Ayurveda for Covid

By Ravina Ramlugun

 “The great thing about Ayurveda is that its treatments always yield side benefits and not side effects.”
— Shubra Krishan

Ayurveda is one of the great gifts of the sages of ancient India and in Sanskrit it means “the science of life”. Contrary to the belief that Ayurveda is an old dated and archaic medicinal system, it actually does have a crucial role to play in the current situation where Covid-19 is ravaging the world.

A profound study of the Charaka and Sushruta Samhita depicts that epidemics can result from man’s activities when they go against the laws of nature. Nature is God-gifted and is meant to be respected and protected. An accumulation of toxins in the environment can create the conditions for an epidemic to occur.

The Covid-19 infection attacks the person through the nose, mouth and throat. From there it moves to the respiratory tract and can prove to be fatal to some people. Ayurveda offers individuals a wide panoply of rules and regulations to be followed on a daily basis (termed as dinacharya) which cleans the different passages and channels in the human body. Many of these principles can be used to ward off the Covid-19 infection:

  • Tongue scraping is a traditional part of Ayurvedic self-care.Overnight, as the body processes everything that was ingested that day, toxins begin to form, and are visible as a coating on the tongue. Scraping the coating off first thing in the morning prevents reabsorption of the toxins that your body worked so hard to expel. As the Covid-19 infection starts its trail from the mouth, this activity of cleaning the tongue can prove to be help greatly in preventing it.
  • Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of oil (sesame usually) in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes. Rinse the mouth with warm water afterwards. This is meant to draw out toxins from the oral cavity and induce a good oral health.
  • Gargling with warm salty water helps in cleansing of the throat and kills any bacteria present therein.
  • The Covid-19 infection remains on surface for some time and thus can also be transmitted through touch. As a consequence, keeping the body clean is also recommended. Ayurveda recommends a daily bath for every individual.
  • Nasya treatment involves oiling of the nasal passage. Ayurveda offers a wide variety of oil for nasya treatment, such as medicated ghee, Shadbindutailam (easily available in Ayurvedic shops in Mauritius), sesame oil among others. These oils/ghee helps in eliminating bacteria in the nasal passage and consequently help in the prevention of infections.
  • Steam inhalation with mint leaves/tulsi leaves/rosemary leaves or caraways seeds (ajwain) with deep breathing and exhaling from the mouth clears nose blocks and keeps the nasal passages clean. Toxin that has dried up in the tract will soften and come out as phlegm from the nose or mouth.
  • Jala neti can also be practised on a daily basis in the morning to clean the sinuses and remove mucus that has dried up in the air passages. This should be done using warm salty water and a neti pot.
  • Ayurveda also strongly advocates sustaining immunity. One who abuses of his body is prone to illness. There is a saying in Ayurveda that the one who eats the wrong foods and indulges in the wrong activities is the one prone to illness. Among the three pillars of health stated in Ayurvedic texts, food is one. Healthy and immunity bestowing foods such as Amla, Chywanaprash, herbs (lemongrass, rosemary, thyme, coriander, Tulasi, etc) have been promoted by Ayurveda. Having a healthy and wholesome diet contributes to the body re-enforcing its own power and fighting off anything unwelcome and unpleasant to it.
  • A mixture of Tulasi leaves, dalchini (cinnamon), cardamom and Krishna marich (black pepper) can be taken in the form of a tea. All these spices together help in keeping infections at bay. Also, they improve the overall functioning of the lungs and respiratory organs. Golden milk (milk, turmeric, cardamom and saffron) can be drunk at night for improving immunity. Milk helps in better absorption of the spices added to it which means better efficacy.
  • Yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand. Ayurveda is considered as the literature while Yoga is regarded as the practice. Thus, in order to fight off the Covid-19 infection, the practice of Yogasanas, meditation, kapalbhati and pranayama also prove beneficial. These breathing exercises help in expulsing out toxic matters from the respiratory tracts and encourage better absorption of oxygen from the air.
  • Ayurveda also recommends lighting dried herbs/spices (ghee can be added), agarbhatti and dhoop to keep the air around us clean and pure. The mixture of these spices and herbs or dhoop helps killing the bacteria in the air and purifies it.

According to a study at AYUSH-Gujarat, Covid-19 patients on combined therapy of allopathy and ayurveda, got RT-PCR negative results in an average of 7.85 days compared to 12.19 for those only on allopathic medicines. Thus, it can be seen that faster recovery is achieved through Ayurvedic medicines. Shatavari, Ashwagandha and Guduchi are powerful antiviral Ayurvedic medicines. Unlike the various vaccines, pills and other medicines which have been found to fight against Covid-19, the Ayurvedic treatment does not have any side-effects. On the other hand, it only helps in boosting one’s immunity.

* Published in print edition on 26 November 2021

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