Ayurveda, a 5000 year old system of Indian medicine, has a lot to say on how to combat symptoms of the common cold. Devised by the great sage Maharishi Charak, the system relies less on remedies and more on healthy practices that strengthen our immune systems. There are numerous Ayurvedic herbs and spices that are thought to help with common cold symptoms, but I’ve listed my favorite 10 below.
_Rest is an important part of flu recovery. During periods of rest, the body has an opportunity to reduce stress, repair tissues and cells, and improve mood. A common mistake that people make when they are sick is neglecting to rest enough because they believe that it will take longer for them to recover from their illness if they don’t keep moving. However, research has shown that more rest actually means a quicker recovery time._
We already know that proper hydration is important. But do we know just how important it is? When you are sick, water can be a powerful tool to help you recover faster and feel better sooner.
As a general rule, the average adult needs to drink eight glasses of water per day (about 2 litres). This is especially relevant when we are sick, as getting enough fluids can help your body heal itself more quickly.
When you’re sick with the flu, it’s important to stay hydrated—and so much more than just guzzling down a glass of water when you remember. Sipping on and drinking water throughout the day will help keep your energy levels up and alleviate some of your flu symptoms in the process.
Here’s why: Not only does water add moisture back into your body after all that congested coughing and sneezing, but it also helps flush out toxins from your system. Water aids in digestion by allowing for the smooth breakdown of nutrients from food so they can be digested easily by our bodies. It also keeps our kidneys healthy by flushing out waste products; if these waste products build up in our system, we can experience kidney stones or other health complications. Finally, dehydration has been found to cause stress on our heart as well because there isn’t enough blood volume circulating around our body!
Warm water and salt
This is a simple, effective method for reducing soreness and swelling in your throat. Note that it needs to be warm, not hot, water. It’s best to use this technique every one or two hours for maximum effectiveness. Don’t swallow the water; spit it out!
In addition to its soothing warmth, salt has antiseptic properties that can help heal the wounded membranes of your throat (and hopefully prevent a full-blown viral infection).
Steam inhalation is one of the most popular Ayurvedic remedies for a cold and flu because it’s effective at clearing the sinuses, which in turn makes nasal breathing easier. If you’re already feeling congested from a head cold, steam inhalation will help relieve painful pressure, thin mucus, and expel any trapped toxins.
To try it out for yourself all you need is a pot (or saucepan), a towel, and some water. Boil water on your stove top until it’s steaming. Then remove the pot from heat and lean over it with your face covered by the towel to trap in steam. Breathe as deeply as possible through your nose while taking care not to burn yourself or inhale too much steam at once—this can cause coughing or dizziness. For an enhanced effect try adding essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil or turmeric powder to the pot before heating it up.
- Ginger has been used for centuries as a home remedy for colds and flu, because it’s an anti-inflammatory (which helps with the pain of sore muscles and joints) and it relieves congestion.
- To make ginger tea, start by preparing some fresh ginger root or using what you have handy in the cupboard. You can also use dried ginger; just add a teaspoon of powder to a mug of boiling water. Let the tea sit for 5 minutes to allow the herbs to steep, then add honey or lemon juice.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try adding other ingredients like cinnamon sticks, cloves or cardamom pods for more depth of flavor. Some people find that these spices relieve digestive issues when they are suffering from a cold or flu!
- Use whole fat milk. The fat in the milk allows for more absorption of the turmeric.
- Use unprocessed organic turmeric. Mold, chemicals, and other toxins can all be harmful to your health and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Don’t forget to add black pepper! Black pepper helps boost the absorption of curcumin—the main active ingredient of turmeric—into your system which makes it more effective at keeping you healthy. This means that you need less overall turmeric to get the same effect.
- Add honey or another sweetener if you wish! Turmeric is on the bitter side, so not everyone likes its flavor right off the bat. For example, try adding a teaspoon or two of raw honey if you want some sweetness and immune-boosting benefits along with your yummy golden milk!
Eat nemesis foods at home
Nemesis foods are one of the most overlooked aspects of flu prevention. They’re also a handy leaky bucket guide that can help you survive a nasty virus infection.
Nemesis foods trigger your body into a state of immune suppression, so they can contribute to influenza symptoms. They might be subtly recognizable, like turning up the heat on your body temperature or causing lightheadedness and exhaustion. Or they may be more obvious—your body may fight back in other ways, like contracting a cold or feeling nauseous and feverish. So it’s important that you take steps to avoid these common nemesis foods if you want to stay healthy during flu season. You should try not to eat these foods at home, especially if you’re sick, because eating them could worsen symptoms when your immune system is already compromised.
Here’s an easy cheat sheet for avoiding these common culprits:
- clear soup (tomato based soups have been shown to cause cytokine release)
- citrus fruits (clementines in particular)
Avoid cold, wet climates
There are two main reasons for this advice. First, viruses tend to thrive in cold, dry climates—including the respiratory viruses that cause the flu. But second, and more importantly, exposure to cold, wet air can be a trigger for respiratory viruses. So if you want to give your body the best fighting chance against getting sick this flu season, avoid activities like snowboarding or playing in wet leaves while it’s cold outside. If you’re going to be spending time outdoors when it’s cold and wet:
- Dress warmly with a big cozy scarf that covers your mouth and nose (that way your breath will be warmed before reaching your lungs).
- Avoid crowds. Lines at amusement parks and other places where people gather can increase risk of catching or spreading respiratory illnesses like flu.
Harness the healing powers of plants and herbs
You will have the best chance of a speedy recovery by harnessing the healing powers of plants and herbs. Echinacea, garlic, ginger, licorice and turmeric have proven immunostimulant effects that boost your immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. Astragalus, goldenseal, gotu kola, mushrooms, olive leaf and reishi mushroom are all useful for fighting infections like colds and flu.
Use essential oils to support your immune system
Essential oils are a concentrated form of the life-giving energy of plants. They are quite potent and powerful, which is why they should be handled with care. When used in the right way, they can help you recover from illness faster and support your immune system.
Here’s how to use them properly:
- Make sure they are stored in glass containers or amber bottles, as essential oils can dissolve plastic.
- Use only pure essential oils (it should say therapeutic grade on the label).
- Dilute them with water or carrier oil before applying to skin (about 5-10 drops per ounce of water/carrier oil). Or use an aromatherapy diffuser to spread the vapors throughout your living space.
- It’s best to experiment with different types and combinations until you find something that suits you. Try just one type for a few days at a time, because too many scents at once can get overwhelming for some people, especially when sick!
These tips will help you feel better faster.
In summary, you’ll want to remember:
- Combat seasonal allergies with herbs and spices that balance Kapha.
- Avoid cold beverages and ice cream during your recovery.
- If you’re feeling tired or sluggish, it may be due to low blood sugar. Keep your energy levels up by eating regular meals of complex carbs or protein.