Ayurveda and Immunity

by Radha Schwaller

Immunity is defined by the Google dictionary as “the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.”

Ayurveda, the ancient science of life and longevity, is the best place (in my opinion) to look for HOW to do this naturally.

Immunity is a hot topic right now, for good reason. As we move into year two of a global pandemic, we must look forward to see how each of us can bolster our health and increase our daily habits to experience deeper levels of wellness. This goes beyond “absence of disease” and explores true vitality, strength, levels of happiness, freedom from pain and aches, clear skin, easy digestion and the freedom to choose what is best in our lives, which is not always possible for all people.

Some may say these are very high goals, and I understand that. At a time on the planet when people of color are still being overtly discriminated against and violent crimes are all too “normal”, how can we achieve the lofty goals stated above? I will be perfectly honest that it is NOT currently possible or easy for all people to achieve.

Why, you may ask?? Some of our community members live in food desserts, meaning that they do not have access to fresh foods and all that they have near by them is nutrient-lacking fast and convenience foods. This leaves them at higher risk for heart disease and obesity. Some may not have bus money to travel to get fresh and nutritious foods, or they don’t have a kitchen to cook in.

Some members of our community live well below poverty lines, even though they are working, and yet do not make enough money to ”make ends meet”. This can result in grabbing food at fast food restaurants that are inexpensive. Focusing on natural immunity alone is not possible for all people and I just wanted to bring awareness to this fact. We must work toward alleviation of poverty and allow all people access to healthcare, housing and fresh foods. This is my ultimate dream.

Ayurveda explains immunity in terms of Ojas. “Ojas is the pure essence of all bodily tissues.” Vasant Lad.

Ojas is a Sanskrit word for the nectar that gives us life, vitality and vibrancy. Ojas fights against aging, disease and decay. Ojas assists in the natural resistance to illness. A person with good ojas rarely becomes sick.

Ojas is directly influenced by agni. Agni is the digestive fire that helps us assimilate nutrition from the food we eat and the impressions that we come in contact with. The quality of one’s ojas also depends on lifestyle choices, stress levels, trauma and the quality of relationships.

Here are a few simple tips to help bolster digestion and build ojas:

  • Do not overeat. Over eating dampens the flame of the agni, or digestive fire and hinders your body from being able to absorb the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals from your food.
  • Go to bed before 10pm and rise with the sun. This is living in accordance with nature’s rhythms and allows the mind, liver and digestive system time and space to digest the day’s events and food. This is nature’s natural detoxification time.
  • Do not drink iced beverages; this also dampens the digestive fire and can clog the bile duct flowing from the gallbladder to the liver.
  • Receive and give yourself regular massage with warmed sesame oil, called Abhyanga.
    Exercise just enough to get your heart racing and not enough to exhaust or deplete you. When you exhaust yourself with exercise, you are burning ojas instead of creating it.
  • Meditation increases ojas as it assists the body in releasing accumulated stress, which can hinder healthy immune function.
  • Forest Bathing, an immersion in nature, is said to elevate Natural Killer cells in the immune system to help fight infections and tumors, according to Researchers from Japan.
  • Eat vibrant, alive, organic and freshly prepared meals. Leftovers, microwaved and processed foods deplete the body and clog channels.

In Ayurveda we believe that herbs, aromas, freshly prepared foods and spices all have specific intelligence encoded within them to awaken true health within us. Illness can come into the body when we lack this intelligence and deplete the body in other ways such as stress and environmental factors. Within this ancient body of knowledge that is Ayurveda, lives the medicine that our bodies need to truly be healthy, happy and peaceful.

Join us for our Ayurveda 101 course with Radha! You can find our more and register HERE!