Boosting Immunity the Natural Way
Ayurveda, the oldest medicinal system in the world, which originated in the Vedic culture of India, states the power of the body that prevents the development of diseases or resists a developed disease is called immunity. If the immune system is strong enough, it destroys the causes of illness.
Some people do not develop a disease after coming into contact with it, while others become victims. Common viral infections such as flus and colds top the list, but sexually transmitted viral infections have also become epidemic. Between 50 percent and 80 percent of sexually active Americans are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), about 80 percent of American adults have oral herpes (cold sores) and an estimated 25 percent have genital herpes.
If the immune system is strong enough, it suppresses the virus, which becomes dormant and even undetectable by lab tests over time. Only people with a weak immune system or during a time when the immune system is weak experience outbreaks. Those conditions can only be addressed by strengthening the immune system.
In Ayurveda, strong immunity or strong resistance to disease is called ojas (protection). There is another aspect of the immune system—when it attacks the body’s own tissues, mistaking them for foreign invaders. This inability to discriminate between foreign organisms and normal body cells, destroying and damaging them, is called autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other conditions.
The ability to discriminate effectively between foreign bodies and healthy cells and tissues is called tejas, or intelligence of the body, in Ayurveda. Because of tejas, our cells know how to communicate with each other via hormones and other chemical messengers. When this natural intelligence becomes occluded due to injury or toxicity, tejas can be blocked and the body loses its ability to discriminate properly.
According to Ayurveda, immunity and natural resistance to disease goes hand-in-hand with good general health, so low immunity and poor health have common symptoms, such as extreme vulnerably to contagious diseases, low disease resistance, allergies, fatigue and general feeling of low energy, weakness and lethargy without any diagnosis, recurrent respiratory disorders and other infections, digestive disorders, loss of appetite, becoming easily overstressed and chronic insomnia.
Causes of low immunity include genetic factors, stress, poor mental health, negative emotions (guilt, anger, envy, jealousy), pollution (ecological, pharmacological, overuse of antibiotics), metabolic disorders (being obese or emaciated), viruses (the immune system is busy fighting them), lifestyle (inappropriate of lack of exercise) and poor diet (unwholesome foods, particularly white sugar, which reduces white cell’s ability to fight infection).
Ayurvedic tips to boost immunity:
Avoid simple sugars in any form, limit alcohol, avoid processed foods, microwaved foods, canned foods, foods which contain preservatives, leftovers and fried foods. Never drink ice water. Introduce immune-boosting spices into cooking, such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin, coriander. Eat immune-boosting foods such as apples, pomegranates, green leafy vegetables, asparagus and whole grains. Sip hot water or fresh ginger tea throughout the day to boost the digestion. Use clarified butter (ghee) for cooking. Consume the biggest meal of the day around noon, eat lighter in the morning and in the evening. Do not overeat. Choose foods that are in accordance with individual ayurvedic constitution. Follow ayurvedic food combining rules. Fast one day a week, if possible. Avoid nightshade family vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes), dairy and gluten.
Also take ayurvedic supplements that will increase the power of digestive fire and to support strong immune function, exercise daily, practice yoga, mediation and pranayama breathing, sleep adequately, scrape the tongue daily, avoid constipation, practice self-massage daily with ayurvedic oils, exercise positive outlook on life and take mind-balancing herbs, if needed.
Vladimir Kazinets, a certified ayurvedic medicine practitioner and member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, is the founder and clinical director of the holistic healing center House of Ayurveda, located at 3330 Dundee Rd., Ste. C6, in Northbrook. For more information about hard-to-find herbs and handmade ayurvedic tinctures, call 224-723-5797 or visit AyurvedicHouse.com.