Autoimmune diseases: Ayurvedic & holistic approach

Dear readers

In this blog, we are going to see what auto immune diseases are according to Ayurveda. But before that let us take a look what conventional medicine says about it.

  • Autoimmune disease is a disease caused by hyperactive immune system attacking body tissues instead of microorganisms.
  • Exact cause of this behavior of immune cells is not known. It is believed that trigger factors for autoimmune disorders are genetics/altered lifestyle/improper diet (ex. high fat and high sugar)/infections/ over exposure to chemicals.
  • Women have more occurrence of these disorders as compared to men (2:1 ratio).
  • Common symptoms include low grade fever, fatigue, muscle ache, joint pain, skin rashes, swelling & redness, trouble in concentrating etc.
  • Symptoms vary as per involved organ or system.
  • Symptoms keep appearing (flare up) and going (remission).
  • ANA (Antinuclear antibody) blood test is usually done to check presence of autoimmune disease in the body.
  • Treatment is focused on controlling hyperactive immune response and reduce symptoms as it can’t cure the disease. Commonly used drugs are NSAIDs and immune suppressing drugs.
  • Few autoimmune diseases found commonly are- psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, thyroid related disorders, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, G B Syndrome, vasculitis, myasthenia gravis etc.

 Let us understand pathology of few of these diseases in brief.

  1. Psoriasis- T cells of immune system collect in the skin and stimulates the skin cells to reproduce abnormally (silvery, scaly skin).
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis – here the antibodies bind with the linings of joints and produce symptoms like swelling, pain and damage to joint later.
  3. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)- hyperactive immune cells attack intestinal lining and produce symptoms like diarrhea, urgency in bowel movements, abdominal pain, weight loss etc
  4. Thyroid related disorders –a. attack of immune system cause excess secretion of thyroid hormone into blood (Grave’s disease, hyperthyroidism) causing symptoms like bulging eyes, weight loss, weakness.  b. antibodies attack thyroid gland and destruction of thyroid cells lowers the hormone secretion (hypothyroidism) leading to fatigue, weight gain, depression etc

Ayurvedic perspective:

Ayurveda has its own method of diagnosing diseases based on dosha and dushya dushti. Whenever a disease is produced, cause (hetu/ nidan) of the disease is very important to decide the line of treatment.

Any disease is caused by 3 main reasons (vyadhi hetu)-

  • Asatmya indriyarth sanyog(when the sensory organs i.e. gyanendriyas and karmendriyas, work less/excess or abnormally)
  • Pragyaparadh (when intelligence, knowledge and memory does not perform in accordance with each other it leads to increase in rajas and tamo gunas. As a result, person starts behaving the way he likes i.e altered diet, lifestyle & thought process; and ignore what kind of lifestyle, diet and mindset is best for him to stay healthy).
  • Parinam (time/ season)- different seasons and also different time of the day affects severity of the disease. Tridoshas increase or decrease at particular time of day & age.

So, Ayurveda sees cause of every disease on above parameters. Obviously, diseases which seems to be recent like cancer, HIV or autoimmune diseases can be diagnosed by this method in Ayurveda. Autoimmune diseases can be considered as yapya vyadhi (disease that can’t be cured easily).

Autoimmune disease is considered as aamvisha or dooshivishajanya vyadhi according to Ayurveda.  Ayurveda says origin of disease lies in weak fire element (mandagni). Vagbhata describes this as रोगा: सर्वेsपि मंदेsग्नौ….Ashtang hriday Ni.12/1.


Agni is the basic factor in building bala (strength), swasthya (health), utsah(energy) and ojas(immunity). It is the source of pranshakti in life.

आयुर्वर्णो बलं स्वास्थ्यं उत्साहोपचयौ प्रभा|

ओजस्तेजोsग्नय: प्राणश्चोक्ता देहाग्निहेतुका:|| Charak chi.15/3.

  • With the help of jatharagni, food gets digested and aahar ras is formed. Quality of this aahar ras determines the quality of dhatus (tissues) and ultimately the quality of Ojas.
  • Tridoshas, vata, pitta and kapha are basic principles of body and they stay in balanced condition only when Agni has proper strength.

शमप्रकोपौ दोषाणां सर्वेषां अग्नि संश्रितौ | charak chi. 5/136

Here the term Agni refers to digestion of food, cellular metabolism and hormonal functions. Any of these functions can get disturbed and cause disease. Ex. Digestion related (jatharagni) – diarrhoea, piles, constipation etc; metabolism (dhatwagni) related: diabetes, obesity etc: hormonal imbalance related – hyper/hypothyroidism, PCOS etc.

  • Psychological factors like fear, anger, stress, sorrow, worry has direct impact on Agni.

     या एव पित्तधरा कला सा एव मज्जधरा कला| this shloka reveals corelation between Agni and mind.


The reason behind discussing Agni in detail, is, Aam which is the causative factor of autoimmune disorder is product of improper digestion at GI tract level and/or cellular level. It can be described as metabolic wastage which acts as a toxin. Aam plays significant role in disease development.

Aam is formed as a result of –

  1. Jatharagnimandya (weak digestive fire)
  2. Dhatwagnimandya (weak metabolic functions)
  3. Dosha sammurchana (mixture of two vitiated doshas)
  4. Krumi (microorganisms like bacteria/virus/fungus etc)
  5. Mala sanchaya (here, during nourishment of dhatus one after another, sukshma malas like kled are formed and if they are not excreted in time, they form toxin i.e. aam). This action takes place slowly, so the symptoms manifest late.

Wherever in the body, this aam finds imbalance, it blocks that particular strotasas (micro channels/ systems) and produce disease related to it. That is why range of autoimmune disease is vast. (यत्र संग: खवैगुण्यात् व्याधी: तत्र उपजायते|)  



  1. Nidan parivarjan – one must change his diet and/or lifestyle as required. This would be the first line of treatment common for all diseases.
  2. Aam chikitsa – aam is to be digested and then excreted from the body. For this, certain drugs are used for digestion of aam (aampachan) as first part of treatment. Then aam is excreted from the body by using samshodhan chikitsa like vamana/ virechana (aam nirharan).
  3. Agnivardhan – Agni which is in weak condition, needs to be boosted with certain drugs so that it can digest aam very well.
  4. Balvardhan – once aam is well digested and expelled out of body & Agni regains it’s strength, the main task remains is making that particular organ/system healthier to avoid further attack.
  5. Lakshanik chikitsa Other symptomatic treatment is given as per requirement.

All above treatments regulate immune system very well provided patient is ready to change for betterment.

Herbs commonly used are triphala, guduchi, aamla, shati, neem, shunthi, chitrak, musta, haridra etc. These medicines are used in different forms like oil/ghee/ powders/ decoction etc. Certain bhasmas and raskalpas are also advised when needed. A Vaidya is always a better judge in selection of drugs and therapies as treatment differ as per prakruti, dosha-dushya dushti, age of the patient and severity of the disease.we can treat with panchakarma therapy as and when needed.

This is a very brief idea about line of treatment used in the form of medicine. There are other important factors that play vital role in treatment. Let us take a look at it.


Satvavajay chikitsa is also used as an important line of treatment in Ayurveda.

Activate the healing capacity of your body by using following techniques-

  • Meditation for healing that particular part/system.
  • Pranayama (type to be selected by an expert)
  • Music therapy/Mantra therapy
  • Affirmations (to train your subconscious mind)
  • Technique of Verbalizing – visualizing leading to Vitalizing.

All these techniques should be learnt by experts and to be practiced under their guidance only.

I have given very brief idea about ayurvedic line of treatment as it is very vast to elaborate. Also, counselling is very important before deciding the course of satvavajay chikitsa.

Hope this blog helps you understand autoimmune diseases and their management through the eyes of Ayurveda.

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12 thoughts on “Autoimmune diseases: Ayurvedic & holistic approach

  1. It was interesting to know the autoimmune problems caused by non-microorganisms reasons and the treatment available. Thanks Poornayurved for sharing insights and available remedies.

  2. Hi Poornayurved,
    Very knowledgeable blog. When it comes to Autoimmune Diseases, Ayurveda is the best. This post gives exact reasons and how to treat such diseases. In future posts if possible I would like to see specifics about each illness and general line of treatment. What precautions should healthy person take to avoid such diseases in future?
    Thank you for posting such a valuable information.

  3. Dear Amruta,

    Thanks for sharing this detailed informatin about such a complicated subject & Useful Aayurveda treatment.

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