If you find yourself sneezing, or coughing—or if you’re down for the count with the flu—try these all-natural remedies from Ayurveda. Some of them are also backed by modern science.
Flush out toxins. You know the old tradition: Drink plenty of fluids when you’re sick . Ayurveda is more specific: Drink lots of hot water. Why? According to this ancient healing system, hot water
· Is easier for the body to absorb than tepid or cold water
· Flushes out immunity-compromising ama (toxins) from your system
· Hydrates your mucus membranes, loosening mucus
· Pacifies the dry, cold vata dosha with its hot, hydrating properties.
At the first sign of a cold, Ayurvedic practitioner Vaidya Ruchi Gulati suggests sipping hot water every 10 to 15 minutes.
Take Turmeric to boost your immunity. A pilot study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that turmeric extract activates immune cells
Fight the cold from your kitchen. Ayurveda suggests using food as medicine, says Vaidya Ruchi Gulati, Ayurveda Consultant and owner of SukhAyurveda. She recommends eating light, simple, and warm foods, particularly kichri , daliya ,clear broths, clear liquids (water and teas), and seasonal veggies once they’re thoroughly cooked.
“Avoid heavy, thick, dense, rich foods, which can be challenging to digest when you’re sick,” says Ruchi. That includes dairy products, juices, and sweets. Also avoid cold, frozen, fried, dry, and raw foods, which are all hard to digest, she says.
Gargle with salt water. Gargling with salt water loosens excess mucus and removes bacteria and fungi from the throat. It can provide temporary relief for sore, itchy throats. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of warm water. A study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who gargled for three times daily saw nearly a 40 percent reduction in upper respiratory infections during cold and flu season, when compared to a control group.
Take ginger. Numerous controlled studies have found that ginger relieves the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. According to Ayurvedic theory, ginger is one of the best remedies for colds, too. “Its pungent nature reduces the kapha dosha,” which is active during colds and produces excess mucus when it’s out of balance, Ruchi explains. But a word of caution -Don’t combine ginger and anticoagulant medications such as aspirin, because they’re both blood thinners.
Ginger Steam. Inhaling ginger-infused steam reduces sinus and lung congestion. First, boil 1 teaspoon of ginger powder in 1 liter of water. Once the water cools a bit, you can lean your face toward the pot (just to the point where it’s comfortable), drape a towel over your head, and inhale the steam through your nose for several minutes. Repeat as needed.
Try pranayama to relieve chest constriction. To relieve breathing-related constriction due to coughing, sneezing, and physical inactivity, Ruchi suggests deep long breath.