Ancient Wisdom for a 21st Century Pandemic!
3 Ayurvedic Guidelines for the coronavirus
As the virus is spreading, affecting 85 countries and there are now over 95,000 cases, I was thinking about how can Ayurvedic Medicine best support us.
Ayurveda addresses the root of a problem and has great wisdom to offer regarding strengthening our immune system.
Over the centuries human beings have had to develop a strong immune system to fight against viral diseases. As recently as 2003, there was an outbreak of one strain of the coronavirus called SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, in North Carolina. Today, the outbreak of COVID 19 is a reminder that we have to stay vigilant when it comes to our health. For this to happen, we need to not only do what we can on the outside and understand how to prevent the spread of this disease but also and perhaps as importantly, we need to care for our health long term.
How is the coronavirus spread?
The virus is spread by contact with mucus membranes, our eyes, nose and lips. That's why officials have been recommending that when we're in social settings, we don't touch our face. Close contact near someone who sneezes and coughs will only infect you if they cough at you and you inhale the cough droplets. It's important to know as well that the virus can live for more than a week on surfaces like tables, chairs, but also clothes.
The most common means of transmission is touching that surface and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose. Furthermore, like the flu, the people who tend to be the most susceptible are the elderly and people with chronic diseases. And if you get sick, the outcome depends on the health of your immune system, from a simple cold symptoms to flu symptoms to more serious respiratory symptoms.
Guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus around you.
As a reminder, here are a few public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease in your outer environment.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Carry and use hand sanitizers like dr. Bronner's organic hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Hug and shake hands less, more Namastes! Use your knuckles or your sleeves to push doors, turn on lights.. Use paper towels or wipes, like 7th Generation wipes when touching things like gas pumps. Wash your clothes regularly. And if you're in direct contact with people as part of your job, then ultimately wear a mask like the N95 as well as latex gloves.
Now let's talk about the Ayurvedic guidelines to support and strengthen your immune system long term.
With a vaccine likely 6-8 months away, Ayurveda has a lot to offer you in terms of prevention.
In addition to washing your hands and being cognizant of how the virus is spread, here are 3 major Ayurvedic Guidelines to protect ourselves from the coronavirus and other pathogens.
1- Regulate Agni
2- Remove Ama
3- Build Ojas
I call these the 3 Pillars of Support and if you've ever taken one of my workshops then you're very familiar with them!
Agni, Ama and Ojas are Sanskrit words. Sanskrit is the language of Ayurveda, the oldest Indo-European language and one so sophisticated that NASA studies it for its AI programs.
1- Regulate Agni
Agni is a word that implies a metabolic process, whether it's our digestive metabolism or our cellular metabolism.
In other words, it means you need to improve your digestion and maintain a healthy gut.
In an article in the John Hopkins Medicine online magazine, Helen Fields writes, "There's a lot of interaction between the body's immune system and bacteria in the gut." "A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract," says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Here are 4 recommendations to improve your digestion and gut health.
1- Eat a constitution-appropriate diet
You're more likely to properly digest the foods that are right for you! Additionally, make sure that you have sufficient whole plant foods that are fresh, organic and/or local and seasonal. And decrease the amount of processed and refined foods, as well as limit the consumption of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
2- Avoid overeating
Look at the palms of your hands. This is the size of your stomach! So if the meal in front of you is bigger than the size of your stomach then you're overeating!
And there's more!
If you've ever used a washing machine, then you know that if your overload the machine with clothes, the clothes aren't going to be throughly cleaned. You need space for the clothes to move around, right?
Your stomach is like a washing machine! You need to leave some space so it can churn your food and properly break it down. You also need a little water, about 1/4 cup of room temperature water and a little spice like cumin, coriander, fennel, turmeric, oregano, thyme, basil , etc. These are like your detergent!
Then, make sure you leave at least 3 hours between each meal. Some of you might say, "but I'll be hungry in an hour!" Not really, the "hunger" sensation is your blood sugar levels dropping down and your liver releasing glucose and then fat to be used as glycogen or energy.
3- Cook more of your foods at home!
A great way to not only eat better but also digest the foods you eat better, because you have more control over what you eat!
4- Be more knowledgeable about where your packaged, frozen foods and TV dinners come from!
China is the first exporter of food products worldwide! Here's a list of 17 of these foods you need to avoid because they carry dangerous chemicals: Apple juice! 70% of apple juice consumed in the U.S. come from China. Do you remember when in 2011 Dr. Oz shared in his show that apple juice coming from China contained high levels of arsenic? Next comes salt. China, along with India, is one of the biggest exporters of salt. I recommend my clients to use Redmond Real Salt which comes from Redmond Utah. Cod fish and tilapia are farm-raised in China. The U.S. exports great quantities of chicken from China.
Garlic is another food that is imported from China where it's sprayed with dangerous pesticides and herbicides. Mushrooms, especially dried are filled with toxic preservatives. Edamame and split peas, much of which are artificially made., along with black pepper. Sweet potato pasta. I started looking into that when some of my clients thought of them as great substitutes for regular pasta. Unfortunately, they're mainly made of corn and paraffin to cut costs.
Soy sauce. The World Health Organization revealed that soy sauce is high in carcinogenic substances. I've always encouraged my clients to switch to Shoyu, Tamari or Bragg's Amino Acids. Tapioca pearls. Make sure that when looking for flour substitute you get tapioca flour from brands like Redmill's. Tofu, ginger, ginseng and frozen spinach. Shrimp, which contain high levels of antibiotics and finally canned foods which have high levels of lead.
2- Remove Ama
In Ayurvedic Medicine , Ama is a term that refers to waste, impurities and toxins that accumulate faster than the body is able to eliminate!
Herbalist and accupunctarist David Crow defines Ama as "a pathogenic by-product of improper metabolism and its origin is in the digestive tract. But it can relocate anywhere in the body.
According to NY Times best-selling author and Integrative Neurologist Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, though there's no clear Western equivalent to Ama, recent development in the filed of molecular toxicology will bring a clearer scientific perspective on what Ama is. For example, studies in this field are demonstrating how even small doses of toxic substances can result in chronic cellular dysfunction.
Obviously, as we improve our digestion, our bodies will be better able to discard Ama; however, here are 3 Ayurvedic practices to support the body's removal of Ama, strengthen your immune system so it can better withstand pathogens like the coronavirus.
1- Give yourself a daily lymphatic massage
Our lymphatic system is the sewage system of the body. It removes toxic substances in the body. The lymph however does not move on its own. That's why a regular lymphatic massage, called Garshana massage, is an eminent part of the Ayurvedic daily lifestyle routine or dinacharya.
2- Daily mild to moderate constitution-appropriate exercise
Is also an important part of the Ayurvedic dinacharya. Different constitutions thrive best with different exercise routines. For example, a person with a Pitta-dominant constitution running in the hot noon sun will only in the long-term increase inflammation and weaken the immune system.
3- Make sure you eliminate daily
Your colon doesn't just eliminate food waste, when it works properly it is able to eliminate other types of waste, toxins and impurities from the body.
4- Support your liver
Many people talk about doing a liver cleanse or detox. From the perspective of Ayurveda, these detox are quick fixes equivalent to taking garbage out of your closet only to put it back in once the cleanse or detox is over!
Our modern and Western lifestyles of eating late at night, sleeping late impede on the health and function of the liver. Give your liver some love: go to bed on an empty stomach, eat an earlier and lighter dinner, before sundown, alkalize your diet, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, sugar and fat!
3- Build Ojas
Ojas is the result of a healthy Agni, in a body where Ama doesn't accumulate.
It's what supports our immune system, that's why it's referred to as the raincoat in the rain. When Ojas is strong, the immune system is strong.
The first step to strengthen Ojas in an Ayurvedic lifestyle is to learn how to manage stressors and decrease stress. Stress is the single most important factor in immune weakness. Vital exhaustion is at the root of unhappiness and illness!
Here are 4 Ayurvedic strategies to reduce stress and build Ojas:
1- Physical and mental rest
Rest more and do restful practices like Yin Yoga, restorative Yoga and very important Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is an extraordinary relaxation and meditation practice that helps you deeply relax mentally, physically and emotionally! It's based on the concept that most of our stress is due to a core messaging, often unbeknownst to us that can only be released when we are deeply relaxed. for more Ayurvedic and Yogic practices that help you release underlying stress, read my blog here.
2- Do abhyanga or self-massage with constitution-appropriate oils.
It is common knowledge now that massage strengthens the immune system.
3- Support your lungs ability to fight infections with yogic breathing techniques
Deep, calm and regular breathing supports our immunity, brings more oxygen to our lungs. Add anti-bacterial and anti-viral essential oils like tea tree, lemon balm, thyme, eucalyptus and cinnamon for a deep healing experience. My favorite is Legends, a blend of essential oils from David Crow's floracopeia.com. Legends is a historically accurate version of an EO blend known as "Thieves Vinegar" used as protection from epidemics in the Middle Ages.
4- Get a good night sleep!
Go to bed at 10pm and turn off electronics one hour before bed time. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that those who got less than 7 hours of sleep a night were 3 times as likely to develop a cold after being exposed to cold viruses than those who got 8 hours or more! Sleep debt is real as you can read here. The good news is that when you start sleeping longer over a few days, the debt is repaid.
Ayurvedic Herbal Recommendations
Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine, Dr. Marc Halpern recommends that at the first signs of feeling run down, you use herbal anti-microbial and anti-viral like turmeric , echinacea, neem and goldenseal. One of my favorite teas is to steep in hot water equal parts of turmeric root, echinacea and licorice bark. Also he recommends that you take high doses of Vitamin C (Esther-C 6000 mg daily), as well as zinc picolinate, you can read the benefits of zinc here, and then of course rest!
If you have concerns, call your Medical Doctor. Ask them what you should do and if you should come in.
What the coronavirus can teach us...
Two things come to mind as I reflect upon this pandemic.
First, how dependent and unaware we are about where our foods come from and whether or not they are good for our health. The cheaper the food, the more it's been compromised! Buy organic, local, seasonal whole foods and cook them at home!
But our dependence doesn't stop at our food supply. 84% of the world's supply of acetaminophen comes from China. And so do most drug ingredients like antibiotics! So much so that U.S. Officials are concerned about shortages. Read the concerns here. I highly encourage that you read China Rx by Rosemary Gibson.
So we have to ask ourselves, are we doing our part? In terms of diet and lifestyle?
Ignorance is not bliss, it's dangerous and avoidance is irresponsible
We can no longer hide our heads in the sand! We have to realize how absolutely necessary it is that we take responsibility for our own health, whether we like or not! Meaning, we have to build a strong health foundation by addressing diet and lifestyle as the Ayurvedic guidelines to prevent the coronavirus demonstrate.
This may be the wake up call we need personally and nationally to shift from a costly disease care system to a health care system that is holistic, deep reaching and long-term in its benefits.
We have a choice, we can either experience short term discomfort as we implement diet and lifestyle changes for long term benefits and peace of mind. Or we can stay in our comfort zone and pay the price of long term pain down the road.
It may take 6 weeks before you notice the difference, but the dividends will yield years in prevention and maintenance!
The recommendations I shared applies to most people. And what I love about Ayurveda is that it allows me to make it deeply personal and customize it based on your unique lifestyle and diet habits. Find out how I can help you personally, schedule an Ayurveda Clarity Call with me here!