How can Ayurveda help fight against Covid-19

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The current pandemic of coronavirus that has gripped with terror the hearts and minds of people all over since its initial propagation in Wuhan, China has, as of date, devastated the lives and livelihood of millions of people over the world. In its wake, it has hardly spared a couple of countries. 

The current pandemic of coronavirus is designated as COVID – 19; COVID – 19 belongs to a large family of viruses that are related intrinsically to virus that the world has suffered in the recent past, viz., MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

Covid-19, as it is known, is primarily a disease of the upper respiratory tract. The virus primarily spreads through droplets generated from the cough and/or sneeze of an infected person or through droplets of saliva or nasal discharge from an infected person.  The virus when it infects can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from a mild illness to an attack of pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are high fever, cough, a sore throat, and headaches ranging from mild to severe. These symptoms, when accompanied by difficulty in breathing, can be serious and, often, lead to death. 

Standard recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 entail personal hygiene which is of utmost importance. It is advisable to diligently wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds for every wash or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Since the disease is transmitted through sneeze droplets, coughing, etc. one should either use paper tissues or cover the mouth with a flexed elbow and avoid close contact,   Social distancing, as mentioned above, is also of prime importance.  

The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true during the early stages of the disease. It is, therefore,  possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

How Ayurveda products can boost immunity & respiratory system

Current data indicates that fighting COVID – 19 for elderly people and those with underlying health conditions makes it difficult. A new study indicates a genetic explanation. A group of molecules that are meant to be fighting the onslaught of the disease are diminished with age and current ill-health conditions. These tiny RNA molecules, often referred to as microRNA, are non-coding molecules meaning that they do not “translate into protein;” the inability of these microRNA to latch on to the genetic protein of the virus and destroy it. Thus the virus has a free run into the body and causes rampant damage to the system. 

The world today is in the throes of working towards a cure and/or a vaccine for COVID-19. Scientists, laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies are striving and straining towards a solution. Sober estimates range from 1 year to well over 2 years to achieve a workable vaccination for the conquest of the dreaded COVID-19.  

While all efforts are on with absolute dedication and concentrated resolve all over the world, all alternatives are also on the table. A worthy alternative would be the exploration of Ayurveda in researching a permanent solution for defeating COVID-19.  

COVID-19 is distinctly a disease of the upper respiratory tract, It is also seen that COVID-19 does not adversely affect a “healthy: person. This is because a normal healthy person has the requisite immunity to withstand the viral attack and repulse it with the inherently available immunity. So, although, there is no proven cure for COVID-19 at the present moment, a slew of measures suggested by Ayurveda could be undertaken to keep healthy and safe from the ravages of this dreaded disease. One of the safest methods is to enhance the body’s natural defense system, i.e. immunity. Immunity plays a major role in maintaining optimum health and we know the wise adage“prevention is better than cure.”

Ayurveda is a plant-based science; it is India’s time tested treasure trove from ancient times. This extensive treasure of knowledge is mainly based on prevention strategies based on concepts of what to do on a regular and sustained basis. Ayurveda also includes in its repertoire a “seasonal regime” to maintain a healthy life. The ancient classical “Scriptures” of Ayurveda mandates a blend of human life lived with and in harmony with creation around us.  The uplifting discipline of harmony between mind and matter is the hallmark of a healthy life. 

The Ayush Ministry, under the advice and guidance of reputed Vaidyas, has recommended a slew of measures that one can employ during the day and at various times of the day to keep fit and permanently build the immunity required to keep healthy. (refer Ministry of AYUSH, Ayurveda’s immunity-boosting measures for self-care during COVID 19 crisis) These entail simple and cost-effective materials, easily available and usually well-stocked in an Indian homestead – always effective ant time tested.

To quote, briefly a sutra from Dr. Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc, Ayurvedic Physician 

:”rogāhāsaravepimandegnam sutarambhuterānitu”

“As long as we keep our agni (digestive fire) strong, then illness will not happen to us. So, Ayurveda has a great way of prevention. [This is] How we can prevent being affected by a coronavirus. Keep your agni strong and, to do that, follow your dinacharya. It is the first important thing that Ayurveda recommends. 

For dinacharya, you wake up in the morning, scrape your tongue and brush your teeth. Drink a glass of warm water then do pranayama. There is a package of eight [beneficial] pranayama exercises: Bhastrika, Kapala Bhati, Anuloma Viloma, Brahmari, Utjayi, Utgeet, and finally Sheetali and Sheetkari. Just by doing this package of eight pranayamas, we can strengthen our immune system including our pranavaha srotas, our respiratory system. Rasa vaha srotas, our lymphatic system will be cleansed, and that way we can boost our energy. This will maintain the balance of ojas (immunity, strength), Tejas (digestion both subtle and gross), and prāna (vital life force)……………..” 

Role of the Ayush Ministry

Under the aegis of the Ayush Ministry, the government will conduct a randomized controlled clinical trial to assess the efficacy of Ayurvedic drugs:  Ashwagandha, Yashtimadhu, Guduchi Pippali, and AYUSH-64. 

India is working on four traditional medicines to treat coronavirus infection and the trials will start within a week, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Y Naik tweeted.

“The @moayush & the @CSIR_IND are working together on validating four Ayush formulations against #COVID 19 Pandemic and the trials will start within one week. These formulations will be tried as an add-on therapy and standard care for COVID-19 patients,” Shripad Y Naik said in a tweet.

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb proven efficacious in reducing anxiety and stress, fighting depression, boosting fertility and testosterone in the male, and boosting brain function. Yashtimadhu has proved efficacy in the treatment of post-radiation problems in the neck and head region. AYUSH-64 is a polyherbal Ayurvedic formulation used in influenza-like illnesses. These three formulations along with Guduchi Pippali will be tested as an add-on to standard care in COVID-19.

Clinical research studies with these 4 different formulations is a joint initiative of the Ministry of AYUSH, Health Ministry + Ministry of Science and Technology through Council of Scientific & Industrial Research to establish prophylaxis as an add-on to standard care of COVID-19.

Conclusion

With the pandemic raging around the world and no sight of an effective vaccine, as yet, life and livelihood of millions and millions of people are sorely affected. Until such times as an effective antidote is found, every alternative source of disease alleviation is required to be studied and tested.

Ayurveda, as an alternative method, can rank high on the agenda of prophylaxis, if not cure. The science of Ayurveda differs basically from the basis of western allopathic medicine. Western allopathic medicine proceeds from symptoms to disease and then prescribes drugs to rid the body of the pathogens that caused the disease. Ayurveda primarily focuses that balancing the 3 principles of energies of the body ( Vata, pitta, kapha) – balance and health is order, imbalance and disease is disorder. Like the unique fingerprints of each person, our constitution is established at conception. The ancient science of Ayurveda instructs that as long as the balance between Vata, pitta, and kapha is maintained order and health will follow.

Resources

https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/ImmunityBoostingAYUSHAdvisory.pdf

www.livemint.com/news/india/covid-19-treatment-india-to-test-4-ayurvedic-drugs-within-a-week-says-minister-11589440325932.html

Manjunath Kandra
Author

Digital Marketing Expert, consultant, Mentor and Director of KandraDigital Marketing Solutions Pvt Ltd.

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