Immunity is a biological term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defense of the body to avoid infection, disease or other unwanted biological invasions.
Immunity to disease is achieved through the presence of antibodies to that disease in person`s system. Antibodies are the proteins produced by the body to neutralize or destroy toxins or disease.
There are two types of immunity:
Active immunity results when exposure to disease organism trigger the immune system to produce antibodies, it is called natural immunity, Induced immunity: introduction of killed or weakened form of the disease causing organism through vaccination.
Passive immunity It is provided when a person is given antibodies to a disease rather than producing through his or her own immune system .A new born baby acquires passive immunity from its mother through placenta. It gives immediate protection from specific disease where as active immunity takes time to develop.
However passive immunity last only for few weeks or months, only active immunity is long lasting.
Concept of Immunity in Ayurveda:
The Ayurvedic concept of immunity in Ayurveda is a captivating and many-faceted subject.
Vyaadhiksamatva as it is known in Ayurveda literally means “resistance (ksamatva) against disease (vyaadhi). Physical and mental resistance to disease is of enormous significance for all living beings; The body`s resistance has tremendous importance in daily welfare of living beings; for prevention and rapid recovery from the disease, immunity plays a vital role.
Vyadhi-kshamatva has much wider implication than the term immunity used in modern medicines.
Charka Acharya has also described it as Bala .He described Bala as factor that destroys the Dosha or disease causing factors. The Bala is used as synonym to Prana and Ojus. They have underlying meaning of Biostrength and vitality with natural resistance against aging and disease.
Vyadhi- kshavmatva (Natural resistance ) depends upon the quality of Ojus in an individual .It can be observe that among a group of people exposed to certain disease only some will be affect and other will not have any symptom .This shows that there are certain favorable factors which are important for flourishing the disease.
Vyadhi- Kshamatva is not of the same order constitution i.e. it varies with individuals. It also depends upon nutritional, environmental individual factors both mental and physical. The Vydhi-kshamatva or Bala is three types:
Sahaja Bala (Natural) :
It is genetic and inborn resistance to disease which exists since birth. It is said to increase with the growth of tissues and does not depend upon any other cause.Shaja Bala comes from the parents and is inherited. Today in our modern society incidents of allergies from various foods and substance are increasing and their immunity is less strong than their parents. These inherited factors come from their ancestors. According to Ayurveda`s theory on genetics, genetic factors are defined at the cellular level. If the two parent’s genetic makeup is healthy, the same health is seen in children where as if their genetic makeup includes susceptibility to certain disease those disease will be carried over to next generation. As this immunity is inherited, there is not much to do except to avert the defect through various modalities of Ayurveda.
This type of immunity is said to be influenced by time of day seasonal and age of person for example Strength is greater in early morning , spring and youth than in evening summer and old age . Certain places have stronger and healthier climatic and environmental conditions so these factors contribute to stronger immunity.
Yuktikruta Bala (Acquired):
This type of bala refers to modulation of body`s resistance against diseases restore to appropriate diet , physical activities , rest , restorative and Rasayana therapies in keeping the seasonal needs .Ayurveda focus on three plans for acquiring or enhancing immunity.
1. Rasayana helps to promote the health and rejuvenates the whole physiology, producing resistance against diseases both mental and physical .Physical health also plays a great role to enhance the immunity. Both physical and mental health factors compliment each other.
2. Vyayama: Daily exercise of up to 50% of one’s capacity enhances digestion, strengthen tissue metabolism and promotes immunity.
3. Satmya : Suitability Adapting wholesome diet, life style and giving up unwholesome food and life style helps to enhance the immunity.
These are classification of Satmya:
Universal Beneficial : Certain Practices , life style food and behavior are beneficial to all regardless of constitution , location ,season or condition for example water ,sleeping at night , moderate exercise , following moral conducts , duties towards society and nature .
Universal harmful certain substances and conducts are considered harmful to every individual , eg toxins alkalis , pollution ,certain food combination as milk and salt , equal honey and ghee , heating of honey , reheated food , late night sleep sedentary life style.
Some foods and exercises are good for one individual but may be harmful for others .it depends upon individual constitution, time, season food habits and health. for example rich food and more calories are good for the person who is doing heavy physical activities while same thing is bad for the person with less physical activity .One should eat locally grown food because it is designed as per the climatic requirements of the individual.
During this period of globalization and advancement in technologies all food items are available everywhere and throughout the year which is bad for the body. This practice disturbs the immune system. One must stick to the local and seasonal food stuff .Because these are most suitable for the body.
Other factors for Strong immunity:
Healthy Parents : As for good healthy plant fertile land good quality of seed and proper nourishment is required , in the same way health of the parents and good nourishment is required for good healthy progeny .Ayurveda gives great stress over the good health of both male and female before conception there have been advised for the cleansing and detoxification of both. After conception mother must follow the specially designed dietary and life style plan as every month schedule .This Plays great role on the immunity of new born.
Nutrition after Birth : Whole some adequate and timely nutrition for both mother and child during infancy plays an important role in developing immunity.
Mental Health : Positive thinking , love ,sharing ,caring ,following good moral conducts, Meditation are the factor for the nourishment of mental health .Good and alert mental state is an important part of overall health and immunity. So to attain complete state of health one must be in complete harmony of body and mind . This harmony is the greatest factor for Good immunity.
The prime Aim of Ayurveda is to protect the health of healthy personal and to cure the diseased one .So we can find the Ayurveda gives more stress on Preventive health care system, which teaches us who to maintain the balanced and harmonies of different system of body to attain the good state of health both physical and mental. This Science has elaborated personal, daily and seasonal regimes, special food habits suitable according to climate , area ,time and need of individual body . Until we will follow the rules as mention all the systems of the body get proper nutrition and environment to keep our body healthy.
Ojus is the prime factor to maintain the vyadhikshmatva (immunity) of the body .Ojus is essence of all the seven Dhatus (Seven basic supporting tissues of the body).So if we need to get good quality of Ojus then we must have good qualities of Dhatus. Dhatu formation starts with the digestion of the food and first and foremost part are called Rasa Dhatu which gives nourishment to all other dhatus. As we know quality final product depends upon the quality of Raw material , skilled labor, good management skills and work environment ,in the same way quality of ojus depend upon the quality of food , combination , timing of food , environment while eating, seasonal food daily work out , mental condition and Moral conducts.
After years of doing unwholesome diet and life style chronic inflammation produced in body which disturbs the immune system, so it takes long time to correct it and it is continuous process, yes some herbs and Ayurveda medicines can speed up the process. If you want a holistic growth of your immune system you must be on good diet and life style regularly.Ayurveda emphasis more on Natural immune system of the body.