THE AYURVEDIC WAY TO WELLNESS

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How to Prevent Cold and Flu

Ayurveda for Common Cold and Flu

Get ready to adjust to Mother Nature’s slowest, coldest season. Weather is one of the major factors to affect the body. As it gets colder, our body also gets into slow processes and inward movement of fire takes place to adjust to the weather. This time of the year is called Hemanta Ritu in Sanskrit, which means winter.

Hemanta Ritu starts from November 15 and extends till January 15. It is Visargakala or Dakshinayana Ritu which means the sun moves in southern direction (Southern Solstice). In Dakshinayana the winds are not very dry and fierce, the moon is more powerful than the sun, the heat of the Earth is taken away by clouds, rain and cold wind.

There is prasama of pitta dosha meaning Pitta alleviates and hence vata and kapha dosha undergoes chaya (mild increase) during this time. Due to the cold atmosphere in hemanta ritu, jataragni (digestive fire) becomes powerful and if a person doesn’t consume proper food then the agni generated inside may lead to emaciation of body tissue (dhatu pachana) leading to aggravation of vata dosha. Diseases like cold, cough, psoriasis, dry skin, arthritis, depression, viral fever, etc show up during winter. The body becomes vulnerable to these diseases when our immunity is low. Also, during winter, germs and viruses around grow strong due to favorable conditions and weaken our immune system.

We all have suffered cold, cough, flu, fever but did you know that cold and flu are two different diseases. Yes, though the symptoms of flu and cold are similar and both are respiratory illness yet these two diseases are different as it is caused by different viruses. Cold have milder symptoms and people who suffer from cold usually have a runny or stuffy nose. Cold doesn’t generally result in serious health issues, like pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu on the other hand is associated with serious health complications. Onset of flu can be abrupt and usually associated with fever, body aches, headache, fever, chills, fatigue and weakness. Sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat can be present sometimes. Ayurveda believes in treating the disease from its roots. Reason for common cold and flu is the decreased immune power due to low digestive fire. Prevention of the disease is always better than cure. Here are some methods to keep yourself healthy and avoid cold and flu.

Preventive measures:

  1. Eat healthy and balanced diet at proper times:
    Include foods that are light and build immunity. Whole grains, fresh seasonal vegetables, seasonal fruits, greens are to be included. Using ghee along with warm food will keep the digestive fire ignited and thus helps in proper digestion of food. Never eat too late as it will increase pitta and reduce the metabolism leading to ill effects on the body. Include spices like ginger, jeera, cinnamon, pepper, etc.
  2. Take good rest and stay warm during cold seasons:
    Being awake for long duration and working without rest will lower the body tolerance power. Keeping your body warm will help in keeping viruses at bay. So ample rest is required for the body and being warm is important.
  3. Stay away from those who have been infected by cold or flu:
    Since colds and flu can spread very easily, it is advisable to stay away from people who are suffering. It is pertinent to take precautions and remember to wash hands before touching your own face, nose or mouth.
  4. Drink plenty of warm water and from one source:
    This keeps your body hydrated and flushes away toxins from the body. Stick to the same source of water to avoid water borne infections.
  5. Avoid eating junk, oily, spicy, cold foods and chocolates:
    Eating junk food lowers immunity easily. Chocolates, oily and cold food can give sore throat immediately.
  6. Avoid sitting in AC rooms, travelling in breeze, playing with water:
    Travelling in cooler & windy climatic conditions without proper covering for head and ears can cause infection easily. If the room is too hot or too cold both of them dry up the body and hence sitting in AC rooms for long hours should be avoided.

Home Remedies to get rid of cold and flu:

  • Gargle your throat with hot salt water twice a day to get rid of itchy sore throat.
  • Boil 1/4th inch of ginger in 1 cup of water and drink it 2-3 times daily. Ginger reduces kapha dosha and thus helps to combat cold, cough and even vomiting.
  • Take easily digestible food and consume more liquid hot diet such as pongal, kchidi, hot soups, and clear vegetable soup with spices.
  • Take steam with plain water to get rid of stuffy or a runny nose.
  • Tea made from equal quantity of fresh tulsi leaves and ginger heals the effect of cold and flu
  • In case of excessive phlegm, juice of tulsi, ginger can be taken with honey. In case of dryness just the juice of these plants can be taken. Dosage can be 5 ml each three times a day.
  • Regular exercise, Yoga and pranayama for 45 minutes to an hour will help in clearing the blockages and improves blood circulation thus keeping you fit and energetic.
  • Sitopaladi Churna: Sitopala – Sugar candy powder – 16 parts Vamshalochana (Inner white light part of bamboo tree available in raw drug medicinal shop) – 8 parts, Pippali (long pepper) – 4 parts, Ela (Cardamom) – 2 parts, Twak (Cinnamon) – 1 part. Make fine powder of it and take 5 gms of the powder along with honey/ milk/ water three times a day.
  • Consume milk with turmeric as it can fight infections.
  • Rubbing of mint oil/ karpooradi taila on the feet, chest and back can help in easy respiration and also helps in relieving congestion.
  • Consuming sour fruits like amla (Indian gooseberry) provide ample Vitamin C which helps fight common cold and cough. Consuming citrus fruits like Orange, Lemon, and Tangerine also serves the purpose.

Symptoms of cold and flu can last for 1 week to 3 weeks. They often last longer with children and the elderly. If it persists for over 3 weeks, it is advised to consult an expert, as it could be a symptom of something bigger. When you know that there is an infection developing in the body then take measures at the earliest. With all that said, prevention is always better than cure. Make sure you take the required steps to build immunity and stay protected this winter.

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