The theme of World Tuberculosis Day this year is – “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”. In an unprecedented move, the governments of the world have come together for the United Nations General Assembly first-ever high-level meeting on tuberculosis with a view to eradicating this disease. India has the highest TB burden in the world with over 2.6 million cases each year, out of a global incidence of 9.6 million. While the TB incidence in India is alarming, the real cause for concern is the emergence of drug resistant TB strains, some of which do not respond to any antibiotic medications.
The Vicious Cycle of Antibiotics & Drug Resistant Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium, which tends to affect the lungs, although it can affect other parts of the body too. In 90% of the cases, individuals have no symptoms of tuberculosis (latent tuberculosis), but in the remaining 10% of the cases, the infection progresses to an active disease, which can be fatal.
As with most bacterial infections, we have developed several antibiotics that can destroy the TB bacteria. However, if patients do not follow the prescribed treatment schedule, some of the TB bacteria in their bodies survive, forming a resistance to the drug. Since TB is an infectious air-borne disease, the patient can infect others with these drug resistant bacteria, simply by coughing or sneezing. This leads to a vicious cycle of inadequate treatment measures followed by the generation of TB strains that are resistant to multiple antibiotics drugs.
How Lifestyle & Natural Solutions Can Help Fight Drug Resistant Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is not a modern disease; in fact, it is mentioned in the Rigveda, which was written over 3500 years ago! Ayurvedic treatment of TB was common practice right until 1947, when modern anti-TB drugs became available. Antibiotic TB medications are very effective but eventually they are rendered ineffectual when drug resistant strains emerge. However, recent research proves that Ayurvedic treatments may hold the key to fighting this growing problem.
Rasayana to Reduce Tuberculosis Symptoms
In a recent study on the Ayurvedic management of tuberculosis, researchers found that a Rasayana compound was very effective when used along with anti-TB drugs. The Rasayana decreased cough by 83%, fever by 93% breathlessness by 71%, and coughing up blood by 87%. It also helped to reverse the loss of body weight. The Rasayana included Amalaki, Guduchi, Yashtimadhu, and Pippali, along with several other Ayurvedic herbs.
Aswagandha & Chyawanprash to Increase ESR Levels
ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) is a measure of inflammation and testing ESR level helps to determine the effectiveness of TB medications. A study on the effects of Ashwagandha and Chyawanprash on tuberculosis patients found that these Ayurvedic treatments helped to increase ESR levels when used as an adjunct or add-on to Anti-tuberculosis drugs.
Furthermore, patients in the group on Chyawanprash exhibited bacterial load negativity, which meant that levels of bacteria were reduced. This effect started from the 17th day, while the Aswagandha test group experienced this effect from the 20th day. What is so striking here is that, 50% of patients who only received drugs had a bacterial load positive (increase in bacterial levels) right until the 29th day!
The therapeutic benefits of these Ayurvedic treatments are actually connected to their immune boosting activity, as well their anti-stress, inotropic, and antioxidant properties.
Ashwagandha Dosage for Tuberculosis
- Ashwagandha 500 mg capsules – 2 capsules (twice a day for entire duration of antibiotic treatment)
Chyawanprash Dosage for Tuberculosis
- Chyawanprash – 10 g or 1 teaspoon (thrice a day for entire duration of antibiotic treatment)
Please keep in mind that these Ayurvedic formulations are not a substitute for allopathic treatment and cannot cure tuberculosis. Antibiotic treatment is absolutely necessary, but using these Ayurvedic products in combination with drug therapy can significantly improve patient outcomes.
A Holistic Lifestyle for Risk Reduction
A holistic lifestyle is the simplest way to reduce your risk of contracting drug resistant TB. Follow a balanced diet that contains fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts as this will strengthen your immune system. Do not skip your workouts, as even simple exercises like walking and jogging improve respiratory health. Yoga improves pulmonary (lung) function by strengthening the inspiratory and expiratory muscles and so you should practice it on a daily basis if possible.
There are several Ayurvedic preparations for respiratory issues that address the root cause of the problem. This will help to improve your lung function and lower the risk of serious respiratory diseases such as drug resistant tuberculosis. Just remember that Ayurvedic treatments for tuberculosis, although effective, do not offer a cure for the disease and should only be used in combination with allopathic treatment.
Samal, J. (2016). Ayurvedic management of pulmonary tuberculosis: A systematic review. Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, 5(1), 86–91. http://doi.org/10.5455/jice.20151107020621
Debnath, P. K., Chattopadhyay, J., Mitra, A., Adhikari, A., Alam, M. S., Bandopadhyay, S. K., & Hazra, J. (2012). Adjunct therapy of Ayurvedic medicine with anti tubercular drugs on the therapeutic management of pulmonary tuberculosis. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 3(3), 141–149. http://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.100180
Karthik, P. S., Chandrasekhar, M., Ambareesha, K., & Nikhil, C. (2014). Effect of Pranayama and Suryanamaskar on Pulmonary Functions in Medical Students. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 8(12), BC04–BC06. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2014/10281.5344