Immunity In Ayurveda: Concept, Diet, Herbs, Medicines, Exercise

Article By – Dr Renita D’Souza
We can enjoy good health when we are able to to tolerate the stress and when body have ability to adapt to new threats and infirmity. This tolerance of mind and body towards  threats of environment is produced by one’s immunity of body. 

Scholars of Ayurveda have explained ‘Concept of Immunity’ thousands of years back which assures its importance in current situation of life. Ayurveda emphasizes not only on treating disease but also maintaining the health by improving one’s immunity of body.

Ayurvedic definition

Definition of immunity in Ayurveda
Immunity in Ayurveda is known by the word ‘Vyadishamathva’.

The term Vyadhi kshamathva is formed by two words Vyadi + Kshamathva
Vyadhi – Disease
Kshamathva – Resistance
It is the capacity of the body to resist the body

Chakradatta defined Immunity in two terms –
Vyadhi bala viroditvam – Capacity of body to fight against the manifested diseases
Vyadhi utpadaka pradibandhakatvam – Capacity of the body to resist the pathogenic process of forming diseases.
In few words immunity in Ayurveda refers to prevention of disease and quick recovery from disease.

Chakrapani on Charaka Sutrasthana 28/7

Functional role of Vyadhikshamatva

  1. Harsha – Pleasant mental disposition – having a mind free of depression and anxiety
  2. Arogyaanuvarthana – Improves health
  3. Prana anuvarthana – Preserves life
  4. Dosha nigraha – Balances dosha
  5. Vyadibalavighatha – Inhibits the effects of diseases
  6. Vrana ropana – Heals wound

Immunity Synonyms

Bala – Strength
Ojas – Life
Immunity of the person is known by his strength.

Strength – depends on health of muscle, blood and bone tissue.
Ojas – essence of all the tissues is ojus.
Formation of Ojus – Ojus is the first thing formed in life and it gets collected in the body by actions, qualities, habit and diet of human beings. There is no existence of life without ojus.
Read related – What is Ojas? How To Increase Ojas During Health And Disease?

Types of immunity

Types of immunity as per Ayurveda: 

  1. Vyayama shakti (physical strength)
  2. Vyadi kshamatva (immunity)
  3. Mano kshamatva (mental endurance)
  4. Therefore factors which protect ojus and strength contribute to increase immunity.

Immunity reducing factors

Factors which reduce immunity (balakshayakara bavas)

  1. Vego hi doshanam – Acute vitiation of doshas leads to formation of strong diseases.
  2. Bhuthopaghatas – Infections, body contamination
  3. Apdathushaya – Dehydration leads to imbalance in fluids, minerals and salts. Body starts to behave in unexpected ways
  4. Vyadikarshanath – Depletion by chronic diseases
  5. Athi vyayamath – Excessive exercise leads to excess loss of body tissue and weakness. Hence low immunity.
  6. Athimadyapanath – Excess intake of alcohol – damages liver, vascular and mental system.
  7. Ratrijaagaranath – Keeping awake at night – increases Vata dosha rapidly. Increased Vata means decreased quality of body tissues and depleted immunity.
  8. Manovyatha – Mental stress, fear, anger, envy etc.

Immunity promoting factors

Factors that promote immunity 

  1. Birth in a country where people are naturally strong ( birth place)
  2. Being born at time when people naturally gain strength (time )
  3. Favorable time and season
  4. Excellence of the qualities of sperm and ovum of parents
  5. Nutritious food
  6. Excellent physical strength
  7. Excellence of mind
  8. Favorable disposition of race and species
  9. Regular exercises
  10. Optimistic, cheerful, positive disposition
    Read related – Dinacharya – Importance Of Healthy Daily Regimen As Per Ayurveda

Source of strength 

  1. Sahaja bala – It is the natural capacity of body to resist and withstand diseases. It exists since birth and depends on qualities of sperm, ovum and excellence of time and place.
  2. Kaalaja bala – This strength is gained at favorable time (youth) and season.
  3. Yuktija kala – This is acquired by means of nutritious diet, regular exercise and intake of formulations which increase strength like rejuvenating therapy (rasayana) and aphrodisiacs (vajikarana).
    Read related – 13 Important Benefits Of Rasayana Treatment

Improving immunity in Ayurveda

  1. Maintaining tripods of life – Food (ahara), Sleep (nidra), Celibacy (bramacharya)
  2. Following code of conduct (sadvritha), Seasonal regimen (rtucharya), Daily regimen (dinacharya) Read related – Sadvritta In Ayurveda – Code Of Conduct For Healthy Life
  3. Use of Rejuvenating therapy (rasayana), Aphrodisiacs (vajeekarana), Timely internal purificatory procedures ( Kaale shodhana)
  4. Maintaining proper digestive power
  5. Rasayana – Use of Rasayana is exclusively told in Ayurveda for promoting health and rejuvenating the body,. It improves immunity by resisting disease both mentally and physically.

Rasayana for Mental Health
Achara rasayana – Ethics of regimen, similar to Sadvritta.

Immunity boosting herbs

Ayurvedic Herbs to improve immunity –
The below herbs used alone or in combination with other herbs.
The herbs are administered in the form of powder / capsule / tablet or decoction.
The decoction is prepared by taking the herb mixture – 1 tablespoon. Water – 1 cup or 200 ml is taken. Boiled with herbs. Reduced to a quarter, filtered and the liquid is consumed fresh and hot.

Immunity boosting herbs of Ayurveda: 
Guduchi – Tinospora cordifolia
Amalaki – Indian gooseberry
Yastimadhu – Licorice
Jyothismati – Celastrus paniculatus
Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus
Brahmi – Bacopa monnieri
Ashwagandha – Withania somnifera
Swarna Bhasma – Calx of Gold
Rajata Bhasma – calx of silver
Swarnamakshika – Chalcopyrite

Immunity herbs with Rasayana – anti ageing property
Pippali – Piper longum
Haritaki – Terminalia chebula
Nagabala – Sida veronicaefolia

Ayurvedic medicines to boost immunity

Rasayana Ayurvedic medicines to boost immunity
Chavanprash  – Used for general immunity against viral infection, respiratory infection
Brahma Rasayana – used for improving immunity in chronic diseases, cancer, fatigue and tiredness.
Amalaka Rasayana – Acts as a natural source of Vitamin C and anti oxidants
Agastya Haritaki Rasayana – mainly used for improving respiratory system immune strength
Ashwaghandharista – provides body with anti oxidants. Improves strength of muscles, nerves, internal organs.
Ashwagandadi lehyam – similar to ashwagandharishta, comes with more nutritive value.
Narasimha Rasayana – Classical description of this product says that, it makes the body as strong as a lion!
Arogyavardini Vati – more commonly used in diseases, still useful to improve immunity against liver infections and skin disorders
Brihat Rasa Chintamani – A very good nervine tonic, has metallic ingredients
Triphala Guggulu – useful in bowel care and vein care.
Vasanthakusumakara Rasa – used against urinary tract disorders and diabetes. Contains metallic ingredients.
Lauha Bhasma – A natural source for iron. Useful in cardio-vascular care.

Other Ayurvedic medicines for immunity:
Maha kalyanaka ghritha
Brami ghritha
Sarasvatha churna
Brahmi vati
Manasamitra vati
Ashwagandha Ghrita
Read related – Ritucharya – Healthy Seasonal Regimen – Introduction, Divisions


Ayurvedic diet to improve immunity: 
Diet which are are sweet, unctuous in nature nourishes the tissues if take in proper quantity and improves immunity.
Example – Milk, honey, jaggery, ghee, butter etc
Fruits – Grapes, apple, gooseberry, orange, custard apple,
Avoid – excess intake of spicy, sour, salty, bitter, extreme cold or hot food, fermented, dry food.

As per Ayurveda,
following easy diet rules,
having water during the meals,
having food with all tastes,
taking food in freshly made and hot condition,
including some amount of ghee, oils in diet – all these contribute greatly to improve immunity.

Regular exercise 

Regular exercise done according to ones strength and following proper rules in exercise will help improve immunity.

Ayurveda recommends a combination of good exercise routine, good choice of herbs, good food, good conduct, Yoga and Pranayama – all these, when done as per rules leads to boosting of immunity.
So, immunity treatment in Ayurveda, cannot be just done with just medicine or herbs. It needs a holistic, all encompassing approach.

Immunity in children

Ayurveda recommends
Swarna Bindu prashana – drops prepared with Swarna (gold calx) and herbal ghee with Ashwagandha, Brahmi etc herbs. Useful to improve immune power, body strength, memory and concentration.
Swarna Vacha – a stick with gold and sweet flag herb, used in infants and toddlers to improve immunity, memory and speech.
Read related:
After Delivery Care Of Mother For First Three Months

Immunity in women

Immunity strength in women, soon after child birth
Soon after childbirth, the new mother naturally will be very tired and prone to many diseases. This is due to sudden surge of Vata Dosha. (Apana type of Vata Dosha is responsible for childbirth process).
So, a set of regimen is prescribed to the new mother to improve her immune strength in a gradual manner.
Click to Consult Dr Renita D’Souza

Immunity boosting medicines based on Dosha

Of all the herbal jams like Chyawanprash, etc. is Aswagandhadi lehyam good to improve immunity? 
Different patients, different people have different immunity boosting requirements. There is no one herbal jam which is fit for all people. 
For example, For a Kapha person, with obesity, Aswagandhadi lehyam is good. 
Read: Ashwagandhadi Lehyam Uses, Side Effects, Dose And How To Prepare
For a Kapha person with respiratory symptoms, Chyawanprash is good. Read more about Chyawanprash
For a Vata person seeking muscle mass and to gain weight, then Aswagandhadi lehyam is good. 
Read: Non veg version of this Lehyam – Ajaswagandhadi lehyam
For A Pitta person, probably Drakshavaleham prepared with raisins is good, which helps to calm down Pitta dosha better. 
For a Pitta person with acid peptic disorders, Parushakadi lehyam with falsa fruit is good. 
For a Vata person to improve sexual health, Aswagandhadi lehyam is good. 
For a Kapha person seeking weight loss, if she wants to lose weight by exercise and wants more stamina, then Aswagandhadi lehyam is good. 
For any person with physical and mental stress, probably Aswagandhadi lehyam is good. 
Read: Ashwagandha Pak – Ingredients, Benefits, Dose, Side effects
For a patient recovering from post traumatic stress disorders, Aswagandhadi lehyam is good. 
For a person undergoing treatment for / recovering from cancer, Brahma Rasayana is good 
For an old person with respiratory issues and digestive weakness, Chyawanprash is good. 
For a patient of paralysis, seeking improvement of muscle strength, then Aswagandhadi or Ajaswagandhadi lehyam is good.
These are just a few examples of some scenarios. An Ayurvedic doctor would make the right decision considering many factors. 
Want to learn about Vata, Pitta, Kapha persons, Prakriti and Dosha Body Types? – Click here and sign up to this course

Tridosha and immunity

Among the Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which one is directly related to immunity? 
Dr JV Hebbar
Decreased immunity leads to a disease. Disease = aggravated Doshas. Hence, all three Doshas in perfect balance is an ideal situation to have robust immunity. 
Immunity is explained with two terms in Ayurveda 

Bala – Strength and immunity 
Ojas – Immunity factor in the body. 
Read: Immunity In Ayurveda: Concept, Diet, Herbs, Medicines, Exercise

Acharya Charaka, in Sutrasthana section, 17/117, has declared that 

प्राकृतस्तु बलं श्लेष्मा विकृतो मल उच्यते| 
स चैवौजः स्मृतः काये स च पाप्मोपदिश्यते||११७||
prākṛtastu balaṃ śleṣmā vikṛto mala ucyate| 
sa caivaujaḥ smṛtaḥ kāye sa ca pāpmopadiśyate||117||

It means 
prākṛtastu balaṃ śleṣmā – Healthy Kapha begets good bala – strength and immunity
vikṛto mala ucyate – When Kapha is imbalanced / vitiated, it acts as a waste product, to be thrown out of the body (As in case of excess kapha in the chest, leading to cough with sputum). 
sa caiva ojaḥ smṛtaḥ kāye – In the body, healthy Kapha dosha itself can be considered as Ojas – immunity factor in the body 
sa ca pāpma upadiśyate – When it is imbalanced, it causes disease, when it is balanced, it helps to ward off diseases. 

With this, it is clear that the biggest contributor for immunity in the body is Kapha Dosha. 
Read: Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Kapha Dosha Body Type
Ojas, the immunity factor of the body is described as the sum total of the essence of all body tissues. 
Out of the seven tissues, Kapha is directly proportional to five tissues (except bone – Vata and blood – Pitta). Because Kapha has direct influence on most of the tissues, its contribution to healthy immunity (ojas) is also big. 
Read: What is Ojas? How To Increas
Aggravated Pitta dosha, has a burning effect over the tissues, which leads to rapid decline in the quality of the tissues and Ojas. 
Aggravated Vata dosha depletes and degenerates tissues, which is commonly seen in elderly people. 
But a healthy Kapha is always useful to maintain tissues in good condition. 

In the explanation of Prakriti – Natural body type features, a Pitta and vata prakriti persons are told to have moderate and inferior lifespans respectively whereas Kapha person is told to have best lifespan, between the three. 
Read: Prakriti – Dosha Body Type Features As Per Master Charaka

Considering all these, it is safe to conclude that of the three doshas, a healthy, balanced Kapha Dosha influences immunity directly. 
Buy our book on Tridosha 
Tridosha Made Easy

Diet for Herpes

Dietary guidelines to boost immunity during herpes infection ? 
Dr JV Hebbar 
Herpes, as per Ayurveda, has Pitta dosha aggravation and is caused due to vitiation of blood tissue. Hence, bitter tasting herbs and a diet to balance Pitta and blood tissue is recommended. 
Curry leaves, turmeric, moringa, pointed gourd, ash gourd, neem, fennel, black cumin, holy basil, licorice, ginger, bitter vegetables such as bitter gourd, broccoli, kale, fenugreek leaves, citrus peel etc. are useful. 

3 comments on “Immunity In Ayurveda: Concept, Diet, Herbs, Medicines, Exercise

  • Dr.Aarti Parimal Pandya

    06/04/2020 - 11:31 am

    Dear Dr Renita,
    thank you very much for such a good article. i really appreciates.
    Dr.Aarti Parimal

    Reply to comment
  • Sanjeev Sharma

    30/04/2020 - 6:53 am

    Nice article Dr. Renita. If possible please enrich it with references.

    Reply to comment
    • Jen

      06/07/2020 - 12:06 am

      Yes, agreed! Finding these references in the classical texts is essential.

      Reply to comment

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