What Can You Learn From a Viral Outbreak?

What Can You Learn From a Viral Outbreak?

The Coronavirus cannot be escaped this week…at least in the news. And while China and many other countries battle on against the pandemic, here in the U.S., financial fears, driven by concern over the unknown, have proven more treacherous than the actual microbe.


Like the flu each year, the Coronavirus is communicable, which means that it can be passed from one person to another. Like the flu, immune-compromised individuals, children and the elderly are at greater risk of becoming infected if exposed. And also like the flu, there is a possibility of death for a small percentage (less than 3%) of those infected.

Researchers are hard at work trying to find a vaccine for this latest bug. Even without a vaccine, a large percentage of the population will never “catch” it…just like the flu. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on CNN this morning, “fifty percent of people never get vaccines.”


The CDC (the Center for Disease Control & Prevention) and government agencies around the world are learning that they need to be transparent and rapidly responsive when this or other viruses arise. Make no mistake, in a global economy, there will be more evolving viruses for which no vaccines exist, so vigilance is necessary.

On an individual level, the best takeaway is self-responsibility. It’s time to invest in a strong immune system, one that can protect you from whatever microbe comes your way. In other words, use this outbreak to serve as a wake up call that triggers healthier habits year ’round.


For starters, reduce your exposure. Wash your hands after using the toilet, before meals and before touching your eyes. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to prevent the spread of disease to others (or wear a mask). Possibly practice social distancing, spending less time with others face-to-face and/or avoiding hugging, kissing and shaking hands. My friend’s doctor recommends buying a small tube of Neosporin and dabbing a little of the gel under the nose prior to flying or social activities with sick people.

In Ayurveda, there are two important routines to help prevent colds.

  1. Neti pot is one of the best known and entails running boiled salt water that has been cooled to body temperature through your sinuses. I always recommend following this practice with a little dab of oil in each nostril to restore the mucous layer that is removed during the water purge.
  2. A daily oily massage with sesame or almond oil keeps the skin moist and supple. In contrast, dry, cracked skin provides fissures that may allow bacteria to invade the blood. Oiling the skin also helps build ojas (see below).

Influenza (the flu), allergies and cold are respiratory conditions that are generally caused when bacteria or viruses break through the body’s natural defense systems–the eyes, the nose, the skin, the mouth and, occasionally, the ears. Keep each oiled and out of contact with germs as much as possible.


Ayurveda teaches that ojas is the vitality of the individual. The stronger one’s ojas, the stronger the immune system and one’s ability to handle stress.

There are several ways to increase ojas on a regular basis. Here are the top six!

  1. Spend time in nature. The greens and browns of trees are particularly grounding and strengthening, and the blues of the sky and ocean are lightening and uplifting. The highly complex sounds of nature help balance the various brainwaves to foster internal peace.
  2. Allow yourself some relaxation time daily, at least 30 minutes. We need to let the brain, the muscles, the digestion and every part of the body take some time off regularly. Not allowing for this keeps it in a constant state of ready that can eventually lead to autoimmune conditions kicked off by an over-aggressive, overworked immune system.
  3. Eat a variety of good quality foods during relaxed, regularly-scheduled meals. And don’t be afraid to include healthy fats in your diet; they are essential to support your nervous system, which helps support restful sleep and stress reduction. See Positively Ayurvedic article, “Foods to Fight High Cholesterol.”
  4. Drink plenty of pure warm or room temp drinking water. Water is refreshing and grounding, as well as cleansing for the body. In fact, only one element, oxygen, is more essential to your cells than H2O.
  5. As for oxygen, practice deep breathing to relax the body, support digestion and enhance cellular oxygenation. No technique helps reduce emotional and physical tension quicker than deep abdominal breathing. When the lungs are getting plenty of oxygen, the body understands that there is plenty of air and no threat to survival. The happier and safer we feel, the more energy the body has to fight real invaders like colds and flues, like Coronaviruses.
  6. If you really feel worn down, Ayurveda recommends herbal support formulas that include Ashwagandha and Guduchi. There is also a traditional herbal jam called Chywanprash that is particularly good at cold prevention and ojas building. See your Ayurvedic practitioner for the best formula and dosage for you.

Our environments are filled with threats all the time. Thankfully, our bodies are designed to handle most of them. Do your part to keep it healthy and strong and protected, so it can thrive at its job.

Stay calm, safe and healthy. Namaste.


The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at info@positivelyayurvedic.

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