Boost Immunity and How to maintain good health through Ayurveda
Through this blog, our main intention is to give you an understanding the concept of immunity and how to maintain good health through Ayurveda.
Before going to Ayurvedic concept, let me give you a simple description of immunity as per conventional view. Immunity is a state of being able to resist a particular disease or foreign body through preventing development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products.
The main goal of Ayurveda is to optimize the health of an individual. Health is defined as the state of the body when the vital energies (Dosha), body tissues (Dhatu), digestive functions (Agni), elimination process (Mala) are in harmony with the pleasant state of Mind, Sense organs and Soul. To preserve health one has to have a strong immunity to compact deadly etiological factors.
Immunity as per Ayurveda:
Ayurvedic science has different views on immunity and has been explained under few topics. They are:
- Vyadhikshamatva – The resistance to illness development
- Bala – Concept of strength
- Ojas – Concept of vital nectar or essence of the body tissues
Concept of Vyadhikshamatva:
The term Vyadhikshamatva originates from two words. Vyadhi means ‘disease or illness’, and Kshamatva means the ‘caliber or ability to be patient or to resist’. Vyadhikshamatva means ‘the ability to resist the pathogens and oppose the strength of the illness’.
Vyadikshamatva has 2 divisions:
- Vyadhi-balavirodhitvam: The resistance power fights against the strength of the disease and stops further manifestation. Means it prevents the manifestation of disease.
- Vyadhi-utpadaka pratibandhakatva: The resisting power of the body fights against the occurrence and re-occurrence of the disease, even when the pathogens enter into the body. Means it fights against the manifested disease.
Concept of Bala (Strenght):
Strength of the body is depending on the formation of the body tissues. Proper formation of body tissues need proper functions of Dosha, Agni and Mala. And people with low strength is difficult to get treated. In Ayurveda the strength of a person is referred as ‘Bala’, which can also compare with word ‘immunity’.
Bala or Body strength is of 3 types:
- Sahaja – Constitutional strength and immunity, which is innate.
- Kalaja – Strength and immunity corresponds with age and season.
- Yukthikrutha – Acquired strength and immunity achieved through proper diet and lifestyle.
Concept of Ojas (Vital Nectar):
In another context, the resistance power of the body, immunity, is compared with the term Ojas, the vital nectar or the essence of Saptha Dhatu (the seven body tissues). Ojas is the seat of strength hence called Bala. When there is any loss, destruction or decrease in the formation of Ojas will lead to illness or even death.
Formation of Ojas:
Ojas is the byproduct of strong and proper digestion and metabolism – Agni, the digestive fire. When your core fire, Agni, functions well then your body tissues form properly and produce the subtle essence called Ojas. And when your body shines with ojas then your whole being is healthy, strong and blissful. Strong Agni and following positive healthy life style and diet is the foundation for excellent health.
Factors that affects the formation of Ojas:
- Negative emotions like fear, anxiety, stress, anger, envy, guilt, hatred etc.
- Environmental cause like pollutions, drastic climatic and seasonal changes, extreme climates, contagious diseases etc.
- Metabolic disorders (overweight, underweight, cholesterol, diabetic etc.
- Improper lifestyle like poor sleep habits, irregular routines etc.
- Improper diet and wrong eating patterns
- Intense physical activities
- Physical traumas
What is the impact of this on the body?
The impact of the above mentioned causative factors on Agni, over a period of time, affects body’s normal mechanisms of the vital energies (Doshas) and leads to the formation of Ama (the metabolic or cellular toxins). This Ama further accumulates and spreads into the body tissues (Dhatus) and cells and leads to the blockage of Srothas (the body channels) and affects the formation of Ojas (subtle energy or vital nectar), which reflects in our health.
Formation of Ama affects the fighting mechanism of body. Body becomes vulnerable and can’t fight against the external foreign bodies when the resistance force becomes weaker. When it becomes hyper active the body may start to fight against its own cells thinking them to be foreign invaders or toxins (Auto immune issues as per conventional view). In both cases our body loses the ability to fight properly.
Signs of healthy Ojas:
- Mental clarity, energized and enthusiastic
- Sound sleep and wake up fresh
- Feeling light, grounded and centered
- Healthy strong appetite and metabolism
- Clear tongue (no coating)
- Good complexion and healthy glowing skin
- Good strength and rarely get sick
Signs of low Ojas:
- Low strength, sleep troubles and fatigue
- Weak appetite and digestion
- Mental fogginess, feeling heavy and lethargic
- Get sick often and susceptible to infections
How to maintain good health & increase Ojas:
- Gentle Yoga and Meditation: Brings consciousness and awareness, increases ojas.
- Eat ojas increasing foods: Like dates, nuts, seeds, ghee and other dairy products, avocado, raisins, figs, grains, sweet juicy fruits, sweet potato, coconut milk, coconut meat, tahini
- Healthy mind: Reduce stress, negativity and conflict
- Pranayama (Breathing exercise)
- Avoid intense or over straining exercises.
- Maintain social and individual ethics: Promote positive thoughts and activities
- Ojas increasing herbs: Like Amalaki (Gooseberry), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shatawari (Asparagus racemosus), Widhari (Pueraria tuberosa) Shankupushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Pipplai (Long Pepper), Shilajith (Mineral pitch), Yastimadhu (Licorice), Gokshura (Tribulis terrestris), Kapikachu (Cowhage).
In order to maintain the homeostasis of the body, one should keep the Agni (the digestive fire), Srothas (body channels), Doshas (Vital energies), Dhatus (Body tissues) and Ojas (essence of tissues) healthy, along with pleasant state of mind, sensory organs, and soul through proper use of food, sleep and celibacy (the three pillars of life). Thus how to maintain your health and boost immune system is nothing but strengthening your digestive fire, and maintaining the organism healthy and clean through proper lifestyles, diet and detoxes.