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Ayurvedic perspective on flu, other viruses, and quarantine

Updated: May 10, 2021

We are in unprecedented times with the virus affecting our day to day lives in ways that are unimaginable. Throughout history there are several mentions of pandemics and epidemics that humans have stood resilient and survived through. Before modern medicine was invented, most of these precarious times were overcome by basic precautions at grassroot level.

One way or the other we are all affected by self or social distancing, lockdowns, and border closings. In addition to thes precautions suggested by CDC and your local healthcare authorities, I would like to discuss a few minor changes to your daily routine – call them micro routines – that may help protect you from inside.

The following health practices are from ancient medical systems, Ayurveda that are still widely followed worldwide.

Ayurveda literally translates to “study of life.” Ayurveda believes that by eating right and following a healthy lifestyle, one can help maintain a balance of different elements in the body, boost immune system and help prevent most diseases – eat to heal. In fact, there is a branch of study dedicated to epidemics in Ayurveda, elaborated in ancient text ‘Janapadodwamsam’.

Practicing quarantine is not new to our ancestors.People with fevers, pink eyes, and other contagious conditions were quarantined, so they don’t spread their symptoms to others. Not just that, a new mother and her newborn are quarantined for at least 45 days until their immunity is completely rebuilt.

Ayurveda suggests several home-based remedies that can be incorporated easily for a better personal and social hygiene.

Prevention is always better than cure

Although immune system cannot be boosted in a very short period, following these good practices can be help protect and build your immunity over time. This is a wake-up call for all of us who have been taking health for granted.

What can we do to keep good health and give that extra dose of boost to our immune system?

Eating habits:

• Drink only warm water. Avoid cold drinks. Only drink enough water to quench your thirst and try to avoid water at least 30 mins before lunch and dinner (any heavy meal) and 1.5 hours after a meal.

• An Amla (Indian gooseberry) can be very effective – highly potent in vitamin C, about 50 times more than lime or lemon and full of antioxidants, way more than glass of red wine.

Amla can be consumed in many forms:

• Whole Amla fruit

• Amla Juice

• If you get frozen amla, please make sure to cook it. You can use that in soups.

• Dry powder of Amla

• Chyawanprash - Ayurvedic Jam includes amla along with many other herbs and spices.

• Avoid eating fruit too early in the day or too late (approximately before 10 AM or after 7 PM).

• Only eat when you are hungry. Since we are locked up at home, it’s easy to crave snacks or we try to grab something readily available in the kitchen or pantry. Practice staying conscious at all the time and eat mindfully.

• Avoid eating salads at night time as it takes a lot to digest raw foods and you don’t want your stomach over working when you go to bed.

• If possible, eat twice a day, at 11 am in the morning and 6pm at night. Of course, listen to your body and take fresh fruit, nuts, or dry fruits in the afternoon if you feel hungry.

• Reduce intake of fermented foods except for buttermilk ( Lassi )

Here are a few Ayurvedic at-home remedies that can be implemented to help relieve general symptoms of flu. Control of early signs of these symptoms may help!!

Dry cough:

• ½  tsp of freshly grated ginger juice, ⅛ tsp of  turmeric mixed with honey

• Make a tea with lemongrass, tulsi, neem, ginger, a dash of black pepper and keep sipping throughout the day.

• Four tulsi leaves paste with a pinch of turmeric mixed with honey

• Lubricate nostrils with the following

• Ghee mixed with organic turmeric

• Plain Ghee

• Unpasteurized honey

Wet cough:

• ¼ tsp of black pepper, ½ sp of dry ginger mixed with honey

• Drink juice of grapefruit diluted with equal amounts of water and mixed with honey. Drink it warm. Not hot or not cold

• Lubricate nostrils with

• Honey

• Honey, pinch of fresh turmeric

• Inhale the fumes of mildly burned turmeric and neem on a skillet/tawa.

• Combine 1 part of camphor and 1 part of sesame oil or coconut oil and rub them to the soles of the feet and your chest

Symptoms of fever or chills:

• Try fasting and eat no heavy foods

• Or stick to a rice gruel with cumin or ajwain or even a very thin khichdi

• A decoction of ajwain,  few neem leaves, and tulsi leaves

• Rub soles of feet with warm castor oil or sesame oil

• Lemongrass tea

• Ashwagandha

Symptoms of fatigue and tiredness:

• Ashwagandha

• Tulsi tea

• Lemongrass tea

• Rest

Symptoms of stomach ache:

• Carrom seeds ( a.k.a Ajwain, Celery seeds) tea

• Tulsi tea

• Lemongrass tea

• Mixture of 1/2 inch ginger, Himalayan pink salt, 1/4 spoon of crushed ajwain ( celery seeds)

Continue using spices in your day to day cooking. These spices and herbs have medicinal qualities that can be very good to for digestion and boost overall health. All of these items are available in your local stores.

• Ginger

• Garlic

• Turmeric

• Curry leaves

• Cinnamon

• Cardamom

• Cloves

• Neem leaves

In addition to taking good care of your physical body, it is important to discuss mental/emotional and psychological immunity. Think about it this way – any undigested material will remain unprocessed and can accumulate over a period and cause blockages. These undigested materials need not be material in nature, in fact unresolved thoughts, unreconciled emotions can also cause blockages at more subtler levels within the emotional and psychological realms that have direct effect on your physical health.

Here are few daily practices that you can incorporate for a healthy you during the quarantine phase:

• Practice Yoga, meditation, and Pranayama (breathing exercises). Go to videos section on this webpage to find out video tutorials.

• Step out and spend time in nature. We are asked to socially distance ourselves, but we can still be close to nature.

• Sunbathing. Or just sitting next your window and receive Sunshine

• Get enough sleep. This is highly recommended.

• Pretend you are stepping out and dress up as usual. Don't stay in sloppy pajamas throughout the day, everyday. Keep your interiors tidy. That will keep up your vibe for the entire day.

• In addition, we are all globally connected to the same cause. Let's support each other at this time. Be courteous before you overstock and think about people who may be in need. Conserve the usage of disposable items and continue to re-use. If we continue like this, we can help mother earth.

Furthermore, minimize sharing posts that can alarm people. Please double check source of contents and validate authenticity before passing on to your near and dear. It's good to stay updated, but do not keep researching the news about the toll, number of cases, and overload your mind. Remember information you read and share online can have great impact on your mental and emotional states.

Finally, there is a lot to be grateful for during COVID 19 lockdown:

• The family time

• Yoga time :)

• Warm weather

• Less pollution

• The technology that is available today

• Internet that is helping all of us to stay connected

• The healthcare providers and supporting staff that are working overtime for us

• Grocery stores and their staff for staying open and offering home delivery services

• All the delivery staff- online delivery, food delivery and public service workforce.

• Last but not the least, a big thank you to the custodial staff, janitors, cleaners who are constantly working to sanitize our public surroundings.

• This global pause - we got to understand that it's time for us to slow down and self-reflect. Best time to get to your wish list of books to read, hobbies to pursue, try new recipes, and movies to watch. So, instead of waiting for this to end, think about this as bonus time to utilize.


Avoid discussing alarming news with the kids. Its OK to explain them the importance of why we are supposed to stay home and socially be distanced. Keep them engaged with games and provide emotional support. Here is a small game you can practice to improve their mind-body balance

  • Tell me one thing you are happy for today

  • Say one person's name who made you smile today

  • Did you help anyone to make their day?

Allow them to set small goals each day be it a hobby, reading or homework and reward them accordingly. Try to maintain a positive vibe throughout the break in your homes.

PS: These are just general guidelines to stay healthy and happy. If you notice any symptoms (not all-inclusive) of cold, shortness of breath, cough, fever, chills, body aches, stomach pain, headaches, sinus, please contact your nearest healthcare provider and remember to follow the up to date guidelines of your local, national healthcare authorities.

COVID19 is new and we do not know everything about this virus. It can affect everyone differently, so please do not neglect any symptoms that may be different from what the media tells you. There is no cure for this yet, so prevention is the only way to stay protected. The best way to prevent is to stay home.

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