Tis’ the season where colds and flus are rampant. Winter and spring season are a time when many individuals tend to get colds and flu symptoms. We can all recognize the symptoms: cough, congestion, runny nose, headache, an achy or sore body, and perhaps a mild fever.
In Ayurveda, colds are a kapha-disorder. The body builds up an excess of the wet and cold qualities of kapha, thus resulting in congestion and other cold symptoms. Colds are also influenced by an excess of vata, which can reduce agni (digestive fire), leading to chills, loss of appetite and poor digestion.
Winter can build and accumulation of earth and water elements in the body. This can look like: fatigue, weight gain, colds, flus, and depression. This is why prevention is a key way to stay healthy during the winter months!
Here are some of our tips for cold remedies and prevention:
In Ayurveda, ginger is one of the best remedies for a cold. From increasing agni and digestive strength to decreasing stomach pain and joint issues, ginger has long been seen as a powerhouse for health. Ginger’s warmth counteracts the coolness of the kapha elements (water and earth), while its spiciness alleviates congestion by thinning mucous. Fresh ginger has anti-viral activity. Here are some home remedies with ginger to alleviate cold symptoms:
Ginger Tea with Herbs
Combine: 1 part Ginger, 1 part Cinnamon, 2 parts Lemongrass
Steep 1 teaspoon of this formula for about 10 minutes in 1 cup of hot water; strain it, and add a little honey if you life. Drink this several times a day.
Ginger, Cardamom, and Cinnamon Tea
Combine: 2 parts Ginger, 3 parts Cinnamon, with a pinch of cardamom.
Steep 1 teaspoon in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Add a little honey when tea has cooled a bit.
Ginger and Eucalyptus Steam
When dealing with congestion, combine 1 teaspoon of ginger and eucalyptus leaves in a pint of hot water. Place a towel over your head and inhale steam.
Hot Water. Drink hot water through out the day to remove toxins from the system and quicken recovery from a cold.
Vitamin C. Taking some vitamin C can be beneficial.
No Dairy Products. Avoid dairy products such as milk, cheese, and all cold drinks, as these tend to create mucous in the body.
Rest. Rest is key to healing. As much as you can take time to rest and relax.
Reduce Sugar Consumption. White blood cells are the body’s first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. These cells envelop unwanted bacteria and viruses and destroy them. In order for our white blood cells to do their job, they need vitamin C. While taking Vitamin C is good for you, it can be more important to reduce sugar intake.
Glucose, the simplest form of sugar, is structurally similar to vitamin C and can be absorbed through blood cells instead of vitamin C. Since glucose does not fuel the white blood cells, these cells lose their ability to perform effectively. I.e. your immune system’s ability to do its job decreases with sugar intake. If you are feeling under the weather, skip the sweets and focus on getting more sleep.
Light Exercise. Ayurveda believes that when you have a cold, it is best not to do too much vigorous exercise. As too much exercise can move the cold into your chest. Light yoga asana is recommended.
Take the Herb Amalaki for Prevention: Amalaki is a rasayana ( rejuvenative tonic) and a good source of vitamin C and iron. Taking 1 teaspoon of amalaki with warm water will help prevent the common cold. If you are taking triphala there is no need to take amalaki, as it is already in triphala, Taking extra is not recommended and could create diarrhea.
Other herbal remedies:
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon honey. Eat this 2 or 3 times a day,
- An ancient Ayurvedic Formula: 1 part sitopaladi and 1 part maha sudarshan churna. Combine these herbs in equal portions and take ¼ teaspoon with 1 teaspoon of honey. Do this 2-3 times a day after eating.
- A western herbology mixture for colds: take 1 part Echinacea with 1 part goldenseal and 2 parts cinnamon. Take ¼ teaspoon of this mixture with honey twice a day.
We hope you feel better if you’re dealing with a cold and if not we hope you keep your immune system high to prevent one!
Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999. Print. 151-152.