It’s that time of the year – sniffles, sneezes, runny noses, colds, congestion, coughs, headaches, and sometimes fever. Winter and spring are usually the peak period for colds and other related ailments. Although considered a kapha aggravation primarily, colds also have a vata aggravation association. Moist, cool properties of kapha manifest as a runny nose, congestion and sinus headaches. Loss of appetite, chills and poor digestion related symptoms like flatulence are the manifestations of increased vata.
Many simple herbal ingredients from your kitchen are highly effective at combating colds and coughs e.g. ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, honey etc. There are Ayurvedic herbal formulations that are also effective for treating colds e.g. sitopaladi churnam, trikatu etc.
Here are 5 simple cold and cough remedies for you to try before you reach out for any over-the-counter or prescription medications.
1. Ginger-Tulsi Tea
This tea helps alleviate cold, congestion and flu symptoms. It is also a great digestive aid, which very often is a good thing to include during a cold since the digestive fire tends to be weak at this time. Ginger is warming and stimulating and great for digestive problems. Tulsi or holy basil is a potent herb that has antiseptic and cleansing properties.
Ingredients (makes 3 cups of tea):
- Water (a little more than 3 cups)
- Ginger (1 tsp) (you may use fresh grated ginger or dried ginger chunks or dried ginger powder)
- Tulsi (holy basil) (1 tsp) (you may use fresh leaves or dried leaves or powdered tulsi powder)
- Cinnamon (two 1-inch pieces or 1 tsp)
- Cardamom (1 pod or a pinch of powder)
- Add all the ingredients in the water and bring to a boil.
- After the tea reaches a boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
- Let the particles settle down, strain and serve warm or hot. You may add a dash of honey if you like it sweet. Add the honey just before serving. Do not heat it.
Sip on this tea several times a day and keep yourself well-hydrated with lots of fluids. Do not use any left over tea from the previous day.
2. Sitopaladi Churnam
This is a traditional Ayurvedic preparation that is great for colds and also helps with digestion related problems during this time. It is best had after food. Just mix a 1/4 tsp of this churnam/powder with 1 tsp of honey (preferably raw). Mix it well and eat this after a meal 2-3 times a day to alleviate cold symptoms.
3. Fresh Ginger Juice and Pepper in Honey
This recipe works well to alleviate cough symptoms and ignites agni/digestive fire.
- Raw honey (1 tsp)
- Fresh ginger juice (1 tsp) (squeeze grated ginger pieces to extract the juice)
- Black pepper powder (a pinch)
Mix all the ingredients well and eat just before going to bed or a nap. For a stubborn cough, drink a cup of milk after boiling a pod/clove of garlic in the milk and adding 1/4 tsp of turmeric/haldi to it.
4. Steam Inhalation
Boil some water, add eucalyptus leaves (handful) or oil (2-3 drops), and/or add fresh grated ginger (1 tsp) to it. Inhale the steam several times a day to get relief from congestion and heavy, sinus headache like symptoms that are common during colds.
In a cup of warm water, add salt (to taste) and turmeric (1/4 tsp) and gargle. This remedy soothes an itchy throat and helps reduce inflammation. Turmeric is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, reduces kapha and helps reduce mucus in the throat.
Eat fresh, natural, warming foods and stay healthy this winter season! Choose wisely and live well!