AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The illness alters the immune system, making people much more vulnerable to infections and diseases. HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person, such as semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. The virus is passed from one person to another through blood or sexual contact. HIV can be transmitted in many ways, such as vaginal, oral sex, anal sex, blood transfusion and contaminated hypodermic needles.
Causes of AIDS
Ineffective metabolism of food produces toxins that pollute the system and reduce body immunity (ojas). Stress, worry, overwork and excessive sexual indulgence also decrease ojas. If this diminished state of vitality is allowed to continue, coupled with high-risk exposure to infection, the body stands no chance of resisting disease. When all seven dhatus or body tissues are deteriorated and ojas is reduced, disorders symptomatic of AIDS can occur.
Symptoms of AIDS
Most of the symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to a disease known in Ayurveda as ojaskshaya and detailed etiology and treatment methods are available.
Early stage HIV infection: Fever, chills, joint pain, muscular pain, sore throat, night sweating, enlarged glands, red rashes, tiredness, weakness & weight loss.
Late-stage HIV infection: Blurred vision, diarrhea, dry cough, fever of above 37 C, night sweats, permanent tiredness, shortness of breath, swollen glands, weight loss, white spots on the tongue or mouth.
According to Ayurveda, AIDS is primarily a disease of low ojas (immunity), the vital sap of the body. Ojas provides the physical and mental strength to resist disease. With a lowered immune system the body is susceptible to a host of opportune infections and disorders. There are millions of bacteria and viruses in our environment, many of which are contagious, that the body successfully fights off every day. But in a condition of low ojas or immunity level, these organisms are allowed to remain in the body and reproduce to cause disease.
Ayurveda has many highly effective therapies for AIDS. There is a branch of Ayurveda known as rasayana, which specifically deals with increasing immunity and vitality through the use of various herbs, minerals and Ayurvedic techniques and practices. The line of treatment aims at the relief of current symptoms while addressing the underlying cause. After initial detoxification, the strength, immunity and vitality of the patient are increased through rasayanic therapies.
Diet & Lifestyle advice
Ayurveda can help in preventing AIDS by strengthening the body’s defence system through herbs and a supplementary code of conduct or achaar rasayana. Ayurveda recommends a whole range of herbs for the prevention of AIDS through strengthening the immune system. Herbs such as amla (emblica officinalis), bala (sida cordiolia), haritaki (terminalia chebula), nirgundi (vitex nirgundo) and amrita (tinospora wedifolia) have been found to be effective in the prevention of AIDS.
However, the first step to stem the disease is emotional and moral support to the patient. The patient must be surrounded with well-meaning and loving family and friends for the healing to take place. The patient should be given nourishing food that are easily digestible and be engaged in fruitful activities.
Ayurvedic tonic and rejuvenators (rasayanas) should be given to strengthen the system, boost immunity levels and stimulate appetite. After gaining some strength shodhana (elimination) techniques can be used to expel toxins from the body through enemas, steam bath, purgation and emesis. A nourishing diet along with medicated ghee preparations and soups is recommended. But spicy, oily and acidic foods are to be avoided. Also, chyavanprash, raktavardhak and triphala are recommended for AIDS patients.