Understanding COVID-19 as per Ayurveda
Whenever a man has disobeyed nature’s law, nature has counteracted with massive forms of destruction. It conveys the message that whenever an effort is made to disturb nature, nature will destroy the human roots. This is agreed upon at different levels with different medical systems. The concept of infectious diseases, communicable diseases were known to Ayurveda and the Acharya’s (accomplished practitioner and teacher known for his wisdom in Ayurveda) were familiar with them. Ayurveda being an ancient and traditional system of medicine, it is worthwhile to draw the attention of the world to explore the hidden secrets to prevent and manage health problems that are posing major challenges in the present day. The approach of integration does enable better treatment outcomes and creates optimism in an individual. We understand COVID-19 through various concepts as explained in Ayurvedic texts. Ayurveda doesn’t have a specific text of epidemiology but has large information in piecemeal which can be compiled to interpret the conventional understanding.
COVID-19 has evolved as a pandemic of international concern and the origin and transmission of the virus is understood to be induced from bats via unknown intermediate hosts to infect humans. Charaka Samhita, the foremost classical textbook on Ayurveda explains about Agantuja vyadhi (a disease which is caused due to exogenous factors) where disease-causing agents mentioned include microorganisms such as bacteria and virus. These diseases initially do not get manifested due to dosha vitiation, but it presents later and enables the diseases to become pathologically stronger. Abhishangaja vyadhi is the terminology explained for diseases that manifest due to sources unexplored before the onset of the same like that we see in the pandemic COVID -19.
The concept of infectious disease is described in another classical text ‘Suśruta Samhita’. The author terms infectious diseases as aupasargika roga. The spread of the infection here is attributed to prasaṅgāt (close interaction), gātra samsparsāt (physical contact with the infested), niswāsa (through exhalation/droplet infection), sahabhojanāt (close contact such as sharing food), sahasayya (sleeping together), sahaāsanāt (using same seating arrangement), vastra mālyānulepanāt (using clothes cosmetics and ornaments of the infected).
The global spread of an infection like a pandemic is also mentioned by Acharya Caraka as Janapadodhwamsa vyadhi (janapada refes to community, udhwamsa refers to destruction). While explaining the onset of a pandemic, the author introduces a different modality where in- spite of dissimilarities in the physical body constitution, certain common environmental factors shall be responsible for disease causation and spread. When these common factors get vitiated, then it leads to manifestation of the disease with same set of symptoms simultaneously leading to massive destruction and loss of life across the globe. There are four important factors viz., Jala (water), Vayu (air), Desha (geographical location) and Kala (time), which can contribute to a communicable diseases. The text also provides the methodology to manage such communicable diseases. One need not be afraid of such diseases if proper medicines are administered.
Prajñāparādha (intellectual blasphemy) is one of the concepts of Ayurveda which explains that unrighteousness is the main cause of somatic diseases and can induce all the pathological conditions. It acts as a risk factor for various health problems. Prajñāparādha can also play a vital role in making an individual more susceptible for infections due to compromised innate immunity.
The concept of Krimi in Ayurveda explains the pathogenesis due to microorganisms and worms. By etymology, the word ‘Krimi’ means that which causes suffering or ill health. They are termed to be Adrusya (invisible to naked eyes) or Drusya (visible to naked eyes). The microbes in the blood stream which are not visible are said to cause fever, pallor, pain, fatigue, heart diseases and anorexia. This understanding is based on the analysis made thousands of years ago when there were no diagnostic methodologies available. This helps us infer that the traditional concepts were based on a proven science of yester years which was based on in-depth analysis, reasoning, and was empirical in nature.
Based on the symptomatology, COVID-19 can be compared to Kapha Vataja Jwara (fever with involvement of Kapha and Vata). The manifestation shall include fever (mild to moderate), loss of appetite, headache, rhinorrhea, cough and fatigue. In some individuals, it manifests as Sannipataja Jwara (fever caused due to vitiation of all three Doshas)
Article By :
Dr. Vasudha M Sharma