Ayurveda also provides details about how to prevent and control infections and diseases. The ancient texts of ayurveda advocate some infection control principles and tell us what should do and what should not be done. You must adopt and practice these principles throughout your life to reduce the likelihood of infections and diseases. However, ayurveda also provides tips to control all diseases, but we will discuss mainly infection control principles in this article. You can find details of other tips in the Dinacharya (Ayurvedic Daily Routine) article.
Ayurvedic Infection Control Principles
Let’s discuss what ayurvedic texts are saying to control infections:
To do list immediately after waking up:
- Wash hands.
- Clean teeth.
- Clean tongue.
- Wash the face.
- Comb hair.
- Take a bath.
The above tasks help in cleanliness, which is very important in controlling infections. All these steps must be followed before going to the kitchen and cooking food, touching other things in the home and doing worship or morning meditation. (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
Wash hands and feet before eating
नाप्रक्षालितपाणिपादो भुञ्जीत न मुत्रोच्चारपीडितः (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
Wash your hands and feet before eating food. Don’t touch food without washing your hands and feet. If you have an urge for urination or evacuation, you first do this and then wash your hands and feet properly before sitting for a meal.
Don’t use things used by others
स्रजं छत्रोपानही कनकमतीतवासांसि न चान्यैधृतानि धारयेत् । (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
Don’t wear or use things used by others. These things include the use of the same towel, cloths, jewelry, adornment, shoes, etc.
न अप्रक्षालितं पूर्वधृतं वसनं बिभृयात् । (विष्णुस्मृति ६४)
You should not wear the same clothes without washing them once you have worn them. Washing clothes help to remove microbes and dirt from the cloths.
अन्यदेव भवेद् वासः शयनीये नरोत्तम । अन्यद् रथ्यासु देवानाम् अर्चायाम् अन्यदेव हि ॥ (महाभारत, अनु. १०४।८६)
You should have three types of clothes:
- That you wear at bedtime.
- That you wear while going outside or to work.
- That you wear inside the house or during worship.
न चव आद्राणि वासांसि नित्यं सेवेत मानवः । (महाभारत, अनु. १०४/५२)
You should not wear wet clothes.
It helps to avoid transmission of infections. The items used by an infected person can also cause disease in you. It is the most common way of infection transmission. When you touch or use things used by other people or contaminated surfaces, microbes can enter into your body. It can spread infection from one person to another. Some skin diseases including scabies are the result of such type of infection transmission. You can even avoid the common cold, COVID 19 and other such diseases following this principle.
Cover Your Face while Sneezing and Coughing
नासंवृतमुखः सदसि जृम्भ उद्गार कास श्वास क्षवथू नुत्सृजेत्। (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
Cover your nose, mouth, and face while yawning, belching, coughing, breathing heavily, sneezing, etc.
So, ayurveda recommends covering your nose, mouth, and face while doing the following things:
- Belching or eructation.
- Breathing heavily or while taking a deep breath.
All these things prevent droplet spread of infections from one person to another.
Don’t touch hair, ear, nose, eyes, and face
न बालकर्ण नासाम्रोतोदशनाक्षिविवराण्यभिकुष्णीयात् । न वीजयेत् केश मुख नख वस्त्रगात्राणि । (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
Ayurveda recommends –
- Do not touch or rub your hair, ear, eyes, nose, face, teeth and other openings of your body.
- Do not shake hair, face, nail, clothes and body parts.
अनातुरः स्वानि खानि न स्पृशेदनिमित्ततः । (मनुस्मृति ४/१४४)
Do not touch your senses (nose, ears, eyes, tongue, skin), especially without any solid reason.
न छिन्द्यान्नखलोमानि दन्तौत्पाटयेन्नखान् । (मनुस्मृति ४/६९)
Do not cut your nails or hair with teeth. So, you must not put your fingers or hair in your mouth.
Your hands are the main source of infection transmission. Generally, you touch various things with your hands. These things include doorknob, curtain, doors, beds, chair, tables and other things, which can also be contaminated with microbes. After touching such things, when you touch your face, eyes, nose or other parts of your body, microbes can enter into your body and cause infection.
Shaking your hair, body parts, clothes, and body can also contaminate the surrounding. If you are already infected, then it can also spread the infection to other people.
Always wear shoes or slippers
पाद रोगहरं वृष्यं रक्षोघ्नं प्रीतिवर्धनम् ॥७१॥ (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
You should always wear shoes or slippers on your feet. It prevents diseases and reduces microbial transmission.
Wash your feet
पाद प्रक्षालनं पाद मल रोग श्रमापहम् ॥६९॥ चक्षुःप्रसादनं वृष्यं रक्षोघ्नं प्रीतिवर्धनम्। (सुश्रुत संहिता, चिकित्सा स्थान २४)
After coming home, you should wash your feet. It removes dirt and microbes from the feet, prevents diseases and reduces tiredness. It also preserves eyesight and provides clear vision. It prevents us from microbes and helps us to avoid diseases.