Prevention and Mitigation of Epidemic and Pandemic Contagious Diseases through Ayurveda - An overview.
Contagious Diseases may be epidemic or pandemic. The CoVid 19 infectious bronchitis that has gripped, throttled and shaken almost the whole world is an example for pandemic, which means the occurrence is widespread and involves multiple communities. An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. The recent episodes of bird flu and monkey fever in certain parts of Kerala are examples for an epidemic. The deadly Nipah virus episode of 2018 is also an example for epidemic. At a time when the whole world is facing a catastrophe of a deadly pandemic of CoVid 19 it is very important to know what exactly a contagious disease is and what are the means to prevent them by raising the individual and social immunity. It is also important to know how to mitigate the effects of the disease in an individual and in the community.
Contagious diseases including CoVid 19 are spread from person to person through direct physical contact which includes handshake, hug or sex. Contagious diseases are contracted through secretions like saliva, nasal mucus, sweat, sputum, blood, urine and faeces. They are also spread by vectors like mosquitoes. Contagious diseases are also spread by coming into contact with secretions of animals like bats and rodents. Animal to human spread is known as zoonotic diseases. Contagious diseases can also spread through contact with any object or surface that is infected and contaminated by the disease causing germ. The significance of Ayurveda in the scenario of contagious disease is very relevant for the prevention and mitigation through the swasthavrutha and sadvrutha practices.
Contagious Diseases Classification
Contagious diseases are classified as viral bacterial fungal etc depending on the causative micro organism. The other classification is based on the extent of spread as epidemic or pandemic. They are also classified on the means of contagion like airborne, water borne, direct contact etc. Contagious diseases are differentiated on the symptoms too as flu, abdominal problems, fever, etc. To make the point clear, the globally terrifying CoVid 19 is a highly contagious disease caused by Novel Corona RNA Virus and has assumed a pandemic status. This is a disease that is contracted through physical contact of the respiratory secretions of the infected person and shows flu like symptoms within an incubation period of 14 days.
Contagious Diseases Reference in Ayurveda
The text book of Ayurveda, the centuries old Charaka Samhita in its Vimana Sthana 3rd Chapter Janoadodwamsaneeyam Adhyayam explains in detail about contagious diseases. The precautions a society have to take for the prevention of contagious diseases is clearly detailed in the context. The chapter instructs the doctors to be prepared for the management of contagious diseases always. The chapter directs the doctors to collect potent herbs for the purpose and prepare required medicines. The contents of the chapter are still relevant today in these hard times of CoVid 19. The chapter says contagious diseases are caused due to the vitiation of one or more factors such as the society, nature, air, water and season. The diseases caused in such a way have the dangerous capability to destroy and cripple the community as a whole. The massive destruction of the Janapada or community gave the name of Janapadodhwamsa Vyadhi to these contagious diseases.
Contagious diseases prevention through Ayurveda
Keeping oneself safe from contagious disease is the best prevention. Most of the contagious diseases especially viral diseases are self limiting. If one gets infected isolation, good rest light nutritious warm food and management of symptoms are the things to do. Any illness leads to an immune compromising situation and hence chances for secondary infection are high. Secondary infections can cause serious complications. To be healthy is the key not to contract a contagious disease or to come out of it with minimum damage if contracted. Natural immunity enhancing is the solution. Ayurveda is the best available means for this. When a disease causing germ enters a person it multiplies in millions during the so called incubation period gaining potency to exhibit symptoms and to convert the person to a disease spreading agent. In a healthy person the immune system is capable of fighting away the germ but in elders, children, pregnant women, and patients with morbidities or in unhealthy persons the germ takes over by defeating the immune system.
The strict and stringent observation and habit cultivation of Ayurveda principles including the daily regimen Dinacharya, the seasonal Rutucharya and the social conduct Sadvrutha inculcates and develops natural immunity in individuals that prevents illnesses including contagious diseases. The natural immunity reduces the severity of illness even if contracted along with ensuring a speedy recovery and recuperation. Disinfection, isolation, light warm nutritious locovoristic diet, adequate rest and symptomatic therapy are the five musts for the management of contagious diseases including CoVid 19.
Ayurveda formulary is a treasure house of immune boosting and immuno modulatory medicines. Research and scientific studies have established evidence of immuno modulatory action of more than 80 drugs. Aswagandha, Amalaki, Amrutha and Triphala are a few examples. Lifestyle plays a very important role in the development of natural immunity. Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda principle based contemporary lifestyle are all options for anyone looking to cultivate natural immunity and protection from contagious diseases. To make the point clear, here is again an example. Kerala is passing through an intense summer which is the Adanakala or the dehydrating season at its peak. The natural endurance of the mind and body is at its lowest. This makes the population more susceptible to contagious diseases. The need of the season is to stay hydrated and enhance endurance. Medicated water bath twice a day refreshes the person and prevents skin problems. Use neem leaves or Nalpamaram bark for the purpose. Supplementing tea or coffee with cool hydrating drinks such as diluted rice soup, nocake or malar drink, nannari sarbath, amla juice, cucumber juice, cardamom jaggery panakam, ripe indigenous mango juice, tender coconut is healthy during summer.
Drinking water has to be fortified with dry ginger, coriander cinnamon, cardomom and Karingali or Babool bark. Use butter milk which is not sour. Eat seasonal fruits like mangoes, jack fruits, chambakka, etc. Diluted milk flavoured with cool essences like rose is heartening. Food has to be steamed or soft and well cooked especially rice. Avoid spicy deep fried or roasted food. Rest for sometime in the afternoon. Kanji is the best meal suggestion for dinner. Try out chutneys made with tender leaves of guava, amla, vilwa, muthil and other edible herbs. These may also blended into cool soups by mixing with less sour butter milk and garnishing with jeera. In the present scenario of CoVid 19 pandemic drink water medicated with dry ginger, thippali, cinnamon, chittamruthu, turmeric and tulasi. Do not boil turmeric and tulasi. Add them after the water is prepared and the fire is extinguished. Cover the water with a lid to retain the steam within. Sip every half an hour to keep the throat warm and moist.
I am not trying to say that you do not get affected at all by contagious diseases including CoVid 19 if you follow all these instructions. These are complimentary measure along with the strict observance of WHO Guidelines for each contagious disease. WHO has issued the guidelines of Hand Hygiene, Social Distancing and Respiratory Etiquette for CoVid 19. These are to be followed 100%. The chain has to be broken for the benefit of humankind. This is our responsibility and a have to do requirement for the global community.
Ayurveda Preventive Measures
CORONA for management sake and for prevention may be interpreted as C for clean your hands O for Off from Gatherings R for Raise your immunity O for Only sick need to wear mask N for No to handshake A for Avoid Rumours. The R element, Raise your immunity is the treasure of Ayurveda health care. In fact Ayurveda is the first health science which categorised health care into Swasthavrutha to stay healthy and Athuravrutha for disease management. This view and methodology very clearly portrays the role of Ayurveda in the prevention of contagious diseases including CoVid 19. While discussing about Ayurveda medicines, regular use of dry ginger powder with honey is good to improve respiratory tract condition in Asthma patients.
Vilwadi Gulika, Indukantam Kashayam Amrutha Satwam, Sudarshana Choornam and many other medicines are available to improve immunity. Fumigation with Aparajitha Choornam, neem leaves, etc. helps in natural disinfection. The thumb rule is self medication is injurious to health so also falling prey to quacks. Consult a qualified Ayurveda doctor for your prescription of medicines. Follow the instructions properly. Be careful about wrong dosage. Do not share your prescription with others. Each person is unique and a consultation is must for a prescription. Special precaution is necessary in case of elderly, children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those with co morbidities. Once again I reiterate that strict observance of WHO Guidelines is a must. If you notice any symptoms you have to contact DISHA Helpline immediately and follow the instructions given. The health of people around you is as important as yours.
Role of Ayurveda after the Recovery from a Contagious Disease
Getting infected with a contagious disease and the social stigma is a huge stress to the person and the family apart from the sufferings of the disease. The health of the person and the family deteriorates. Digestion is affected. To improve general health, to enhance endurance, to augment immunity, to nourish the body, to improve metabolism, to reduce stress and to build a recuperative confidence Ayurveda medicines, therapies diet and lifestyle modification are proven strategies. Ayurveda handholds and ambulates the affected person without letting a slippage from a contagious disease to another lifetime morbidity.
Article By Dr.Valsaladevi BAMS FAGE YIC MBA.