The pathogen obsession
Currently we are only obsessed with trying to control the spread of the pathogen. This is one way of looking at things. The holistic systems look at it in another way. They don't undermine the danger of the pathogen but have a different thing to say about its role and the body's reaction.
The pathogens role is to cleanse. That is why they were attributed to Devi's or goddesses. They come to deliver us from toxic overload. Pathogens cause epidemics when bodies and environments become toxic and sick at a mass scale. Thus the traditional way to tackle an epidemic is to reduce and change food to sattvik (simple and fruit based), intermittently fast, take plenty of fluids, have enemas (neti, dhauti etc) and resort to prayers internal and external. This reduces the toxic burden of the body and also helps de-stress. Then we have fumigation with herbs to cleanse the immediate atmosphere and reduce pathogen burden.
The herbs used for these kind of epidemics increase immunity and vitality and protect the cleansing organs. They also try to reduce pathogen load. The pathogen is allowed to do its job and the body is allowed to respond. This corresponds to the concept of cellular immunity. The pathogen invades, the body reacts, the phages surround and neutralize, the debris is expelled. Fever, inflammation etc are not unduly interfered with as they signify the body mounting its response, doing its job.
The body goes through a crisis but the vitality reestablishes itself. After the acute phase is over the attention shifts to rest and restoration as tissue and vitality lost is rebuilt. People often find that the crisis has solved some of their nagging problems too. They emerge better and reinvigorated. Those who have depleted and defective vitality either perish or enter a sickly state.
In this approach the mortality rate is as expected. It slowly peaks and then reduces and flattens out. The population get natural cellular immunity.
Here prevention plays a critical role. Hence the traditional restrictions on diet, behaviour, attitudes and social mores. Cleanliness and hygiene is both internal and external.
Currently we are fixated only on the pathogen and feel that other matters are not important. We concentrate on external cleanliness without considering the internal state. We tend to neglect health and natural immunity.
Will the coronavirus help us change track? Let us hope that happens.