads to wear and tear of tissues and loss of energy.
- Addictions to habits like smoking, alcohol, drugs etc
- Sleeping at odd hours like waking up in night time and sleeping at day time.
- Mental emotional stress which weakens immune system.
What are the factors that influence immunity of a person?
Ayurveda acharyas list various factors which influence immunity in a person.
Factors of Birth:
1. The ethnic race (Kula), country (desha) , season (rutu) and time (kala) in which a person is born.
2. A person born to a healthy parents .i.e healthy sperm and ovum.
This type of immunity is known as Sahaja Bala in ayurveda
Life cycle Stage of a person
A person will have very strong resistance in his youth or youvvana. Immunity is less in children and senior adults. This immunity is known as Kaalaja Bala.
Lifestyle of a person
Immunity can be developed by following a diet rich in nutrients, regular exercises and following ayurvedic daily routine or dinacharya, seasonal routine (rutucharya) , rejuvenating therapy (rasayana), Virility therapy (Vajikarana therapy) . The immunity developed due to these lifestyles is known as Yuktija bala in ayurveda
Ayurvedic Way to Boost Immune System
When we adopt methods to boost immune system we should take care to balance three doshas (vata, pitta and Kapha) and Agni or body fire.
Ahara – Diet or ayurvedic foods to boost immunity
Always Eat Right. Eat fresh, light and healthy food. Avoid foods which cause discomfort, indigestion and constipation. Indigestion and constipation leads to accumulation of metabolic toxins or ama. These toxins accelerate ageing process and lower the immunity. Avoid junk foods and welcome fresh veggies and fruits on your plate. Eat only when you are hungry. Maintain a regular time pattern while having food. Always use freshly prepared foods.
Foods which are sweet to taste and have good amount of moisture in them help to boost immunity. Ayurveda recommends to consume ghee, oils (sesame oil or coconut oil), butter, milk, jaggery, honey in moderate quantities.
Foods to avoid:
- Too salty (lavana rasa) , sour taste (amla rasa), pungent taste (katu rasa), (spicy) and bitter taste (tikta rasa) foods
- Foods which are too cold or very hot
- Dry , stale and putrefied foods
Ayurvedic Herbs to boost immunity –
Ayurveda vaidyas recommend various herbs to boost immunity. These herbs can be used as single or in combination.
1. Guduchi or Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia)
2. Amalaki or Amla or Indian gooseberry .
3. Yashtimadhu – Licorice
4. Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus
5. Ashwagandha – Withania somnifera
6. Pippali – Piper longum
7. Haritaki – Terminalia chebula
9. Bala – Sida Cordifolia
11. Turmeric or Haldi
12. Cumin seeds or Jeera
Nidra – Sleep well
Sleep is required by body to repair itself. A good sleep rejuvenates body, improves memory, reduces inflammation of body parts and boosts body immunity. Always take a 8 hours of sleep at a stretch at night. Do not sleep in afternoon until unless it is required.
Follow Ayurvedic daily routine or Dinacharya.
This includes the following
Always wake up early. Experts say that if you go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, your body will be more in tune with the earth’s biological clock. Thus the biological clocks of earth and humans tick in harmony to balance all functions of body
Clear the Clogs or detox :
The bowels and bladder have to be emptied in morning as soon as you wake up. This clears the wastes and kick starts the detoxification process. After brushing your teeth don’t forget to massage gums and clean the tongue. Follow a regular detox to keep liver healthy. Men can use a special detox for erectile dysfunction. An ayurvedic skin detox is also helpful to keep acne and pimples away.
Water your body:
Drink a big glass of water in empty stomach. This flushes out toxins and cleanses the digestive system. Clean digestive system helps in good absorption of nutrients present in food. Good supply of nutrients ensures good immunity. Drink at least 2 liters of water per day.
Researches have proved that meditation helps to reduce stress and boost immunity. Meditate for 20 minutes daily.
Early morning exercises are more beneficial as we feel fresh and enjoy the work out. Brisk Walking for 45 minutes daily is the best exercise. This helps our body to release “feel good” hormones. Feel good hormones slow down ageing process and boost our immune system. Good exercises always reduce weight and help to keep obesity at bay. Include yoga in your exercise regimen
Bath and Body:
Take bath daily. This removes dirt and microbes which have adhered to skin and bathing increases blood circulation. Increased blood circulation helps to supply nutrients to deepest tissues, removes toxins and oxygenates body cells well. Bathing reduces stress and relaxes mind. Do not forget to pamper your body with an oil massage once in a week.
Follow a good conduct :
This keeps mind healthy and devoid of any mental emotions. This is known as achara rasayana in Ayurveda.
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