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Ayurvedic medicine teaches that the common cold results from an imbalance of the Kapha and Vata dosha. You develop a cold when your body has an excess of kapha’s cool, moist characteristics, causing a stuffy or runny nose and lots of sneezing. And, excess vata energy reduces agni, or gastric fire, so you get the chills. Ginger can reduce excess kapha and restore agni, making it the best medicine for colds and flus. There are two main strategies to balance Kapha.

1. Herbal Medicine

Several herbs can restore balance to Kapha-especially ginger but also cinnamon, licorice, basil, and cloves. Take 1 to 4 grams of any of these herbs in powdered form. (Four grams equals about 2 to 3 teaspoons.) Add the herb to 1 cup of boiled water, stir, and let it cool before you drink it. Or, add herbs to foods of your liking. We recommend that you take the herb powder with honey.

Here is another recipe for ginger tea:

Add just under ½ teaspoon each of ginger powder, fennel seeds and cinnamon and a pinch of clove powder to one cup of hot water. Let the herbs steep for about ten minutes, then strain them out of the tea before drinking. Drink as much of the tea as you wish.

Because aspirin and ginger are both blood thinners, do not drink ginger tea within two hours of taking aspirin.


2. Diet

Ayurvedic medicine also advocates dietary changes to treat colds. Consume more whole grains and steamed vegetables and fewer meats, dairy products, oily foods, nuts, pastries, and sweet fruit juices until your symptoms subside.

Listed below are some known strategies to treat colds.

1. Add a teaspoon of cumin seeds to 1 glass of boiling water. Simmer for a few minutes, strain, and let it cool. Drink it 12 times a day. If sore throat is also present, add a few small pieces of dry ginger to the boiling water.

2. Take two garlic cloves crushed and boiled in water along with half a teaspoon turmeric powder. This is an excellent antidote for cold.

3. Grind six pepper corns. Mix it with a glass of warm water, sweetened with 56 batasha (a variation of sugar candy). Take this for a few nights.

4. Take a concoction of ginger juice and honey, a few times a day. This remedy gives instant relief from cough and cold.

5. Lemon is excellent for cold. The saying goes, « A lemon a day keeps the cold away. » Mix the juice of two lemons in 2½ cups of boiling water sweetened with honey. Take this at bed time. It is a very effective remedy for bad cold.

6. For acute cold in the head, boil 1 tablespoon pepper powder in a cup of milk along with a pinch of turmeric. Drink this once daily for 3 days.

7. For severe cold: Take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for 3 days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold and clear the sinuses.

Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks. Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacteria and viral diseases.

If you get repeated colds, take the Ayurvedic tonic, chyavanprash, to help build immunity.

In both ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is considered the best home remedy for colds. Drink a cup of ginger tea several times a day. Boil a few thin slices of fresh ginger or use 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger per cup.

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