When we think of immunity, we may think of a nebulous set of factors that contribute to our resistance against illness and infection. It’s a fact that the immunity, or protective mechanism of our bodies, is affected by many factors, some of which stand out among the rest as being especially influential.
One of these, according to Ayurveda is, not surprisingly, the strength and health of the digestive system. Eighty percent of the immune system lies in the half inch between the intestinal villi and the lymphatic drainage that surrounds the gut. That means that any digestive disturbance or discomfort may be impacting the villi, which in turn may impact the efficiency of the lymphatic drainage system on the other side of that half inch.
Remember that, from an Ayurvedic perspective, the detox and digestive channels are one and the same, meaning that a compromised digestive tract will necessarily lead to inefficiency at ridding the body of toxins and other pollutants, thereby challenging the immune system. One of the best things you can do for both is detox regularly, using a cleanse that is intelligently designed to not only flush out toxins but to reset that digestive and detox pathway so that the body can resume detoxing for itself the way it naturally does when we are in a state of balance.
Another salient factor in the strength of the immune system is sun exposure. For over 60 million years, the sun has been our trigger for optimal health and immunity. The vitamin D procured from sun exposure provided an attachment mechanism for the T cells of our immune system, without which the T cells simply do not engage. Nowadays, so many of us lack adequate sun exposure that a high-quality vitamin D supplement becomes a necessity, especially in the wintertime when natural exposure is even more curtailed.
Lastly, one of the greatest boons we can give to our immune system is to manage our stress. Stress is believed to be public enemy #1 for our health, mostly because of its immune compromising impact. When we are under stress, the adrenals are forced to produce an excess of stress-fighting hormones. These hormones are degenerative and take a great toll on the immune system. This is just what the doctor orders if you want to get sick at the national average of 6-8 times a year.
To safeguard immunity, Ayurveda proposes a stress-less lifestyle achieved by living “downstream,” which is basically living in harmony with the cycles of nature. Eating seasonally and having a supportive daily routine are two of the biggest steps in accomplishing this.
Herbs are also used to support and bolster the immunity, often through the path of helping the digestion, moving lymph, and boosting the body’s resilience against stress.
- Have Dr. Douillard design an herbal program for you with a phone consultation.
- Get started healing with the 28-Day Ayurveda Challenge eCourse
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Chyawaprash: Chyawanprash is an amazing formula that has been used as a tonic in Ayurveda for over 3000 years. Chyawanprash is made from a complex and precise traditional recipe that includes over 40 powerful Ayurvedic herbs. The base and key ingredient of this formula is called Amalaki, or Indian Gooseberry, a powerful antioxidant fruit that is considered a superfood for the immune system in India for its potent free-radical scavenging properties. Among its many benefits, Chyawanprash invigorates the liver, enhances digestion and absorption, balances the effects of stress in the body and supports normal blood sugar and healthy cholesterol levels.
Vitamin D: If the immune system had a gas tank, vitamin D would be the fuel. The killer T cells in the immune system cannot go into battle to fight irritants and pathogens unless they find and attach to adequate levels of D3. Moreover, this renowned vitamin so critically influences the health of all of the body systems that it is a critical nutrient in the process of rebuilding from chronic stress. Our Liquid Sun Vitamin D3 comes cruelty-free from sheep lanolin, is easy to take and highly absorbable.
Turmeric: This renowned and ubiquitous Ayurvedic herb bolsters the immune system by enhancing the digestive function, supporting healthy villi, and promoting healthy bile and lymphatic flow. The addition of black pepper to this whole herb formula in the proper ratio increases the potency of Turmeric by over 2000%!
Ashwagandha: There are a group of herbs, called adaptogens, which help support against the ravages of stress. My favorite winter harvested immune adaptogen is called Ashwagandha. It acts neither as a stimulant nor as a sedative; because it can both boost energy and support better sleep. Ashwagandha also acts more like a deep rejuvenative that helps immunity naturally by helping the body handle stress better.