The second pathway to autoimmune disease occurs in people who have a significant family history of autoimmune diseases and consequently, a very strong genetic predisposition. This is typically a Vata or Pitta prakruti person whose primary dosha is aggravated. Both Vata and Pitta share a lot of gunas (qualities) with Tejas. As you recall, Ayurveda is a qualitative science in which certain basic qualities can affect multiple different forces in the body. Therefore, when someone has excessive Vata or Pitta, they may potentially have qualities that predispose them to have overactive Tejas.
The overactive Tejas, or cellular intelligence, can become dysfunctional and directly acting through the immune system can attack Ojas in the surrounding cells. This phenomenon is common in certain autoimmune diseases with a strong genetic component. It creates an effect similar to that of fire causes water to evaporate.
There are 6 other factors that contribute to autoimmune disease, as explained by Dr. Akil in Ayurveda and Autoimmune Diseases. You can learn more about this in the first part of the course.
An underlying issue that is common to almost all autoimmune diseases is the leaky gut syndrome or increased intestinal permeability. This is correlated to imbalances in Agni and the production of Ama. Therefore, this must be understood and addressed before one can effectively treat autoimmune diseases.
For a deeper dive into gut health, check out Dr. Akil’s courses, Ayurveda and Autoimmune Diseases as well as Ayurveda and the Paleo Diet.
The immune system is correlated with a strong Agni and healthy Ojas, the basic essence of Kapha.
Here are 7 strategies to maintain a healthy immune system.
Getting adequate sleep
Proper dinacharya or daily routine
Chyawanprash — A traditional herbal jam which is amalaki based and supports healthy immune system function, protects the body against stress and kindles the digestive fire. It is one of the most powerful rasayanas (formulas for rejuvenation).
Ghee — Considered medicinal in Ayurveda, ghee helps build up Ojas which is one of the pillars of the immune system.
Vitamin C — It is important to consume adequate food sources of vitamin C including citrus fruits, vegetables, etc.
Vitamin D – Adequate sun exposure is the best way to ensure healthy levels of vitamin D, which plays an important role in regulating the immune system. If you are deficient, you might need a supplement for some time to bring up your levels to a healthy range.
Omega-3 fatty acids (EFAs) — Fish and seafood are the best sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids. For vegetarians, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and hemp seeds also offer excellent sources of omega 3. The balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the body is important for regulating inflammation and immune system. Most people should try to get more omega 3 fats and less omega 6 fats.