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Ayurvedic Healing of Colds

Which dosha causes colds?

Winter is the time when Kapha dosha (water and earth) accumulates. Too much of it produces mucus, which results in colds. Lungs and stomach are the sites of Kapha. Phlegm is produced in the stomach, accumulates in the lungs, and then travels throughout the body producing Kapha diseases, such as colds, flues, sore throat, swollen glands, bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia.

But two other doshas play their role too. Lungs, where air comes into the body, is also site of Vata (air). So, diseases involving lack of strength, shortness of breath, wasting away of tissues, and dehydration are due to Vata imbalance.

All infections of the respiratory tract are Pitta (fire) conditions.

Symptoms of cold are usually Kapha-symptoms: accumulation of mucus, runny nose, sore throat, congestion, cough, body ache, headache, and chills with mild fever.

Treatment of colds.

–               Follow Anti-Kapha and anti-ama diet. (See Food List for Kapha).

–               Drink warm water with lemon and ginger juice and a little honey.

–               Drink teas made of cinnamon, basil, ginger, or cloves.

–               After drinking a warm spice tea, go to bed under a warm blanket. Mild sweating restores circulation and dispels cold. Avoid heavy sweating.

–               Mix one teaspoon of honey with a pinch of clove. Eat 2-3 times a day.

–               Sitopaladi formula is one of the main Ayurvedic formulas taken with honey or Ghee. It contains rock candy, bamboo manna, pippali, cardamom, and cinnamon and is available in Indian stores. Take 1-4 grams 2-4 times a day.

–               Ginger greatly relieves the cold symptoms and hasten full recovery. Drink hot tea of 1 part of ginger, 1 part cinnamon and 2 parts lemongrass with honey.

–               For congestion boil 1 teaspoon ginger, or a few eucalyptus leaves, in a pint of water. Turn off the stove, put a towel over your head, and inhale the steam. Even steam without herbs will be beneficial.

–               Other herbs for cold are  licorice, basil, cloves, and mint.

–               For dry cough and hoarseness of voice use soothing herbs such as licorice, comfrey root, shatavari, and ashwagandha.

–               When fever is present, prepare the following formula: equal parts of basil, sandalwood, and peppermint. Take 2-3 teaspoons of the herbs infused per a cup of water every 2-3 hours.

–               Other anti-Pitta herbs are mint, burdock, yarrow, elder flowers, and chrysanthemum. Pitta colds involve fever, sore throat, red face, yellow or blood-streaked mucus.

–               For a cough, turmeric powder by itself is good. (See also Turmeric – the Yellow Wonder).

–               For sore throat put ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and ½ teaspoon salt into warm water. Gargle every hour.

–               For productive cough steep ½ teaspoon ajwan, ¼ teaspoon pippali and ½ teaspoon poppy seeds in one cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink twice a day.

–               Natural nose drops. Ghee (See Ghee – Clarified Butter) lubricates the nose passages and relieves the irritation and sneezing of a cold.

–               Drink hot water often. It removes toxins from the body.

–               Breathing exercises are also helpful for mucus elimination and congestion relief. See Breath of Fire; and Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing.


Taking Triphala at night with warm water is a good way to prevent a common cold. See Triphala – an Ayurvedic Panacea.

TODAY’S TIP: Excess mucus can be due to low agni (digestive fire), and not to high Kapha. So rekindling of the digestion is not to be underestimated in treatment of colds. See also Toxic Ama – Root of all Diseases.


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