Since the WHO announced COVID19 as a public health emergency of international concern, the world has been up in arms. In two short months, this disease has circled the globe and has touched 199 countries. With the novel Coronavirus threat intensifying, we, as a country, are trying our best to arrest the situation, even as the fear of community contagion still looms large over us. In a situation like this, a strong immunity could be our best weapon to fight this attack. Although there’s no magic food or pill to balance your immunity overnight, there are multiple ways to keep optimizing it.
As of March 28th 2020, COVID19 has claimed over 27,000 deaths, slowly pushing panic levels upwards, mostly as there’s no cure or vaccine in hand as yet. While there is a government initiated focus on bolstering the preventive measures to fight this pandemic, including a complete lockdown and isolation, we need to ensure that we are doing our best at enhancing the one thing that is in our direct control – our health and immunity. Among the various inputs that regulate our immunity, such as food, exercise, sleep, and mental health, phyto-medicines and poly-herbal combinations are effective ways to augment the process of strengthening and balancing our immunity. Based on the science of Ayurveda, several medicines and supplements made from scientifically validated standardized natural extracts of herbs offer much potential.
Research shows that 70-80% of our body’s immune cells are found in our gut. Our immune system co-evolved with our microbiome and both work together to keep us healthy and protected from pathogens. The gut is house to billions of intricately balanced good and bad bacteria. A well-balanced gut microbiome means balanced immune function. Ayurveda gave us the science of Rasayana and the immense gift of herbs such as Guduchi, the starch of which plant significantly helps enhance the count of good bacteria in the gut, thereby improving our body’s immunity and overall physiological functioning. The other organ we need to prime to maintain immunity, is the liver. It performs over 500 functions, including detoxification of the body and production of glutathione, a compound that maintains the body’s defense system. Hence, nourishing the gut and liver with prebiotics (to increase the good bacteria), antioxidants and Rasayana formulas in our diet and by supplementation, could be our best way to improve immunity in the short term. Consumption of Vitamins A, C, D, and Zinc preferably from natural sources should be thoughtfully enhanced.
Sulphate free, highly moisturizing, anti-bacterial handwashe are recommended in today’s situation, since constant scrubbing and cleaning makes you more susceptible to dryness, itchiness and possible skin infections. Herbal sugar free cough syrups working as demulcents and mucolytics could be considered at prophylactic support for throat and chest functions. People suffering from asthma and bronchitis should exercise extra caution during these times, especially considering the ARDS stage of COVID19 and the compromised immune function. After consulting their doctors, they should consider adding natural herbs that act as bronchodilators or anti-inflammatory lung detoxifiers.
We all know that a strong immunity is necessary to fight any kind of foreign body or pathogen. The enforced lockdown should not become an excuse for a sedentary lifestyle. Indoor workouts, practicing yoga and daily pranayam are not only ways to help keep you agile and active, but also play an important role in balancing immunity. Eating well cooked food, avoiding spitting in public and practicing social distancing need to vigilantly observed. While our physical health is important, so is our mental health. Sleeping adequately, practicing meditation and relaxing exercises would help in keeping a balanced and positive mind-set.
A scientifically validated treatment or vaccine for COVID19 is still some time away. While physical distancing is the best and only way that we can survive our current situation, we must make all efforts to strengthen ourselves internally as well. This would be a great way of cooperating with and helping our government and our health workers who are in the frontline!