The bounty of nature never ceases to fascinate me. Again and again I return to nature's herbs for answers to illness.

While many modern medicines are essential for serious illnesses, there is often no treatment for things like flu, colds, tiredness, ME, cancer and even ageing.

The focus of the medical world is now on genetic therapy. Scientists are convinced a reduction in the strength or response of the immune system is where all illness starts.

Maintaining the integrity of this natural intelligence of the body can prevent illness and cure it.

What damages our immune system? What keeps it healthy? Our ancient holistic physicians probably recognised the multiple factors - physical, mental and spiritual -

that affect our immune system. In modern medicine we have developed very powerful chemicals which can help people with HIV or other disorders of immune deficiency but they come at huge cost and with side effects. Gene therapy is our hope now.

In the meantime, I wonder why we are ignoring the immense knowledge about rejuvenating herbs and techniques practised, observed and described by ancient physicians over the centuries in other countries.

Doctors, ayurvedic physicians and scientists in India have been doing ground-breaking research on ayurvedic herbs for 30 years and have shown that certain herbs and herbo-mineral combinations, described as the Rasayan Concept (the rejuvenators), directly heal damaged DNA or improve the blood cells responsible for immunity.

Some ayurvedic medicines described as immunity modulators and proven by modern research are given below:

1. Herbs described by Charak in ancient ayurvedic texts have been found to be immuno-stimulant in joint Indo-Swiss studies (Immuno-modulatory Agents From Plants, 1999, Dahanukar and Wagner et al).

These are: Tinospora cordifolia (guduchi)

which is now used as an adjunct to chemotherapy in cancer in India, asparagus racemosus root, terminalia chebula (haritaki), embelica officinalis (amla), withania somniferra (ashwagandha), centalla asciatica (brahmi) and basil.

2. Researchers from the ICMR Advanced Centre For Research In Traditional Medicines studied the effect of chavanprash, a multiple herbo-mineral formula, in smokers and found it reduced damage to genetic material in the nucleus of cells, improved lung function and reduced incidence of smoker's cough.

It has been found effective in chronic infections, physical stress, and healing body tissues in viral illness, cancer or chemotherapy.

3. We give chavanprash, withania somnifera and tinospora cordifolia to our patients undergoing stress, suffering from recurrent chest infection, bronchitis or flu-like illness or patients with cancer and chemotherapy and have found beneficial effects without any side effects.