The Common Cold: For Ayurvedic Practitioners

The Common Cold: For Ayurvedic Practitioners

Cold and Cough Seasonal Changes

As summer fades and autumn steps in to take its place, colds and flus become commonplace. For many people getting sick is even expected! Kleenex and antihistamines fly off of the shelves. A long summer spent out in the sun, perhaps combined with alcohol consumption, an irregular schedule and disturbed sleep from traveling and late night social events can quickly create a build-up of ama in the system and weaken Agni while unbalancing the Doshas. Hence the rise in the number of your clients that come to you complaining about a cold or flu they can’t seem to shake.

The cooler change in weather itself can cause a slight natural dip in the strength of Agni. But with a proper diet and, if necessary, Ayurvedic medicines, it is possible for your clients to pass through the cold and flu season without any health problems!

But assuming you have a client who has spent the summer living in a way that has led to Agni being weak and unable to burn away the ama, you will focus on balancing the Doshas, especially Vata Dosha, whether they are currently sick or trying to prevent it. Coldness is a common quality between both Vata and Kapha. So these two, when they are aggravated, cause respiratory and allergy problems.

In Ayurveda, both Vata and Kapha Dosha cause colds when they are out of balance and immunity is weak. Excess Kapha (cool, heavy, moist) causes a clogged or runny nose, sneezing and a cough with a lot of phlegm. Excess Vata (dry, fast, airy) creates a cold with chills and a dry cough.

The following practices and Ayurvedic medicines are useful for either situation, and can be printed out and given directly to your clients.

  1. Stop consuming cold, heavy items like ice cream, ice water and yogurt. This includes all dairy items, raw food and raw vegetable juices. These are things best eaten and drank during the hot summer months when Pitta needs to be cooled. When the weather is cold you want to increase the heat in your diet. Bread and processed food should also be avoided because of their digestive difficulty.
  2. Increase the amount of spices in your cooking. Be sure to use cumin, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, coriander and cloves. These are thermogenic (heat-producing) spices and can burn through accumulated ama while stimulating digestion.
  3. Do not skip meals. Especially if you have a cold that comes with a dry cough, having three meals a day is important to calm Vata Dosha. Skipping meals weakens your digestion. If you’re not feeling hungry at all then have a clear vegetable broth with turmeric, salt and ginger and vegetables like leeks, kale and bok choy.
  4. Do not overeat. Overeating is just as bad as not eating. Overeating at any one sitting can create constipation and greatly weaken digestion and immunity. Eat until you feel satisfied and no longer hungry, but eating until you feel uncomfortably full or bloated will lower immunity.
  5. Eat fresh, cooked food. Favor organic vegetables and grains that are easy to digest like white rice and quinoa. Kitchari is always a great choice for recovery and prevention of sickness. Kunyi, a soupy mixture of white rice, salt, turmeric and ginger, is a great choice for breakfast when you’re feeling sick or like you might get sick soon.
  6. Drink 1 – 2 glasses of warm water with lemon each morning after waking up. This simple practice stimulates the digestion to flush out toxins with a bowel movement. It is also warming for the body, which is good for cold winter months.
  7. Stick to a regular schedule. Try to be in bed by 10 or 11 pm at the latest, especially if you are already sick. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, and eat meals at the same times as well. This will help to balance Vata Dosha.

Ayurvedic Medicines for Colds & Flus

Arishtams and Asavams in general are very useful in colds and coughs because they are naturally ushna and teekshna - hot and strong. 

  • 2 - 4 tsp. of Pippalya Asavam twice a day to improve digestion strength and fight colds.
  • 2 tsp. of Chyavanaprasam twice a day. Chyavanaprasam can be used for a long period of time on a daily basis and is a powerful overall health tonic.
  • 2 tsp. of Dasamulaharitaki Leham twice a day + 2 tsp. of Balajirakadi Kwatham twice a day for colds with coughs. These can be used for a long time on a daily basis.
  • 2 Pravala Bhasmam Tablets twice a day for colds with coughs. These capsules improve overall immunity and digestion and can be taken for an extended period of time on a daily basis.

If you have a client who is Pitta-dominant and/or has a tendency of excess Pitta, warming spices and warm lemon water in the morning should be kept at a minimum so as not to exacerbate the fire Dosha. The rest of these practices and Ayurvedic medicines can be used with Pittas.


Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at and we will provide you with one of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.

References & Sources

  1. "Turning the Heat Up on the Common Cold." VPK. Maharishi Ayurveda, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2016.
  2. "Ayurvedic Cold and Flu Remedies." Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2016.
  3. "Ayurvedic Remedies for Cold." Holistic Online. ICBS, Inc., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2016.


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