Ayurveda and COVID-19: Where psychoneuroimmunology and the meaning response meet

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Jul;87:8-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.056. Epub 2020 Apr 22.


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to high levels of psychological distress in the general public, including symptoms of anxiety and depression. Such distress is associated with alterations in immune function, including an elevated risk of viral respiratory tract infections. In this light, the possible effects of Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine promoted by the Indian government as an "immune booster", are examined from the point of view of psychoneuroimmune mechanisms as well as the "meaning response" described by Moerman. It was found that many of the measures advocated in their guidelines could positively influence immunity either by direct effects on symptoms of depression or anxiety, or through their symbolic significance. Therefore, it is possible that such traditional practices could be beneficial both in terms of psychological quality of life, and in terms of moderating the risk of infection.

Keywords: Ayurveda; COVID-19; Meaning response; Psychoneuroimmunology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / immunology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coriandrum
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cuminum
  • Curcuma
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / immunology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Garlic
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Pandemics
  • Plant Preparations
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Psychological Distress
  • Psychoneuroimmunology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spices
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Teas, Herbal
  • Yoga


  • Chyavanprash
  • Plant Preparations
  • Teas, Herbal