AYUSH for immunity: A step towards a healthier India

[ Dr Liyi Karso ]

Today we are living in a world where preventive measures for optimum health are important more than ever. Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, collectively known as AYUSH, constitute almost half of the healthcare resources of India.

The AYUSH ministry has launched a three-month campaign themed ‘AYUSH for immunity’, aimed at increasing awareness about affordable and easy practices that can be adopted for enhancing immunity and preventing diseases.

The current situation of the pandemic has brought unforeseen challenges before our pluralistic healthcare system, more so as there is no standard cure for Covid-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic in India, the AYUSH ministry has been taking much-needed initiatives such as public health training for practitioners of AYUSH, and disseminated immunity-boosting protocol to sensitize communities.

The AYUSH systems of medicines are generally known to promote general wellness as they have a holistic approach to customized healthcare of individuals.

With globalization, simple healthy practices like taking haldi milk, kadhas or chyawanprash have been disappearing from our daily life. On the other hand, we have also been moving towards unhealthy processed and fast foods. The ‘AYUSH for immunity’ campaign provides a renewed opportunity to put our lives back on the healthy track and increase our immunity by reaffirming the healthy practices which AYUSH systems of medicine have always suggested.

Innovative and decentralized ways of engaging people to raise awareness and uptake behaviour change with regard to taking up simple and effective AYUSH-related measures are being adopted and coordinated by AYUSH institutions across India. There are poster designing contests for students, interesting quizzes, interactive sessions and videos on social media by experts where they also address the questions of the public and highlight the key steps that can be taken to remain healthy through simple practices.

The information, education and communication methods used by the ministry also provide solutions for primordial aspects of public health. They promote immunity boosting measures such as practice of yogasana, pranayama and meditation for at least 30 minutes, and use of spices like haldi (turmeric), jeera (cumin), dhaniya (coriander) and lahsun (garlic) in cooking. There is ample scope for these systems of medicine to be better utilized for their prophylactic as well as therapeutic strength during this pandemic.

Similarly, homoeopathy is a comprehensive and safe system of medicine because it treats the person as a whole, rather than focusing on a singular aspect of a disease. It is based on the natural law of healing called ‘similia similibus curantur’ or the ‘law of similars’, which means that ‘likes are cured by likes’ and is being widely used in many countries across the world for more than 200 years.

The world is moving towards an evidence-based integrative medicine. Healthcare is becoming more pluralistic, and there is a pragmatic approach to medicine that is patient-centered and offers the broadest range of potential therapies, and that advocates not only holistic treatment of disease but also prevention, health and wellness.

‘AYUSH for immunity’ promotes behavioural change in people towards immunity-enhancing steps by bringing changes to daily lifestyle, and highlights the positive role of AYUSH in enhancing the immunity of a person. The prophylactic and therapeutic potentials of the AYUSH systems of medicine need to be propagated more during this time of global health crisis. [Dr Liyi Karso, MD (Homoeopathy), is a research officer at the Central Council of Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, and is currently posted at the Regional Research Institute (Homoeopathy), Guwahati.]