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 Table of Contents  
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 65-68

COVID-19: Perspective of traditional medical care in prevention of communicable diseases


1 Department of Kayachikitsa, CBPACS, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Shalya Tantra, CBPACS, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Kayachikitsa, NEIAH-Ministry of AYUSH (Government of India), Shillong, Meghalaya, India

Date of Submission04-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance25-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication05-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jitendra Nathabhai Varsakiya
Department of Kayachikitsa, CBPACS, Najafgarh, Khera Dabar, New Delhi - 110 073
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/AYUHOM.AYUHOM_9_21

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  Abstract 


The communicable diseases including tuberculosis, HIV, measles, plague, flu, Ebola, and coronaviruses are contagious in nature and mostly caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. They generally spread through air, direct contact with contaminated surfaces, body fluids, blood, and respiratory droplets. Recently, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease-2019 as a worldwide pandemic disease. The coronavirus is an enveloped positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome virus that causes respiratory tract infections in humans, birds, and bats. A definite treatment for this disease is not yet available, and the disease is spreading continuously worldwide. It is challenging for healthcare fraternity to restrain its spread. The traditional medical care may be helpful, so it is needed to explore the herbal sources to combat this pandemic situation. Thorough study of Ayurveda literature, Various indications find regarding prevention of communicable diseases. The ancient Ayurveda and traditional care have description of epidemic, along with their management, under the heading Janapadodhwamsa (Mahamari) with their management. Furthermore, categorization of the Aoupasargik Roga/Sankramak Roga indicates the significance attributed to contagious nature of these communicable diseases. Appropriate lifestyle measures such as good personal conduct, balanced nutritious diet, and guided social behavior would complement to prevent the spread of these diseases. This is an attempt to briefly review the role of traditional medical care in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

Keywords: Ayurveda, communicable diseases, coronavirus disease-2019, Janapadodhwamsa, traditional medicine


How to cite this article:
Varsakiya JN, Kumar M, Choudhury B. COVID-19: Perspective of traditional medical care in prevention of communicable diseases. AYUHOM 2019;6:65-8

How to cite this URL:
Varsakiya JN, Kumar M, Choudhury B. COVID-19: Perspective of traditional medical care in prevention of communicable diseases. AYUHOM [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Jun 13];6:65-8. Available from: http://www.ayuhom.com/text.asp?2019/6/2/65/310855




  Introduction Top


The primary aim of Ayurveda is Swasthasya Swasthya Rakshanam (disease preventive and health promotive aspect) through Dinacharya (daily routine regimen), Ritucharya (seasonal regimen), Ahara-Vihara (diet and lifestyle), Pathya-Apathya (do's and don'ts), Sadvritta, (social norms), Rasayana (rejuvenation therapy), etc., It helps prevent contagious diseases and maintain health of individuals as well as community.

Infectious diseases, transmissible diseases, and communicable diseases are the terms used synonymously. These diseases are contagious in nature and are caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, arthropods, etc., The affected hosts fight with these infections through their own immune system (innate or acquired). Various methods to control these infections and enhance the immunity are in practice.[1] The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 12, 2020, on coronavirus disease-2019 (”COVID-19”) declared globally as a pandemic disease, and 6,416,828 numbers of confirmed cases and 382,867 deaths were reported as on June 4, 2020.[2] The epicenter of this new strain of novel coronavirus 2019 was Wuhan, Hubei, China, identified in December 2019. It is mostly similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and bat coronavirus. The cases initially outbreak from Wuhan but spread rapidly worldwide.[3]

The term “traditional” means habitually done or used in accordance with traditions. The traditional medicine is also known as folk medicine or indigenous medicine. The traditional medical care, such as daily regimen, beliefs, theories, and experiences, is being practiced since ancient time. The WHO mentioned that these are helpful in prevention, improvement, or treatment of physical and mental illness.[4]

The concept of epidemic fall down is elaborately mentioned in Ayurveda in terms of Janapadodhwamsa,[5] Janamar,[6] Marak,[7] and Mahamari.

The aspect of healthy living is a common social practice still being observed in many spirituality oriented communities. Conventionally, hand washing before and after meal, after entering home from outside, cleanliness in kitchen and dining area, maintenance of personal hygiene of cooks, selection of diet and their combination, Lepan and painting inner wall of home with cow dung[8] (Gomay Lepan), Namaste Samskar,[9] Yagya Samskar[10] (offerings made to the deity fire) to purify the air, meditation, pranayama, for mental health, are in practice. Most of the diseases are able to affect the human due to their low diseased resistance power (immunocompromised person). There are certain rejuvenation drugs described in Ayurveda classics that can help enhance the immunity of individuals. There are also several medicines that are available in Ayurveda, which helps in curing fever and respiratory diseases for many centuries in many countries in the world, especially in the Southeast Asian region. Ayurveda can manage many diseases by its preventive, curative, promotive, personalized medicine. There is a huge possibility to utilize Ayurveda Medical System for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Need of the study

In the current scenario, communicable disease (COVID-19) is an outbreak and it is spread by close contacts via respiratory droplets, sneezing and coughing, and fomite-borne infection.[11] There is no definitive treatment available against this organism, nor specific vaccine is available at present, and hence, prevention is the only choice to avert the outbreak. Further, the result of available conventional treatment is not very encouraging. Hence, there is a search for alternative and traditional modalities for the prevention which is safe and cost-effective. Ayurveda can play a profound role in the field of preventive and social medicine through its concepts of Swasthavritta and Rasayana. It seems to be the need of the hour.

Aims

The aim of the study is to provide the perspective of traditional medical care to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Objectives

The objective of the study is to combat the spread of COVID-19 disease through traditional medical care.


  Communicable Disease and Ayurveda Top


Acharya Sushruta describes the Sankramak Roga as Aoupasargik Roga (communicable or contagious diseases) that spread through coitus (syphilis, gonorrhea), contact (leprosy, chickenpox), droplets (tuberculosis, pneumonia), dine together (diarrhea, typhoid), sleeping with (skin disorders), use of infectious clothes, garland, paste, etc.[12]

Acharya Charak states that the root cause of Janapadodhwamsa (epidemic fall down) is Adharma (unrighteousness/bad conduct) which leads to Pragyaparadha (intellectual blasphemy, disturbance in intellect, and memory disturbance). This ultimately polluted the environmental factors such as air (Vayu), water (Jala), soil (Desha), and time (Kala). These vitiated Vayu (air, environment), Jala (water), Desha (region, state, country), and Kala (season) lead to ravage of Janapada (community).[13]

Acharya Sushruta also mentioned that the consequences of epidemics in the classics as Kadachit Vyapanney Swapi Ritusu (derangement in seasons), Kritya (wrong Karma), Abhishap (curse of animals and kinds), Rakshas (demons, viruses, bacteria), Krodha (anger, disrespectful), Rupadwasyante Janapada (population get extinct), vitiated air, vitiated water, and nation-specific convert are mutant. These results in manifestation of various diseases in community such as fever, coughing, breathlessness, vomiting, running nose, and headache in the form of epidemics (Marak).[14]

The aspect of epidemic care and restored well-being conditions may achieved via Sthana Parityaga (isolate from the affected area, change of place), Shantikarma (treatment, pacifying action), Prayaschit (atonement), Mangal (undertaking auspicious acts), Japa (repeated recitation of sacred incantations), Hom (lighting of sacrificial fires for air purification), Upahar (gift right scene), Namaskar (respectful greeting/salutation with folded hands), Niyam (follow rules), Daya (sympathy), Dana (charity), Deeksha (initiation from the preceptors), and devotion to God. The above aspects of traditional care are older, but may have significance in the current scenario to prevent the spread of COVID -19.[15]

Swasthasya Swasthya Rakshanam

Ayurveda aims to protect the body first.[16] The protection of health of a healthy person is only possible by following the norms of Dinacharya (daily routine), Ritucharya (seasonal routine), Pathya-Apathya (do's and don'ts), and Sadvritta (right conduct).

Diet

The quote “Ahara Shudhhi Satva Shudhhi” clearly indicates that clean Ahara makes sanctified conscience.[17] The intake of clean balanced diet at suitable place (with proper regards without any hurry-worry), Satva Guna Yukta Ahara, identified Ahara, in proper quantity and avoidance of incompatible diet are the general norms in traditional practice.

Bala/Oja (immunity)

The immunity is self-disease resistance power that plays a key role in disease hindrance. The concept of Oja or Bala mentioned in Ayurveda is indicative of innate immunity. Many Ayurvedic therapeutic procedures and herbal drugs are indicated for the enhancement of innate immunity (Vyadhikshamatva). It is achieved by two approaches, viz., Vyadhi Bala Virodhitva and Vyadhyutpadaka Pratibandhakatva. Among them, Vyadhi Bala Virodhitva is achieved by improving the immunity of an individual's body, while Vyadhyutpadaka Pratibandhakatva is acquired by using certain Ayurvedic therapies. The contagious disease like COVID-19 mainly affects the immunocompromised person and may result lethal.

Rasayana[18] (rejuvenation and immune enhancer)

In Ayurveda, Rasayana therapy (antioxidant/rejuvenation therapy) is most suitable for the enhancement of immunity. Further, many herbs such as Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia (Thunb.) Miers), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal), Goksura (Tribulus terrestris), and Pippali (Piper longum L), as well as medicinal formulations such as Chyavanaprasa, Brahma Rasayana, Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana, and Agastya Haritaki potentially boost the Bala (immunity) of the person.

Dhupana (fumigation methods)

Many herbal Dhupana Drvayas (fumigation drugs) such as Laksha (Laccifer lacca), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Ativisha (Aconitum hetrophyllum wall. ex royale), Tamal Patara (Cinnamomum tamala), Kushta (Saussurea lappa c. b. clerk), Tagara (Valeriana officinalis), and Priyangu (Callicarpa tomentosa Linn.) is mentioned in Ayurveda classics. It helps to clean the indoor , repel the mosquitoes, purify the air and reduces the air pollution.[19] The combination of Sarsapa (Brassica campestris Linn.), Nimba Patra (Azadirachta indica), Ghrita, and Lavana (salt) is practice as Dhupana from the ancient time which acts as antiseptic measures.[20],[21] As per availability of materials, Dhupana (fumigation methods) can be adopted.

Raksha Vidhaan (prophylactic measures)

Sushruta advises continuous protective measures from Nisachar (bacteria, viruses) in wounded patient with Dhupana Karma (fumigation), Mantra (chanting), five Yama (nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, celibacy, abstinence from litigation), and five Niyama (cleanliness, satisfaction, austerity, self-study, Ishwar Pranidhan)[22] and also to prevent the spread of coronavirus; sanitizing and cleaning of all the usable with disinfectants are being utilized; hence, the procedure of “Dushita Bhumi Shodhana” (purification of contaminated area) can be applied for the purpose. This procedure may be proved to be cost-effective with negligible hazard as for the purpose only herbal preparations are used.


  Traditional Preventive measures Top


The current situation of COVID -19 can be prevent with the help of traditional preventive measures such as:

  • Namaste:[9] The term Namaste comes from Hindu religion that means performing respectful greetings in Anjali Mudra and Pranam Asana. This keeps personal distance as well as greetings for each other. This is helpful in preventing direct spreading (touch spread) of communicable diseases (e.g., COVID-19)
  • The tradition of Yagya at many sacred occasions that impact to clean the mind, body, and atmosphere[23]
  • The advisory for COVID-19 is to be careful at public transport, crowded places, and public places such as parks, cinema halls, gyms, and markets malls[24],[25]
  • Swabhavik Vega (natural urges): The urges of sneezing and coughing should be in a right way without affecting the others. Should cover the nose and face by hand or a piece of cloth while sneezing, coughing, laughing, and yawning.[26] Further, maintain physical distance while talking with others to avoid transmission of spit, foul smell, and infections
  • Hasta Pada Prakshalana (hand and foot hygiene): Regular cleaning of hands and feet in routine activities is supportive to prevent infection
  • Kshoura Karma (hair and nail hygiene): Develop habit to cut the hairs and beard timely, regular cutting of nails by cutter instead of cutting by teeth
  • Sharira Parimarjana (body wash with sponge): One should follow the routine hygiene of hand wash, bath taking and wearing clean cloths.
  • Fingering in nose, ear, and mouth and touching the body parts unnecessarily invite disease infection. These habits are to be avoided.[27]


The rich traditional and textual practices of Indian culture have description of communicable diseases and competence in preventing or controlling the same.


  Discussion and Conclusion Top


Prima facie, there is no specific, evidence-based and effective remedy available as yet to cure COVID-19. Hence, preventive strategies described in this paper are of prime significance. The Indian traditional medical care has description of contagious diseases (Sankramak Roga) and epidemic fall down with their prevention management such as Sadvritta (habit of right conduct), daily regimen, seasonal regimen, Panchakarma (body purification), rejuvenation therapy, and immune enhancer therapies. These are able to play a crucial role in the prevention of communicable diseases. In Indian culture, many health-restoring and disease-preventing aspects are in their culture. It is required to illuminate the awareness in community to follow the right conduct in their daily habits. This may be a cost-effective choice in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 and many more infectious diseases. It is the matter of validation on scientific platform to prove the traditional science for the same.

Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge WHO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI, Ministry of AYUSH, GOI, and other healthcare sectors for their contributions in providing updates, preventive guidelines, and social message to control the outbreak of COVID-19.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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