“Man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet’s infinite organisms” – War of the Worlds, H G Wells
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Immunity is the innate skill of the body’s systems to recognize and resist invading pathogens. We each have strategies for developing our immunity that center around the scouting function of antibodies and the destructive function of macrophages.
This cellular-based immunity is a search-and-destroy quest for virus-infected cells, fungi, caners, bacteria and protozoans. Killer cells perform their functions by the action of antibodies that have ‘marked’ invading pathogens for expulsion. Our memory of what is alien is the biological database of inherited and acquired immunity. Inherited immunity comes from our parents, while acquired immunity is gathered as we come into contact with pathogens as we grow.
The concept of Vaccinating and Immunizations are based on this basic understanding. Small amounts of weakened pathogens are injected into the bloodstream in order to “prime” the immune database. Immunization is almost globally accepted as a valid healthcare intervention.
The concept of boosting your immunity through environmental pathogens, is not a modern discovery. Ancient medical science of Ayurveda, Ancient Chinese Medicine, and the Ancient Science of Unani have all identified and offered a range of effective immunity boosting remedies that have been tried and tested for centuries. The knowledge of these effective and potent remedies have been passed down through practice and teachings from generation to generation and is still widely practices in many parts throughout Asia, India and Sri Lanka..
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the world oldest documented medicinal science that was practiced as far back as 5,000 year ago by inhabitants of the Hindus Valley Civilization. Ayurveda means “Science of Life”, and covers centuries of tried and tested documented information about healthy living and treating diseases. From Psychology to Surgery, from Pediatrics to Geriatrics, this ancient Science was first passed down by Ancient Ayurveda practitioners through word-of-mouth and was eventually documented in the Ancient Indian Language of Sanskrit.
The core principal of Ayurveda teachers the notion of living a balanced life. Its popularity has grown in the modern Western world today with many embracing its natural holistic healthy lifestyle with little to no side effects. Ayurveda is the knowledge of happy and unhappy, a good and bad life, and that which contributes to those four aspects. The balance of the 4 main goals for life ensure the body is harmonious and is in optimal health, ensuring the best most natural boost to your body’s immunity. And imbalance causes weakness, leading to a weak immunity and hence exposing your body to diseases.
Ayurveda and Your Body’s Natural Immunity
Four aspects of your body are identified to be the elements to maintain good health and wellness. These 4 elements are your Dosha, Dhatus, Malas and Agni. Firstly, it is important to understand how Ayurveda has identified the structure of the body in order to learn how we can maintain your health and boost your natural immunity. In Ayurveda the central principal of health is balance. Each of the four components must be in a state of harmony – neither too strong nor too weak – for the body to maintain optimal health, which provides vitality by allowing greater capacity for prana (life energy required for all the body’s functions) and immunity from disease.
“The balance of the doshas is health, and imbalance is disease” – Swami Sivananda
Below is a brief outline of how the classical Ayurvedic scriptures demonstrate the structure and functions of the body and show you how your body fits into that system.
The three Ayurvedic Doshas are energies that are in existence within one’s body and mind. Maintaining the balance of one’s own unique dosha allows the body systems to work effectively. There are 3 main doshas that are identified in Ayurveda. They are namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata – Is the force of movement, activity and sensation
Pitta – Is the source of all transformative processes.
Kapha – Is the body’s strength and stability.
Identifies the seven tissues that make up the body’s physical form. Healthy dhatus offer the body to produce ojas, which is a form of energy that helps the body support prana (vital energy) and protects the tissues from damage
The fire within you is the body’s digestive function. Healthy Agni allows the food to be digested so that strong tissues can be formed. Your healthy internal fire will help prevent the build-up of ama, which is undigested food that acts as a toxin and weaknesses the body’s immune system, and there by leading the diseases.
Your body’s waste or excretions is a closely monitored practice in the science of Ayurveda. Urine, Stool and Sweat are referred to as Malas. The timely passing of these excretions helps maintain body balance. It is understood that the buildup of these malas within the body beyond its natural time emits toxins and leads to diseases.
The above classifications and break up of these 4 main elements of Ayurveda is only a brief description of these crucial functions that maintain your health and ensures a healthy immune system. Your Agni (digestive fire), dhatus (tissues), ojas (tissue protection), and malas (waste) are all vital for the body’s health. All of these 4 elements are closely linked, and their health and function depends on each other.
How Your Body Builds Immunity
In Ayurveda internal fire of Agni/fire is responsible for all the processes of transformation, most important to assist in the building of dhatus.
The seven dhatus are identified as plasma, muscle, skin and blood; fat, nerve tissue, reproductive tissue, bone; and bone marrow. They are created in a chain, with each digested by agni to produce the next. Food is digested to produce the first dhatu, plasma, the plasma is digested to produce blood, and so on. In this process the ojas are created last in the dhatu chain, and so is often called the “eighth dhatu”. It is a substance that supports prana, life’s energy, the body and provides immunity from diseases..
Similarly, if your agni is weak, the doshas will be unbalanced, or your malas are eliminated inefficiently, leading to ama which is your undigested food building up toxins in your body. These toxins then disrupts the body’s healthy equilibrium. Your diet, mental health and exercise all combined to offer the best elements in maintaining a cohesive balance..
The below flow chart will demonstrate the effects of weak and healthy agni, and how this affects dhatus, ojas and your immunity.
Strengthening Your Agni towards Optimal Immunity
Maintaining agni is one of the key principals of Ayurveda, and looking after your agni in today’s modern lifestyle has been identified as the most important task to maintaining optimal Immunity.
Ayurveda has identified and teaches you how to keep your agni strong and healthy, and how to restore its function if its compromised. This is based on factors such as what, how, and when we east as well as how regularly we exercise.
The most simple but yet effective routine of inhaling steam daily can assist you by not only fighting viruses and bacterial but can also assisting in general immunity boosting by clearing your sinuses and repertory system. The art of inhaling deep and exhaling internally trapped toxins is also a form of meditation, which will provide and excellent mind relaxation. This too assists in adding internal balance and harmony to your day.
Honey, Lime and Ginger Syrup
Locals in north India and Sri Lanka swear by this easy-to-do home remedy. Simply mix freshly squeezed lime and fresh ginger juice into a small jar of 100% bees’ honey. This great tasting syrup can be consumed any time in your day and has no side effects. From a regular sore throat, to runny noses, to providing relief with the common flu, this simple remedy will provide instant relief and boost your immunity to help fight the viruses.
Immunity Boosting Herbal Teas
You can find some excellent Herbal Teas in the market that can provide you with regular supplements to help boost your immunity. Terapy Ceylon ImmunTea is specially formulated with ancient Ayurvedic herbs that have been tried and tested for centuries. The blend infuses herbs such as Kaladuru (Cyperus rotundus) which help to activates T-cell renewal and helps with the production of antibodies and interferon, known for blocking viral infections. This endemic Ayurvedic herb is traditionally used in the field of Ayurveda to treat conditions of Fever, Coughs and Asthmatic conditions and boosting the body’s natural immune system by strengthening the Respiratory System. The brew is also backed with potent local ginger root which is has effective immunity boosting elements.
Most Yoga asanas can help strengthen your agni. A full regular yoga routine can help stimulate your metabolism and the agni in your digestive system, ensuring that you are ready to fully digest your meals and maintain optimal immunity in the most natural form.
Apart from the above mentioned lifestyle suggestions and diet advice that is essential for strengthening of your agni, consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner can help recommend a course of natural therapeutic agni-stregnthening herbs which will be tailor made to suit your unique body chemistry and lifestyle.
The road to achieve a holistic healthy balance is not a quick-fix solution. Unlike western medicine that treats the cause, Ayurveda is based on treating your body, mind and spirit in the process to ensuring a healthy balance. Achieving these are not a hard process and being aware is the first step in living a healthy natural life.
Practical Ayurveda – By Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center (Publisher DK Guides)
The Atlas of Mind Body and Spirit – By Paul Hougham (Publisher Gaia Books UK)
Agni: the Vital Source of Life – Amala Guha University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Dentistry – https://opencommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1024&context=som_articles