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  Common Cold and Cough
  Chronic Cold  

In ayurveda, 50% medicine is correct diagnosis itself. It is not difficult to treat any disease, once correctly diagnosed. Many a time, a patient faces difficulties due to incorrect diagnosis. Cough and cold are considered very ordinary illnesses encountered frequently. But this ordinary looking cold sometimes assumes serious proportion. It is always easier to control and cure a disease when it is in starting state. Ignoring the common symptoms can give rise to a chronic disease later. The cough and cold commonly occurs during monsoon and winter seasons. Viral infection or allergy is the `diagnosis' of modern science, and knowing it in advance, patients try to take anti-biotic or NSAIDs (non steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs) based on previous experience! They are causing serious damage to their gastro intestinal track this way. Elimination of dark yellow or green mucous through nose for about 10 days with fatigue is the symptom of Viral infection; while allergic cold gives clear watery discharge through nose, swelling/inflammation in nose, eyes and throat. Allergic cold prolongs for full season.

Causative factors:
One must find the reasons of disease first. Change of residence from one city to another, or visiting a number of places where fast wind blows or cold damp weather, can also cause cold. The common cold, strikes when the body's digestive fire or "agni" is dampened due to cold or moist weather. The dampened Agni reduces immunity and fails to burn body toxins or "ama" fully. The "ama" accumulates, clogging the micro-channels of the body and generating phlegm. Phlegm, combined with toxins or "ama" makes mucus. Results: Sneezes and wet handkerchiefs!  

When loose motions caused by indigestion are forceful stopped, this can give rise to cold. Urinary track diseases and heavy lunch followed by sleep during day, or remaining awake up to late night can also cause cold. Taking too hot or too cold foods, drinking water in different cities during tour can also give rise to cold. It is necessary to know whether cold is due to allergy or caused by Vata driving ama out.

Itching and inflammation of nose during early morning, sneezes, watery reddish eyes, reddish nose, hoarse voice, itching/swelling/reddishness in throat are common cold symptoms. The symptoms reduce after taking suppressive medicines offered by modern medical science, but repeat after few days. Again a fresh dose of medicines control the symptoms but cause fatigue, inflammation. The strength weakens, weight drops, mood less state develops, so pending activities increase. Even slight dust entering nose, or cold wind hitting head, or moving in strong sun for a long time can cause another attack of cold. Such changes are also observed when season changes. Kapha and pitta unbalance causes itching and inflammation respectively. The mucous membrane inside the nose swells, becomes reddish and causes itching. In all such cases, care must be taken to take preventive actions since beginning. The cold attacks then reduce in intensity or stop.

  Common cold causes heavy feeling in body, inflammation/pains in hands and feet, frequent sneezes, dripping nose, hoarseness in voice. Swelling on nose is a rare observation. Such cold gets cured in a week automatically. If it extends beyond a week, it must be treated properly. If left unattended, it can result in chronic serious disease. The cold attacks become more intense when patient is already weak due to other reasons.

Emotional stress reduces immunity and invites attacks of cold frequently, especially in children. When school going children receive ear-pinch from parents due to weak performance in studies, cold attacks are often seen. However, such children are smart, intelligent and sensitive. Worries, depression, excess work, lack of sleep are also reasons for cold attacks.

Remedies for cold

Cold is our immune response and should not be whipped into submission by use of synthetic drugs. The cold attacks are a result of food allergens also. The food which causes the attack must be found by careful investigation. The patient should stop cold water from fridge and take warm water. 500 ml water boiled for 2 minutes with 25 gm salt + a tsp of turmeric powder should be used for mouth-gargle to ease throat pain/swelling/voice problems. The patient should remain happy and avoid excitement. The cold ignored for long time turns into a chronic one. With proper food management and simple home remedies, children in age group up to 12 years, the cold gets cured for ever.  

There are many home remedies for cold. The constipation, if present, must be treated first by giving `Virechana' of Haritaki(harde), Sonamukhi or Castor oil depending on unbalanced Kapha, Pitta and Vata dosha respectively. Keeping constipation under control is the most effective remedy for cold.

A fast for a day, while drinking warm water (ushnodaka) frequently during the day, till strong hunger is felt, is a naturopathy recommendation. Light diet thereafter causes good digestion. Khichdi, a principal diet in Saurashtra, is highly recommended, especially with a little ginger, black pepper, cummeen seeds sauting. Daily light exercise should relieve constipation.


Another simple cold remedy is to go for a walk in dry climate. Sweet foods, cold foods, late night out, moving in hot sun, should be avoided. Curd at night, ice-cream after a heavy dinner is sure catalyst for cold attack. If curd needs to be taken, mix a little turmeric in it to kill Kapha promoting qualities of curd.  

Mixture of Ginger, black pepper, Peeper-Longum (peeparimul) powders (Trikatu Churna) is commonly recommended for cold. This powder can be taken ½ - 1 tsp in a tsp of honey. Honey reduces Kapha. Turmeric, Nicotine snuff, Ayurvedic smoke are also recommended by some Vaidyas. Tulsi is also somewhat effective in Cold and cough remedies.  

To reduce the frequency of cold attacks, the immunity of the patient must increase. An expensive remedy for chronic cough and cold consists of mixture of Mahalaxmi Vilas Ras, Suvarna Vasant Malti Ras, Swas Kas Chintamani Ras(if breathing difficulties are also present), one Tablet (100 mg each) each, crushed and mixed together. Divide this mixture into two doses. Mix with honey and lick twice a day.

You can take tea made of Tulsi and Mint. Tea can be made by adding 11 fresh leaves (or 1 tsp tulsi powder) and 11 fresh leaves of mint, boiled for 10-15 minutes. Add honey when the tea is lukewarm and drink twice a day.

Nowadays, the patients approaching vaidyas have already tried out many treatments elsewhere and ayurveda is last retreat for them. Such patients should take `Draksharishtam' 2 tsp with equal water after food. This kindles digestive fire. Avoiding Kapha promoting foods such as Curd, Sweets, Cheese, etc and staying at places where winds are minimal will be beneficial. Keep head, neck, chest well covered with warm clothes.

Nasya of `Anu Tailam' also helps in frequent colds. `Amrut bindu ' Nasya is also equally effective.  

Lastly, for those who want to fight cold tooth and nail, here are few more recommendations which can be tried according to convenience:

  • Payasam made from Ghee, Jaggery and Peeperimul.
  • Eating roasted horse gram
  • Boiling milk with sugar and black pepper and drinking it 2-3 times a day.
  • Warm Oil massage and subsequent hot water bath during winter also prevents cold.
  • Grind together Black pepper, Ajwain, poppy seeds (Khas khas) by equal weight, take 3-6 gm of this mixture twice a day with water.
  • Chew Cardamom or Clove throughout the day to relieve cold symptoms.
Keep your insides warm with warm spices -- cumin is considered the best "ama" burner. Heat-generating spices like black pepper, Coriander seeds, cumin seeds can be used in souting vegetables. Clove, boiled with milk, is excellent too.

Cakes and desserts need more fire to digest. But that doesn't mean you have to ignore your sweet tooth. Metabolize the sugar better with bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. Ice creams given after sumptuous marriage dinner should be avoided.

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