Ayurveda does not have a magic pill for COVID-19. But it does offer many therapies to support the respiratory system, increase immunity, and reduce stress during these uncertain times.
As we enter spring, we come into kapha season. Externally snow melts from mountain peaks, internally it melts within the respiratory and digestive systems. The heavy foods consumed over the winter months start to break down, and we experience more congestion and seasonal allergies. During spring, Ayurveda focuses on lightening the diet and supporting kapha, which resides in the respiratory and digestive systems.
The diet should transition from heavier winter foods into more bitter, pungent, and astringent foods. Reduce mucus-producing foods such as sugar, cheese, beer, beef, pork, and milk products. Bitter greens, green beans, asparagus, garlic, onions, chicken, turmeric, ginger, are all good to include in the diet. Kitchari is a light and filling dish that is inexpensive and easy to prepare. Here’s my favorite:
- ½ cup of split mung beans or dal
- ½ cup of basmati rice
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp. of ghee
- ¼ tsp. mustard seeds
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. ground fennel
- ½ tsp. ground fenugreek
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- 6 cups of water
To support the immune system, Ayurveda recommends increasing the power of digestion. The gut wall contains 70% of the cells that make up the immune system. So by supporting the flora and environment within the gut, we work to increase our immunity.Including ghee in the diet is a great way to start. Ghee is clarified butter—butter that has the milk solids and water removed. Clarification makes ghee lighter and easier to digest. Ghee promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) found in ghee that is a crucial agent in this process. Butyric acid provides the colon cells with about 70% (1) of their total energy needs. The colon can then utilize this energy to inhibit the growth of “bad bacteria” that cause infection and disrupt function. The butyric acid also supports the production of killer T-cells, promoting a healthy immune system. You can use ghee as a cooking oil or mixed in dishes. Ghee is available at most health food stores. But it is effortless to make.
How to Make Ghee
Ingredients: 1 lb. of butterInstructions:
Cube butter and cook in a pot over low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
Do not stir it or scrape the foam. Let it slowly simmer.
Cook until you see the transparent ghee on the top and the brown sediment on the bottom.
Transfer the pot from the heat. Let it cool and settle for about 10 minutes.
- Strain it through a strainer or cheese cloth into a thick glass jar. Store at room temperature.
Sitopiladi is a formula used in Ayurveda to support the respiratory system. Sitopiladi contains pippali, cinnamon, cardamom, vamsa, and bamslochana. It is a bronchodilator. Therefore, it can help with shortness of breath. As a febrifuge, it will bring down a fever. It is an expectorant, with anti-asthmatic and antiallergenic effects.
Sitopiladi tastes terrific! To take it, add a ¼ tsp. to a few ounces of warm water. Do this a couple of times a day to nourish the respiratory system.
Echinacea is another well-documented herb to support the respiratory system. There are plenty of herbal teas formulated with echinacea available at grocery stores.
With shelter in place guidelines in most areas, this is the perfect time to practice self-care. With the reduction in social engagements, we have time to shift our attention towards our health and wellness goals. Breathing exercises can increase lung capacity, help the body release negative emotions, and calm the nervous system. Alternate nostril breathing is a beautiful breathing practice that works immediately to reduce anxiety. Start by including a 10-15-minute pranayama—breathing exercise in the morning.
To Practice Alternate Nostril BreathingGently exhale all the breath. Close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril. When you get to the top of your breath, close the left nostril with the ring finger, releasing the thumb, and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right, then close the right nostril with the thumb and exhale through the left nostril. You have now completed one round. Begin by practicing five rounds.
Health benefits: calms the mind, helps release accumulated tension and fatigue.
We are in unprecedented times, and that can cause fear and anxiety. When we feel stress, our cortisol levels soar, and it can cause us to make poor decisions, especially when it comes to health and wellness. So take the time to take care of yourself.Remember, impermanence. Nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass. Be thankful that you have a warm home and cupboards with food. That is not a reality for all people. Take this time to nourish yourself with home cooking and self-care. Work within and let your love light shine!