The Immune System

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The Immune System

A recent addition to the canon of Western medicine is psychoneuroimmunity (or PNI). It studies the effect of stress on the immune system and reflects a fact which has always been known to Ayurveda – that anything that affects the mind also affects the body and that a compromised immune system is primarily the result of mental imbalance and negativism. Disease attacks when the Tridosha are disturbed. If this point has already been reached, only vaccination has any chance of holding the disease process at bay, and drugs which are prescribed to fight the disease risk damaging the system, even when they appear to have been successful. This may explain why many people with undisturbed Tridosha who live in infested environments do not contract diseases like malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever and typhoid.

To strengthen immunity, it is first necessary to improve the spirit. Someone who is depressed, lethargic and at low emotional ebb is vulnerable to attack by pathogens. Similarly unexpressed anger, unhappiness and other negative emotions leave the system open to invasion by illness and disease, as does exposure to a polluted atmosphere. Ayurveda does not believe in sleeping pills, tranquilizers or anti-depressants, which merely disguise the symptoms of a disorder and can leave the body even more debilitated and likely to succumb to infection. Instead, it recommends counseling, meditation, yoga, group therapy and herbal preparations.

When the doshas are seriously out of balance, two kinds of external disorders can take hold: krimi roga, which are worm infestations, and kshudra jeevi roga, which are parasitic, bacterial and fungal infections. Krimi roga disorders commonly afflict children and Ayurveda has special treatments to expel round worms, thread worms, etc.

Kshudra jeevi roga describes all other external complaints and includes infections such as chicken pox, mumps and measles. Unlike orthodox medicine, with its anti-biotic, Ayurveda does not have treatments to kill these organisms but there are highly effective remedies available, which restrict their growth and ultimately rid them from the body. These include treatments for malaria and hepatitis. It is accepted that they are a part of life and we have to learn to live with them. We cannot get them rid from the world. There are, however, treatments to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with some of these conditions and strengthen the immune system by improving general health. World Health Organization has reported that in fifty years all the organisms, which are currently sensitive to the existing antibiotics, will be resistant. The wisdom is, it is impossible to have drugs to kill all the harmful organisms, and instead the strengthening of the immunity of the individual will be the answer.

Ayurveda does not believe in attempting to create a totally sterile environment where such organisms could not survive.


The Tridoshastri’ meaning three and the word ‘Dosha’ means  “fault”, “humor”, “stain”, and “transgression” against the cosmic rhythm or an inaccuracy that leads to chaos. However, in the context of Ayurved philosophy, Doshas are not per se harmful. Rather, they seem to be called Doshas for they are prone to undergo chaos or aberrations under disturbed circumstances.

Ayurved identifies that; a balance of three specific humors, termed as Doshas, governs the functional integrity of the human body. Practically speaking, their equilibrium is not a static one but dynamic in nature.

Doshas being the basic physical energies are the primary and essential factors of the human body that govern our entire physical structure and function. Derived from the Panchmahabhutas, eachDosha – which like the elements cannot be detected with our senses but their qualities can be – is a combination of any two of the five bhutas (elements) with the predominance of one. CalledVata, Pitta and Kapha in Sanskrit. These three are responsible for all the physiological and psychological processes within the body and mind – dynamic forces that determine growth and decay. Every physical characteristic, mental capacity and the emotional tendency of a human being can therefore be explained in terms of the Tridoshas.

Most of the physical phenomena ascribed to the nervous system by modern physiology for example, can be identified with Vata. Just as the entire chemical process operating in the human body can be attributed to Pitta, including enzymes, hormones and the complete nutritional system. And the activities of the skeletal and the anabolic system, actually the entire physical volume of an organism, can be considered as Kapha.



Dosha (humor)


(Air and Space)


(Fire and Water)


(Water and Earth)

Nature Light Light Heavy
Cold Hot Cold
Dry Oily Oily
Rough Sharp Slow
Subtle Liquid Slimy
Mobile Sour Sweet
Clear    Yellowish, green Soft
Dispersing    Slowly dispersing        Dense
Erratic        Aggressive        Slow
Taste Astringent           Pungent        Sweet
Increases by taste Bitter, astringent, pungent Sour, salty and pungent Sweet, sour, salty
Treating taste Sweet, sour, salty Sweet, bitter and astringent Bitter, astringent, pungent
Places of Doshas Intestines, colon, anus, rectum, waist, hip, feet, bone, abdomen. Spleen, lever, gal bladder, solar plexus, blood and stomach Lungs, forehead, neck, stomach, chest, joints

Each Dosha thus shares a quality with another (although there remain slight differences in the nature of shared quality), the third having just the opposite quality. Also, each has an inherent ability to regulate and balance itself, coming from the antagonistic qualities that arise from theDoshas constituent elements.

When the Doshas are in balance i.e. in a state of equilibrium, we remain healthy. As Charak, the great Ayurvedic sage, explained: “Vata, Pitta and Kapha maintain the integrity of the living human organism in their normal state and combine so as to make the man a complete being with hisindriyas (sense organs) possession of strength, good complexion and assured of longevity.” It is only when, there is imbalance occurring within the three that a disease is caused. And since it is the strongest Dosha in the constitution, that usually has the greatest tendency to increase, one is most susceptible to illnesses associated with an increase of the same.

The most important thing to note is that, these Doshas keep on changing constantly within any person, due to the doshic (faulty) qualities of a specific lifestyle and environment, such as time and season. And that these three are not separate energies but different aspects of the same energy, present together in an infinite variety of combinations, wherein their qualities overlap and interrelate.

Working of vata

·         Vata governs the whole process of respiration.

·         Vata governs the movement of heart. Thus, it takes off delivering the nutrients to all cells in our body. It governs the collection and transport of carbon dioxide and other wastes from our body.

·         Vata initiates and transmits all stimuli.

·         Vata governs the intestinal motility facilitating the downward movement of the food we consume.

·         Vata governs our intellectual perception, imagination and motivation.

In order to explain more intricate details of these Doshas, Ayurvedic doctrines classified each of them in five sub-Doshas; like Vata Doshas in “Prana, Udana, Vyana, Samana and Apana”.

Factors that increase Vata:

Vayu vitiated due to intake of pungent, bitter, astringent, too rough and cold food articles, little or no food, too much traveling on foot, no routine in your life, eating to much dry, frozen or leftover food, suppression of urges, sexual intercourse, envelops the Agni and thus makes it sluggish.

Because of this, food with difficulty and hyperacidity, associated with coarseness in body, dryness in throat and mouth, hunger, thirst, blurred vision, tinnitus, frequent pain in sides, thighs,groins and neck, visuchika (piercing pain in abdomen), cardiac pain, emaciation, debility, abnormal taste in. mouth, cutting pain in abdomen, greed for every food item, lassitude, tympanitis during and after digestion subsiding after taking meal, suspicion of vatagulma (tumor), heart disease or splenomegaly arise. The patient passes stool as liquid, dried, thin, and undigested, with sound and froth frequently and with difficulty after a long time. He also suffers from cough and dyspnoea.

Time of Vata:

Often   vatika disorders appear in   rainy season.

Vatika disorders aggravate at the end of the day and night.

In human beings, naturally due to affect of age, the disorders pertaining to Vata aggravate in the last phase of the life span.

Vatika disorders aggravate after digestion (on empty stomach).

Places of Vata:

Intestines, colon, anus, rectum, waist, hip, feet, bone, abdomen, especially intestine and colon are places of vata.

Working of pit

Human body is maintained at a constant temperature of 37o C irrespective of temperature in the outer environment. This phenomenon is called as “Thermo-regulation” and constitutes an important function of Pitta.
Remember Pitta is not bile; but that which causes bile to be produced.

·         Pitta generates and maintains some natural urges, like hunger, thirst.

·          Pitta represents various secretions, responsible for digestion.

·          Pitta supports certain mental phenomena like intellectual comprehension, Conviction, courage and valor.

·         Pitta regulates the complexion and suppleness of skin.

·         Pitta is instrumental in the maintenance of vision.

In order to explain more intricate details of these Doshas, Ayurvedic doctrines classified each of them in five sub-Doshas like Pitta Doshas in “Pachaka, Ranjaka, Sadhaka, Alochaka and Bhrajaka”.

Time of Pitta:

Often pittaja disorders appear in autumn season.

Pittaja disorders aggravate in the middle of the day and night, ( midday and midnight ). In human beings, naturally due to affect of age, the disorders Pitta aggravate in the middle phases of the life span.

Places of Pitta:

Spleen, lever, gal bladder, solar plexus, blood and stomach are the places of Pitta. Especially stomach.

Factors that increase Pitta:

Pitta gets aggravated and extinguishes the fire by flooding over like hot water when there is intake of pungent, uncooked, burning, sour, alkaline food etc. exposure to heat, eating too much red meat, salt, spicy or sour foods, indigestion and irregularity of meals, exercising at midday, drugs especially antibiotics, late night working, too much intellectual work/thinking, alcohol, fatigue, anger, hate, fear, emotion.

Thus the patients have yellowish tinge. Pitta constitution is frequently prone to an imbalance in Pitta. As a result, they are frequently subjected to:

·         Acidity and Peptic ulcers.

·         Inflammatory conditions in other organs.

·         Psycho-somatic diseases, due to persistent stress.

·         Skin diseases like hyper-sensitive reactions, Photo-dermatitis.

Working of Kapha

Remember, Kapha is not mucus; it is the force that causes mucus to arise.

  • It maintains the fluid balance.
  • Kapha imparts immunity against diseases.
  • Like in living cell, Kapha maintains the structural integrity and confines individual organs to their specific location.
  • It protects the bodily organs against physiological injury.
  • Mental phenomenon like, intellectual stability, determinations are governed by Kapha.

In order to explain more intricate details of these Doshas, Ayurvedic doctrines classified each of them in five sub-Doshas like Kapha Doshas in “Avlambaka, Kedaka, Bodhaka, Tarpaka, Sleshaka”.

Places of Kapha:

Lungs, forehead, neck, stomach, chest, joints are the places of Kapha. Kapha is especially situated at the chest.

Factors that increases Kapha:

The heavy, cold, dampness of winter can provoke kapha, leading to cough, cold and sinus congestion. Attachment and greed may develop in the mind when kapha is aggravated

The watery quality of spring also provokes Kapha and some people will tend to have spring colds, allergies and respiratory ailments at this time.

Kapha aggravated by intake of food, which is heavy, too unctuous, cold etc. over-eating, excessive intake of water, exposure to cold, eating too much sweet, meat, fats, cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, fried food, excessive use of salt and sleeping just after meals extinguishes the fire. Then the affected person digests the food with great difficulty and is inflicted with nausea, vomiting, anorexia, sliminess and sweetness in mouth, cough, spitting and coryza. He feels his heart as stretched, abdomen as still and heavy and has foul, sweet eructation, malaise and lack of desire for women. He passes stool as broken mixed with ama (toxicants), mucus and heavy. Though not emaciated he has debility and lassitude.

Often Kapha’s, disorders appear in spring.

Kapha’s disorders appear in the beginning of the day and night.

Ayurved, however, considers only three types of constitution – in monotypes just one Doshapredominates, in dual types two have predominated, and in the very rarely found third type all three are equally powerful and the third is called Sannipat. Within this broad classification, there are in the first category various sub-types that are listed below for easier reference.

Double Doshas types body – Body Characteristics


Their characteristics show a combination of Vata & Pitta, for example they often have wavy hair, caused by a combination of Vata’s curliness and Pitta’s straightness. They generally have poor circulation, though they love to eat but they will have trouble digesting large meals.

A healthy balanced VataPitta person have a capacity for original thought, a Vata’scharacteristic, and also expertise at application of theory, a Pitta’s characteristic, as lightness and intensity are the common qualities of Vata & Pitta. Proper direction of this intensity calls for harnessing the lightness for intensive self-development. A person having imbalanced Vata & Pitta,fear alternates with anger as a response to stress.


PittaKapha people are double minded, probably adjudged the best of any constitution, to the confusions, irregularity and constant change, which characterizes today’s world because they combine Kapha’s stability and Pitta’s adaptability. The aggressiveness of Pitta forces them to take decision but the cold nature of Kapha controls their temperament.  Many of the people who achieve all – round success in life are PittaKapha. Pitta’s active metabolism balances Kapha’spowerful physique to promote good health, and Pitta’s anger is well tempered, by Kapha’scautiousness to encourage good mental balance.

The ease with which they succeed in the world promotes Pitta’s arrogance and overconfidence andKapha’s smug self-satisfaction, which can insulate the personality totally and efficiently from all realities other than the real.

Bitter and Astringent are their best tastes.


VataKapha people tend to be tall but are average in build and most of the other physical qualities are just as Pitta type. They gain weight easily and become obese.  Vata and Kapha are united in their coldness. Though they do not suffer as intensely from physical cold as do pure Vata types because of the strength and insulation of Kapha, they have a double emotional need for heat.

Most of the time they take time to take decisions, they are slow in doing their work, because of the cold nature of Vata and Kapha. They may be wary of jumping to conclusions without proper preliminary investigation.

Their lack of heat usually manifests physically as digestive disturbances, especially constipation; respiratory disease with much mucus production is also common.

They should use sour, salty and pungent taste foods.

Precaution and remedies:





Food Warm, well-cooked food. Sweet, sour and salty tastes Warm to cool rather than steaming hot. Sweet ,bitter and astringent tastes. Decreased quantities of warm food. Pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. To be taken earlier than 10 am and not later than 6 pm. Healthy Kapha types should observe fast one day per week.
Oil Massage With calming and warming oils such as Mahanarayan Oil. With cooling oils such as chandanbala, Laxadi oil With stimulating oils such as punarnavadi oil and srigopal oil.
Exercise Moderate exercise such as yoga, walking and light weights Moderate exercise which may include jogging, swimming, Yoga, cycling and weight lifting Regular and vigorous. Not water sports
Herbal Dietary supplements Ashwagandha, shatavari, haritaki, Rasna, Guggul, Trikatu, Vata tea, Calming Tea. Haritaki, Bhumiamla, Chyavanprash, Apitikar churan, kamdudha ras, surakta, sitopladi churan,pitta Tea. Guggul, sitopladi churan, trikatu, chyavanprash, Kapha Tea.

Doshic Imbalances

Any imbalance in the doshas is likely to have a negative effect on your mind and emotions. If in excess you are more likely to display negative energy of a quality associated with it. If the predominant Dosha of your constitution becomes in excess more easily than the others, you will tend to experience its negative aspects more than the others.

Negative emotions aggravate the Dosha associated with them. For example, high kapha may mean that you are more possessive; but possessiveness in turn increases kapha even more. The way to break this vicious circle is to pacify the aggravated Dosha.

Increased consciousness of Ayurveda and your personal constitution will now enable you to rate the qualities of your moods as Vatic, Pattik, and / or Kaphik. Checked as frequently as on a daily basis, this is a very useful way to monitor even small changes in a Dosha, and take steps to restore the balance sooner than later. Relate the qualities of your moods to the qualities in other aspects of your life. According to the philosophy of Ayurved “like increases like” if you are impatient or critical (pitta), check if you have eaten pitta-genic foods or been exposed to pitta-provoking experiences.

Dosha sub type & their features

Each of the three Doshas can be sub-classified variously and their respective features are as indicated below:

Vata (Vayu)

Doshas Site Normal function Ailments caused by its vitiation
Prana Heart head, chest, throat, tongue mouth and nose Breathing and swallowing of food, spitting, sneezing belching, respiration, digestion etc.


Hiccups, Bronchitis, Asthma, Cold, Hoarseness of voice
Udana Throat navel, chest and throat, Speech and voice, effort, energy; strength, complexion etc Various diseases of eye, ear, nose and throat.
Samana Stomach & small intestines Helps action of digestive enzymes, assimilation of end products of food and separation into their various tissue elements. Indigestion, Diarrhea, Defective assimilation.
Apana Colon & organs of pelvis, Testicles, urinary bladder and penis, navel, thighs, groins, anus, Elimination of stool, urine, semen, foetal and menstrual blood. Diseases of bladder, anus & testicles, Obstinate urinary diseases, Diabetes
Vyana Being quick-moving pervades the entire body. Helps in the functioning of circulating channels as blood vessels, movements, extension, contraction, blinking etc. Impairment of circulation, Diseases as fever


Doshas Site Normal function Ailments caused by its vitiation
Pachaka Stomach & small intestines Digestion Indigestion, Anorexia
Ranjaka Liver, spleen and stomach Blood Function Anemia, Jaundice Hepatitis
Sadhaka Heart Memory and other mental functions. Psychic disturbances, Cardiac diseases
Alochaka Eyes Vision Impairment of vision
Bhrajaka Skin Color and glaze of the skin Leucoderma, Other skin diseases.


Doshas Site Normal function Ailments caused by its vitiation
Kledaka Stomach Moistens food, which helps in digestion. Impairment of digestion
Avalambaka Heart Energy in limbs, lungs. Laziness
RasBodhaka Tongue Perception of taste. Impairment of digestion
IndriyaTarpaka Brain Nourishment of the sense organs Loss of memory, Impairment of function of sense organs
SandhiShlesshaka Joints Lubrication of joints Pain in joints, Impairment of function of joints.