Building immunity with Ayurveda in Covid-19

By Surekha Vijh 

Washington: As the Corona pandemic rages on and vaccines are months away, many Ayurvedic and integrated medicine experts from around the world emphasized the need to build immunity and stay healthy.

A webinar titled “Ayurveda for Building Immunity” was organized by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on November 12. The participants, mostly Ayurvedic specialists, reiterated that building immunity was the most important factor to fight the novel coronavirus, as the ancient system of Ayurveda has dealt with viral and bacterial outbreaks over the centuries.

India’s Consul General in San Francisco, TV Nagendra Prasad, inaugurated the webinar, saying, “Ayurveda has been part of Indian life for centuries and it was a time-tested cure for many ailments.”

Dr Narayananam Srikanth, Deputy Director General of the India’s Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, said that Ayurveda, supplemented with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, is most suitable to build immunity.

“Give your immune system a boost with healthful, plant-based foods, stay active. Eat right, sleep right, and lead a useful and happy life,” he advised.

Dr R Nagarathna, Chief of Arogyadhama in Bengaluru, called breath an important factor in healthy living. That is why breathing exercises, Pranayam, assumes importance in tackling Covid that damages the respiratory system.  She said a cheerful, peaceful life was essential, along with the intake of quality food. As the digestive fire was the best during the day and slowed down after sunset, only light food should be taken after sunset.

Ranjith Kumar, Joint Secretary at India’s Ministry of Ayush, said Ayurveda and other eastern holistic medicine systems such as Siddha and Unani could play a vital role in this global wave of Covid-19.

Dr. Issac Mathai, chairman, SOUKYA International Holistic Center near Bengaluru, said Ayurveda with remedies from the West brought forth the best of East and West. He said the immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, etc, and vegetarians have more effective white blood cells compared to non-vegetarians due to a high intake of vitamins and low intake of fat.   

Dr Mathai said maintaining a healthy weight benefits the immune system. Obesity has been linked to increased risk for flu and other infections such as pneumonia. He suggested Beta-carotene found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables is a powerful antioxidant that could reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body along with vitamin C found in red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangoes, lemons, besides vitamin E found in nuts, seeds, spinach, and broccoli.

Jayarajan Kodikannath, a noted Ayurvedic consultant, stressed the benefits of cleansing therapies and Ayurvedic medicines that help enhance immunity. He elaborated on the role of Panchakarma procedures and how they help “detoxify” the body.  He said vitamin D supplementation has been effective in reducing the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections.  Zinc, a mineral in nuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, beans, and lentils, can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. And inadequate sleep has also been linked to suppressed immune function.

Mamta Landerman, founding president of the California based Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM), said development of a healthy and balanced lifestyle was the key to building immunity.  She moderated the webinar.

Image courtesy of (Image courtesy: Indian Consulate/San Francisco)

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