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Ayurveda and COVID-19, Management of Epidemics and Kha Vaigunya

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

Author's Note: Fair disclosure, this article is intended as an editorial and not written from the perspective of a classically-trained clinical Āyurvedic Vaidya (Doctor). For more professional information on Traditional Āyurvedic Medicine and COVID-19, please check out the following fantastic resource:

I'd also like to credit Vaidya Jessica Vellela (BAMS), founder of Āyu Academy for her professional feedback on vetting this article. If you want to read more about these concepts, I highly recommend her two textbooks (volumes 3 & 4 are on the way, as well).

Kha Vaigunya. It's a phrase in Sanskrit. You can use to help translate it (one of my favorite sites nowadays), but I'll spare the effort and do it for you.

Kha: Space, cavern of the body

Vaigunya: Imperfections, defects

This word is used in Āyurvedic medical texts to describe spaces in the body that have become weak, vulnerable or defective, usually through the result of previous injury or trauma. Excess Ama + Dosha can accumulate in a greater degree in these portions through improper diet and lifestyle, further aggravating and complicating either existing or future pathologies.

Of course, people can bounce back after illness. It usually happens when bodily tissues are strong, and the metabolic forces are functioning properly. If you have pre-existing kha vaigunya(s) in bodily tissues that are already negatively impacted, there's a good chance that you could have complications with serious illnesses. This will usually show up in natal astrology as well, with a weakened 4th house (lungs/chest), afflicted moon (indicator of prana), and some other indications.

A lot of naysayers have dismissed the threat of COVID, usually pointing at low mortality rates. This is a fallacy, in my opinion. This has only been around for 6 months or so, and of the people who bounced back, many people have pointed out residual symptoms lasting for days, weeks, months afterwards. I'm not an expert here, but the trauma from COVID-19 definitely has the possibility to exploit kha vaigunya(s) in any individual, allowing the disease to take root. That kind of data to support this unfortunately won't be around for awhile (there may be a causal relationship, maybe not - who knows?). Also, yes - in pretty much all of Canada, we're edging our way towards stage 3 of recovery (as of July 8th, 2020), with a record number of lower cases. Something to celebrate, but also to remain vigilant so we don't slip back.

Are we truly willing to play Russian Roulette with ourselves to see if we have kha vaigunya in our bodies, and how that plays out if we get infected? Ok, admittedly, I do...and maybe you don't care, but how about your Parents? Grandparents? Spouse or partner? Kids?

Essentially, what the Canadian government (as well as the recommendations from WHO/CDC/Health Canada) is telling us to do to manage COVID is largely what we should naturally be doing, of our own accord and volition, all the time.

I have a few friends and family members who are on the front lines as nurses and doctors (Canada/US) who may also have an opinion on the subject..(the US ones may be a bit occupied right now)...Through my extended network and non-immediate family, there have been deaths, and illnesses, and that has been painful for me to watch.

This isn't another virtue signalling post about the wearing of masks, or holding judgement and imposing guilt on any "non-masker" in my audience. It's not about being a "sheeple", either. It's about caring enough about everyone around me to show my appreciation for them in this manner. I've been reluctant to voice my opinion for a long time, mainly for fear of adversarial and unpleasant conversation, but in my old age, I seem to be losing that filter - another casualty of this virus!

Everything that happens to us, good or bad, is an opportunity for growth. We are all interconnected.

Bottom line...Social Distancing, Hand Washing and Proper Hygiene, Consideration for the Space of Others...and now (for those of us in Peel Region, Ontario, Canada, anyway) - mandatory masks in enclosed public settings, with a risk of a hefty fine for non-compliance. Those are the best common-sense weapons we have during this pandemic. COVID-19 won't ultimately care if you believe in these practices, or not.

Of course this mandate IS an inconvenience (I am not a fan of masks in this summer weather, who is?), but it'll all be over soon if we want it to be...then we can choose the new reality we wish to create for ourselves. This is a major wake-up call for us to prioritize our health, and our best health care practices. In that way, Āyurvedic medicine and Westernized Allopathic health care are firmly aligned and catching up to one another.

Wishing much love to everyone on the front lines, as well as my awesome friends and family dealing with the increased number of cases in the US. I wish everyone well.



Since posting this article, I found some additional classical references on Ayurvedic approach on treatment of epidemics.


Charaka Samhita, Vimana Sthana Chapter 3. Determination of specific characteristics of destruction of communities

General treatment in epidemics

कालान्तेषु यदा नराः| भेषजेनोपपाद्यन्ते न भवन्त्यातुरास्तदा||१२|| येषां न मृत्युसामान्यं सामान्यं न च कर्मणाम्| कर्म पञ्चविधं तेषां भेषजं परमुच्यते||१३|| रसायनानां विधिवच्चोपयोगः शस्यते| शस्यते देहवृत्तिश्च भेषजैः पूर्वमुद्धृतैः||१४|| सत्यं भूते दया दानं बलयो देवतार्चनम्| सद्धृत्तस्यानुवृत्तिश्च प्रशमो गुप्तिरात्मनः||१५|| हितं जनपदानां च शिवानामुपसेवनम्| सेवनं ब्रह्मचर्यस्य तथैव ब्रह्मचारिणाम्||१६|| सङ्कथा धर्मशास्त्राणां महर्षीणां जितात्मनाम्| धार्मिकैः सात्त्विकैर्नित्यं सहास्या वृद्धसम्मतैः||१७|| त्येतद्भेषजं प्रोक्तमायुषः परिपालनम्| येषामनियतो मृत्युस्तस्मिन् काले सुदारुणे||१८||

In spite of vitiation of the four factors ending with vitiation of time (season), one need not suffer from diseases provided they are assured of proper medicaments which are already collected and processed.

Those who did not engage in identical acts in their prior lives and those who are not destined to die during calamities, for their cure, five elimination therapies* (viz., emesis, purgation, enema- niruha and anuvasana types and errhines) are considered the best. For them, the proper use of rasayana chikitsa (rejuvenation treatment) is recommended and maintenance of the body by means of medicinal herbs collected before the onset of epidemics is recommended.

Truthfulness, compassion for living beings, charity, sacrifices, worship of god, observance of right conduct, tranquility, prophylactic protection of oneself and seeking one’s own good**, residing in a wholesome country, service to those observing brahmacharya (celibacy) and following it, discussion of religious scriptures, constant association with the righteous, the well disposed and those who are approved by the elders- all this with a view to protecting life has been termed ‘medicine’ to those who are not destined to die in that critical time. [12-18]


*These are the five classical Ayurveda therapies as referred to as Classical Panchakarma detoxification processes (Vamana [therapeutic vomiting and expelling of excess kapha from the upper respiratory tract], Virechana [purgation through laxatives], Basti [enema therapy], Nasya [administration of herbal medicine through the nasal passageway] and raktamokshana [Ayurvedic bloodletting])

**Prophylactic means "a course of protective action intended to prevent disease". Masks, frequent hand-washing, social distancing are all examples of prophylaxis.

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