Ayurveda, the science of life, is a fascinating medical classic that brings out deeper insights into the prevention and treatment of diseases. The term ‘Immunity’ used in the western medical approach lies far behind the Ayurveda description of ‘Immunity.’
Immunity in Ayurveda is referred to as Vyadhi Kshamatwa. Vyadhi means disease, and kshamatwa is the capacity of a body to resist ailments. Further, in his commentary on the classic Charaka Samhita, Acharya Chakrapani Dutta describes Vyadhi Kshamatwa as the body’s ability to overcome a disease that is already manifested and the capacity of the body to avoid or prevent future onset of disease.
Importance Of Immunity In Ayurveda
Immuno modulation is very much critical in Ayurveda treatment protocols. Rasayana chikitsa, also called Rejuvenation therapy or Geriatric therapy, is a branch of Ayurveda that deals with disease prevention and longevity. The branch Swastha Vritta comprises healthy lifestyle practices and daily recommendations of diet and activities contributing to a disease-free life. Primarily, both these branches consider immunity as an essential aspect.
To understand immunity in Ayurveda, it is necessary to know a few concepts. Bala and Ojas are synonymous with ‘Vyadhi Kshamatwa’ in the ancient classics. Bala is the innate strength of an individual that determines the immunity of a person. Ojas is the essence of dhathus or the ultimate core of tissue transformation.
The Bala or strength is classified into three types, and they are:
- Sahaja is present at the time of birth
- Kalaja bala, influenced by age or seasons
- Yukthikrita, the acquired strength developed by the practice of a healthy diet and lifestyle
The three types of Bala or strength have a close correlation with immunity. While Sahaja provides active immunity, Yukthikrita and kalaja provide passive immunity.
Factors Contributing To Immunity
According to Ayurveda, certain factors contribute to immunity, and it is beneficial to know these factors. These factors are also called factors that enhance Bala or strength.
- Place of birth
- Time and season
- The qualities of sperm & ovum at the time of fertilization
- Mental constitution
- Physical constitution- Kapha constitution has good Immune responses
- Nutrient-rich food
- Proper physical activity
- Positive attitude
The Ayurvedic literature is a torchbearer for several excellent herbal Immune boosters. Many of the herbs suggested by Ayurveda are scientifically proven to have immune-boosting qualities. A few of such herbs are:
- Ashwagandha– Withania somnifera
- Tulasi– Ocimum sanctum
- Amalaki– Emblica officinalis
- Pippali- Piper longum
- Guduchi- Tinospora cordifolia
Qualities of a diet that enhances immunity
A diet that promotes tissue growth or that increases the potency of dhathu is immune protective. Ayurveda suggests that a diet that possesses sweet, unctuous, and nourishing qualities are immune promoters. Hence food such as milk, honey, jaggery, butter, and ghee is recommended by Ayurveda.
Also, Ayurveda recommends grapes, gooseberry, oranges, and custard apple containing antioxidants and Vitamin C as potent immune boosters.
- consuming honey & ghee in unequal quantities
- milk, honey, and ghee combined
- water, honey, ghee, and milk combined
- Triphala with honey
are highly recommended by Ayurveda in various contexts of treatment.
Apart from this, there are some formulations in Ayurveda literature like Chyavanaprasha, Narasimha Rasayana, Agastya Rasayana, etc. that are excellent immune promoters.
According to Ayurveda, health is a state of equilibrium of the three doshas– the functional entities of the body and dhathus– the tissues that transform into the Ojas, metabolic wastes, senses & mind. Be it cure to an existing disease or lead a healthy life, the doshas should be brought under equilibrium. And, Ayurveda achieves this through proper diet and medicines according to the strength of the individual and the disease.
- Charaka Samhitha- Sutra sthana, 28/1
- Astanga Hridayam
- International Journal of Ayurveda & Alternative medicine, volume 1, 2013
- NCBI, Vol-19. The Concept and Practice of Immunomodulation in Ayurveda and the Role of Rasayanas as Immunomodulator by Dr. J.S. Tripathi & Prof. R.H. Singh