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Immunity for all ages

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others.

A lot of you would have heard of Dr Ali before, but he studied under a number of masters of Ayurveda, Unani medicine, Yoga, Marma therapy, and Acupuncture. He has studied in India, he has studied in the UK. And when he came to the UK, he set up the first Centre of Integrated Medicine here in London and he’s helped and worked with innumerable diseases. I know that because I’ve been in touch with Dr Ali now since the 80s and he has many, many prestigious clients, so much so that if you Google him, you’ll see that the media named him a ‘physician to the stars’. Dr Ali used to come to our house to treat my dad when I was a young girl, when I used to go to school. And then 20 years later when I was in the UK, someone recommended him and said he was amazing. So my mum and I went, not knowing that it was the same Dr Ali we’d known from India. So welcome to our chat, Dr Ali. I’m really honoured to have you here. 

Dr Mosaraf Ali: Me too. Yeah, I was looking forward to that.

AB: What is wellness to you?

Dr MA: So wellness is, you can say that it’s part of nurturing the natural innate healing power within you. So if you have that, then you’re bound to have a perfect defensive mechanism so that nothing enters your body. That’s number one. Number two, you got to have a sound sleep. If your sleep is disturbed, then you eat into your night energy and that deprives you of the energy. Number three, having enough energy. This means that when you sit, you have an erect spine. You hold your spine right because you’re energetic, you’re well. Then the next thing is clear vision. So, if you have all sorts of floaters in front of the eyes, then you’re not well. Something is wrong. Then a muzzy head, because sometimes when you don’t get enough oxygen in the brain, you feel funny, you have short-term memory loss, and you focus very well but the contemplation is bad. So if you ask the person to repeat, he or she will ask you the question: What did you say? Pardon? Can you repeat? That is one of the things. Then the next thing is perfect bowel movement. If your bowel movement is not good, you’re not well. But most important thing is that you must have enough energy. Because as I said if you don’t have enough energy, then what happens is that you are unable to carry out all the functions in the body. So, if you feel tired, your immune system goes down, you’re overtired, you don’t have an erect spine, you don’t have proper digestion, you don’t have the capacity to ward off any virus that is going around. So, it’s very important to have wellness. So Hippocrates said that you, in order to feel well, have to recharge your innate healing power and that takes multiple measures. He was the first one who said that you must do certain things not only to change your lifestyle but also to try and do damage control on a daily basis. They had an easy life. They drank, they ate a lot and all that, but they all went to the baths. So that’s where the concept of spa came in. “Salus Per Aquam” which means health through water, is where the word Spa comes from.

AB: Lovely!

Dr MA: You have like in the centre of Rome, you have a huge bath. Every Roman city and even in Greek cities, they have baths at places where they went to the toilet. They all sat together, then they swam, they went to steam baths, they had massages, they had dumbbells in the courtyard, and they could do exercises. So this sort of damage control I mean, they ate, they had a decadent lifestyle. They ate and they did that. But they also, on a daily basis, every morning went to these so-called healing places, spas and whatever you call them. That’s why, when you fell ill so Hippocrates divided that into three parts. The first one is: when you’re ill, you’re taken to a quiet place, you’re given massages, there’s music playing around, all that. But if that didn’t help you— all the things that you do in the baths and the spas, you get that treatment first, if that didn’t help you, then it went into crisis. So, crisis means that you have to do something like give some herbal medicine, some teas, cupping, taking out blood, and putting you in the sauna, hot and cold water, like you have in the spa, water of different temperatures. It increases the time when the disease hasn’t healed, with just rest. Then the third stage is recuperation. So Hippocrates said that you must spend as much time to recuperate as the time taken by the disease. When the flu stops, and the first day you have no temperature, you go to work, that is what you should not do to build your immune system, to make sure that the antibodies or whatever are properly spread around the body. So, you go into that state. So that’s why in Cairo, in the old hospital in Cairo, they pay you for remaining in the hospital for the extra three or four days that are required. 

AB: Oh, good, wow!

Dr MA: Recuperation is as good and as important as the management of the disease because otherwise you go into this society and you’re like… look at COVID. What is happening? People, get better, but they get this fatigue, body and head ache, and muzzy head. They can’t think, they’re making mistakes all the time. One moment they look cheerful, the next moment they’re depressed. So, they’re confused in their head and they get terrible, sometimes the cold is persistent, the disease is gone, you can’t test it, but it’s like there was a storm, the aftermath of the storm with broken trees uprooted and fallen trees.

AB: So on that note Dr Ali, I want you to tell us what kind of immunity-related diseases you’ve helped people with or give us some examples of where you’ve helped people with immunity before we delve into the immunity itself. I know you’ve told me. 

Dr MA: It’s very important. My thing is still Hippocratic principles. What are the three basic things which I change? I change my diet… I make the diet alkaline. If it’s more acidic because by pulse I can feel that, so then we change the diet to a more alkaline diet, it’s very important. Then the next thing is the evacuation should be good because if you don’t evacuate very well, your sinuses and everything is going to get filled up and you’ll get inflammation. The solution is some sort of yoga. So, yoga treats the mental side as well as the physical side. So, breathing and a little bit of Shavasana and all that and you can have a brief meditation. This is part of the essential program of regimen therapy.

AB: What therapy?

Dr MA: Regimen…like regimental therapy, like what Hippocrates said. In India, you call it ‘Parhez’. So, that is regimental therapy. There’s a lot of link between ancient European medicine and Indian or Chinese medicine. There are a lot of links. But having studied in Europe, I focused on the European— ancient European traditional medicine. Although I know Ayurveda, I know Unani medicine, but I focused on this because it’s closer to it. Here you have four types of people or constituents that are: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Whereas in Ayurveda you have VataPitta, and Kapha; in Chinese you have yin-yang. So basically we have an extra one in European traditional medicine, which is the basic thing of yoga. But for massages, I use an ancient type of massage called Marma therapy. Now Marma was used by martial arts therapists. So if you’re hit in the shoulder and your arm is paralyzed, then there were antidotal points, which with pressure and therapy you could get the power back. So the wrestlers practised it. So that is fantastic physical therapy. I was one of the last ones to have specialized in all that so I brought it back and I’ve done it.

AB: Marma therapy is ayurvedic right or not?

Dr MA: Ayurvedic. Very much ayurvedic.

AB: Can you give people some tools to keep their immunity up? So whether it’s massages, whether it’s supplements, can you give people some tools?

Dr MA: So first of all you got to keep the digestive system right. You must give the acid-alkali balance. So don’t take too much citric stuff. Lots of orange juice, lemon, chillies, and nuts. 

AB: Don’t take those. Okay.

Dr MA: Yes, don’t eat that. 

AB: So, a lot of people are having a lot of lemon juice because of the vitamins in it.

Dr MA: I know. The body can’t cope with it. I know that there’s this macrobiotic theory that the body alkalizes it, but at what cost? The body has to carry out chemical reactions and that brings the body’s energy. The second thing is if you have any problem keeping the acid-alkali balanced, removing all the inflammations in your body, sinuses, gums, teeth, arthritis, and even the urinary tract, any inflammation you have— you must deal with it because that drains your energy.

AB: So, will you give us tools for both?

Dr MA: Basically I use a component which is a mixture of fenugreek and ginger and high-class turmeric. This turmeric, the one that you eat is not the real one. You have to get the food state medicine one. So, when you have that, you get rid of the inflammation. The third thing is building up your energy.

AB: Okay, one second doctor Ali, before you carry on, will you also tell us how you recommend keeping the acid-alkaline balance?

Dr MA: Okay, eat slowly. Number one. Avoid [eating] too much of acidic food. And too much of drinking and smoking. Nicotine also increases the acidity [in your body]. So you have to control the acidity. And maybe take some herbal things. Mint tea is very good for that. For maintaining the thing like that. Try and consume bitter things more. Be it artichoke, be it you have bitter things in spinach and these sorts of things. So that will keep the acid-alkali balance in order. I have a detox tea, which is very popular. Love it or hate it, it’s very bitter. But basically, it is the same old ‘Chirata’ that in India everybody took not only for the skin. I grew up in a boarding school and even the nurse there used to give us Chirata every morning. So it’s basically to alkalize. It’s very important now because oxidants damage cells and that’s why we are getting a lot of type two diabetes and all that. So when you take this alkaline stuff, it helps. The next thing is you must drink enough water so that your bowels move very well. If you get constipated, not only do you have a problem with calcium, but you can’t absorb the magnesium and other essential elements you absorb exclusively in the colon. So that’s digestion. The two types of massages and yoga to get physical are so important. Can you imagine in ancient times we had a perfect system of wellness called ‘Kayakalpa’? It’s completely forgotten in India: the art of rejuvenation. So it was for the elites. If ayurveda was for the common people as a medicinal sort of entity, then ‘Kayakalpa’ was for wellness, for keeping your energy balanced. Of course, the nobles and the kings, sort of got themselves removed from their duties and they spent three months doing all that.

AB: So, you’re saying keep the acid-alkaline balanced? And then you were talking about energy. Make sure you have enough energy to keep your immunity up. 

Dr MA: Yes.

AB: I’m going to ask you my last question. Do you have any advice for immunity? 

Dr MA:  Yeah. So, the basic thing is that, as I said, sleep is very vital. I know it’s the number one problem in the whole world. I look at sleep slightly differently. We have day hormones which are cortisol, and we have night hormones which are melatonin. It’s the imbalance between cortisol and melatonin. So when you have to sleep at night, you’re wide awake. There is so much cortisol [in you], you have to burn it up. And during the day when you have to work, you’re tired. So a reversal of the day-night cycle [is required]. To do that, after work when you come back and come home, relax a little bit, drink plenty of water, and take breaks in between the computer use. Don’t drink too much coffee, or have excess salt. Salt, caffeine and sugar: these are things that excite your brain. You must drink water. And if you are drinking a lot, if you had a lot of alcohol, then it’s better to stay awake for at least an hour and a half by walking, forcing yourself to burn [the alcohol] as much as possible because it will dehydrate you shortly after midnight and you’ll wake up because you want to drink water. You won’t understand this dehydration from alcohol, which wakes you up because you’re dehydrated, the heart rate goes up and the brain then interprets that as excitement. So you wake up. It is very important that you do some damage control, drink enough water, avoid coffee and all this sort of thing. Then the third thing is that when you get up, you have to do some exercise. Open your windows, do some breathing exercises and some yoga stretches because yoga doesn’t cause any sports injuries. If you have the capacity to go to a gym or go for a jog, whatever… that is very important. If you want to sort of stay in bed for longer, do it over the weekends, but not during the week because that’s the time you replenish your energy and get rid of the night fatigue and it’ll help you to get going. Then the other very important thing is to have a light lunch and a normal dinner. Because if you’re too tired, then it’s best to put your head down and have a power nap. Very important because you break the day into two. We are not sort of geared up to work all the eight or 10 hours at a stretch. We have a little siesta or power nap. Then, in the second half, you’re better, you’re not so snappy. You’re not shouting at your secretary or getting irritated because there’s so much work and deadlines and all that. So this is an interesting thing to follow. At home, it’s best to give yourself a physical rest. Just lie down, stretch, do some breathing; take some deep breaths in. So I would suggest that you breathe very slowly, take a deep breath in for 6 seconds, hold for 6 seconds, and breathe out for 6 seconds. So instead of breathing normally, we breathe 16 to 18 times in a minute, but in a pattern of retention breath, so you’ll be breathing four times in a minute. Carbon dioxide in the blood dilates blood vessels and makes you [feel] relaxed… the mind relaxes. So that breathing is quite good. And if you’re used to meditation, do a little bit of chanting or breathing. Before you go, you do some exercises, maybe something vigorous, but after you come back, get physical rest because you can go to the gym and do all the things, but you need a certain period to do that. [This way] you are able to enjoy the evening a lot better. You don’t drag in your work from home. Work is an important thing because we have to change ourselves. I generally feel that people are not healthy, nor are they sick. The blood tests are alright and everything, but they can’t fall into that middle category. 60% of people are neither well nor ill, you know. You won’t find anything wrong with them. And the doctor will encourage you by saying, oh, your tests are like an 18-year-old or a 25-year-old. They feel very happy. But when you do what I have in my book, the M-O-T, My Own Testing on how tired you are on a scale of one to ten, because these are subjective feelings… 

AB: Oh, yes, that would be useful information. 

Dr MA: Yes, …[seeing] how well all these factors are, then you fail because really you keep going, but you’re not at par with what it should be.

AB: What do you think about gargling with oil first thing in the morning? Does it help eliminate inflammation?

Dr MA:  See, basically it was before all these toothpastes came in. Salt and oil— mustard oil was used with the index finger, and people mixed the salt and oil and massaged their gum. So that took out all the pus and inflammation. But also when you gargled, it formed a coating on the lining of the throat, preventing the toxins from entering. Because these are rich in blood vessels, you know, your throat. So with saline Neti, the water Neti: you wash the nasal tract, and you get rid of the bacteria. But for the oral cavity, they used salt and oil, both of them, mustard in particular, because that’s antibacterial and antifungal. In Ayurveda, you have that Shadbindu oil. But what I have done is I have tested them on petri dishes to see which are the ones that are killing the viruses or bacteria. So, I inspected those and blended my oils. So, it’s all right. Gargling with oil is all right. But the concept came from that…that oil in your gums, in the oral cavity, or gargling with salt and oil is not a bad thing. But people don’t use the oil because that oil sticks to the throat for long. You want to clear it all the time. Salt, you just wash it off with water, it dissolves in water, and out it goes.

AB: So also, Dr. Ali, do you have any recommendations for sleep? Because you said sleep is very important for immunity.

Dr MA: Yeah, we cause this problem ourselves. First of all, if you don’t do something like relax when you come home or do a few yoga stretches or a little bit of meditation, then you [should] prepare yourself for bed. You must finish your dinner by 8 o’clock. Late meals means the food is going to remain in your stomach. You may feel sleepy because of overeating, alcohol, but you’ll wake up because the food is lying there. So, if you come to a situation like that, I have my gut cleansing gel. It has the psyllium husk and other things. So, you do damage control. It absorbs all the things [food] and makes it go out of your stomach. So, a full stomach is bad. So you should practice something before you go to bed, then you make sure that you drink some water before you go to bed. The best thing I would say is this, which is part of my therapeutic meditation, which I use in my spas. As you know, I’m now head of the spas of the Rocco Forte Group, one of the most luxurious chains in the world. And so we teach them this. So basically what happens is that you have to visualize and relax your jaw muscles. As I told you, jaw muscles are very important. Relax your neck muscles, relax your shoulder muscles. And you imagine that your fingers are all dilating. So, when you do that through visualization, you use biofeedback and you dilate and relax all the muscles. You can also do it in the middle of the night. So, what happens is, the blood pressure…blood vessels dilate, muscles dilate and the blood pressure drops a little bit. So, the change in blood pressure to a lower blood pressure will induce sleep. Now, the thing is, if you’re very hyperactive, you work a lot and all that, then you’re likely to wake up exactly at 04:00 a.m. sharp. You wake up, you check your time, it’s 4 o’clock. Some people have it at three, but most people have it. So that’s the time when the night hormone changes to day hormones. The slightest amount of estrogen gives you hot flashes, and similarly when you’re sleeping and the day hormone, that’s cortisol, gets secreted exactly when the birds wake up, 04:00 in the morning, then the whole body gets flushed up and you wake up at that time. You can ask your followers, they’ll say the same thing. Yes, I have the same problem. So in order to avoid that, that’s natural, actually, if you have been working so hard. So drink some water, don’t watch television, don’t read something, don’t do anything at night.

AB: How many hours before sleeping?

Dr MA: Basically you should not have any TV, or any electronic stuff in your bedroom.

AB: So, would you say 2 hours before sleeping? 3 hours before sleeping? 

Dr MA: No, you can finish up maybe 1 hour before sleeping. But I’m saying that in case you wake up at 4 o’ clock, then don’t go back to sleep, because you can’t sleep. That’s the time, after drinking some water, to rehydrate yourself, and to start practicing this sort of exercise of relaxing your temples, relaxing your jaw, and your throat. Visualize that they’re all expanding. And it’s a very good way to induce sleep. And then you’re using your mind not to think about what happened during the day or whom you had a fight with, but you’re thinking of directing your thoughts to your own muscles. And then the moment you have your first yawn, you know you are on the right path.

AB: Do you have your meditation available anywhere online? This meditation you’re doing.

Dr MA: Not the therapeutic meditation, no.

AB: I think you should do a workshop on that.

Dr MA: We could do that. But in the spa, what happens is that I’ve got a sort of fixed number of people. So even when they meditate, I’m more inclined towards Vipassana. So you confront your thoughts rather than suppressing them. When you suppress them at some stage or the other, they’ll spill out. But when you confront, that what are your dilemmas? Basically, deadlines like, oh, I have to finish this off. Like I mentioned in my book, if they put a donkey in between two haystacks, It’ll never be able to decide which one to eat first. So the dilemmas are the worst thing. Shall I do it? Shall I not do it? And like people going through divorces, the dilemma takes up all their time. We can’t handle dilemmas? And the third thing is human relationships. Like you’re in a family. Your mother-in-law hasn’t said anything to you. But if some vibes come from her and there’s some unexplained, undiscussed, unspoken oppression, you will feel it. It happens. Family, teenage children, when they do it, you can’t tell your child off. But the waves can go into an office, like somebody’s jealous of you… and it’s sending all this [bad] vibe. So this telepathic waves bombard your brain, you can’t block it out.

AB: So, You’re saying they affect sleep? These telepathic waves?

Dr MA: Yes, yesThe deadlines… you’ve got to deal with them. That’s what I’m saying.

AB: That’s what you’re saying about your form of meditation, where you said anything that’s bothering you, take it and deal with it.

Dr MA: Deal with it. Not just suppress it. Because sooner or later on a day when you’re very weak, mentally you’re not strong, and if it comes up and you get the same sort of emotions that you got before, this is the thing that you have to take care of. What I was talking about is relaxation in a practical way. In the middle of the night, you can’t get up and do many of those things. You do that and you’ll get a good sleep from say, 4:30 [am], 5 onwards, right up to seven. Because if you sleep then and you go to sleep at 6:30 [am], when you wake up, it’s going to drain your mood. You have deadlines like: I have to get ready. I would have my ritual, have my tea and then go to a thing, look at the news, some headlines or something like that, make a few phone calls. So you’re putting too much. If you get up sharp at seven, it’ll happen, because this sleep is the natural sleep. It’s not like the fatigue sleep.

AB: Yes, thank you very much. Dr. Ali, that was all we had time for. Thank you.

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