The concept of Allergy has entered in the world of science in 1900 A.D. so one may be misguided that such an explanation (regarding Allergy) cannot be obtained in classical Ayurvedic texts. A question may also arise about our ancient Acharyas, that what did they know about Allergy? But, if we go into detail we will find that the subject "Allergy" was not new in Ayurvedic Samhitas. The only difference is that the word Allergy has not been utilized. Regarding its knowledge, same explanation can be obtained in Samhitas as Modern medicine has contributed to the world of Allergy, even some etiological factors are more clearly expressed & some are new. Though it is an hypothesis however some light can be thrown in this context.
The complete description of allergy in Ayurveda can be traced under the title of "Satmya". As per the definition given in Ch. Su. 6/50. all those Ahara and Vihara which are having Viruddha Guna of particular Desha or Roga are considered as Satmya of that Desha Roga.
In other words Satmya can also be correlated with "Upshaya" (Ch. Ni. 1).
Satmya is divided into 4 types
(1) Ritu Satmya
(2) Auk Satmya
(3) Desha Satmya and
(4) Roga Satmya.
Accordingly an attempt has been made to correlate description of allergy in Ayurveda in present chapter.
Allergy and Concept of Heredity
Acharya Sushruta has clearly defined hereditary diseases in Su. Sh. 24/6.
- Causative factor - Vitiation of sperm & ovum
- Chances of Allergic disorders increases in bilateral inheritance
- Unilateral inheritance decreases the chances of Allergic disorders.
- Acharya Charaka has described it as "Kulaja Roga"
- Acharya Bhela has described it as "Prakritibhava"
- Acharya Vagabhata has described it as "Kulaja & "Kulodbhava"
- Acharya Yagyavalkya has described it as "Sanchari"
In a nutshell, a healthy sperm and ovum gives rise to an healthy progeny. According to an Ayurvedic principle there is a balance of Vata, Pitta & Kapha within the body of each and every individual. It's proportion (Qualitatively and Quantitatively) is fixed at the time of birth i.e. its Tara and Tama bhava. On the % of Vata, Pitta & Kapha Prakriti (Sharir & Manas) of an individual is formed. All these factors play an important role in forming ones immunity.
Acharya Charaka ( Ch.In. 1/5) has described 6 varieties of Prakriti in individuals. From which the first twp i.e. "Jatiprasakta" & "Kulaprasakta" can light our view.
"Jatiprasakta" - in some races there is tendency for hypersensitivity e.g. a "Bhanushali" race of Jamnagar is highly sensitive to certain drugs which are commonly used.
"Kulaprasakta" i.e. Family disposition. This can be related with chromosomal abnormalities. There is genetic inheritance, influencing the future generation.
The above explanations may be enough to throw light on the role of heredity in the manifestation of allergic diseases.
Allergy and Concept of Viruddha Ahara
The word Viruddha is originated from the Panini root "Rudhir Avarni" by applying the prefix "Vi". This leads to two factors i.e. on combining two, three things, the stronger one shades or overpowers the weaker ingredients. This has been accepted principally in Ayurveda also. It has been stated that in a combination of so many opposite qualities, the majority of the power packed qualities overpower the weaker qualities (Ch. Vi. 1/4).
The second meaning of Viruddha indicates about the combination of two substances which are not having an affinity for each other. So far this interpretation of Viruddha is concerned, it has been applied in Ayurveda in the context of dietetics and various combinations having such affinity for each other have been discussed at length. On this basis it may be concluded that such type of Ahara or foodstuff which is composed of substances having no affinity at all may be defined as Viruddha or Viruddhahara i.e. Dravyaviruddha.
Viruddha - Synonymous Description
In Ayurvedic literature direct references regarding the synonyms of the Viruddha are not available. However certain indirect synonyms may be available.
Ahita Ahara is the first word which has been frequently used as a synonym to the term Viruddha. In Ayurvedic literature, this word has been used very frequently.
In the lexicographic literature various other terms are also used such as
- Ananukula or Pratikula (Shabda Kalpadrum) which is having an adverse effect or unfavorable
- Anapayukta which is unpropitious
- Pratisiddha prohibited
- Apathya incompatible diet
All these words having the similar meaning may be observed in various, Sanskrit to Hindi, Sanskrit to English or Hindi to English dictionaries.
In Ayurvedic literature all these synonyms are used in a broader sense and with a specific meaning e.g.
Ahita - The word "Ahita" is used for any type of food which is not beneficial for the body and it may include:
- Paryushit Ahara
- Klinna Ahara
- Adhyashana etc.
Pathya - The word "Pathya" is used for those food articles which are beneficial in curing a patient.
Apathya - Those Aharas and Viharas which are restricted during the course of treatment.
It may be quiet evident from the definitions of Pathya and Apathya as well as from the famous shloka of Ayurveda in Vaidyajivan of Lolimbaraja.
If a patient indulges in taking the Pathya he will not require any Medication and when he is not taking of Pathya, the Medication will be ineffective.
On the other hand the Viruddha applies to the articles being consumed during both the conditions health and diseased.
Types of Viruddha Ahara
A careful scrutiny of the Ayurvedic classical literature reveals that the Viruddhahara may be discussed in various aspects and accordingly various types of Viruddhahara may be established.
These types may be represented on the basis of the two famous schools of Ayurvedic medicine.
Charaka under the caption of "Prakrititah Ahita Tama Ahara" has described 19 types of Viruddha, which run as under (Ch. Su. 26/86).
1. Paraspara Gunaviruddha
2. Samyoga Viruddha
3. Samskara Viruddha
4. Desha Viruddha
5. Kala Viruddha
6. Matra Viruddha
7. Swabhava Viruddha
8. Dosha Prakritityadi Viruddha, Aniladi Viruddha
9. Agni Viruddha
10. Satmya Viruddha
11. Veerya Viruddha
12. Koshtha Viruddha
13. Avastha Viruddha
14. Krama Viruddha
15. Parihara Viruddha
16. Upachara Viruddha
17. Paka Viruddha
18. Hrit Viruddha
19. Sampat Viruddha
The Sushruta school of medicine has described 10 types of Viruddahara under the caption of "Ekanta Ahita Ahara" which run as under (Su. Su. 20/4)
1. Samyoga Viruddha
2. Karma Viruddha
3. Mana Viruddha
4. Rasa Viruddha
5. Veerya Viruddha
6. Vipaka Viruddha
7. Desha Viruddha
8. Kala Viruddha
9. Matra Viruddha
10. Atishaya Guna Yojata Viruddha
From this wider range of Viruddha one thing is sure that our Acharyas had accurate knowledge about the allergies which were uprooted through Viruddhahara.
- These Viruddhaharas may give rise to many chemical reactions in our body which cannot be visualized.
- It may be affecting the cellular body built and its chemical constituents.
- Certain Viruddha may be affecting our digestion directly or indirectly either influencing digestive enzymes or hormones.
- Some may be responsible for the arousal of the causative factors of a particular disease, or forming a favorable environment for the manifestations of the disease.
- Some might be harmful in certain environmental conditions only.
The diseases occuring due to Viruddhahara are mentioned below (Ch. Su. 26/102-103)
But exactly one cannot reach to the final conclusion that particular Viruddhahara is responsible for such chemical conditions. So further detailed research is required to draw out some scientific conclusion.
Allergy and Concept of Dushivisha
This is a most important and unique concept of Ayurveda which can be directly co-related with allergy.
Sushruta has described Dushivisha is Su. Ka. 2/25-26. According to him when a person is afflicted by an Artificial or Natural toxins, he is treated with an antitoxic treatments. As a result, a complete elimination of these toxins from with in the body is not possible. They may remain in a dormant state for quiet long period.
Similar meaning can be elucidated from Ch. Chi. 23/7,31. He has opined that intake of toxic drugs which are less potent (Hina Veerya) remains in a dormant state within the body for years together, without causing any harm to the body. It remains in the latent stage due to covering (Avrita) of Kapha.
Chakrapani has commented upon this (Ch. Chi. 23/31) statement of Acharya Charaka, that "Dushivisha" vitiates the Dhatus after the lapse of a long time on obtaining a favorable conditions.
Explaining further Sushruta (Su. Ka. 2/33) has mentioned that "When causative factors like Desha (place), Kala (time), Anna (diet) and Divaswapna (Day sleep) are favourable for Dushivisha, it will become more potent vitiating Dhatus leading to the manifestation of a disease."
It is seen commonly that Allergic disorders are not affecting every individual similarly in presence of same causative factors.
It is commonly observed, that People of same Area, Colony, City, State, etc. are not affected equally on an exposure to a foreign body. Though living in the same environmental conditions, some people remains healthy while only few of them will be allergic to certain things.
Change of colony, city, etc. also plays an important role in the production of allergy.
This factor can be seen easily in our day to day life. It is generally observed, that often patients with rhinitis have maximum presentation of sign and symptoms in spring and rainy seasons. Same is with other allergic disease too. This is explained in detail in, Ritu Sandhi point.
Already described in Viruddhahara
Day sleep is known as Divaswapna that results to Agnimandya, which is the root cause of all the diseases.
Allergic diseases described in Ayurveda are as follows:
In Ch.Chi.23/3 Charaka has mentioned following diseases caused due to
Sushruta (Su. Ka. 2/23) has mentioned following disorders caused due to Dushivisha.
Many of the diseases mentioned above has allergy as one of the
Relation of Dushivisha and Histamine
- Histamine is also present in the body in latent form similar to Dushivisha.
- It remains in an inactive form within the covering of cell wall.
- Cell wall can be called Kapha Dravya.
- Histamine is active only by its chemical reaction with Histaminaze.
Allergy and concept of Asatmyaja Vyadhi
- It is clearly described in As. H. Su. 30/58, which indicates that a specific "Dincharya" is to be followed in that particular period.
- Duration - Ritu Sandhi is a period of 14 days (approximately) between two consecutive seasons (Ritu) .
- In Ayurveda a specific diet regimen (Ahara & Vihara) is indicated for each & every season under the heading of "Ritucharya" (Ch. Su. 6).
- Indications & contraindications for each seasons are also mentioned. It should be followed strictly in order to remain healthy.
- Our Acharayas have well planned the concept of Ritucharya by considering the proportions of Tridosha, Panchamahabhoota, Rasapanchaka, etc. in various seasons & its adverse effect on a human body.
- Similarly prior adopting Ritucharya of the coming season, there are certain rules regarding the abandonment of the Ritucharya of previous season. These rules are mentioned under "Ritu sandhi".
If Do's & Don'ts of Ritu Sandhi are not followed properly than it leads to:
- Asatmyaja Roga (As. H. Su. 30/58 & Sha. Pur. 2/30)
- Tridosha Prakopa which is causative factor of almost all the disease. (Sha. Pur. 2/31)
- Vitiation of Dhatus, giving rise to Dhatu Pradoshaja Vikara (Sha. Pur. 2/32,33).
In the same context, Acharya Sushruta has also mentioned that, due
to toxic Vayu following disease are caused
All the above diseases are described under allergic disease in modern texts.
- The concept of Asatmjaja Vyadhi is very scientific.
- All factors are favorable in the period of Ritu Sandhi for a disease to manifest itself.
- Following environmental factors described in the Modern pathology for allergic diseases can be compared with Ritu Sandhi period & hence it can be said that these diseases has direct relation with Ritu Sandhi.
- In preventive & social medicine it is mentioned that health status of an individual, a community or a nation is determined by the interplay & integration of two ecological universes.
1. The internal environment of man himself.
2. The external environment which surrounds him.
- In the modern concept, disease is due to a disturbance in the delicate balance between man & his environment.
- Three ecological factors, Agent, Host & Environment are responsible for the disease. But the environment from which the patient comes is largely unknown.
- Yes frequently, the key to the nature, occurrence, prevention & control of disease lies in the environment.
- From this a positive support is obtained to scientific concept of Ritu Sandhi, further more.
- Mites of the genus Dermatophagoides have been shown to the commonest arthropods present in the dusts of foods, mattresses, carpets & upholstered furniture, etc. by several authors all over the world.
Three main factors which influence the population of house dust mites are:
- The temperature
- Relative humidity of the air
- Food material
They seem to be most abundant in those areas of the world where the climate is damp & temperate as compared to dry & cold climatic regions.
Dr. Joban Modha, M.D. (Ph.D.) Ay. is Consultant Ayurveda Physician
- Relative humidity >65% & <30% are unpleasant. Permanent exposure to such low humidity can cause drying of the nasal mucosa which may predispose to infection (viz Sore throat, cough).
- Research on Seasonal periodicity of House dust mite population published in Aspects of Allergy & Applied Immunology showed following conclusions.
1. Maximum positivity was found in the months of August & September &
minimum in the months of March, April & May.
2 Indicating that the mite population in house dusts shows a periodic
increase & decrease with the change of season.
3. It appears that more rapid growth of these organisms occurs during a
period when the temperature is moderate & the relative humidity is high
& a slow growth or no growth when it is relatively dry plus either too hot
or too cold.
Dr. Neha Modha, M.D. Ph.D is Lecturer, International Centre for Ayurveda Studies, Gujarat Ayurveda University, Jamnagar
Information provided in this article is for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.