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Ayurveda on Coughs, Colds and Fevers: 3 – Solutions and Prevention

Recovered Woman Smiling

Ayurvedic ways to treat colds and flu

The first rule when you have cold, flu or fever, is to take plenty of rest and bundle yourself up with blankets.


The primary treatment for colds, flu and fever is fasting. During such illnesses, your appetite is usually low and this is a good indication that your body needs a rest from food. When digestive fire is low, even a small amount more your stomach, than it can cope with, will quickly produce more Ama – and that is the last thing you need.

Fasting will give your body the chance to detoxify the Ama and excess Doshas that have accumulated in your tissues. Ayurvedic fasting means light soups for each meal. A small amount of fruit is also suitable; though avoid heavy fruits, such as bananas and avocados. Avoid any fruits that are sour, apart from a little lemon or lime juice. Cooked fruits, such as stewed apples, are easier on the digestion than raw fruits.

To tea or not to tea

A Kapha person should take very little by mouth if they suffer from colds, flu or fever. Vata and Pitta people may find themselves dehydrated during these conditions. For them, a good tea to take will consist of equal proportions of ginger, basil, lemongrass and fennel.  Steep the ingredients for ten minutes in hot water. Ginger and fennel burn Ama and ginger promotes your digestive fire. Lemongrass prevents fever and causes sweating. Basil is a decongestant and reduces fever.

Do not bathe during fever

Do not take a bath during these conditions. If you are suffering from fever, sponging with tepid water will reduce it, but postpone bathing until you recover. When you are over the worst of the illness, a shower will be fine.

What to eat when you are ill in bed

If you are ill enough to have to be in bed, avoid meat, as your digestive fire will be too low to cope with it. For the same reason, do not use oil either externally or by mouth. Once you start to recover, and your appetite improves, you can drink warm rice water drained from well-cooked rice. Rice water is highly nourishing, yet it is undemanding on your digestive fire.

As your appetite gets stronger start to eat soups and gradually return to normal diet.  From then on your diet should be adjusted to balance whatever Doshas is still out of balance – Vata, Pitta or Kapha.

Vata bed-rest: For a Vata fever rest and warmth are most important – use plenty of blankets and keep the room warm. Even under the blankets a Vata person may shiver and feel cold.

Pitta bed-rest: For a person suffering from Pitta fever, a darkened room may help as light can bother them.  A warm room is advised, but a Pitta person may throw off blankets and suffer more from fever symptoms than those who have either Vata or Kapha fevers. Because of this, light bedding is recommended. If there is very high fever, a sponge-down with tepid rosewater is useful. If there is no sensitivity to camphor, some camphor mixed with cool water can be applied on a cloth to the forehead.

Kapha bed-rest: For a Kapha fever, rest and heat are recommended. Food should be restricted and hot spices avoided. A valuable tea for Kapha fever consists of fennel, cumin and coriander in equal proportions. Steep the herbs in hot water for ten minutes and drink while still hot.

Early signs of colds and flu

Early signs of colds and flu are low appetite and feverishness. There is loss of interest and appetite for anything – the charm in life is somehow missing. You will feel exhausted and fatigued. There may be loss of taste for food.

  • Dark colouration, frequent yawning and goose pimples may occur for Vata body types.
  • Dizziness, hot flushes, burning sensations may occur, and the skin may appear flushed in Pitta body types.
  • Pallor, chills, runny nose and loss of appetite, is often present in those who are predominantly Kapha.
  • Be careful to eat good quality food and take good care of your digestion.
  • Don’t eat too much at mealtimes and always leave your meal feeling satisfied but not completely full.
  • Only eat when you feel truly hungry.

How to prevent colds and flu

Following these simple rules will help prevent Ama from forming and keep the Doshas from going out of balance.

A regular routine and a reasonably stress-free life will help keep your immune system on top form. Stressful activity, done in a hurry, is the worst thing for burning up your Ojas and compromising your immunity.

Strengthening your Ojas – the key to good health

To produce a good amount of Ojas, and strengthen your immunity on an on-going basis, try the following:

  • Choose easy-to-digest, organic, foods.
  • Including fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and light dairy products.
  • Cook with immune-boosting spices – fennel, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, and ginger.
  • Eat immune-boosting foods like apples, sweet, juicy fruits, pomegranate juice, leafy greens, whole grains, ghee and boiled organic milk.
  • Gently cook your foods.
  • Include a small amount of ghee in each meal.
  • Take care of your digestion.
  • Eat according to your nature and the season.

Herbal remedies to prevent colds and flu

The following Maharishi Ayurveda herbal preparations will help your digestion during illness and both help prevent and eliminate the build-up of Ama:

MA1404 - Cold Season Defence 30gCold Season Defence

Ama is a toxic waste caused by undigested food that can accumulate in your body and weaken its immune defences. Ama thereby provides a fertile ground for viruses to grow. Cold Season Defence offers nutritional support, during the winter season, and it contains a specific blend of herbs to removes deep-seated Ama.
MA3357 - Throat Soothe Syrup 200ml

Throat Soothe Syrup

The throat and respiratory system are mainly controlled by Kapha Dosha. When Kapha becomes out of balance impurities can build up and this area can become prone to infection. This can result in throat infections, occasional coughs and over-production of phlegm. Working in synergy, the 17 other ingredients, Throat Soothe syrup helps soothe and cool the respiratory system. This balanced Ayurvedic formulas helps to cleanse the throat and chest of impurities. It helps reduce excess phlegm and it helps calm coughing fits.

Vata Churna and Kapha Churna-240x300Vata Churna and Kapha Churna spice mixes

Both of these churnas (powders) consists of a specially blended spice mix suitable for balancing either Vata or Kapha Doshas. If you have these two in your cupboard you can use them during cold season to keep your body in balance. During cold, dry, windy weather Vata Churna helps to soothe and lubricate the throat and respiratory system. During cold, wet weather Kapha Churna helps to keep your body channels open, the digestion in good condition and it helps purify Ama (internally created toxins), the basis of most infectious disease, according to Ayurveda.

Digest PlusDigest Plus

Digest Plus increases digestive fire or Agni. It improves your appetite and supports digestion. It helps balance stomach acid, helps prevent production of excess gas and supports both liver and pancreas. Digest Plus detoxifies Ama from your body tissues and is particularly suitable to take after a heavy meal.

trikatu with cloveTrikatu with Clove

Trikatu with Clove is a stronger digestive aid than Digest plus and very useful before or after a heavy meal. It consists of four strongly pungent spices – ginger, black pepper, Indian long pepper and cloves and is an important combination used by itself and in many Ayurvedic formulations for its
cleansing, digestive, and stimulating effects. Trikatu supports the health of stomach and GI tract and upper respiratory tract. Its stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, increases appetite and balances gas in the stomach.

Triphala with Rose

Triphala Rose
Lack of appetite for a meal is usually the result of the incomplete digestion of previous meals. It can also indicate a build-up of Ama, or partially digested food that has become toxic to your system. Triphala consists of three fruits, which work synergistically to tone and detoxify your entire digestive tract. Cabbage Rose is added to support and enhance the other ingredients. Besides helping you detox, Triphala Rose enlivens your ability to absorb nutrients effectively and helps maintain your health and energy.

By | 2017-11-13T14:58:20+00:00 November 19th, 2013|Detox, Digestion, Maharishi Ayurveda Blogs, Winter|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dr Donn Brennan is the founding President of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association in the United Kingdom, which is the representative body of Ayurvedic practitioners and is currently assisting in government proposals for regulating the standards and practise of Ayurveda in the UK. He is a director of the European Herbal Practitioners Association and the consulting doctor at the Maharishi AyurVeda Health Centre in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. Dr Brennan also gives consultations in different location around the UK and in Ireland.

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