Corona Virus & Some Ayurvedic Tips and Remedies by Saraswati Burhman, Ph.D.
Although nations and localities are working hard to try to contain this latest corona virus COVID-19, the tried-and-true public health methods of quarantine may not, by themselves, be enough this time around to contain this virus. One of the reasons for this is that the virus seems to have quite a long incubation period (the time between exposure and development of symptoms). And the infected person can apparently shed the virus for quite a while before he or she realizes that they have it. This virus, like most flu viruses, is also airborne, meaning that even if one is quite careful about hand-washing (and we all should be), it may not always be enough. And finally, in the first round of a novel virus, there may not be much residual immunity in the population, and there is usually a lag period before biological and medical research can catch up.
In such a situation, I strongly encourage everyone to try to prepare in advance. Having said that, I want to be clear that when we say a certain herb or medicine has “anti-viral” or “anti-biotic” properties, what we mean is that research has shown it to be effective against some viruses, or some bacteria. This does not mean that the substance is effective against all viruses or all bacteria.
Thus while I have selected a number of Ayurvedic and western herbs which have demonstrated anti-viral activity (some even against other corona viruses), we cannot be certain that any of them will work specifically against this particular corona virus. But in the Ayurvedic Medicine tradition of northern India in which I have been trained, it is customary to treat illnesses by combining several herbs together into a formula so that they enhance each other’s effects. And, in a situation like this one, where we are unsure which of our anti-viral herbs may work, it also makes sense to try more than one thing at a time. And, should some of them be effective, it is more difficult for an organism to evolve a resistance to several components than it is to a single component. My attitude is this: if a natural antiviral programme for prevention or treatment is inexpensive, available, and has few or no side effects, it makes more sense to me to try it than to do nothing. And it is better to assemble things to try for prevention and treatment before we get sick than to have to obtain them afterward.
Recommendations: 1) Keep up vitamin D levels (I have a slight preference for the liquid form since I suspect it is more readily absorbable (eg., the “My Kind” vegan brand is a small spray that contains vanilla and will probably taste good to kids as well as adults).
2) Stock up on elderberry syrup (sometimes called elderberry extract)---this is readily available at almost all health food stores, some grocery stores, and some pharmacies—these come in different strengths, so follow the directions on the labels. Kids usually like the taste, too. (Note: it’s not OK to consume the raw berries---they need to be specifically prepared before ingesting). Elderberry has an excellent record for reducing the severity and duration of both colds and flu, and some people use it as a preventative when they think they have been exposed.
3) Take lysine---this is an amino acid natural to the body. Higher levels of lysine seem to help inhibit viruses from attaching to mucous membranes. I first learned about it many years ago, when my vets began recommending it as the major treatment for my cats’ respiratory viruses. Lysine is now widely available for humans in veggie caps at most health food stores.
4) Don’t neglect to take a variety of different probiotic foods in your diet. In the last decade, we have learnt a great deal more about the important role the gut biome plays in our immune function.
5) Astragalus is a Chinese herb widely praised for its ability to enhance the immune response. It is available in veggie caps in most health food stores. The reason I did not include it in my formulation is because it is not recommended for use in cases of some autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. And while it is strongly recommended as a preventative in non-pregnant individuals, some practitioners are of the opinion that it should not be taken after one becomes ill.
6) “Full yogic breathing” (in some Yoga traditions, this is referred to as “the three part breath”), helps to strengthen the lungs and enhance lung capacity. If you know it, practice it 10 min/day.
7) Warm organic coconut oil: Said to be antiviral, a small amount can be rubbed inside the nose and sniffed into the sinuses as a possible preventative.
8) If you do become ill, and you have a fever, Ayurveda recommends avoiding cold foods and iced drinks, and taking warm soups and boiled-water herbal teas in preference to more solid foods until the temperature returns to normal.
Ayurvedic anti-viral formulation. In the Ayurvedic Medicine tradition, we prefer, when possible, to formulate individually, since people differ genetically, constitutionally, and in terms of their current imbalances and medical status. In this situation, however, where time may be of the essence, I have put together a formula of antiviral and other generally useful herbs/spices which I think has a reasonable probability of being helpful in managing the illness. The formula contains, in varying quantities: tulsi, licorice root, garlic, mahasudarshan churna, ginger, guduchi, kalmegh, berberis, neem, pomegranate, rosemary, jatamansi, artemisia, amla, a small amount of black pepper, and turmeric. It may be modified as more research becomes available.
You can order it by phoning 630-222-2222 or go to www.coronasancturary.com. The people who are putting this website up are still working on it, so if you can't find it on line or the number isn't working just give it a few days and try again. Other sources may become available as time goes on. Do not take this formula if you are pregnant or if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, or within one week of surgery, or with blood-thinning medications. Also, if you have any digestive problems with the formula or any other side effects, stop taking it and call me so I can adjust the formula properly for you individually (sometimes, just adding a few kitchen spices is all we need).
if you prefer to start out with a personalized formula because you also have other health issues, feel free to call me. If you have a serious medical condition for which you are taking western medication, please run the list of herbs in the formulation by your prescribing physician in order to obtain his/her consent before ordering it. While drug-herb interactions are not common, they do exist. As per Colorado law, the formula is also not intended to be given to children under two years of age.
And finally, and most importantly, should your symptoms be severe or quickly worsening, please go immediately to an urgent care facility or the emergency room.
How To Contact Dr. Bhurman If you have any questions or would like to contact Dr. Bhurman here is her contact information. Sarasvati Buhrman, Ph.D. Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Therapy, Boulder, CO 303 - 443 6923 (phone, don’t text)