Auto Immune Disease – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Auto Immune Disease
There are some diseases whose symptoms are quite prominent but we are unable to find their cause. And if their cause is unknown, how would we resolve it. As Dr. Parmeshwar always tell us, it is important to know the cause of a problem if we have to resolve it.
Today we are going to have a discussion on Auto Immune Diseases. For this, as always, we have our Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora in our studio. We welcome you on our show doctor.
Q. What are Auto Immune Diseases and what are its types?
As you have explained, Auto Immune Diseases are those diseases which present quite prominent symptoms but when we talk about its etiology i.e. when we try to find answers for the questions like where has it started from, what is its causative organism and how it starts etc., then we have no answers. We have quite a clear idea of its pathogenicity i.e. we know that which all organs are involved, what kind of symptoms it presents but the etiology remains unknown. Particularly talking in terms of modern science, the etiology for these diseases is unknown. I shall definitely try to explain it in terms of Ayurveda though. Thus, Auto Immune Diseases are those diseases in which we have many symptoms to be seen but we have no idea about the cause of the disease. In case of Auto Immune Diseases, we somehow see an altered reaction of our body’s own self defense mechanism or Immune system. It involves formation of some auto- antibodies which attacks our own body (sometimes they are organ specific i.e. they attack the organ as a whole and sometimes non-organ specific i.e. they attack at a sub-cellular level by working against a part of organ which could be nuclei, cytoplasm, mytochondria). So, here our own antibodies which are actually meant for our defense somehow get altered and instead of protecting it they themselves start harming our body.
Q. As you said, the cause for Auto Immune Diseases cannot be defined in terms of modern science but it is possible in terms of Ayurveda. I would like you to explain, how does Ayurveda define the cause for such diseases?
Firstly, I would like to tell you that whenever a toxin or an unwanted material enters our body, our immune system produces antibodies against them. When we talk about Auto Immune Diseases, we term these antibodies as auto-antibodies. As I have mentioned, there are two types of Auto Immune diseases- Organ specific and Non-organ specific. See, for you Auto Immune could be a new phenomenon but if I mention the diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Systemic lupus erythematosus or systemic sclerosis or connective tissue disorder then probably you all would be quite familiar to them. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a very common problem but I would like to tell you that Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis and connective tissue disorder are all Non-organ specific type Auto Immune Diseases. When we talk about Organ-specific Auto Immune Diseases, then these auto-antibodies work against a specific organ. Various endocrinal disorders fall under this category of Auto-Immune Diseases. So, introduction of such substances in our body which are undesirable for our body, reciprocative formation of antibodies by our defense mechanism to work against them and then these antibodies attacking our own body is known to give rise to an Auto Immune Diseases.
Now, let’s come back to the questions like where does it get triggered, where does these antibodies form and why do they form. If you want to understand it in terms of Ayurveda, I would say that all of us are suffering from diseases related to digestive system. We are somehow not consuming appropriate food. If we talk about eating habits, we can see four types of irregularities: 1) quality of food that we consume, is compromised 2) quantity of food is compromised 3) combination of food is compromised 4) timing of food intake is completely disturbed. When we follow these four types of irregularities in food intake then we become a patient of indigestion as our stomach is unable to digest the food properly in this type of setup. As a result, this food (which we believe to be a good food) gets stuck in our intestines and we call it as stagnant food. Please try to understand it well because it is very important.
Various allergic conditions arising these days fall under this category of Auto Immune Diseases and we have no definite idea of their cause. While trying to find a cause for them, I would want you to understand that every disease originate from poor digestion. I would like you to understand that how does our digestion get disturbed and why does it become sluggish. Four types violations can be responsible for it. Firstly, the kind of food that we eat today has become more chemical instead of natural i.e. the quality of food has got compromised. Secondly, whenever I talk about the quantity of food I always say that the quantity of food that we consume is no longer requirement based. Instead, it is taste-based. When I say taste-based it means, when we find the food to be tasty then we overeat and when we find the food is not as per our taste then we don’t even eat the required amount. Thirdly, when we talk about the combination of food items that we consume, I would say that these days we consume very killing combinations of food. Often we combine Chhole-bhature with cold drinks, or combine various junk foods with cold drinks or combine cold drinks with quite rich food preparations and sometimes we combine milk preparations with non-vegetarian food items. You would agree that in parties, we consume almost 50 varieties of food within a span of half-an-hour. Starting from a variety of fruits (sour and sweet), we consume various snacks, main course, ice-creams, coffee and what not. This practice of tasting numerous food items at the same time is not at all appreciable. Fourth is the timing of food. I would like to tell you that our digestive enzymes are regulated under a biological clock. The enzymes have a definite time of secretion. If you ignore the time of food intake and eat as and when you get time then you simultaneously become victim of two types of adversities- 1) the secretions which include acids damages your gastric mucus membrane thus making you a patient of gastritis or ulcers 2) When you consume your food later on, there are not sufficient enzymes present to digest the food consumed by you and hence you become a victim of indigestion. So here you have two simultaneous losses- while not eating at appropriate time makes you a patient of gastritis, eating at later time makes you a patient of indigestion at the same time.
Though these are very small thing, but they are very important. Thus, all these four irregularities in eating practices ultimately disturb our digestive system due to which we are unable to digest our food properly and this undigested food somehow gets stuck somewhere in our intestines. This is referred to as stagnant food. Slowly this undergoes putrefaction i.e. process of rotting. After being rotten, it gets converted into a form of juice which is not a normal juice (that provides us nutrition) but Instead, it has become a toxic juice which if absorbed by our body along with good juice, will not be consumed by our body. On being absorbed inside our body, this toxic juice acts as an antigen. In the normal course, our body produces various antibodies in response to the antigen, in order to fight them. This antigen-antibody complex thus created, can result into an Auto Immune Disorder, for which we don’t know a definite cause but the symptoms are quite apparent and we have a definite name for them too.
Q. If someone is suffering from an Auto Immune Disease and we know the cause, then what is its solution?
The responsible factor, according to me is that the toxic juice has somehow entered in the body. Since it is undesirable for our body organs, it remains unconsumed. It stays inside our body as a foreign material and antibodies are produced against these antigens. So if we have to deal with this toxic juice, we would either need to expel it from body or convert it into a form so that it gets consumed by our body. To expel them from our body we make use of detoxification technique of Panchkarma (therapeutic way of eliminating toxic elements from the body). So, if anybody is suffering from an Auto Immune Disease then I would advise him to meet an Ayurveda doctor and get the Panchkarma treatment done. During Panchkarma, a patient is has to undergo five procedures namely, vamana, virechana, vasti (there are two types of vasti– anuvasana and asthapana) and nasya . These five karmas or procedures are together termed as Panchkarma.
Through the method of Panchkarma, we make an effort to expel the toxin out so as to cleanse the patient’s body. This is the most convenient and most effective method to deal with the toxic juice. But if for some reasons, a patient is unable to get this treatment or has no doctor around to give this treatment then we have another way to deal with the toxin too. As an alternative solution, we try to get the toxin consumed by our body itself by creating such conditions. For this, first of all we would need to perform fasting. I would give you a very simple example. When you look inside your refrigerator, you find various things- some of them are fall into the category of delicious items, some fall into the category of a relatively less delicious items and still others fall under the category of non-delicious items like lauki (or Bottle Gourd), thurai (or Ridge Gourd), tinde (Indian Round Gourd) which are often disliked by people. So generally, if you have options of choosing from paneer (Cottage Cheese), chhole (or Chick Peas) and lauki (or Bottle Gourd), you will obviously put your hands on paneer or chhole. We will pick lauki only when we will have no delicious option available. Similar is the situation inside our stomach too. The digestion is carried out in stomach by jatharagni (stomach fire). Similarly, seven dhatu agnis are responsible for formation of sapt dhatu (seven tissues) and bhutagni is the agni at cellular level. To get rid of the stagnant food, we would need it to be consumed by agni and agni will consume the stagnant food only when it will have no fresh food available to be digested. When we perform fasting, then the stuck food (be it whatever) will get digested.