When it comes to infections, the solution is to reduce the infection’s ability to thrive by making the environment non-conducive and improve the bodies defenses. According to Ayurveda, the first thing to be done is fasting. Fasting allows the bodies own metabolism to burn up whatever toxic waste is remaining within the body, improve the function of the bodies defense mechanisms, improve the metabolism AND the best part is that this has been scientifically proven through research at the University of Southern California.
The research showed that fasting can regenerate the entire immune system and kill of any damaged parts of the immune system that are not functioning properly. Brand new white blood cells are formed by the triggering of stem cells as a direct result from fasting.
Prof. Valto Longo, a professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences at the University, made the following statements in an interview (1),
“”It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,”
“And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.
“Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,”
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,”
In other studies done on fasting, specifically on intermittent fasting, a process known as “Autophagy” was observed. Autophagy is basically a cellular process in which “waste” is removed. Broken and dysfunctional proteins are metabolized and expelled from the cells (2). Other studies have shown intermittent fasting to reduce the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation (3).
Ayurveda has been advocating the practice of fasting to boost the body’s immune system and fighting off infections for literally thousands of years. Now you have the scientific proof that fasting does have a profound impact on the immune system. In Ayurveda, the Immune systems functions are carried out by what we call “Agni”, meaning “Digestive Fire”.
The prime location of Agni is the Digestive system, where 80% of the bodies immune system is located.
The next step in Ayurveda, is to boost this “Digestive fire”. This is done by administering herbs that promote the function of the digestive system. These herbs are classified into two main pharmacological groups:
These drugs together improve the breakdown, absorption, assimilation and movement of food through the digestive system. They promote a healthy metabolism. These drugs also have a strong impact on the immune system, especially black pepper which contains Piperine, a chemical known to induce Autophagy.
Why is metabolism so important in infections?
Metabolism is EVERYTHING! Every cell is born, performs its function, gets nourishment and produces waste, and eventually dies. Everything that happens on a gross level in the body, happens at a cellular level too. If you starve the body, you starve the cells. If the body is starved, if fights for its survival. If cells are starved they fight for their survival too. At the same time, if you improve your body’s metabolism, you improve your cellular metabolism.
Now, if you’re starving your cells, and giving them a stronger ability to digest at the same time (with Agni promoting herbs), they become very powerful, and will naturally kill of anything preventing it from functioning properly and surviving (As the research above proved). Now obviously, long term, this will cause wasting which is why the fasting is only done for a short period.
The main difference between Ayurvedic Medicine and Allopathic (Western) Medicine is this very concept, that EVERYTHING comes down to the proper/improper functioning of the metabolism. In every disease, our prime focus in Ayurveda is making sure that the digestive fire is proper.
The next part, is administering drugs that relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation. Such herbs like “Guggulu“, “Garlic“, “Dashamoola“, etc.
So what would a typical Ayurvedic treatment plan look like for a patient suffering from the Flu?
– 12-36 hours of fasting and resting.
– One glass warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder & 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper taken 2-4 times a day
– Guggulu (whole herb), Turmeric or Garlic, 1 tablet 2 times a day
– Immune boosters like Echinacea, Golden Seal, etc, can be given however, in my experience, they are no where near as effective as the Ayurvedic Herbs mentioned above.
Diet (After fasting and to continue for at least 1-3 days):
– Lentil soup, Tomato soup or Chicken noodle soup with added ginger, garlic, black pepper, clove, and cayenne pepper.
– Light, easily digestable snacks like dried fruits (preferably dried citrus fruit), steamed vegetables.
– Lots of warm water (Promotes agni)
Of course, the specific medicinal plants, and digestive/carminative herbs needed will change based on the kind of infection.
– H1N1 (Swine Flu), we would recommend “Ocimum Sanctum“, along with Garlic, etc.
– Viral Hepatitis, we would use Phyllanthus Niruri, Embelica Officinalis and Garlic together with Digestives and Carminatives.
– Conjunctivitis, my recommendation is “Triphala“, a metabolism regulating formulation, to be given internally, and pure honey is used for eye drops.
However, the general Ayurvedic Treatment Plan mentioned a few paragraphs above, has been pretty effective in wide range of minor infections. When it comes to more severe infections (especially the ones that lead to chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, etc) the treatment is much more complex and requires a more focused, patient-specific treatment plan.
If you believe you have contracted an infection, please get a proper diagnosis by a Doctor. Many conditions may appear to be minor with flu-like symptoms but could result in much more severe health problems.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.
1. Sarah Knapton – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10878625/Fasting-for-three-days-can-regenerate-entire-immune-system-study-finds.html
2. Alirezaei, Mehrdad et al. “Short-Term Fasting Induces Profound Neuronal Autophagy.” Autophagy 6.6 (2010): 702–710. PMC. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
3. Johnson, James B. et al. “Alternate Day Calorie Restriction Improves Clinical Findings and Reduces Markers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Overweight Adults with Moderate Asthma.” Free radical biology & medicine42.5 (2007): 665–674. PMC. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
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