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Ayurveda in the time of Corona

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Ayurveda in the time of Corona

By the time you read this, we may all be out of the woods, or at least till the winter so it’s worth taking some time to consider what we can do to not only protect ourselves but boost our own immunity. We would do well to consider useful herbs, supplements, foods and other ayurvedic tricks that could help keep us well. Please note that none of the suggestions below are substitute for proper hygiene and medical intervention if you are having serious symptoms.


  1. Incense. Incense sticks have been used in monastic yoga traditions and hindu temples for centuries. There are two reasons why they are used. Firstly, to purify the air and secondly, to attract higher beings (spirits) to the smell so that they can help to raise the overall vibration of the space. Incense is often burned in conjunction with fire rituals (yagyas) where various herbs would be deliberately burned whilst chanting mantras and verses from the vedas. Be careful of commercially bought incense, however. They often contain particulates that can cause allergic reactions. Sage sticks used by shamans for rituals, are also really useful. If you already have symptoms of lung infection, don’t use incense. It will make you feel worse.
  2. Diffuser: An easier tool to use is a diffuser with aromatherapy oils. For those of you who don’t know what a diffuser is, it is a 21st century version of an essential oil burner. Cleaner, safer and in fact more efficient. A lot of them a quite fun too because they create steam and change colour. Most diffusers will take around 100ml of water. For 100ml, you should not add more than 3 or 4 drops of essential oil. Please note that more is not better here. If you put too many drops, you may end up getting a sore throat and feeling lightheaded. Here are just some key oils you can use. There are some many more I could mention but I think the following oils and the ones you are most likely to find in health shops.
  3. Eucalyptus: I start with this because at this time, it is by far most useful. Eucalypus fights viruses, clears your lungs and helps reduce fever
  4. Tea tree: Perhaps the best-known oil, it is famous for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can even use it in a spray (with water) to keep surfaces clean.
  • Thyme: is one of the most potent oils with antiviral properties. It acts on the respiratory tract and can be very effective for cleaning too.
  1. Clove: I always use clove to make spiced tea (something I learned from my mother). It is excellent for lung conditions, as well as being a good analgesic. It even has the bonus of being an aphrodisiac if you are taking advantage of the lockdown (wink wink).
  2. Rosemary: This is such a ubiquitous oil that it had to be mentioned. It is a good diaphoretic (helps you sweat it out) as well as being antiviral, antibacterial etc. It is also a good antidepressant if you’re beginning to go stir crazy.
  3. Lavender: The last but not least. In fact, Lavender has such a broad action, it should really have gone first. It brings down fever, heals your wounds as well as your soul. It helps you sleep if you are struggling with anxiety at this time.
  4. Herb teas: You should drink loads of hot drinks at this time. Once the virus gets into your throat, it can hang around for days and end up getting lodged in your lungs if you aren’t careful. We are told that this virus does not survive well in temperatures of 28 degrees or above. That’s why constantly hydrating with herb teas is a good idea. If you have time, try to make fresh herbs teas rather than just using teabags. They taste so much better and their action is more powerful. Here are my top teas:
  5. Ginger tea: Ayurveda loves ginger. It is such a wonderful spice. It stimulates your agni (digestive fire) and clears aama (toxins). It is also a diaphoretic, it improves circulation (recently proven scientifically) and raises your body temperature slightly to help you fight infection. I prefer ginger root. I use a garlic crusher to squeeze the juice out then add the remaining bits afterwards. It goes well with lemon. (see next)
  6. Lemon tea is super for opening the lungs, stimulating agni and lifting your spirits. It also has antiviral properties.
  • Clove and Cinnamon tea: You can obvious make separate teas out of these or add them to black tea to make masala chai. Cinnamon is indicated for clearing lungs and lowering blood sugar but be careful with it. if you are overheated, it may make you worse.
  1. Liquorice tea is great for soothing your throat and strengthening the lungs. It actually combines well with ginger, particularly if you are prone to asthma.
  2. Camomile tea will keep you calm and help you relax before bed.
  3. Teas with lavender, skullcap, valerian or hops will also help to prepare you for sleep. Good sleep is incredibly important for maintaining your immunity. Don’t neglect it.
  • Peppermint tea, the classic digestive is also good for opening the lungs (see oils)
  • Turmeric is everywhere these days. It is an excellent antibacterial and antiviral.
  1. Supplements and Herbs: Here are my top recommendations for supplements at this time.
  2. Garlic pearls/ capsules: Each capsule should have at least 1000mg of garlic extract for best effect. It is by far, natures best antibiotic and antiviral. It is best however to eat garlic raw. Crush a few cloves, leave for 10 minutes to activate properties then use. A supplement is the next best thing.
  3. Selenium: A powerful mineral that keeps your immune system strong and your metabolism in balance. You don’t need much and you can actually get it by eating nuts, especially brazil nuts.
  • Vitamin C: You need to take at least 1000mg per day (or more- up to 3000 is safe without guidance) to combat pathogens. Your immune system uses up load of vitamin C when fighting disease, so it is well worth supplementing. Ascorbic acid can upset people’s stomachs sometimes, so Ester C is an alternative. Eating an orange unfortunately won’t cut it though plenty of fresh fruit generally will boost your overall health.
  1. Vitamin D: We can’t get out as much as we’d like, or at least, not at the time of writing, so do take vitamin D supplements too. They are vital for strong immunity. If you have a garden, then sit outside for a good 20 mins to get your daily dose of sun instead.
  2. Echinacea tincture is easy to get hold of and excellent for increasing white blood cell activity. Use as indicated.
  3. Elderberry is a very powerful herb for Covid 19. It inhibits replication and viral attachment, so it is good for prevention. You should be able to find it in your health stores.
  4. Ayurvedic protocols: There are many useful techniques used in Ayurveda that can be useful for viral outbreaks.
  5. Gargling: If you gargle with salty water a couple of times a day, especially if you’ve just been out, then you may be able to remove any viruses that have managed to lodge in your throat. In Ayurveda, they actually use medicated oil to gargle so this could be an option too. it also helps to maintain oral health, i.e. your teeth and gums. You can also use a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in glass of water.
  6. Cooked food: Don’t eat cold food during outbreaks. You want to make sure the food is well cooked so that it is not only more digestible but also clear of pathogens. Cooking also helps to break down lectin which slows down digestion by preventing the body from absorbing nutrients.
  • Spices: Help to make the food more digestive, burn up toxins and make your food delicious. Use ginger (obviously) garlic, onions, cardamom, fennel, cumin, coriander and of course turmeric.
  1. Nasya: In Ayurveda, they recommend putting one drop of oil into each nostril to strengthen the membrane, protect against allergens and pathogens and keep your head clear. It is commonly used in kapha disorders but everyone can benefit. The best oil to use is Sesame oil. You can get hold of sesame oil in most Asian shops or online. Don’t use the roasted variety.

The yogic nasya is of course, Jala neti. You should definitely be nasal douching at this time, perhaps even several times a day. Get yourself a neti pot online (the ones with upward spouts are best) and use one teaspoon of salt per half a litre of warm water. There are lots of youtube videos on this including mine. (see my website for a link- www.tarikdervish.com)

  1. Daily routines: don’t underestimate the power of good routines. Eating, sleeping and exercising at proper times will help keep you strong and stable. Don’t watch too much bad news. It will harm your spirit. Switch the TV off and create a pleasant healing environment for you and your family.
  2. Yoga and Meditation: I’ve put this last because it is something you will probably already know about. Gentle daily practice, mindfulness, meditation, yoga nidra between 4-6pm are all useful. Keep your lungs strong with short daily rounds of kapalabhati (only at home. Not in any public spaces!) Nadi shodhana will also help to keep you calm and in balance. Mantra is wonderful. Sing. Be happy. Be grateful. Be kind and be ready for the next round this coming winter.


Tarik Dervish runs the Ayurveda Online course with Cathy Mae Karelse which forms part of the BWY Ayurveda Module. He is a qualified and experienced ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher trainer and runs CPD days around the country. The next Ayurveda in Action Online course will run in September 2020. For more information visit yogawell.co.uk



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