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Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla
Raksha Ayurvedalaya: The Family Wellness Center

Common Cold and Ayurvedic Treatment

As the monsoon sets in, a variety of factors conspire to weaken the immune system and make us vulnerable to colds and flu. People tend to spend more time indoors and keep windows and doors closed, which, in turn, becomes a breeding ground for microbes. Children also tend to bring viruses back home from school.

Cold and flu are both acute viral infections. Cold typically produces nasal congestion, a scratchy throat, sneezing, blocked sinuses and Eustachian tubes. Flu tends to come suddenly with high fever, severe headache, body pains, exhaustion, and often a dry cough. These symptoms affect sleep during night, due to which the infected person experiences fatigue.

While it’s a fact that there is no cure for cold and flu in allopathy, considerable research has been done in the recent years to check the effectiveness of medicinal plants.

Following ayurvedic herbal supplements and guidelines can help you weather cold and flu, this season. The dosage, however, depends on the person and his constitution.

Guidelines & ayurvedic remedies

Defend Yourself: Strengthen your immune system and keep yourself healthy. Cold weather, stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition can damage your immune system and increase susceptibility to viruses. Two plants that will help you strengthen your immune system are aamla and tulsi.

  • Aamla is the highest natural source of vitamin C, containing about 1000 mg per 100g. This is so even in dried powder. Recent clinical tests have shown that vitamin C in aamla is more quickly assimilated by the body than the synthetic vitamins. Two to three tablespoonfuls of fresh juice of aamla or half to one teaspoonful of powder of the same is ideal.
  • Tulsi, on the other hand, is heat-generating in action and is useful in respiratory infections. Its anti-bacterial, anti-tubercular, anti-asthmatic and anti-inflammatory effects have been confirmed in recent times. Leaves of this plant, mixed with an equal quantity of dried ginger powder, form an excellent substitute for tea during cold and flu. This may be taken by adding milk and sugar three times a day.

Early Stages: If you wake up with a scratch throat and a stuffy nose, you know you have missed the opportunity to stop a cold before it stops. Garlic and turmeric will help solve your problem.

Many ayurvedic physicians prescribe Garlic to help prevent cold, flu, to stimulate circulation, lower high blood pressure, aid digestion, and heal superficial wounds. Modern research has substantiated many of these therapeutic uses. Garlic is considered to be a natural antibiotic as it can destroy foreign bacteria and viruses. However, eating more than five pods a day may result in heartburn, flatulence and may also slow down clotting of blood. Scientific reports have shown that freshly taken garlic juice, and steam distilled garlic oil are effective in curing infections of mucous membrane. Internally, 4 grams of fresh garlic or 8 milligrams of volatile oil daily is recommended. But if you prefer capsules, make sure that they are enteric-coated to protect the allicin from stomach acids.

Turmeric is a proven anti-inflammatory agent. Add one teaspoonful of the powder or paste of turmeric to a cup of milk and take the same thrice a day. This helps in early recovery. Turmeric decreases malaise and corrects constipation, if any. It keeps the lungs clear of phlegm and activates the liver. Fried turmeric powder taken with 1-2 gm of ghee mixed in hot milk, taken internally, gives immediate relief. Gargle with warm turmeric powder two to three times a day to relieve a sore throat. Inhalation of smoke from the burning turmeric brings quick relief by causing copious nasal discharge during cold.

Full-blown: If a cold has persisted for three or four days, your throat, sinuses, and lungs may be severely inflamed. The phlegm is thick and your chest feels tight and sore. Then, try these remedies:

  • If you are unable to sneeze or blow nose to open the blocked passage, then, here’s solution. A powder made of equal parts of cinnamon, black pepper, cardamoms and the seeds of Nigella sativa (krishna jeeraka) is to be taken as a snuff.
  • To stop a running nose, you can apply the paste made of nutmeg (jaiphal) and cow’s milk along with a little opium on the nose and forehead.
  • Black pepper and long pepper, taken along with dried ginger, is supposed to help chronic inflammation of the mucous membrane, such as those lining the throat, sinuses, and lungs. During cold and flu, the body loses moisture, and mucous becomes thick and difficult to expel. Thick mucous provides a place for germs to multiply. Trikatu, the combination of the above three, can help by keeping the mucous in the lungs wet and fluid-like, and decreasing inflammation of the respiratory tract. You can take half a teaspoonful of trikatu powder mixed with honey.
  • Drink a glass of hot water mixed with the juice of two lemons and sugar to taste. Take the same at bedtime as it gives relief from nasal catarrh.
  • Vyoshaadi vati, Anutaila (nasal drops), Kantaraaryaavalehya, Tribhuvanakeerti ras etc., are the specific medicines for cold and flu. Laxmivilas ras, in the dose of 1 tablet thrice daily after meals with water, is a very effective remedy for common cold. Kafa ketu ras in the dose of 2 tablets thrice daily is equally effective. One to two drops of Shadbindu tel, intra-nasally twice daily also produce good results.

Prevention and Self Care: There are several ways in which you can keep the infection levels low:

  • Keep away from others who are infected with cold.
  • Wash your hands often. Turning a door knob or picking up a telephone recently touched by someone with a cold may infect your system, particularly if you rub your eyes or nose afterwards. The eyes and nose, rather than the mouth, are the most frequent routes for infection.
  • Eat a well balanced diet and get enough rest.
  • Take plenty of hot beverages. If you like hot chicken soup, have it. These substances open clogged nasal passages and let you breathe more easily.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Inhale steam to relieve a stuffed nose. Fill a bowl with hot water, put a towel over your head to trap the steam and inhale for a few minutes at a time. You can add aromatic oils of your choice for added benefits.
  • Get some fresh air—take a gentle walk.
  • Do not overheat the room. Let the body lose heat naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it a cold or the flu? A cold and the flu (also called influenza) are alike in many ways. But the flu can sometimes lead to more serious problems, like the lung disease pneumonia. A stuffy nose, sore throat, and sneezing are usually the signs of a cold. Tiredness, fever, headache, and major aches and pains probably mean you have the flu. Coughing can be a sign of either a cold or the flu. But a bad cough usually points to the flu.

How to avoid getting a cold? Wash your hands often. You can pick up cold germs easily, even when shaking someone’s hand or touching doorknobs or handrails. Avoid people with colds when possible. If you sneeze or cough, do it into a tissue and then throw the tissue away. Clean surfaces you touch with a germ-killing disinfectant. Do not Touch your nose, eyes or mouth. Germs can enter your body easily by these paths.

Will antibiotics help? Do not take antibiotics for a cold or flu. Antibiotics won’t work against cold and flu germs. And, antibiotics should be taken only when really needed.

Help yourself feel better? A cold usually lasts only a couple of days to a week. Tiredness from the flu may continue for several weeks. To feel better while you are sick, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.


As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.


Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla, M.D. (Ayurveda)
Plot No. 13, H.No: 16-2-67/13,
Ramamurthy Nagar (CBCID Colony),
Landmark: Kukatpally Area, Metro Train Pillar No. MYP 29.
PIN - 500 085. Telangana State


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