With the Covid-19 outbreak crippling several nations, immunity has become the biggest buzzword. According to doctors across the world, the only people who can survive this virus attack are the ones with a strong immune system.
Luckily for us, the Indian traditional and Ayurvedic way of life has always been rooted in personal hygiene and immunity strengthening. Though forgotten or merely reduced as a curative option, Ayurveda is actually a holistic life science to stay healthy, which can’t go ignored in these crisis-laden times.
“But people must understand, Rome was not built in a day. So is the case with your respiratory immunity. You need to embrace Ayurvedic practices and consume its natural herbs regularly to empower your immune system and make it ready for action against surprise elements,’’ says Dr. Zeel, the Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
The simple rule is to strengthen your respiratory lining or mucous membrane, from nasal passages to the lungs, including sinuses and oral airways. Let’s look at how this can be done through Ayurveda.
1. Strengthen The Nasal Pathway Through Nasya
As the term ‘Nasya’ indicates, this is a nasal practice. In this practice, Ayurvedic oil is instilled through the nostrils. It is a therapy for the nose, sinuses, throat and head.
- Lie down with your head tilted back.
- Put 3-5 drops of lukewarm Ayurvedic oil in each nostril.
- Sniff deeply and let the oil penetrate your sinuses and pass down through your throat.
- After a minute or two, massage your palms and foot along with the area around your nose.
Desi ghee and Anu Taila. One can also use natural Ayurvedic oils with herbs like Brahmi, Basil (in small quantities), etc.
Nasya is one of the best practices to treat congestion, sinusitis, headaches, allergies, migraine and other nasal infections. It helps your body cleanse and strengthen the nasal pathway and increase the ease of breathing.
Nasya should not be administered immediately after a bath and having food. Also, it is not advised during pregnancy, for those who have undergone nasal surgery, children below 7 years and people aged above 80 years.
2. Improve Breathing And Clear The Throat Through Gandusha
In the Ayurvedic text ‘Charaka Samhita’, it is mentioned about Kavala Gandusha, where ‘Kavala’ refers to the oral cavity and ‘Gandusha’ refers to gargling. Gandusha means oil pulling or retention of Ayurvedic oils/decoction in the oral cavity for several minutes.
- Take a tablespoon of oil into your mouth.
- Swish it around in your mouth until you feel your mucous membranes are well absorbed with the oil while being careful not to swallow any.
- Once you are done, spit it and rinse your mouth well using water.
Traditionally, sesame and coconut oils are used for Gandusha. You can also add ingredients like neem oil, turmeric, clove oil, etc. for their effective and antimicrobial properties.
Besides providing comprehensive oral and dental health, Gandusha cleanses the ear, nasal and throat passages. It prevents dryness in the throat  and promotes overall sinus health while helping you breathe freely. It is also a well-recommended practice for people who have Asthma and migraine.
Gandusha should be performed on an empty stomach.
3. Increase Eye Immunity Through Anjana
Anjana involves applying Ayurvedic formulation to your eyes. It is how you apply the Kajal or eye liner to your eyes. According to Ayurveda, performing Anjana everyday prevents the pathogens from entering into your eyes and keeps its immunity up.
- Take some Anjana paste by dipping a clean finger into the pot.
- Glide your finger on the margins of your lower eye-lids.
- If the Anjana is in the form of a stick, you can apply directly along the lower margins of your eyelids.
Right time to perform Anjana:
Traditionally, Anjana or Kajal is prepared with Antimony Sulphide (Sauviranjana). You can also opt for various kinds of home-made Anjanas, or the varieties which are available at Ayurvedic pharma stores.
To maintain respiratory health, the immunity of eyes is also crucial. The Nasolacrimal ducts (tear ducts) act as one of the entry points of viruses that attack the respiratory system. Anjana keeps the eyes lubricated and protects it from environmental chemicals and pathogens.
Refrain from using Anjana if you already have an eye infection. Also, do not share your Anjana with anyone, not even your close family members. And, clean your hands well before applying Anjana.
4. Build Respiratory Health Through Yoga Asanas
Simple Yoga Asanas aid your body in building its respiratory health. Here are some of the asanas:
A. Tadasana (Standing mountain pose):
This straightforward pose requires standing tall to open up the chest.
B. Anuvittasana (Standing backbend):
This pose also helps to open up the muscles of the chest.
C. Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bends):
These poses help strengthen the respiratory system.
D. Parsva Urdhva Hastasana (Standing side bends):
These bends will help strengthen the diaphragm while also improving the flexibility of the rib cage.
5. Support The Lungs Through Pranayama
Pranayama techniques condition the diaphragm while helping to fully oxygenate the blood. Exercises such as Kapalabhati and Anulom vilom improve the motility of mucosal lining of the lungs, thus increasing your lung capacity. It eases breathlessness while strengthening the respiratory muscles . You can also practice Nadi Shodhana Pranayama to balance the breath and support the lungs.
6. Build Respiratory Immunity Through Balanced Diet
According to Ayurveda, the three doshas- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha form the psycho-physiological constitution of humans. Every individual has all the three doshas in varying proportions.
- Vata regulates movements like blood circulation, urination, etc.
- Pitta, the digestive fire regulates metabolism.
- Kapha controls the body structure, formation of fat, bones, muscles, etc.
- In general, respiratory issues are caused when there is a lack of digestive fire (Pitta) and excess of Kapha dosha. Also, breathing issues accompanied by dry cough are linked to Vata imbalance in the body.
- During respiratory-related problems, you need to make small changes in your diet that help in pacifying Kapha and Vata doshas, while improving Pitta.
To balance Kapha and Vata in the body and bring relief during respiratory problems:
- Include ginger, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon or mint in your diet.
- Consume Amla (Indian Gooseberry), which contains vitamin C, to boosts your immunity. You can consume it with jaggery and mint.
- Honey mixed with tulsi juice or ginger juice is beneficial for respiratory issues.
- Figs can drain the accumulated phlegm in the respiratory tract. You can have them after soaking in water overnight on a regular basis.
Type of foods to avoid:
- Heavy foods like dairy products and meat.
- Fatty, processed and fried foods
- Cold foods like ice cream or anything directly from the refrigerator.
Pro Tip: Have your dinner early (at least by 8 pm) and drink a glass of hot water before going to bed.
The Last Word
New viruses, microbes and other allergens keep evolving in nature and we can’t stop them from coming in contact with us. We can, however, prepare our bodies to deal with such exposures every day.
It’s never too late and let now be the time when we go back to our roots to bolster our respiratory immunity.
And, as an utmost need of the hour, stay responsible, hygienic, quarantined and safe.
Know Your Dosha Now
Note: Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor and Yoga Master before trying the above-mentioned techniques for building respiratory immunity.