Saturday, July 16, 2016

Yoga –A Medical alternate to Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
Prof. A.N. Pandey, Director, Spiritual Awareness Program (SAP), Hyderabad

1.0 Ebola hemorrhagic fever & its causes

Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe and often deadly illness in humans, caused by the Ebola virus. The disease has high mortality rate, killing about 90% of people who are infected. The ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak is considered to be the largest and longest outbreak ever recorded of Ebola, killing more than 1,500 people and infecting more than 3,000 till date (30th of August 2014), in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia. Hence, the World Health Organization (WHO) on 8 August, 2014 declared the killer Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of West Africa and & other  international region.
EVD is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebola virus. While there are five identified sub-species of Ebola virus, four viruses cause disease in humans. They are Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), Ebola virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV), Taï Forest virus (TAFV). The fifth virus, Reston virus (RESTV), is not considered to be disease-causing in humans.

As per information, EVD first appeared in 1976 at two places simultaneously (at Nigeria, Sudan, Yambuku and Democratic Republic of Congo). The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name.

1.1 Signs and symptoms of EVD

       Symptoms may occur between 2 and 21 days after contracting the infection. Common signs of Ebola include “ Fever, Headache, Muscle, abdominal and joint pain, Sore throat, Weakness, Diarrhea, Vomit or cough up blood, Chest pain, Difficulty in breathing and swallowing, Rash, Hiccups, Bleeding inside and outside the body”.

1.2 Method of spreading

        It is still unclear how Ebola spreads. However, it is believed that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal's body fluids. Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with blood, organs or other body fluids of infected people or exposure to objects such as needles and syringes that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Ebola can also be transmitted from men who have recovered from the disease through semen as it is infectious for up to 7 weeks. Infected dead bodies can spread Ebola as they are still infectious. So mourners who have direct contact with the body of deceased person can also get the disease. Most at risk are helping hands of the patients including Health-care workers who do not wear appropriate protective clothing and family members who are in close contact with infected people or deceased patients.

1.3 General Prevention adopted in case of EVD

Currently there is no readily vaccine available for humans. But the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures such as avoiding contacting infected blood or secretions, including from those who are dead. Precautions can be taken by using medical instructions for all patients in the healthcare setting, sterilizing equipment, and wearing protective clothing including masks, gloves, gowns and goggles, washing hands with soaps or detergents, disinfecting surroundings. Better to isolate people who have Ebola symptoms. In addition, proper management should be adhered while cutting of infected animals (with close supervision) before burial or incineration of carcasses. Yet, not travelling to the areas or countries where the virus is found is the best way to avoid Ebola.

       It is a saying that “Prevention is better than cure”. The same principle has to be adopted in case of EVD and its havoc, till there is no other approaches available (other than medical & scientific development) so as to prevent & cure the EVD.  After large death toll, all over the world due to virus and its sign of spreading beyond human control was serious problem for human kind. This has attracted the attention of many thinkers to search other kind of remedial aspects other than medical to have some solace by preventing or controlling this virus.

1.4 Is there any alternate?

      The scientific methods of any kind, which can prevent these systems to get affected, will be of use to overcome or control EVD. Fortunately, scientific yogic practices explained in this paper can help as preventive measures for common people against the EVD. At the same time, they can be used as therapeutic practice for those who are affected at initial stage as well as in severe stage. In brief, yogic practices related to nostril, thyroid gland, digestive system, respiratory system and central nervous system are to be utilized to strengthen these systems of the body as a preventive measure to retain resistivity against EVD or related virus of this kind.

2.0 How to reach the root of Host EVD?

     When Ebola Virus enters (somehow) inside the body, the same is welcome by Host Viruses and get lodged inside the body system. Unless the same is exposed and taken out, they may erupt any moment and cause the danger. Normally, medical science finds the reason and remedial aspects of the disease, but doesn’t reach the root of the body cells to eliminate it. For this, the methodology suggested by Lord Buddha is to be remembered. Lord Buddha gave four noble paths to reach the root.

2.1 Four Noble path of Buddha

Lord Buddha stated that i) There IS Disease ii) There is CAUSE for it iii) There is REMEDY for the same and iv) There is ROOT of the disease. Normally, we as medical practitioner, analyze only three approaches like IS, CAUSE, REMEDY. But we don’t try to reach the root of the disease. Yoga provides the methodology to reach the same in scientific way. Certain Yogic practices have been described as preventive measures against EVD.

2.2 Why Yoga as medical alternate for EVD?

   Researchers have revealed how the Ebola virus blocks body's antiviral defenses in a new study, providing important insight that could lead to new therapies in treating the deadly disease. Let us have a look in our defensive mechanism & how the same are getting affected?  Defensive Mechanism consists of two Lymphocytes and they are T & B Lymphocytes.

2.2.1 T Lymphocytes

Research reveals that EVD virus damages the defensive mechanism of the human system. Because of this, it becomes uncontrolled. The defensive lymphocytes are T Lymphocytes and B Lymphocytes. T Lymphocytes undergo processing in the thymus (hence T Lymphocytes). Some of them are called “Effecter cells”. This means that, they directly kill the intruding organism or virus. Others are called “Controller cells” as they regulate the activities of other lymphocytes which are involved in defense responses. For example, “Effecter cells” include Cytotoxic T cells and Natural killer cells. The cells destroy an alien organism and may release substances which break up the cell membrane of organism, leading to death.

  Alternatively, other substances may be released which activate other migratory cells “Microphages”. These cells engulf and destroy the organism by Phagocytosis. The effecter T cells defend the body against viruses. They also attack abnormal (EVD) and cancerous cells. An example of an unwanted exposure is fighting the tissues of a transplanted organ. This leads to rejection of the transplant. Effected T cells may inactivate and remove an invader (EVD) the very first time they are exposed to it. There are also “memory cells” which can remember an invader and recognize it, when it next enters the body. This memory may last more years.

  Controller T cells include “Helper T cells” and “Suppressor T cells”. These controller cells influence the activity of other T cells as well as the other category of Lymphocytes called B Lymphocytes. These controls are very necessary, especially in case of any virus attack. It is essential that unwanted organism (like EVD) should be destroyed and removed without any damage to the body. In case this control doesn’t function properly, serious problems like Pandemic arise. One extreme may be “immune incompetence”, where as the other could be extreme “autoimmunity”. In autoimmune disorders, the immune system has started to fight against the body’s tissues.

2.2.2 B Lymphocytes

The B Lymphocytes are the second type of Lymphocytes. They are also produced in the bone marrow. Unlike, T lymphocyte, their subsequent processing occurs in lymphoid tissues other than the Thymus. In birds, this occurs in a structure called the Bursa of Fabricus (hence B Lymphocytes). In man, the exact site of processing is not certain. It may occur in lymphocyte tissue in the intestine or in the bone marrow.
  When these cells come in contact with an intruder (like EVD), they get activated and also get divided to form cells called “Plasma cells”. These cells secrete proteins called “antibodies” or “Immunoglobulins”. This defense strategy is used to combat many infections.

  Some B Lymphocytes survive for many years and remember the intruder, to recognize later on.  The antibodies are specific. That is they react with the same organism which provoked their production. As a result of this, the protection offered is limited. Very often, both T and B Lymphocytes immune responses are seen. The helper T cells are necessary for the B Lymphocytes to be active.

2.2.3 How Yoga boasts up healthiness of these Cells?

From research, it is found that Ebola Virus Disease blocks the defensive mechanism of the body and starts destroying healthiness of body tissues, which are supposed to be the base for organs of the systems. When EVD is successful as intruder, it blocks the activity of killer T cells and controller T cells. By this way, the activity of killer cells becomes “immune incompetence”, stop fighting with the intruder (EVD) and controller T cells function as “auto immune disorder”. This means that controller T cells start fighting with the body’s healthy tissues. At the same time, antibodies promoted by B cells do not get support from helper T cells as the same is blocked by the Ebola virus. The deficiency in antibodies (produced by B cells) does not able to combat the infections caused by intruder organism.

2.2.4 How Yoga works?

In case of Yogic practice, the blockage of defensive mechanism is removed in two ways, namely by exposing the lodged virus and killing them by providing sufficient oxygen. It is interesting to note that no virus can survive under the exposure of sufficient oxygen for longer time. Yogic practices are designed in such a way that sufficient oxygen is supplied in the body and retain for longer time (with the help of slow and deep breathing). This way virus is exposed and killed. This process helps to rejuvenate killer T cells (also known as Receptor cells). Similar way, the antibodies (which depend on helper T cells and also its own processing in intestine and bone marrow system) start functioning to combat the infections caused by the intruder.

The best evidence can be noticed in Prashanti Kutiram (where SVYASA and Arogya Dhama are existing) where improvement in B cells and T cells can be measured. This is because, morning session of Yogic practices help to improve the healthiness of B cells and T cells as there is sufficient exposure of pure oxygen which eliminates the existing intruder inside the body. Similarly, evening session, when emotion culture by prayer and Pranic culture by meditation are carried out, helps to develop the immune sufficiency (especially to develop killer Lymphocytes and controller Lymphocytes). The same kind of Yogic practices can be evolved in case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) so that the blockage mechanism of this virus could be overcome. In addition, Pranayama & Relaxation techniques could be adopted to strengthen the healthiness of body cells.

2.3   Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing)

This practice helps to nourish the whole body with extra supply of oxygen and the carbon dioxide is removed effectively. This process purifies the whole blood system and increases the overall health of the body. It improves the power of the body to resist any kind of diseases. The deep and slow breathing encourages the removal of stagnant air from the lungs. The advantage of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is to achieve the calmness of the mind by regulating the flow of Prana in the body. It helps to remove the blockage of Nadis and thereby allows the free flow of Prana in them.

2.4   Relaxation

There are various methods of relaxation described in the yogic books. Basically Shavasana relaxes the physiological and psychological aspects. It relaxes the 3-H namely Head, Heart and Hands of our human body mind configuration. A relaxed head allows us to see and relate the world and the people around us in a more realistic light. Similarly we can carry our works (actions) more smoothly and attain the happiness in our day to day work. This happens at an emotional level. The emotional conflict is removed with the help of relaxation. Otherwise the tensed and emotionally imbalanced mind implies a certain psychosomatic diseases. Relaxation of mind/body complex helps to relieve and prevent diseases.

The steps described above are the full proof approach against infectious virus like EVD. However, at least Jala Neti, Lion’s yawn and Relaxation techniques are recommended to have the preventive approach against EVD. To build a firewall against the harmful virus, one has to adopt all the five steps. Correction at defensive mechanism along with Pranayama & Relaxation techniques is the basic requirements to combat EVD. However, if time permits, the ancient yogic practices like clinching the path way of virus entry and also to expose the defective virus (lodged in intestine) are to be adopted as precautionary measures. 

3.0 Inner mechanism of Yoga (How Yoga works?)

  To prove the authenticity of Yoga, certain Yogic Mechanism reveals the effectiveness of regulating and controlling the inner forces against any mismatch among system & organs of the body. The mechanism describes how Yogic approach is scientific.   

3.1 Yogic method for distribution of inner force

  Yoga helps at three stages namely i) at mind’s level ii) at Prana (bio Plasmic energy) and iii) at physical (body) levels.  In physiology, Central Nervous System (CNS), consisting Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) & Para Sympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), balances force in body & mind. If SNS dominated, heart beat speeded up, blood vessels dilated; respiration increased and better sense efficiency (extrovert) is obtained. This makes Pingla path more active and causing damages, if the same persists for longer time.  To balance Pingla, if   Para SNS is made dominated with the help of yogic practice, the function is reversed.

   Yoga also helps to activate the Prana as it (Prana) is involuntary and unconscious for most of us; hence does not flow through Ida & Pingla to balance them. Yoga manipulates and makes it voluntary & conscious to compensate the requirement of Ida & Pingla, whenever imbalances occurred in them. This way, the person who is having yoga in lifestyle get added advantage of conscious and voluntary approach of Prana.

When Ida dominates, mind is restless; similarly, when Pingla dominates then body is restless. During medical treatment, body gets energy through medicine and restlessness of mind and body gets compensated by Ida & Pingla path through Nadi Sodhana Pranayama. This way, Yoga helps to have proper function of human system.
Sketch describes the distribution of force at Head, Heart & Hands levels in human system. The function of forces can be reorganized & directed as per the requirement of certain system or organ of the body.

3.2 Yoga eliminates free radicals and maintains adequate ratio of blood cells

Harmful effect of free radicals, known as Oxidative stress, takes away Antioxidant and Glutathione from the system. Any mechanism to balance or to minimize Oxidative stress is welcomed. Yogic practice takes care of free radicals due to adequate amount of Oxygenated breath. This helps to spare Antioxidant and Glutathione (selective Antioxidants) and maintains the healthiness of the system.

In human system we have proper ratio of blood Plasma (Platelet), White Blood Cells (W.B.C.) and Red Blood Cells (R.B.C.). Blood Plasma is required to maintain the basic structure of the body, W.B.C. is necessary for defensive mechanism and R.B.C. is important to supply to oxygenated blood to all organs & systems of the body. Ratio of all three blood cells in adequate proportion is required for positive health. Oxygenated blood cells make body and mind healthy. Sufficient W.B.C is necessary to face any kind of crisis. Adequate ratio of all three can be maintained with the help of Yogic practices like Yogasana, Pranayama and meditation.

3.3 Repair Mechanism through Yoga

DNA consists of Genes (Genetic information). When it gets affected, Yoga helps to repair DNA by making correction in negative surge of feeling & approach. In human system, few cells are newly born, some are required to be maintained properly and some are needed for replacement. In case the defective cells are more than other two cells, ageing starts even in young age. Yoga makes correction so that production of defective cells is bare minimum. Slow and Deep breathing helps to minimize the toxins in the body and thereby, increasing the effectiveness of thymus gland and Bone marrow system to produce adequate B cells (Antibodies).
Image indicate in brief how Yoga works at root levels & performs repair mechanism at T & B cells levels, affects Genes level by altering the negative surge. It also enhances the immune retaining capability of organs & tissues.

3.3.1 Research on “DNA repair” carried out at SVYASA

  SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana), first kind of Yogic University in the world ( has conducted many scientific experiments on Cancer suffering Patients, where DNA repair mechanism has been performed with the help of yogic process. DNA repair mechanisms improve by Yoga strengthens the immune system. This reduces the auto immunity of the body; which otherwise, destroys the healthy tissues of the body. Interested persons may kindly contact SVYASA for the details.

3.4 Yoga as complementary to medical approach

In yoga, Sushumna Nadi carries spiritual force (Atma Shakti). Purification of Nadis and energy centers makes effective Ida and Pingla. When Ida flows predominantly, the mind will be restless. Likewise, when Pingla flows predominantly body is restless. When Sushumna flows, the mind enters a state of spontaneous absorption and spiritual force arises. 

          When people are under medical treatment like chemo or radiation therapy, either body will be restless or the mind will be disturbed because of side effect of treatment.  Yoga manipulates either forces and sends them wherever required. For example, when mind is restless, the vital force of the body is manipulated to overcome the mental disturbance and vice versa is also true.  That is why, Yoga is recommended after surgical operation and heavy dose of chemo and radiation therapy. 

The sketch describes how the practitioner of Yoga can get the benefits of energy system by auto manipulation of Ida, Pingla & Sushumna path; which otherwise, Common people are not the beneficiary.

4.0 Ancient Yogic practice against EVD

       Scientific yogic Kriyas and practices are available to make the body system immune against this kind of virus. After going through the Yogic practices adopted in India and Eastern part of the world, an attempt has been made to bring out those yogic practices available in scripture for the benefit of mankind. Though, EVD is not airborne disease hence, the problem of entering inside the body through nostrils (while breathing) can be ruled out.  But the symptom of EVD shows the difficulty in breathing and heaviness in lungs. This means, the respiratory system gets affected once the virus is effective in human system. To have cleanliness and also to retain least possible chances of entering strong EVD, Jala Neti Kriya is suggested.   

4.1   Jala Neti prevents breeding ground for Virus

The advantage of Neti is to prevent and eliminate colds. It is an effective cure for the common cold along with removal of breeding ground for any kind of viruses. Jala Neti cleans the mucus (Breeding ground of infectious virus) and makes the capillaries of inner nostril strong to have pure flow of blood rich in oxygen. This will not allow the virus to further sustain for longer.

    The other advantages of  the  Neti is to  help  in curing sinusitis, elements of eyes, nose and throat, tonsillitis, catarrh as well as inflammation of the adenoids and mucus membranes. It is effective in removing, headaches, insomnia and tiredness. Jala Neti has a subtle influence on the various nerves which end in nasal passages, such as the olfactory bulb and other adjacent nerves which innervate the eyes, ear etc. This has very soothing influence on the brain and can help to relieve such elements such as migraine, epilepsy, depression and tension.

Neti helps to prevent and cure lung diseases such as asthma , pneumonia , bronchitis , pulmonary tuberculosis etc .Respiration becomes much easier which leads to an improved intake of oxygen , improved removal of carbon dioxide and consequently better health. The symptoms of fever and giddiness due to EVD could be removed when lungs are kept in healthy condition. The Yogic book describes how Jala Neti is helpful for removal of breeding ground of virus, making thyroid gland and lungs effective. If only this yogic Kriya (Jala Neti) is regularly practiced by an individual (old, young & student), the virus like EVD can be prevented. To have the firewall against EVD, other techniques of yogic system could be used such as Dhouti, Simha Mudra, Relaxation and Pranayama along with Jala Neti.

 4.2 Simha Kriya (Lion’s Yawn) for healthy tonsils

.  The tonsils can function effectively if blood supply around it is pure and rich in oxygen. The lion’s yawn removes the stagnant impure blood around the tonsils and allows having pure blood around it. The same Kriya (action) provides the massages in throat region. It can squeeze the stagnant blood and send the same to kidney for purification. By this the blood vessels of throat are relaxed. The rich oxygen supply in the blood in tonsils region has wonderful rejuvenation effect; which in turn improves the health of the body and removes the cause of tonsillitis.

4.2.1 How it works for Glands & Nerve Plexuses?

In the throat there are many vital organs including thyroid glands, the pharynx, the larynx and the salivary glands. All of them receive a wonderful massage with the help of lion’s yawn Kriya. These organs provide the essential functions of the body, the improvement in their health through the simple practice of lion’s yawn (Simha Kriya) can have vast repercussions on the liver. Neck is the vital crossroad of the nerves connecting body and brain. Also, in the throat region there are various nerve plexuses which control the organs of the throat. This Kriya stretches the nerves and remove stagnant blood. This in turn allows an influx of fresh blood. This increases the efficiency in the glands and organs of the body. It also improves the general throat elements.

4.3 Importance of Kunjal Kriya for Gastro Intestinal Disease

The advantage of this Kriya is to get ease feeling in the abdominal region. There is a tendency for the residue of undigested food to lay in the bottom of the stomach after all the easily digested food has passed through the intestine. This is particularly the case if one has a stomach with internal pressure at bottom of stomach. This acts as a reservoir in which fermentation takes place. When one eats the next meal this residue is mixed with incoming food and can pass into the intestines. This can contaminate and poison the system, for such it will be absorbed into the blood stream from the intestines. Kunjal Kriya throws this fermented waste out of stomach before it can cause the harm. This Kriya is sure way of preventing auto poisoning of the body.

This Kriya expels the water (green colour) which indicates the presence of bile. Bile is secreted from the gall bladder into the intestines below the stomach. This Kriya provides the wonderful relief by eliminating the accumulation of nauseating and bitter tasting. In addition, it helps the asthmatic people to improve the lung function. This technique provides the best possible wash to the digestive system from the stomach to the mouth. It also helps to eradicate the accumulation of phlegm in the throat region which can become the breeding ground for the virus.

5.0 How to solve Global Problem amicably?

  Swami Vivekananda has visualized that the global problems can be solved by combining “the best of the East (Yoga)” with “the best of the West (Science)”. Taking the help of Swamiji’s concept, the medical science should be combined with the Yogic science to overcome this kind of global problem. The function of medical science is well known to the mass; whereas yogic function is not understood by many. Let us understand how yoga works as medical supplementary (protection against disease), complementary to medical science (curative approach) and also as medical alternate (immune developing capability).

5.1 Combine role of West & East

The yogic practice can be implemented along with whatever precautions and practices given by World Health Organization (WHO) and Indian Medical Association. Till confidence is built, the importance of yogic practice should be understood and the result of the same could be experienced. The yogic practice works parallel to the vaccination against particular disease. When EVD is spreading and there is no readily available vaccine to prevent the infection caused by this; it is better to adopt the easiest yogic practices suggested by our spiritual masters (Rishis) to encounter the same.

It is presumed that WHO, the common people, medical association, NGO and other government organizations can adopt this prevention without giving any colour of religion as yoga is meant for everyone.  It is important to adopt this practice of yogic Kriya, Asana, Pranayama and other Astang Yoga practices to combat the severity of EVD. It should be taken as the need of the day; not with the sense of propagating yogic practice but with the feeling of utmost requirement of the same to prevent the virus generally not commonly known.