The why of ancestral wisdom to prevent COVID-19

by Bhaswati Bhattacharya, MPH, MD,

Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York and Fulbright Specialist in Global Public Health specializing in Integrative Medicine-Ayurveda 2018-2021

Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom offers care for 4 phases of care of infectious microbes: preventive, cautionary, mildly symptomatic, and moderately symptomatic. Unfortunately, the Ayurvedic Indian community of vaidyas who have great clinical experience has largely been discluded from the research and care efforts underway worldwide, partly due to their inability to articulate practical hints with modern logic.  

Microbes are known as krimi or bhuta in Sanskrit. Ayurveda understood microbes amazingly well by focusing on what happens in humans rather than focusing on microbiology. Mistranslated as parasites and ghost by European translators in the last century, the terms krimi and bhuta actually refer to those living beings that interact with the human body but are not easily visible to the normal human eye, i.e. microbes. This is unfortunate because modern researchers have lost the wisdom of some of the oldest human wisdom preserved for our benefit. 

Preventive care

The first phase is prevention, when a person is not infected and does not want to become infected. Understanding the coronavirus, we must keep our immunity up, our lungs healthy and clean, and our gut’s digestive fires clean.

For prevention, Ayurveda offers us many plant-based formulations that do not have the side effect profiles that all pharmaceutical medicines have. They are powerful anti-virals because plants make the best anti-virals on the planet. These medicines are considered legal Ayurvedic medicines in India and as dietary supplements in the USA.

  1. The best medicine for boosting the immune system generally is guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), also known as giloy or gilroy in different parts of India.  Tablets and powders are easily available at Ayurveda outlets; for example, some of the herb companies such as Mountain Rose Herbs, Frontier Herbs, Banyan Botanicals. The best is a preparation known as Guduchi Sattva, which is available at, the US retailer of Arya Vaidya Sala. Kottakkal products come directly from Kerala. Modern scientific research has focused on guduchi for allergies and colds, but it is effective for improving immunity of the gut too.


  1. Decoctions are herbs boiled in water until the water boils away to half or ¼ of its original quantity.  Herbs to use for prevention of respiratory infections are fresh ginger, lemon, black pepper, pippali, guduchi, tulsi leaves, vasa.  With symptoms of dry throat or post-nasal drip and dry cough, boil yastimadhu, add 1 tsp Trikatu Churna (shunthi, pippali, kali mirch) and add 3 tulsi leaves with 1/8 tsp saindhava lavana. Sip the decoction with happiness each morning and share with friends and family.  Before your coffee or chai, use fresh herbs and forego the teabags claiming they have tulsti, as many are simply bleached filter paper and old herbs. 
  1. Keep the nose moist in the morning, so that microbes cannot penetrate dry parched membranes. Nasya oil is an excellent pillar in keeping microbes from penetrating the mucous linings of the nose and sinus.  This time of year many people suffer with dry nose from the overactive heaters in winter homes. As spring arrives with allergy season, Nasya oil is like protective gloves for the nasal cavity!  Use two drops in the nose before your morning walk, two drops after you shower, two drops before bed.  Be sure to use a nasya oil based in sesame oil, as coconut oil is too thick for the head’s already mucous-prone canals. Opt for a cleansing Nasya oil made by someone who knows the ancient recipes and why particular ingredients are combined.
  1. There are many Ayurvedic formulations for severe respiratory diseases, that treat the channel through which air moves, known as the prana-vaha-srotas.  Because Ayurveda treats the patient and not the disease, medicines are not chosen by symptoms but rather by a host of factors that personalize the medicine to the patient. A patient with IBS who is not able to absorb food well must be given different formulations than someone with inflammation in their blood vessels or someone who has obesity due to mental stress and poor attention to lifestyle. After consulting with a competent Ayurvedic physician who has extensive clinical experience, some of the medicines being used for the dry cough, fever, and sore throat are Swasa Kuthar Ras, Soma Asava, Yashi Churna, Naradiya Laxmi Vilas Ras, Agasthya Haritaki Rasayan, Tribhuvan Kirti Ras, Pushkarmoola asava, Vasa Avaleha, Chitraka Haritaki Avaleha, mostly given crushed into organic raw honey and licked not swallowed. These medicines should not be taken unless the correct constellation of symptoms are present as they can dry out the body, or create weight gain, or make the person feel lethargic, but they are very effective and healing when coordinated by a vaidya! The medicines can be found at or with the vaidya.
  1. Take Chyawanprash to get high doses of antioxidants and vitamin C without all the preservatives and binder and fillers in supplements sold as capsules and pills. This lehyam (jam) is known to help people recover from respiratory ailments.


    Bhaswati Bhattacharya, MPH, MD,

    Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York and Fulbright Specialist in Global Public Health specializing in Integrative Medicine-Ayurveda 2018-2021

    Contact:, Ph: 212 645 6745, [email protected] 

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