Ayurvedic Cold Remedies
Western medicine offers little in terms of effective treatment for the common cold. Medicines that treat symptoms can counteract the body’s natural ability to heal. Having a runny nose is a side effect of the body’s attempt to carry virus colonies out of the body through the nasal passages. Antihistamines dry up mucous and prevent the body from removing the virus. Fevers are also beneficial in combating illness by increasing the movement of white blood cells and raising the temperature outside of the preferred range of viruses.
Medications like tylenol and aspirin, which lower the body temperature, impair the body’s natural response to viral pathogens. Unlike Ayurvedic cold remedies, medications that treat the symptoms of the common cold can limit the body’s ability to heal and consequently lengthen the time of illness.
Ayurvedic cold remedies work by supporting the body’s natural defense system instead of working against it. Supplements and aromatherapy strengthen the immune system and assist the body in the natural removal of phlegm (and virus colonies) from the throat and nasal passages. Ayurvedic cold remedies can also provide relief from symptoms like sore throat and headache without impairing the ability of the body to naturally combat viral pathogens.
Herbal Ayurvedic Cold Remedies
Diaphoretic herbs are a helpful treatment for the common cold, as they induce sweating, restore circulation, and eliminate toxins from the surface of the body. They also relieve muscle tension, headache, and achy joints (without reducing fever and impairing the body’s ability to fight off viruses).
Bayberry is the primary diaphoretic herb for colds and flus. It promotes the healing of mucous membranes, and cleanses the lymphatic system. It is a powerful anti-Kapha herb that clears the sinuses and soothes sore throat, and works especially well with cinnamon and ginger. Bayberry decreases Kapha and Vata and aggravates Pitta.
Sage soothes sore throat and laryngitis and ries up excess mucous from the nose and lungs. It decreases Kapha and Vata and aggravates Pitta when used in excess.
Angelica is a diaphoretic herb that relieves headache and helps with recovery from colds. It Balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but can aggravate Pitta when used in excess.
Burdock relieves cough, detoxifies the body, reduces swelling, clears congestion, and cleanses the blood and lymphatic system. It balances Pitta and Kapha and aggravates Vata.
Peppermint and spearmint are cooling diaphoretic herbs that help treat colds by soothing sore throat and laryngitis. Mint tea balances Pitta and Kapha and aggravates Vata.
Yarrow is a diaphoretic herb that combines well with peppermint to treat colds. It calms inflammation and helps to strengthen mucous membranes. Yarrow balances Pitta and Kapha and aggravates Vata.
Expectorant Herbs help encourage discharge of mucus and phlegm from the lungs and nasal passages and are good for use during chronic or acute colds. Most expectorants are cough-relieving, as coughs are usually caused by mucus blockage or respiratory tract irritation.
Licorice root helps to liquefy mucous and remove it from the body, and in doing so relieves cough and sore throat. It also reduces inflammation and helps cleanse the lungs and stomach of Kapha. Licorice combines well with ginger to treat colds and respiratory illness. It balances Vata and Pitta and aggravates Kapha.
8. Comfrey Root (Should not be eaten!)
Applied externally to the chest, Comfrey root ointment relieves cough, treats lung infection, and acts as a rejuvenative to the lungs and mucous membranes. It balances Vata and Pitta and aggravates Kapha.
9. Marshmallow Root
As a supplement, Marshmallow root acts as an expectorant and relieves cough and whooping cough. It reduces inflammation and soothes mucous membranes. Marshmallow root balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Cloves assist in the treatment of colds by relieving coughs, dispelling chill, and disinfecting the lymphatic system. Add powdered cloves to tea or to warm rice cereal. Cloves balance Vata and Kapha and aggravate Pitta.
Cinnamon is a pain reliever and helps to detoxify the body and also helps to relieve cough and congestion. It balances Vata and Kapha and aggravates Pitta.
Cardamom is an expectorant and diaphoretic that relieves cough and removes Kapha from the lungs and stomach. It balances Vata and Kapha and aggravates Pitta.
Cough and Sore Throat Relievers
Raw honey creates heat in the body and alleviates cold, cough, and congestion. It is also helpful in that it carries medicinal properties of herbs to the bodily tissues. Honey balances Vata and Kapha and aggravates Pitta when used in excess.
Mullein dispels congestion from the lungs and nasal passages and clears accumulated Kapha. It relieves cough and reduces inflammation. Mullein reduces Pitta and Kapha and aggravates Vata.
Osha root helps to clear mucous from the sinuses, relieving postnasal drip that leads to cough. It also has numbing properties that help to relieve pain associated with a sore throat. Osha relieves Kapha and Vata and aggravates Pitta.
16. Throat Soother Herbal Spray
Banyan Botanicals makes a throat spray that rejuvenates the tissues of the throat. It helps eliminate Kapha from the throat, relieving cough. Licorice and slippery elm soothe sore throat.
17. Warming Spice Tea
Relieves congestion and cough, stimulates sweating
Boil all ingredients for 5-10 minutes
18. Ginger Honey Tea
Boil water and ginger powder. Allow tea to cool for 5 minutes, then add raw honey to taste.
Bonus: Aromatherapy for Cold Relief
Many essential oils have antiviral properties that can help the body to overcome the common cold. When using as Ayurvedic cold remedies, essential oils can be inhaled, diffused, added to baths, or used as nose drops or vapor rubs.
Essential oils can also be used in an EO ‘inhalation’. Boil water and pour it into a bowl, then add essential oils. Place a towel over the head, close eyes, bend face over the bowl, creating a tent with the towel, and take slow deep breaths.
Ayurvedic Essential Oils for Vata
Ayurvedic Essential Oils for Pitta
Ayurvedic Essential Oils for Kapha
What do you use for managing or treating colds? Please share any thoughts in the comments!