Ayurveda for Immune Deficiency
Immune deficiency, also called immunodeficiency, is a condition in which the body’s natural defenses fail to adequately protect against illness. The condition can be caused by injury or illness, or in rare cases it can be present at birth. Today, HIV/AIDS and Chemotherapy for Cancer are common causes of Immune Deficiency. Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine that emphasizes harmony between mind, body and spirit, can help treat immune deficiency by restoring a healthy balance.
How Is Ayurveda Used to Treat Immune Deficiency?
Common symptoms of immune deficiency include extreme susceptibility to contagious illness or allergy, fatigue and loss of energy, respiratory disorders, digestive disorders, fever, loss of appetite, and a general feeling of weakness and lethargy.
Four elements of Ayurvedic Medicine are used in the treatment of immunodeficiency and are described below:
- Restoration and revitalization
- Cleansing and detoxification
- Strengthening of tissues and body systems
- Concentration on mental and spiritual health
Throughout all four stages of the treatment, the Ayurvedic doctor focuses on strengthening the patient’s feelings of well-being by maintaining an attitude of support and encouragement.
Restoration and Revitalization: Shaman
With the restoration and revitalization component of the treatment, called Shaman, the immune deficient patient is given herbs in the form of pills, jellies, powders, or tonics to boost immunity levels and to stimulate appetite. The patient is encouraged to eat particular foods according to his or her dosha and to the season. Ayurvedic patients are generally advised to avoid excessive salt, as well as all oily, acidic, or spicy foods.
Cleansing and Detoxification: Shodan
Next, cleansing techniques called Shodan are used to expel toxins from the body. The techniques of fasting, breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are particularly useful for patients with immune deficiency. Ayurvedic physicians recommend very mild cleansing agents to eliminate impurities from the body. For instance, clarified butter or yogurt may be used to cleanse the intestines and strengthen their function. Massages with herbal oil can be used to extract toxins through the skin. Blood purifiers may also be recommended. Sunbathing for a limited amount of time is often recommended, since the heat can be comforting, while sunlight also strengthens bone and aids in absorption of vitamin D.
Strengthening of Tissues and Body System: Rasayana
With the third component, called Rasayana, Ayurveda practitioners place emphasis on three types of treatment to revitalize the patient’s tissues and organs and to strengthen the dosha. Herbal medicines, mineral preparations, and physical exercises are prescribed, in accordance with the patient’s dosha. Yoga positions and breathing exercises help to bring a feeling of tranquility and relieve stress in the immune deficient patient. As the patient gains strength, physical exercise is encouraged to improve circulation, strengthen muscles, and to increase energy and endurance.
Concentration On Mental and Spirital Health: Satvajaya
The fourth element of the treatment, called Satvajaya, concentrates on the patient’s mental and spiritual health. Meditation helps the patient rid their mind of stress or any negative thoughts. It strengthens a patient’s awareness of self as well as awareness of family and friends. It also increases awareness of the patient’s self in harmony with his or her environment.
With the component of Satvajaya, the Ayurvedic physician also guides the patient to achieve mental and spiritual harmony with the three techniques of Mantra, Yantra, and Tantra. Mantra is a type of sound therapy; Yantra uses geometric patterns to help the patient direct thoughts in a positive manner; and Tantra guides the patient to direct energies actively within the body.
The Ayurvedic physician combines all four of these elements, along with sensitivity and understanding, to bring the patient into harmony with the environment and back to good health in body, mind, and spirit.
What is Ayurveda?
Practiced in India for more than 5,000 years, Ayurveda focuses on achieving and maintaining a healthy balance in mind, body, and spirit. Disease, according to Ayurvedic medicine, occurs when the flow of nature’s energy in the body is disrupted. This may be caused by genetic or congenital factors, trauma, injury, changes in environment, and magnetic or electrical factors. Ayurvedic physicians consider and treat not only the patient’s overt physical characteristics, but also mental and spiritual factors as well. Emphasis is placed on avoiding disease by reaching harmony with the environment.
An Ayurvedic doctor begins by determining a patient’s predominant pattern of energy flow, called the dosha. Understanding the patient’s dosha is an important guide to that person’s natural tendencies. Although everyone is actually a combination of all three doshas, one type is predominant in each person. Vata is the energy of movement, Pitta is the energy of metabolism, and Kapha is the energy of structure. A deficiency of one of the doshas can cause imbalance and, therefore, illness. An understanding of the immune deficient patient’s dosha will help the physician to recommend the particular diet, medication, and exercise, as well as spiritual and mental practices that will return the patient to a state of good health.
Ayurvedic practitioners use observation and patient input to diagnose specific diseases. For instance, by examining the surface of the tongue, the skilled physician can detect imbalances in some internal organs such as the kidneys, intestines, heart, and lungs. The eyes, nails, and tongue are significant areas to be considered, and the patient’s pulse is also a major factor in making diagnoses. Ayurvedic practitioners assess 12 different pulses on the patient’s wrist: three pulses close to the surface and three at a deeper level, for each wrist. The strength and vitality of each pulse correspond to the tone and functioning of a particular internal organ. Further, discussions between patient and practitioner can reveal whether sleeping habits may be disturbing the patient’s overall physical and mental health.
Many Ayurvedic doctors today combine laboratory testing and other modern diagnostic methods with traditional techniques.
What is Immune Deficiency?
Immune deficiency, also called immunodeficiency, is a condition under which the body’s immune system loses the ability to effectively fight infectious disease in the manner a healthy body would. Immunodeficiency can be caused by an imbalance or lack of nutrients in the body, drugs used to fight cancer or specific diseases that attack the immune system. Such diseases include acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), certain types of cancer, and lymphomas.
“Ayurvedic Medicine,” in the book Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, gives an excellent overview of Ayurvedic objectives, techniques, and philosophy. The book is compiled by the Burton Goldberg Group and published by Future Medicine Publishing Inc.
Ayurveda.com offers a free PDF that provides an overview of Ayurveda, its history, and its current uses.