It’s the dead of winter and you’ve got a miserable cold or the
flu—again. Why is it so hard to escape this season without sneezing,
coughing, aching, or running a fever?
We often invite these ailments in unwittingly. As the temperature
drops and twilight falls earlier and earlier, we’d rather slouch on a
couch and eat pizza in front of the TV than take a brisk walk or head
to the gym. Throw in a few festive holidays and we’ve got an
overburdened, under exercised body brimming with ama (toxic buildup).
And because winter is a kapha-dominant season, we begin to feel
increasingly cold, heavy, wet, dense, and inert. As kapha rises and ama
builds, the body becomes congested.
In its wisdom, the body attempts to slough off this toxic buildup
before it causes bigger problems (according to ayurveda, ama is the
fertilizer for all the seeds of illness). A cold or the flu can be the
mechanism for a little “spring cleaning,” however unpleasant.
So while it’s tempting to raid the medicine cabinet for cough
suppressants, decongestants, anti-inflammatories, and anti-nausea
medications, ayurveda encourages us to support our body’s cleansing
mission, even if it means toughing out uncomfortable symptoms. Here are
some natural ways to cope with colds and flus.
At the first sign of sıckness…
Support your body’s cleansing efforts and boost your immune system with the following items:
Vitamin A (20,000 IU once a day for 5 days at your heartiest meal. Contraindicated in pregnancy.)
Zinc lozenges (25 mg up to 3 times per day, best with food to prevent stomach upset.)
Echinacea extract (30 drops in an ounce of hot
water, 4–8 times per day. Best absorbed on an empty stomach, 30 minutes
before meals or 2 hours afterward.)
Vitamin C (500 mg 4–8 times per day on an empty stomach.)
Sip hot water throughout the day. It will counteract dry indoor
environments by hydrating you and liquifying toxins so that they’re
easier to move out of the body.
If you have a sore throat…
Take a Ceanothus compound extract (30 drops, 3–4 times per day in an
ounce of hot water). It helps soothe a sore throat by releasing
lymphatic congestion. Although this product is difficult to find, it’s
available through the Wellspring Homeopathic Pharmacy, 570-253-5650, email@example.com.
Gargle with warm salt water up to every two hours.
If you’re congested…
Rinse your nose with a neti pot 4–5 times a day until your
congestion dissipates. After filling the neti pot with warm saline
water, tilt your head and let the liquid pass from one nostril to the
other and out. Then repeat on the other side. The nasal wash carries
away airborne particles—dust, bacteria, viruses, and fungi—and flushes
out excess mucus. Neti pots are available online and at many
Put a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a pot of steaming water.
Drape a towel over your head, lean over the pot, and breathe in the
steam for several minutes up to 5 times a day. Eucalyptus is an
anti-kapha aroma that will energize you while increasing the
circulation and drainage of mucus.
If you have a fever…
Wait it out. Recent medical studies show that people tend to stay
sick longer when they suppress fevers with medication. A fever is your
body’s way of destroying an invader, so many ayurvedic practitioners do
not treat a fever unless it’s over 102°. Instead, they recommend
dressing warmly and using cold compresses or taking tepid baths to
alleviate the fever’s discomforts. (And, of course, resting!)
If you’re nauseous…
Don’t suppress the urge to vomit. This purging activity is so
kapha-diminishing that ayurvedic physicians use it as a form of therapy
for people with sluggish, overburdened systems. Nausea is a sign that
your body is unable to digest whatever you’ve eaten. Vomiting relieves
the body of that burden.
If your body is strong & the disease is weak…
Follow a modified kapha-pacifying diet for 2–4 days. Eat plenty of
fruit and hydrate yourself with vegetable juices, broth, and herbal
tea. This gentle fast will stave off hunger while freeing up digestive
energy that can be used to fight off disease instead.
By Shannon Sexton, Editor at Large of Yoga+ Magazine