Arguably one of the most diverse diets in the world, Indian culture encompasses a treasury of spices, herbs, and other ingredients deeply rooted in ancient healing traditions. Ayurvedic principles developed around the wisdoms of this culture to provide a unique perspective on fortifying the body against disease. Throughout human history nature has been a source of curative resources, from herbal medicine to aromatherapy—most potent for immune health, the phytochemistry of plants.

The pandemic we face today is unprecedented, so its cure is yet unknown. Despite this, there are healthy practices and healing traditions which can fortify our natural immune defenses—until we understand the complexities of preventing and treating COVID-19. As we wait for a cure from modern medicine, adopting the health principles of Ayurveda, allows us to draw from the healing traditions of an ancient culture and the curative properties of nature.

Indian culture encompasses a treasury of spices, herbs, and other ingredients deeply rooted in ancient healing traditions.

Special Report by Ayurvedic practitioner, Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum.

Many people are wondering what alternatives they may have to mainstream medicine’s protocols of treatment during a global pandemic such as the COVID-19 virus. A big problem in many of the more developed nations of the world is that there may not be a long-standing tradition of holistic medicine or doctors trained in prevention and treatment of disease using herbs. For example, here in the United States, we only know several dozen herbs and have no ancient tradition of healing to draw from.

Enter Ayurveda. A 5,000-year-old tradition of holistic medicine, well versed in the prevention and treatment of disease which uses over 700 herbs, spices, and foods for healing. Here is what the best Ayurvedic physicians around the world are recommending.

Disclaimer: Information in this article is not does not replace any standard methods of treatment. If you become very ill from Covid, follow your doctor’s recommendations as this is a very aggressive and dangerous virus.  

Let’s start at the very beginning…

One of the overriding goals in Ayurveda is to teach you how to eat and digest foods that are both nourishing and easy to assimilate so you can absorb the food from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Our bodies filter nutrients through 7 tissues of the body (blood plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow, reproductive fluids) and we form a compound at the end of the 7th tissue, known as ojas. Ojas gives you great strength and immunity to every disease, so we all want to have high levels of ojas circulating in our bodies to ward off any disease.

Once the food enters the body, it ultimately travels through thousands of little micro-channels until it exits the other end as bowel movement, urine and sweat. If the digestion is poor and/or the food is too heavy, a residue of partially digested food, known as ama forms, clogging these delicate channels, becoming a fertile breeding ground for infection to grow. 

Therefore, as much as possible eat warm, cooked foods, which are easier to digest than salads, smoothies and other cold foods and beverages. Avoid red meats (favor chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, goat), hard aged cheeses (favor soft freshly made curd cheeses such as paneer, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and farmer’s cheese), nut butters (ex. peanut, almond), unfermented soy (tofu, edamame, soy milk), cold milk and other cold dairy products such as ice cream and frozen yogurt. 

Emergency room doctors use zinc, known for its ability to kill viruses on contact. Ayurveda recommends a zinc “bhasma” where the zinc is burnt repeatedly into an ash to make the molecules small enough to penetrate the cells.

Ayurvedic practitioner’s use Amla or Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica), which has 20 times more Vitamin C than an orange, yet turns alkaline once ingested, unlike synthetically made Vitamin C. It comes in powders, tablets and herbal pastes, such as Chyawan Prash, a traditional formula made by cooking 50 herbs with amla berries and ghee.

We recommend cooking turmeric into a fat, such as ghee and milk. Melt a tablespoon ghee, add ½ tsp turmeric and cook over a low flame, stirring, then pour over food twice a day, or simmer 1 cup of non-homogenized cow’s milk or goat’s milk with ½ tsp ghee for a few minutes, let it cool a bit, then sip slowly on an empty stomach. Turmeric also kills infection on contact.

Perhaps the best remedy of all is “Guduchi Satwa,” which has beneficial effects on various parts of the immune system, such as the liver and the bone marrow, and reputed for its immunomodulating capabilities. This means that it can prevent an overreaction of the immune system, such as the inflammatory cytokine storm which has been killing people as their immune systems spiral out of control as their body fights the corona virus. 

We also recommend steaming the sinuses once a day with antiviral and anti-inflammatory herbs such as boswellia, neem, and pushkarmool (Inula racemosa) with essential oils containing eucalyptus and camphor. Boil a pot of water, turn off the heat, add the herbs and essential oils, put a towel over your head and inhale the vapors for 15 minutes. 

The Neti pot or Jal Neti therapy is another traditional practice to facilitate nasal irrigation (neti kriya) using lukewarm saline water.

Go to bed before 10:00 pm to keep your immune system strong and keep up your levels of Vitamin D by getting plenty of sunshine.

Ayurveda has always used herb-infused nasya oils, (medicated nasal oils which can both kill infection in the nostrils as you breathe it in and can also keep the nasal passages clear). Rub the oils in the nostrils, tilt your head back and put a few drops up each nostril, snorting it up. Do this a few times a day.

And finally, if you have a pre-existing weakness in the lungs, there are many herbs you can take such as shringa bhasma (deer antler velvet), pushkarmool, boswellia (both are great anti-inflammatory herbs), bharangi (heals delicate lung cells), kantakari (a wonderful bronchodilator), devil’s apple (for reactivity in the lungs),  and vasa (heals the deep cells of the lungs). You should check with your Ayurvedic doctor regarding the use of these highly effective herbs for the lungs.

About the Author: Marianne Teitelbaum, D.C., graduated summa cum laude from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1984. She has studied with several Ayurvedic doctors, including Stuart Rothenberg, M.D., and Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra. The recipient of the Prana Ayushudi Award in 2013, she lectures and writes extensively about Ayurvedic treatments for all diseases. She has a thriving private practice and lives outside of Philadelphia.

Healing the Thyroid with Ayurveda by Marianne Teitelbaum, D.C., integrates the ancient medicine of Ayurveda with modern scientific findings to address the growing epidemic of thyroid disease. Based on the treatment of thousands of patients, this book also shares success stories of thyroid healing and the scientific studies that support the author’s Ayurvedic thyroid protocols.