COVID-19 and The Ayurvedic Concept of Terrain – The Beej Bhumi Concept
Dr. Virender Sodhi, MD(Ayurveda), ND
Richa Kumar Sood, BS Public Health
In the eighteenth century, Louis Pasteur popularized the concept of germ theory. The germ theory changed the entire field of medicine, bringing a thrust in the medical field with a reductionist mindset of a machine-gun strategy to kill every kind of bug. This phenomenon lead to the inventions of antibiotic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Around the same time, another French biochemist, Antoine Béchamp proposed the terrain theory, where a “diseased body” is like the “terrain” that will attract germs to come as scavengers of the weakened or poorly-defended tissue. Béchamp believed that the pH of the body is a crucial factor in healing – the acidic pH will attract germs, and an alkaline pH will repel them. Antoine and Louis had a professional rivalry, and concepts of Louis were adopted in medicine, whereas Antoine did not receive much professional recognition.
Several thousand years ago, long before the times of Louis Pasteur and Antoine Béchamp, both of these theories were discussed in Ayurvedic Medicine, as complementary to each other. Sages in India who taught Ayurveda as a medical science thousands of years ago, devised the unique concept of Ama. Ama is the toxic overload made by the body when you are not able to balance your emotions and you are not digesting your food. Yes, if the body is full of toxic load, it will certainly attract different bugs such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. and scavenge the sickened tissues. This concept was identified as the “Beej-Bhumi” concept. This is the theory of immunity in Ayurvedic Medicine, which means “seed and land”. Our bodies are analogous to terrain. This implies that the terrain has to be maintained in the right conditions to sow the seeds of the disease. If the terrain is balanced, then the harmful bugs will have a challenging time invading our bodies. Remember, a breach has to occur into the body’s defense system in order for a virus to invade the body and create disease. We can culture all sorts of bacteria from our bodies. However, these bacteria do not always harm us as our body’s protective layers are present in their place, and our body’s immune system is very vigilant. Although, we must first realize that our conscious thoughts become seeds for creating either happiness or miseries.
In the present moment, with the existence of COVID-19, the whole world is in a panic-mode and we are even suffering from disturbed sleep patterns. We all know that panic, anxiety, and fear lead to an overload of the stress hormone, cortisol, which weakens our immune system. How can we help ourselves in the prevention of the onset of Coronavirus? Two important factors certainly are: healthy nutrition and good exercise.
Nevertheless, we must be aware that our food chain has been corrupted, and what we are eating now has never been our ancestral diet. A high toxic-load of chemicals have been introduced into our food chain in the forms of pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics, anti-hormones and preservatives, just to name a few. Our bodies have become a perfect bed for attracting unwanted bacteria, virus, and fungi which can cause various kinds of diseases.
The Ayurvedic philosophy recommends that we create a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual balance in all aspects of our lives. Ayurveda recommends meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises, as a means of achieving this crucial state of balance at mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual levels. According to Ayurvedic medicine, achieving a balance at the physical level requires the routine incorporation of a specific nutrition and exercise plan, which is special for every body type. The bodily constitution or Prakriti is a unique concept in Ayurvedic medicine, and acknowledges the fact that we are all different individuals; thereby, we must certainly follow all the general guidelines as well as specific health recommendations based on our Prakriti. When we recognize the fact that we are all unique individuals epigenetically, we self-realize that our bodies require an intake of various different nutritious foods, based on the lifestyle we choose to adopt. Therefore, even the medications our body needs can vary as necessary to create an optimal balance in our wellbeing. Through following an Ayurvedic lifestyle, you can create harmony and balance in your body, and are capable of becoming immune to many diseases.
There are three doshas in Ayurvedic Medicine: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Our doshas pervade the whole body. Vata is considered the leader of all of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body, and governs movement in the mind and body. It is represented by the elements air (vayu) and ether (akash). Pitta is a force created by the dynamic interplay of fire (agni) and water (jal); these forces represent transformation. Kapha is the conceptual equilibrium of earth (prithvi) and water (jal); it is both structure and lubrication. When we introduce unhealthy habits into our daily routine, such as bad dietary habits, accumulation can occur in our doshas either instantaneously or gradually.
As one of the most influential classical writers of Ayurvedic principles, Vagbhata, would say, “As a bird moving all over the sky, for the entire day, cannot overcome its own shadow, similarly, the diseases in their entirety cannot get manifested away from their own self, that is, without the aggravated doshas specific to each one of them.” Our unique Prakriti has its normal range in terms of the types of foods that are considered optimal for our own good health and longevity. When our doshas become aggravated, our immune system becomes imbalanced and uneasy, and we automatically become responsible for the manifestation of disease.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) might not even exist as a Pandemic today, and become a threat to the globe, if we all ate a balanced, healthy, nutrient-rich diet, as much organic as possible. Worldwide, almost 10% of the humans are vegetarian, vegan, or semi-vegetarian. That means, a little-over 90% of the human population is composed of omnivores. Meanwhile, the total number of Coronavirus cases are approaching two million. The death toll has crossed 120,000, globally. But nearly 470,000 patients of Coronavirus have recovered. The good news is that more patients of Coronavirus post-diagnosis are “COVID-19 negative” already and have developed immunity. Amid this global health emergency, the people of the world deserve to receive education and empowerment on the significance of eating a balanced diet that is rich in healthy nutrients. This RNA virus that was transmitted from bats to humans should ideally become a lesson for the human population. Even hunters and gatherers did not eat this much meat as we are eating today!
If you are a meat-lover, in general, it is time to awaken yourself scientifically and spiritually with regards to the importance of moderation of meats in your daily diet, and self-realize a plausible opportunity of becoming as much vegetarian as possible.
self-care routines must be followed persistently and daily. Examples of healthy self-care routines include:
- consuming healthy nutrition (as vegetarian and as organic as possible, including seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts, healthy grains, utilization of spices in home-kitchen cooking, nutritious sources of proteins including legumes and lentils, healthy oils and fats such as moderate amounts of ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, etc.);
- drinking ample filtered water
- performing yoga asanas (morning and evening, if possible);
- practicing pranayama (breathing exercises, such as alternate nostril breathing);
- practicing mindfulness and meditation routinely (as a means to mentor and nurture the self within);
- performing other forms of physical exercises that one enjoys based on his/her body-type (such as walking in mother nature);
- consciously practicing the art of expressing and sharing healthy emotions with friends and family;
- maintaining a balanced state of mental health (where your ability to recognize reality and cope with the demands of daily life, healthily, is at its peak performance to meet the demands of life’s uncertain stressors);
- cultivating the presence of a harmonious, spiritual purpose in one’s life (which requires a positive self-esteem and a positive self-talk);
- making the conscious choice to supplement your self-care routine with the required daily doses of vitamins, minerals, herbs, other immune-boosting supplements and superfoods, antioxidants, fiber, digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics (remember your body is made up of more bacteria than cells, so you must nourish your gut with a healthy microbiome), etc.;
- virtual engagement and active participation in healthy, intellectual stimulation is a great way of discovering your creative potential – you can also read and write for fun in your personal journal (journaling is a way of “letting go” of the daily stresses of the day, and it allows self-growth and involution or evolution of the creative intelligence that resides within);
- most importantly, remember to express your gratitude to the Universe, by making an offering and thanking the Universe for the greatest, ultimate gift of all – The Blessing of Prana (the cosmic breath): if you are perfectly healthy and happy, send a subtle intention of gratitude to the Universe for the gift of receiving the energies of the best of health and wellbeing – this also means that it becomes your karma to reliably share these good vibrations of healthy, encouraging, and empowering energies with those around you as positive intentions;
- the practice of gratitude in silent prayer when you wake up and are ready to sleep at night, alongside all these practical self-care tips, may trigger healing mechanisms in your body’s cells if you are feeling diseased, and may play an integral role in taming cellular inflammation.
In reality, we are waking up to news in media that portrays times of fear and divisiveness, which can create unnecessary anger in our awareness over situations we literally have no control over. We must silently send positive energies to our minds, bodies, and spirits in meditation during this pandemic, and ask “the self within” the following question: What is our dharma (cosmic duty) today towards the self, our families, our friends, and our communities, as global citizens?
We are all susceptible to respiratory problems when seasons change, because our body functions evolve with changing seasons. As we battle the struggling phase of a global pandemic with COVID-19, we must remember that our digestive fire (known as agni) can fluctuate, therefore we must nourish our bodies and our souls. In Ayurvedic Sciences, our immunity is like “seed and land” or Beej-Bhumi! We must relinquish our toxic energies (ama) and sprout our vitality (ojas). Hopefully, you can sow the seeds today with self-compassion in understanding the importance of: a healthy diet, a seasonal routine, reliable self-responsibility for a healthy exchange of bodily fluids, six feet or more of distancing from your loved ones and other public (as essentially required), perseverance in sanitation practices, good movement, peaceful sleep, and many other good self-care practices outlined here. This is only practically possible, if we commit to a journey of self-transformation.
Just like any season, this spring, stay away from foods that are expired in your pantry and refrigerator; left-overs from over a week ago should not go into your gut; processed and frozen foods must be avoided; remember that excessive ice-cold and high-sugar foods and drinks may suppress immunity; and you may benefit from avoiding the consumption of high-ama foods. The questions of introducing smoking or vaping into your daily routine should not become a nature of reality. Alcohol intake may compromise your liver function, and must be avoided entirely. A warm bath and an aromatherapeutic oil-based self-massage in the shower may be detoxifying and rejuvenating. Eat healthy, sleep well, exercise daily, and do it all over again with a positive attitude! Enjoy 20 minutes of sunshine whenever possible. Walk out of doubts and fears of how to survive and thrive during this time period of COVID-19 pandemic through the practice of self-care and self-awareness.
Sacrifice a cup of highly-caffeinated coffee/black tea in the morning for a cup of Honey Turmeric Milk and Organic Green Tea instead; Practice Mantra Chanting / Positive Affirmations; Listen to Music / Sing a Song; Read / Recite Poetry; or Dance to your favorite Rhythms, if you wish. Remember, your immunity is your body’s strength and courage to fight diseases. It is dependent upon what you feed yourself daily. You become what you eat! The equilibrium of your doshas and the health of your body channels, chakras, and tissues determines your state of health and wellbeing. In understanding the concept of Beej-Bhumi, you must scientifically realize that imposing stress on body causes harmful diseases.
During the climate of this Spring Season 2020, it becomes our responsibility to protect ourselves from disease, regardless of our age, gender, or ethnicity. The power of wisdom lies in the realization that homeostasis is maintained in our bodies, when we effortlessly begin to live a happy, healthy, and peaceful life. Ayurvedic medicine teaches us the principle of “Vyadhikshamatva”. The word, Vyadhi means “disease.” The word, kshamatva means “to resist”. Our bodies are natural pharmacies; they are capable of fighting manifested diseases with natural immunity and even preventing the onset of diseases, given that we continue to nourish the defense system of our bodies. We must discover the power of resilience in our immune systems within and remain free of disease, in uplifted spirits! The Ayurvedic sciences and the Naturopathic philosophy offer practical prevention tools to support our routine health and wellbeing. Peaceful Blessings to each and every one of you.
Wishing everyone the best of health & wellbeing,
Virender Sodhi, MD(Ayurveda), ND