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COVID-19: The Ayurvedic perspective

Inflammation

Like many viruses, coronavirus is derived from excess pitta or inflammation in the body, this creates an environment where the virus is able to grow easily. So to put it simply, if we keep the body in balance and reduce any pitta aggravation we are a lot less likely to get or suffer severely from the virus.

In the western world we are involved with a lot of pitta dominant foods and activities such as coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, red meats, cheeses, over work, competition and general stress. As a population, the UK is higher in pitta quality genetically than some hotter countries. This is because we have had to keep our internal body warm to deal with the external cold; this in some part has led to the excess of pitta in our culture today. Although we need this pitta/fire to keep us warm, taking that too far and out of a balanced state is very easy and if a population is more dominant in pitta they are likely to head for a certain lifestyle that increases and supports pitta, as that is what their body and mind is attracted to. Like a forest fire growing by the minute, consuming all resources in its path (capitalism in other words).

In places like India, South East Asia and Africa their populations are more kapha dominant because unlike us they need to keep their internal bodies cool to deal with the hot external environment. In this nice, cool environment, supported by lots of kapha food, such as coconuts and rice, the virus grows less easily.

So at this time it is necessary to reduce our pitta consumption and adopt a less inflammatory diet and lifestyle regime. Advice on how to do this is listed below.

Inflammation: Instructions on reducing pitta

This is general advice for dealing with or avoiding Covid-19. If you have another condition/imbalance it may not be appropriate for you. Ayurveda is a very individual and personalised medicine. If you are unsure please book in for a consultation or email me samatherapist@gmail.com.

General information:

Foods/drinks to avoid

Most important:

Tomatoes (including any sauces containing this)

Chili

Red meat

Cheese

Coffee and heavily caffeinated drinks

Deep fried foods

Any raw foods or salads

Peanuts

Bananas

Pineapple (and other tropical fruits apart from papaya)

Sour fruits (other than lime)

Fermented products and vinegar

Red fish

Red wine

Have these less often than normal:

Dried foods

Yeasted breads

Oats

Buckwheat

Quinoa

Rye

Avocado

Strawberries

Melon

High salt products

Mustard

Tamari

Cashews

Marmalade

Nutella

Cocoa

Marmite

Carrots

Swede

Parsnips

Beetroot

Lettuce

Corn

Green olives

Cucumber

Pinenuts

Turmeric

Dairy milk

Red fish

Food and drink to eat more of:

Coconut products (including only cooking with coconut oil)

Maple syrup

Almonds and walnuts (soaked overnight is best) and almond butter

Seasonal veg that is sweet or bitter such as:

Cooked leafy greens

Peas

Leeks

Cauliflower

Squash

Green beans

Watercress

Courgette

Pumpkin

Fennel

Potatoes

Cassava

Yam

Okra

Asparagus

Limes

(best to stew or cook fruit where possible and never eat with another food)

Apple or Pear

Red or purple grapes

Prunes

Figs

Cherries

Plums

Pomegranate

Papaya

Dates

Rice

Amaranth

Pitta bread

Chapatti

Barley

Bulgur wheat

Couscous (wheat)

Pasta

Mung beans

Lentils

Chickpeas

All pulses

Tofu

Soya

Black pepper

Ginger

Nutmeg

Coriander

Cumin

Fennel

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Chamomile tea

Ginger tea (with maple syrup)

Licorice tea

Fennel tea

Chair tea

Pomegranate juice

Rice milk

Soya milk

Almond milk

Coconut milk

Pear juice

Remedies:

Every morning:

Coriander water:

Crush 3 tsp of coriander seeds (in a pestle and mortar) and leave in a glass of water over night

In the morning drain off the seeds and drink the water first thing.

During or in the lead up to the virus: If you have any mucus, are feeling cold or have excess fluid or phlegm in your channels, heat this water with 3 pieces of fresh ginger (you can boil the coriander seeds for 6-8 mins if it hasn't been soaked overnight).

This is also a great technique for preventing the virus:

Chop some fresh coconut and cook it on an open flame until blackened, break off one inch pieces and chew like chewing gum for a 5-10 mins 3 times a day – this will prevent excess pitta from gathering in the mouth which is where Covid-19 starts its life.

Digestion

Lowering pitta in our bodies will help increase our immune response but there are other important factors to consider too. In Ayurvedic medicine, digestion is seen as the root of all health and disease. If we have a balanced digestive fire (sama agni), the body can correctly use all the nutrients from our food and toxins (ama) are not formed.

After initial digestion in the stomach, nourishment of the 7 tissues, one by one, follows. Each of these has its own channel for the nutrients to move between. Each tissue has its own digestive fire necessary to pass the nutrient matter to the next tissue effectively. If this initial digestion is balanced and working it is much more likely that the whole body will get the nutrition it needs. However, as soon as the digestion is not working effectively, undigested food matter turns in to toxins that mimic the quality of the food. For example, food with high pitta content instead of going to nourish the blood, may create a pitta quality blockage somewhere in or around the tissues. This pitta quality will cause inflammation in that area and the blockage will mean that other nutrients struggles to pass through (causing another blockage), leading to lack of circulation and other tissues lacking in basic nutrients they need to function.

We can see why, particularity in this challenging time, it is vital to keep digestion in check. Listed below is some advice on how to go about this.

How do you tell if your digestive function is impaired?

  • You experience bloating or gas regularly

  • You struggle to feel hungry or feel hungry all the time

  • You feel tired or lethargic after a meal

  • You get any acid reflux or pain in the stomach before or after eating or if you haven’t eaten for a while

  • You have strong food cravings or addictions

  • You have an irregular eating regime

  • You feel excessively thirsty throughout the day or after a meal

Digestion: Instructions on balancing your digestive fire:

This is general advice for dealing with or avoiding Covid-19, if you have another condition/imbalance it may not be appropriate for you. Ayurveda is a very individual and personalized medicine. If you are unsure please book in for a consultation or email me samatherapist@gmail.com.

  • Only drink warm drinks – Cold drinks not only can aggravate mucus production in the body. This is not what you want with a virus around, but can also put out the digestive fire meaning your body cannot digest food effectively.

  • Cook all food where possible – Cooked food is much easier to digest than raw foods and again raw foods bring coldness to the body that can aggravate mucus and leave the body vulnerable to a virus.

  • Separate fruits from other food- Fruit digests in a different place to other foods so mixing them will send the fruit to the wrong place where it will ferment and become a toxin to be circulated around the body. It is also best to cook fruit where possible, try baked apple with cinnamon or stewed pear!

  • Only eat when you are hungry- This sounds pretty basic but if possible for you it is so much easier to digest food when you feel hunger because the body has already prepared all necessary digestive fluids. If you struggle to feel hungry, experiment with the remedies below before meal time as these should help ignite your digestive fire. It could also be good to experiment with meal times; the set meals and times we know will not work for everyone. Some people need to eat two times a day and are not hungry in the morning while others need up to four meals. Go with what your body tells you.

  • Do not drink during or around meals – Water can dilute your digestive fire so if you drink during or around meal times your digestive system may struggle.

  • Try not to snack in between meals – Snacking can weaken the digestive fire so it is not ready for a meal, it can also mean that a lot of energy is going on digesting food throughout the day instead of on processing nutrients, repairing the body and on mental capabilities.

Remedies for digestion:

When experimenting with these without professional support you must be very careful and observe the effects each time. If something does not feel right for your body there may be more suitable alternatives for you or you may benefit from a full consultation. These are simple home remedies but Ayurvedic medical herbs can be more effective and personalised.

Cumin and sugar/maple syrup (this is best for those who experience any pain, acid, bloating or have strong food cravings)

- Dry roast cumin seeds or powder in a frying pan until fragrant (if you used seeds you will now need to crush them)

- Mix 1/2 tsp of the cumin with 1/2 tsp of sugar or maple syrup and take 5 mins before a meal twice daily.

Ginger, lime and maple syrup (best for those who have any excess mucus, this is great if you feel cold or rundown)

Mix together:

100-250g Grated ginger

6x limes juiced

6tsp x maple syrup or sugar syrup

For high pitta (inflammation) situations, reduce ginger. Take 10 ml - 20 ml, with 3 times the amount of hot water to diluted (or around 1tbsp with 1/2 cup of hot water).

Take twice a day after meals

Ginger with a little lime and rock salt to take before meals (for those who struggle to feel any hunger, or irregular apatite)

Spicy soup (bloating or irregular apatite)

1tsp coriander seeds, 1tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp tamarind paste, 8-10

curry leaves, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1-2 slices fresh ginger, a little salt (grind into a

paste, add 2 cups of water and boil it. Can have this on its own as a drink or as a light meal with bread or rice. For high pitta situations reduce the tamarind and add lime juice, take before a meal.

Dates or raisins with cinnamon (good for irregular appetite, lack of hunger or bloating)

- Soak some dates or raisins overnight then combine in to a paste

- Mix 1 tsp with ½ tsp of cinnamon and eat before meals twice a day.

Circulation and elimination

In Ayurvedic medicine as well as balancing/reigniting the digestive fire (agni deepana), another fundamental treatment we start with when dealing with an imbalance is ‘ama pachana’ or elimination of toxins currently in the system. This will also be an import process right now in order to keep the immune system and body strong. If we do not eliminate the toxins and blockages we currently have, more and more will build up leading to serious deficiency as well as a variety of disorders. After all the tissues are correctly nourished ‘ojas’ is formed and this is very similar to how we understand immunity in the west, so it is really important we clear the tissues and make sure this vital life force is receiving nourishment.

With the above advice your digestion should be working more smoothly and this will greatly help with circulation and elimination. Most ama pachana herbs must be purchased at the clinic after consultation but home remedies include the coriander water mentioned earlier which is wonderful for so many things or simply having ½ glass of pomegranate juice mixed with a tsp of maple syrup/sugar syrup a squeeze of lime and a pinch of rock salt once a day.

At the (currently online) clinic I have several wonderful herbs that are very effective at keeping pitta in balance and creating a less hospitable environment for the virus. Depending on your constitution and current state these may be appropriate and effective for you. If your interested please email me for a consultation where you will get full support and guidance through this challenging time. In the meantime try these home remedies:

Specific remedies for flu and coronavirus

Use for: non-productive cough, dryness of throat and dryness of respiratory system

Ingredients

  • Pomegranate seeds - 2 tbsp

  • Raisins - 2 tsp

  • Fresh ginger - 3 slices

  • 1 cup of water

Boil for 10 minutes

Dose: adults - 2 tbsp twice a day (after meal)

Children (below 12) - 1 tsp twice a day (after meal)

Use for: cough, cold, fever, hay fever, running nose, asthma and other respiratory disorders

Ingredients

  • Raisins - 1 tbsp

  • Coriander seeds- 1 tbsp

  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch piece (sliced)

  • Garlic - 4 cloves

  • White pepper - ½ tsp

Add 1 cup of water and boil for 15 minutes.

Dose : adults – ½ cup twice a day after meals

For a fever:

  • Roasted rice, cooked with lots of water and mashed. Add salt, pepper.

  • Cotton cloth soaked in vinegar, apply to the head.

If you feel soreness in your throat:

Immediately wash your mouth with salt and turmeric water then spit it out, do this three times daily.

For congestion or cough:

Have a steam inhalation with mint, basil or eucalyptus leaves or 2-3 drops of these essential oils.

Tea to have with virus: Ginger (2 parts), cinnamon (3 parts), cardamom (a pinch) add syrup if you wish. Do not have too much if you have a lot of soreness or inflammation, this is manly to dissolve mucus and enhance circulation in the lungs.

Anxiety over the virus or anything else:

Almond milk (10 raw almonds soaked overnight and blended) mix with 1 cup warm coconut milk add 1 pinch ginger and 1 pinch nutmeg.

If you already have asthma and are worried about the virus:

Coriander seeds, fresh ginger, garlic and black pepper boiled in water, drain off the ingredients and drink the 1 tbsp twice daily after meals.

For a rice porridge recipe which makes a wonderful immune boosting breakfast and other pitta pacifying recipes appropriate for this situation see previous blog posts at www.samatherapies.com

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