Quora, the popular platform for questions is flooded with questions around Corona virus (novel Covid 19). There are at least two dozen questions on the subject in my worklist alone. People are desperately looking for that silver bullet which will make this deadly virus sweeping the globe go away. Many herbal medicine enthusiasts are peddling multiple herbs, spices and foods as solutions. This is an effort to dispel some of the fog around this subject. It is an attempt to present facts as they are.

Ancient medicine systems from Ayurveda, TCM, Tibetan Medicine, Unani, folk medicine from different parts of the world relied on nature for healing and healthcare. Emphasis was laid on lifestyle. This included fresh food obtained from natural sources. Meals were a combination of fruit, vegetables, dairy, herbs and spices. They were regarded to be holistic, healing and ideal if they had five tastes- sour, salty, sweet, bitter and bland. All these came from nature.

Meat and even spices were a luxury for the elite which the common people could not afford. Everything was organic as conventional food as we know today is just a century old. In modern scientific terms food should be rich in antioxidants (green, red, yellow colored fruit and vegetables), probiotic bacteria (yoghurt, leavened food etc) , nature based antibiotics like turmeric, basil, holy basil, mint etc. Food has to be fresh and organic.

Yoga, tai chi, qi gong, meditation and exercise was integrated into an individuals routine. This helped strengthen the physical and mental defense system of our body.

Some systems like Ayurveda sought to further refine this simple lifestyle based recommendation by aligning it to individual personalities (Prakriti and dosha). The Chinese talked about the human body alignment with the cosmos while the ancient Ayurveda philosophers emphasized on chants and mantra. In modern terms we would define these as psychotherapeutic interventions to combat disease.

This was a time of integrated medicine in which emphasis was on preventive healthcare. Herbal medicine was integral to this thinking but its role was primarily prophylactic. Till humans find the answer to Covid 19, the option available to us lies in this combination of prophylactic medication and integrated lifestyle. If you are interested in knowing more on nature based healthcare systems you can take your pick from the selection here.


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