As far as Ayurveda is concerned, immunity and body’s natural resistance to disease goes hand in hand along with good health. In Ayurveda, the concept of health is not just being free of disease but having a proper balance between the three major doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha as well. Well, when this balance is maintained, the agni or digestive fire functions properly, the waste products constituting the sweat, urine and feces are balanced and in normal quantity, the five senses work normally and the body, mind and spirit function in perfect harmony. In fact, Ayurveda states that even the most contagious diseases cannot affect the person who is in good health.
The main function of our immune system is to safeguard our body from foreign invaders or pathogens. These pathogens generally mean the bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites. Sometimes unnecessary entities may also be formed within the body as in the case of cancer and autoimmune disorders.
Proper functioning of the immune system is a complex balancing act. While a poor immune system makes one a victim of every type of illness, there is also a possibility wherein an immune response can become overactive or rather misdirected, thereby targeting the own tissues of the body mistaken for foreign invaders and destroying or attacking them. When our immune system functions properly, it is able to discriminate efficiently, eventually knowing when to fight against foreign invaders and when to stay silent.
Immunity is highly influenced by the digestive fire, the power of agni as well as our ability to digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients. In a healthy body wherein there is strong immune function, foreign invaders are either destroyed or neutralized; when destroyed, they are expelled from the body and our body is restored to normal condition. If agni gets impaired due to an imbalance among the three doshas, there is a negative effect on metabolism and the body’s natural resistance to disease and immune response are lowered.
If your body is unhealthy or has stored toxins or ama from undigested food, an environment in which invaders are encouraged to survive is created. Surprisingly, ama can be formed due to not only physical indigestion but mental indigestion as well! It acts as a fertile ground upon which invaders feed and settle in the weak areas of the body.
In Ayurveda, ama is said to be the root cause of all physical diseases. Indigestion and following ama formation stops nutrients from being delivered to the tissues and eventually weakens the immune function. Ama is normally the result of improper eating habits as well as poor and unhealthy lifestyle practices. On the other hand, our stress, relationships and traumas also greatly impact the process of digestion and immune function; especially when you engage yourself in activity or consume food that you know is bad for you however you do it anyway, you are actually committing a crime against wisdom, prajnaparabda. In this case, you are not only encouraging ama formation and creating a very toxic environment in your body but also weakening your will.
The strength of your identity and will are directly proportional to your immune function. Healthy relationships and discipline help build a sense of ‘self’. When the identity with the self is really strong, the cells in the body can differentiate ‘self’ from ‘non-self’ pretty easily and destroy that which does not serve the ‘whole’.
Ayurveda is a unique system of medicine which supports a natural tendency towards balance and provides guidelines with regards to lifestyle, diet, herbs and stress relieving techniques of meditation, yoga and pranayama as a wholesome formula to achieve good health and longevity.