Immunity – Your First Line of Defense
Your body’s first line of defense in maintaining optimal health is the immune system. Natural immunity is a core focus of Maharishi Ayurveda.
In Sanskrit the immunity principle is described as beej-bhumi. It means the “seed and land.” As a farmer prepares the land, so his seeds will grow. In the same manner an individual, through his or her habits, diet, routine and overall lifestyle, creates the environment that determines the state of his or her health.
The Sanskrit word bala means strength — the strength of one’s immune system. If one has good bala, the immune system is healthy. But, if one hasn’t properly prepared the land (the body), then one may experience health imbalances.
There are three levels of immunity that ayurveda recognizes:
- Hereditary (sahaj), the innate level of immunity which you are born with.
- Seasonal and cyclical (kalaj), the fluctuating level of immunity in your body. It changes with the seasons, different stages of life, and planetary cycles.
- Established (yuktikrit), which is a balanced, permanent level of immunity that can be gained by following a healthy ayurvedic diet and lifestyle.
If one has proper knowledge of diet and seasonal routines along with balanced agni (digestive fire), then one creates ojas (the finest byproduct of good digestion), as opposed to ama. Ama is an impure, toxic substance that is produced by the body as a byproduct of poor digestion. Ama is a little like what you get if you never change the oil in your car’s engine — sludge! And consequently the engine does not run very well.
The human physiology is a dynamic information system. For information to flow it needs channels to flow through, and the body has billions of small channels of communication networks known in ayurveda as shrotas. If these shrotas become blocked due to accumulation of ama, then so does the flow of information. That is why ama is said to create a fertile ground for health imbalances. Ojas is the opposite of ama — it is what the body wants to make. It is the finest product of digestion and allows for the frictionless flow of information between cells. In ayurveda, it is not only considered an essential component of good health, but it also supports the experience of inner calm and happiness found in more refined states of consciousness.
Tips for Promoting Immunity
Maharishi Ayurveda Herbs for Immunity and Respiratory Health
Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus), with Cabbage Rose, is a classic ayurvedic formula for balanced digestion, regular elimination (helping with occasional constipation as well) and nightly detoxification. It fulfills one of the simplest and most important recommendations in ayurveda: toning digestion. Balanced digestion removes ama and increases ojas, the master biochemical of connectivity with nature’s intelligence. It rejuvenates the digestive tract; assists the body in absorbing nutrients from food; promotes healthy circulation and includes capillary-supporting flavonoids; works as a cardio tonic; and helps cleanse the liver of toxins and supports its efficient functioning. It is also rich in antioxidants.
It is recommended that Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) be taken alone, and/or along with all other herbals to support their benefits.
Bio-Immune is considered one of our most powerful immunity supplements as it supports neuro-immune response, purifies the liver and blood, and dissolves ama. Take one tablet of Bio-Immune each morning and evening to support overall immunity.
Protection Plus Respiratory System contains 26 potent herbs that act synergistically to support respiratory health. This is a holistic, powerful formula to separate the ama from the Shleshaka Kapha, the moistening aspects of the respiratory system. The herbs also remove ama and nourish, lubricate, and restore balance to the lungs. This product supports natural immunity in the respiratory system.
You may also drink a warm, immunity-promoting tea, such as Sniffle Free Tea, twice a day with your meal or after it. The herbs in this tea help re-balance Kapha. If your head is starting to feel heavy or congested, you can also use Sniffle Free Aroma or Clear Breathe Herbal Steaming Oil to help create balance and clear the sinuses.
Cold Weather Defense offers nutritional support for the body’s natural immunity. It helps regulate fluid and mucus in the lungs and sinuses, removes toxins from the lungs, and cleanses the micro-circulatory channels that have been blocked by ama. It supports the body’s natural defenses and removes toxins that weaken resistance.
Sniffle Free tablets are aimed more at the upper respiratory system and bolster your body’s natural resistance to colder weather. Sniffle Free helps clear the shrotas, strengthens the digestive fire, balances the production of moisture and mucus, improves resistance to cold temperatures, and enhances the bioavailability and circulation of vital nutrients.
Amrit Kalash is the most powerful Maharishi Ayurveda formula for promoting immunity and overall well-being, as shown in several research studies. Studies have shown that it is 1,000 times more effective than Vitamin C in scavenging free radicals, the reactive molecules that are responsible for health imbalances in the body.
The dry, cold conditions of fall and winter provide an ideal environment for airborne illness to spread. Additionally, cold, low-humidity air dries out our nasal passages, setting the stage for imbalances to occur. Consider adding oil to the sinuses with Organic Clear & Soothe nasal oil spray from Maharishi Ayurveda. This nourishes and lubricates the sinuses to help maintain respiratory health.
Diet for Boosting Natural Immunity
Another key factor in ayurveda for supporting immunity is eating according to the season, and according to the strength of your appetite and digestion. Be attentive to overeating, and avoid eating if there is the feeling that the previous meal isn't fully digested. In winter, favor food that’s nourishing, warm and unctuous. Cold foods and drinks reduce your digestive fire, leading to more ama. Enjoy ayurvedic spices, as they enhance digestive power and have also been shown to support immunity. Try Organic Vata Churna or our other dosha-balancing spice mixes in your food this fall and winter.
A Vata-pacifying diet in fall and early winter is very soothing and agreeable. Organic Vata Churna contains all six tastes, but has more sweet, sour and salty tastes to balance Vata. Vata-pacifying foods include nourishing whole grains such as basmati rice and couscous; sweet, juicy fruits such as cooked apples or pears; squashes, zucchini, and asparagus; and light, easily-digestible proteins such as mung dahl.
Immunity-promoting foods include those that are fresh, organic, and easy to digest. These include ojas-creating foods like boiled fresh organic milk, vegetables, fruits, cooked whole grains, and organic ghee (clarified butter). To avoid creating ama and to support your immunity, consider avoiding foods that are hard to digest. Avoid heavy, fried food, packaged food, leftovers and takeout food. These foods have less life-force, referred to as prana in ayurveda.
Lifestyle Tips for Supporting Immunity
Maharishi Ayurveda recommends that you do the gentle purification treatments called panchakarma during the transitions between the seasons, in the fall and the early spring. Maharishi Panchakarma includes a full program of ayurvedic massage, steam baths and intestinal cleansing treatments to rid your body of ama accumulated during the previous season. Panchakarma also strengthens your agni, or digestive fire, so more ama won’t be accumulated. These specialized treatments are available at The Raj, America’s premier ayurvedic spa, located in Fairfield, Iowa.
Maharishi Ayurveda also recommends a healthy daily routine, or dinacharya, to keep immunity strong. Start each day with an oil massage (abhyanga) before your shower or bath. Do yoga asanas and pranayama (yogic breathing) and include daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® program or other stress-reducing practices in your routine to allow the body to deal with the stress of the day.
Sleep is necessary to allow the body to rest and rejuvenate. Recent research shows that sleep is essential for optimal immune function. Your most productive sleep, which is best for rejuvenation, happens before midnight, so get to bed before 10 p.m.
Exercise is another important aspect of an ayurvedic routine, because it helps enhance agni and burns away toxins. A variety of studies have shown that exercise induces significant physiological changes in the immune system. It’s important to choose the right exercise for your body type and for the season. Daily walks and yoga postures are good for balancing all the doshas, especially for Vata types, while more vigorous daily exercise is excellent for Kapha types to stay healthy. For those who participate in extreme sports, be aware that over-exercising has been shown to reduce immune functioning. Ayurveda recommends exercising to 50% of one’s capacity. Exercise is especially important during Kapha season, because it helps to boost agni, reduce ama and support your immunity.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.