Author: Deepa Natarajan
“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.”– Thomas Browne
With the novel coronavirus crippling the world as fast as the blink of an eye, there isn’t much that one can do except take precautions and build immunity. And when one talks of boosting immunity, Ayurveda, the alternative medicine system that has existed for centuries, comes instantly to the mind. Even as the world is opening its eyes to the wonders of this ancient practice, isn’t it ironic that India, the birthplace of Ayurveda, is leering more and more towards modern medicine and helping insurance companies and boutique hospitals make a quick buck?
While top scientists are working night and day to find the much-needed vaccine for this deadly pandemic, it’s about time we turn to our own culture and our inner selves to appreciate something that our country has given to the world. Physeek Cafe talks to Dr. HT Sreenivas, one of the frontrunners in the field, who speaks about the magic of Ayurveda and how it could be used to cure the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and as well as prevent the spread.
Dr Sreenivas started practicing Ayurveda way back in 1976 and even taught it at the prestigious Taranath Ayurvedic Medical College in Bellary. He also worked at the Government Ayurvedic Medical College, Bangalore, where he did his graduation and post-graduation. The Former Joint Director of the Department of Ayush, Govt of Karnataka, was one of the camp doctors who worked tirelessly when there was an outbreak of Japanese B Encephalitis in Tumkur in the late 70s. Having been part of the field for over 40 years, the list of his laurels is never-ending. The now-retired doctor has his own private practice and also serves as a visiting doctor at a private clinic in Bengaluru.
Excerpts from the interview (Please watch the video for the detailed version)
1. Can you tell us about the origin of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda has ruled the past, present and future. Ayurvedic medicines have remained unchanged for the last 2500 years but the same cannot be said for modern medicine, which keeps undergoing changes. For instance, at the beginning of the 21st century, sulfa drugs were popular but with time, they were withdrawn from the market as they proved to be less effective and had adverse reactions. Same holds true for drugs like penicillin and tetracycline, to name a few, whose popularity declined with time.
2. Covid has truly shocked the world. Can ayurveda treat the signs and symptoms of this deadly disease?
Covid19 starts with the normal flu, like many other diseases. The first day itself, we start ayurvedic medicines including immune boosters and regulators as coronavirus is a battle between the virus and your immune system. Then over a period of time, say five to seven days depending on the severity of the disease, we do other therapies like administering hot water (sugar water in case of fever) to the patient, rice gruel with spices like ginger and pepper, or thin mutton/lava soup for non-vegetarians and salt therapy on the back.
All this can be done even in addition to allopathy or regular medication in consultation with the allopathic doctors. Ayurveda, nourishing food and simple changes in lifestyle like pranayama and yoga can do wonders to your body and keep covid19 away forever.
3. How is Ayurveda unique when compared to Western medicine?
Be it a pathogen, bacteria or virus, modern medicines target the infection directly. But in the long run, it’s like a war between humans and pathogens and over time, pathogens develop an armory of their own. In this Ramayana, the Ravana (who is the pathogen) isn’t dying unless we become strong inside out!
For acute infections like the novel coronavirus, medicines may work but in the long run, we have to become stronger to withstand the assault, which isn’t only from the outside but inside too. Ayurveda in combination with yoga can be used to conquer not just covid but any disease and prevent its recurrence.
4. A youngster today equates good health with six-pack-abs as opposed to core strength. What, according to you, is the importance of core strength?
Youngsters today have a fascination for muscles and head to the gym to develop the same. But they don’t realise that core body strength is the strength of your vital organs, like lungs, heart and visceral organs. To develop this strength, one has to practice ‘yogasana’ and ‘pranayama’. As per the law of nature, early man was a four-legged creature. But with evolution, we learned to stand up and as a result of this erect posture, we may have lost some of our important strengths. So when we do yoga, most of the ‘asanas’ (named after animals like ‘makarasana’ and ‘gomukhasana’) require us to go down on all fours.This makes every part of our body strong. Combining this with ‘pranayama’ helps strengthen all the internal organs of the body, especially the lungs, which are extremely susceptible to diseases like covid-19.
About the Doctor
Prof. Dr. H.T. Sreenivas
Former Joint Director, Department of AYUSH, Government of Karnataka.
He has overall 40 years of service in the Ayurveda practice.
- Prof. Dr. H.T. Sreenivas completed his graduation and post-graduation from the Government Ayurveda Medical College, Bengaluru.
- During 1978-79 – he worked as a physician at the Government Ayurvedic Dispensary, Hirehalli, Tumkur.
- During 1979- 80 – he was appointed as Physician at Pondicherry through UPSC.
- On 4th October 1980, he joined as Lecturer at the Government Taranth Ayurveda Medical College, Bellary, Karnataka.
- During 2008 -11, he was on a concurrent duty working as Drug Licensing Authority, Department of AYUSH, Government of Karnataka.
- During 2011-12, he worked as Joint Director, Department of AYUSH Government of Karnataka.
- During 2012-17, he worked as a professor at Atreya Ayurveda Medical College, Doddaballapura, Karnataka.
He has also served as –
- Joint Secretary, Karnataka Government Employees Association, Bengaluru.
- President, Karnataka Government, AYUSH Teachers Association, Bengaluru.