Research has shown that there is a heterogeneity in susceptibility to infections during a flu epidemic. Psychologic stress, Fitness and physical activity, Nutrition, Sleep, comorbid conditions and lifestyle play a vital role in shaping this immune response. Naturopathy is a system of lifestyle medicine that works in modulating these factors that improve body's innate healing properties i.e. immunity.
Since elderly population, children and those with co morbid conditions are vulnerable to COVID infection, naturopathy interventions can be used as an adjunct preventive management. The impending anxiety and stress of isolation due to COVID-19 disease and lockdown can down regulate immune responses and defenses that can lead them to contract this infection and increase its severity. Though isolation, hygiene precautions and social distancing are important for preventing one getting infected, anxiety and stress resulting from these also need to be taken care of Treatment protocols for people with COVID-19 should address both the physiological and psychological needs of the patients and health service providers.
Naturopathy system works by improving one's vitality or modulating immunity and can therefore be used as a preventive approach. Listed below are several measures that can be used to improve immunity against infections. These measures may be particularly useful in patients with comorbid illness such a diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and elderly who may have increased susceptibility to Covid-19.
|Improving Mucosal Immunity and reducing airway reactivity
|Improving Innate Immunity or immune homeostasis
|Psychologic Stress can increase susceptibility to Infections. Regular practice of Yoga ( Minimum 20 minutes) Loosening /Breathing exercises-5 min, Suryanamaskar 6 rounds -6 minutes, Yogic relaxation techniques – 5 min, Kapalabhati- 3 rounds followed by Nadishodana Pranayama-9 rounds, Ujjayi Pranayama -9 rounds and Bramari -3 rounds)
|Improving fitness and respiratory health
A successful antiviral response would see the infection limited to the upper airway, as is the case clinically with the majority of viral infections in healthy individuals. Should such a response be deficient, then predominantly upper-airway viral infections, may spread to the lower airways, causing lower respiratory symptoms and an exacerbation of symptoms of wheeze, and dyspnea in predisposed individuals. The mainstay in management of corona viral infections has been supportive care, nutrition and preventing secondary infections in the absence of any antiviral agent or vaccine. In the initial phases of infection where there is upper respiratory tract involvement, several home remedies can be tried as prescribed in naturopathy. Majority of spices are used in respiratory diseases (26.3%), ranging from colds, flu, to cough and catarrh. Some of these measures are listed in next Table.
|Cold, Coryza-Running nose, Nasal Congestion
|Sore throat, Hoarseness of voice
|Chewing ginger (Zingiber officinale). It is rich in 1,8 cineole which is an anti- inflammatory, antispasmodic, antitussive, expectorant.
|Ginger Kashayam with honey, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and pepper for dry cough in milk
|Hot foot Immersion for headaches with cold compress on head, Aromatherapy with Tulsi or lavender oils.
|Cold chest pack, cold sponging for pyrexia
|Wheeze, Chest Congestion
|Malaise and Fatigue
|Stress, Anxiety Depression
Aroma therapy with lavender, Basil or lemon grass oils (Inhalation/steam inhalation).
Yoga therapy module:
Good nutrition boosts immunity. “Feed a cold and starve a fever” an old adage has been proven in clinical experiments on animal models and human studies. Food rich in proteins, glucose, vitamin C and D are recommended for faster recovery from viral infections. The dos and don'ts of Nutrition are outlined as under:
What to Have
What to Avoid
Applying manual pressure with the thumb to certain points in the body is known to confer immunity and improve respiratory effort. Individuals should be taught to apply intermittent pressure over acupressure points LI-4, LI11, SP6, TW 5, CV17, ST36 .
Exposure to the sun and air in the morning and evening hours is known to reduce stress and confer immunity by improving Vitamin D metabolism. This will give a change from confines of indoors and has been shown to be useful in managing flu symptoms . Following a healthy regimen is very important to boost one's immune response. The following lifestyle practices have evidence to prevent one from getting infected with flu.
Exercise: Regular exercise of moderate-intensity is associated with a reduced incidence of upper respiratory tract infection. The recommended means of aerobic exercise is walking, with an optimal frequency of three to five days a week and an optimal duration of 20 to 30 minutes of continuous activity.
Sleep and the circadian system exert a regulatory influence on immune functions. Sleep deprivation can affect immune function in several ways that lead to enhanced susceptibility to the common cold and pneumonia with poor sleep efficiency
Source : Ministry of AYUSH
Last Modified : 9/13/2023
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