The government of India is facing a confusion over whether traditional, complementary and integrative practices have value for human beings related to COVID-19. In this, there is the witness of a double standard.
Doctors explore off-label uses of pharmaceutical agents who have suggested research about evidence that shows potential utility of natural products, practices and practitioners.
AYUSH Center of Excellence along with multiple institutions makes a case of potential roles of Ayurvedic and Yoga that can be supportive in self-care and treatment.
The Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) has challenged health care systems in unprecedented aspects. At present, we expect a second wave as the global momentum is unabated. Earlier experience with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) appears inadequate and is the situation now calls for better approaches and strategies in public health and medical care.
For curbing this menace, Conventional mainstream medicine is at the forefront, especially at the critical care stage. Options such as hydroxychloroquine are under investigation as current prophylactic measures are insufficient.
Although we are focusing on prophylaxis and protecting vulnerable target organs, Ayurveda and Yoga may support patients of COVID-19, as an add-on therapy by improving the quality of standard care.
How does Ayurveda work?
Study says that the eyes, nose, and mouth are the main portals of entry of droplets carrying Coronavirus. Prior to the last assault in the lungs, the virus gains access to the throat region and stays for some hours. Then the fatty acid coat of the virus adheres to the moist mucosal layers, which helps it to gain entry into the cells by binding to the specific cell receiver.
Ayurveda classics mention several intrusions that are likely to target these entry portals. This may help to improve the response of membranes and thus inhibit the virus transmission to the lungs. These measures may function as “psychological masks” and thus barricade the viral invasion.
These are some common remedies practiced in Ayurveda.
To drink warm water is a popular home remedy for many ailments. Ayurveda says this method is a measure to improve digestion of Ama, a proinflammatory product of impaired metabolic disorders.
Traditionally, the consumption of warm water exists in many parts of India for fever, inflammation, metabolism, allergy and asthma.
Several spices like ginger, yashtimadhu, nut-grass, khus, Indian sarsaparilla roots, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon along with boiling water is consumed as a medicine throughout the day.
Mouth rinse and gargle
Using warm liquids, oils, or mouth rinses as gargles or to cleanse the mouth and throat thoroughly is advisable. This method has a systematic effect. These oils or oily decoctions clean the oral cavity, pharynx and tonsillar area. Also, turmeric, yashtimadhu or liquorice stem, neem, catechu barks, and natural salts are used to prepare medicated water/ solutions for gargles/ mouth rinse. These methods have beneficial effects in dry mouth, post-operative sore throat, oral ulcers, gingivitis, and bacterial growth. However, yoga texts recommend cleansing of the nasal passage with saltwater.
Nasal oil application
Ayurveda recommends the application of medicated oils made from butter oil and vegetable oil such as sesame or coconut in the nostrils. This protects the respiratory tract from pathogen entry. They found the application of sesame oil to be effective to treat dry nasal mucosa. This nasal oil application helps in prevention from COVID-19 infection.
Steam inhalation and hot compress with aromatic oils provide clinical relief in nasal and throat congestion, bronchoconstriction, headache, and sinusitis. This method is improving nasal conditioning, nasal mucus velocity, reducing congestion and inflammation in several clinical studies.
Added to Ayurvedic measures, the role of yoga breathing techniques like pranayama, postures like asanas, and procedures like yogic kriya is improving lung health tolerance. It also recommends daily diet, that includes soups of vegetables, pulses seasoned with spices like ginger, garlic, cumin, mustard will improve in the respiratory problem.
Studies say that poor mental health conditions, including stress and depression, may increase in acute respiratory infections. As we know there is an increase in the death rate of COVID-19. There’s a possibility of a rise in stress and anxiety, because of loneliness and depressive feelings, because of social distancing measures.
Another distinction between Ayurveda and Yoga is the consideration of the mind. There are several methods for mental health, including pranayama and meditation. We know Pranayama to improve lung function. Meditation reduces inflammation and influence markers of the virus-specific immune response.
Yoga is considerably simple with meditation as a home-based practice for the prevention and post-recovery of COVID-19.