Most of us understand ‘immunity’ as our body’s ability to resist a particular infection. Because of the importance of immunity in facilitating our overall health, everyone is looking for ways to strengthen the immune system.
This might leads us to some critical questions about immunity.
Is the strength of our immune system determined at birth or do we build it over the years? Are there ways to boost our immunity? Does our lifestyle play a role in determining our ability to prevent and fight illnesses?
The ancient science of Ayurveda provides us with some answers.
Ayurvedic Concept Of Immunity
Ayurveda suggests that the accumulation of toxins in our body weakens our immune system, making us more prone to flu and infections.
There are two important aspects related to immunity in Ayurveda – Bala, the ability of our body to repair and nourish itself after disease, and Vyadhi Kshamatwa, the ability of the immune system to fight against the disease-causing pathogens.
Both Bala and Vyadhi Kshamatwa are strengthened through a good digestive function and overall balance of the Ayurvedic doshas (Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha).
Diet plays an important role here. As per Ayurveda, strong immunity is an outcome of healthy digestion or a strong Agni (the digestive or metabolic fire). For this reason, it’s possible to boost the immune system by including immunity enhancing herbs and spices to your diet.
Ayurveda also identifies 7 things that affect our immunity negatively –
- Imbalanced diet or insufficient nutrition
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- Irregular sleep patterns
- An excessive amount of stress
- Prolonged Use Of Medications
Ayurvedic Herbs and Immunity
In Ayurvedic terms, the food we eat provides us with Ojas, the nourishment of the seven tissues of our body. With a healthy amount of Ojas in our bodies, our immune system is strengthened and we are able to fight illness and unfavorable changes in our environment.
But can we increase the Ojas in our bodies?
Most definitely! Ojas and strong immunity are dependent on robust Agni, a healthy diet, a balanced lifestyle, and a well-functioning nervous system.
One of the most effective ways to enhance Ojas in our body is by consuming Ojas enhancing herbs. In this article, we’ll talk about 10 Ayurvedic Herbs that are effective for enhancing your immune system. These herbs are also known as Rasayana, or the rejuvenators for the body.
Ashwagandha is one of the most well known Ayurvedic herbs. Interestingly, the meaning of the herb name translates to ‘the smell of the horse’. The horse is the ultimate symbol of strength and that’s exactly what the roots of this herb provide.
The best feature of Ashwagandha is that it’s adaptogenic. It can adapt to your body’s needs to balancing out hormonal fluctuations and increase immune cells.
Through consuming Ashwagandha in different forms, you can reduce your blood sugar, body inflammation, stress levels, and symptoms of depression. Not only this, but Ashwagandha also helps you build muscle and improve overall brain function.
Most people consume Ashwagandha powder with milk but there are other ways to include it in your diet. You can consult an Ayurveda practitioner to understand how to consume it for the best benefits.
2. Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Do you know that the Tulsi plant is the common plant in Indian households? Considered the holiest plant as per the Hindu tradition, Tulsi herb is a natural immunity booster. The Vitamin C and Zinc present in Tulsi keeps the infections at bay. It also has powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties that prevent illnesses.
Numerous Ayurvedic concoctions that can be prepared with Tulsi to treat different ailments. Tulsi juice with Black Pepper can cure fevers and a mixture of Honey with Tulsi and Ginger can relieve symptoms of a cold.
Amla juice is well-known as a remedy for cold and cough. Amla, also known as the Indian Gooseberry, is extremely rich in Vitamin C which helps in increasing the production of White Blood Cells (WBCs). It benefits everyone due to its unique ability to calm all three Ayurvedic doshas.
Many people drink Amla Juice with Honey in the morning as a daily ritual. This helps in two ways. Amla promotes healthy digestion, which ultimately results in a healthy immune system and it also detoxifies the body, further boosting the overall immunity. It’s also a nutritious fruit. You can eat one Amla per day to provide your body with a daily dose of Iron and Calcium.
Amla is also a key ingredient in Ayurvedic Triphala Churna which is an immunity booster. Apart from Amla, this Triphala Churna also consists of Bibhitaki (an Ayurvedic herb that strengthens the respiratory system) and Haritaki (an Ayurvedic herb that detoxifies the body).
In Ayurveda, Neem is known as ‘Sarva Roga Nivarini‘ which means Universal Healer or curer of all Ailments). Did you know that every part of Neem can be used to treat some other form of illness? For this reason, it’s also considered to be the ‘Village Pharmacy’ in India.
Neem leaves as well known for their detoxifying properties. They purify the blood and eliminate all the toxins present in the body. Consuming Neem leaf extract also strengthens our ability to fight fungus, viruses, as well as bacteria.
Neem is especially effective in preventing dental health issues. In Ancient times, Neem stem was used for brushing the teeth. Neem enhances the immunity of our mouth cavity and prevents gum inflammation and tooth cavity.
Moringa also called the drumstick tree or the ‘ Miracle tree’ is one of the most important medicinal plants in Ayurveda. Wondering what role it plays in the immune system? It has high antioxidant content that boosts your immunity and keeps you safe from infections.
The best way to incorporate Moringa in your diet is in the form of Moringa tea prepared from dried and powdered Moringa leaves. You can also add Moringa powder to your food preparations – add it to your salads, your smoothies, your soups, and even to the loaves of bread that you bake.
Turmeric is the spice that can be found in most Indian curry preparations. The spice is derived from the dried root of the herb.
Not many people know this but Turmeric is one of the richest sources of Iron. Just one teaspoon of Turmeric Powder can provide you with 10 percent of your daily iron requirement as an adult. With sufficient intake of Iron, your body becomes equipped to deal with viral infections as Iron plays an important role in activating the immune cells.
In Ayurveda, it’s recommended to consume Turmeric with milk but you can also have it with Almond milk. This drink is an effective remedy for treating cough, cold, and chest congestions.
In Ayurveda, there’s a huge significnce of body masssages in promoting overall health. Bala, meaning ‘strength’ in Sanskrit, is an Ayurvedic herb that is commonly used to prepare Ayurvedic oils for its ability to boost muscle strength. Massaging with oil infused with Bala herb is also known to calm the muscles and reduce stress that is known to weaken immunity.
Bala herb powder can be taken twice a day with honey and milk. It works specifically to boost immunity of the liver. The herb has antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties that protect the liver cells against cell damage caused by free radicals.
Ginger, is known as Vishwa-Aushadh in Ayurveda, which means that is the ultimate Rasayana to cure several disorders and also the best immunity booster in Ayurveda.
Just having an inch long slice of Ginger with a pinch of rock salt prior to lunch works as an excellent remedy to cleanse the palate and stimulate the appetite. This potent combination is also an effective treatment for nausea.
Ginger is also wonderful for boosting the Agni (digestive fire) of the stomach. Apart from that, Ginger also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps fight infections. Consuming Ginger tea or a medicinal ginger concoction in the morning, could keep away many diseases and strengthen the immune system.
Shatavari is the most important herb for women in the Ayurvedic herbal apothecary. It’s specifically useful for female reproductive health apart from playing a huge role in boosting overall immunity.
Some diseases are known to suppress our overall immunity. Shatavari is helpful in facilitating the recovery of the immune system itself under such immune-suppressed conditions.
Sapogenin, a steroidal plant compound found in its root is a potent immunity stimulator that recovers the immune system by increasing the number of natural infection killers cells in the body like T-cells, neutrophils, and macrophages.
Around 2-5 g of Shatavari herbal powder can be added to milk, water, and juice and be consumed twice a day. Your Ayurvedic practitioner can guide you with the right dosage.
Pippali, also known as Long Pepper has amazing appetizing and digestive properties. When taken with honey, it helps in eliminating the toxins from the body, improving digestion and improving immunity. Pippali is also a “tridoshic” herb that suits all body types.
Traditionally, Pippali was comsumed in combination with Tumeric in milk. Another way to include Pippali in your diet is replace Black Pepper with Pippali.
With that, we conclude our list of top 10 Ayurvedic herbs for boosting immunity. Apart from following a great diet, we strongly recommend that you follow a proper routine, sleep properly at night and do Pranyama and Yoga everyday to further strengthen your immune system.