Combatting the common cold with the powerful protection of ayurveda

Jul 17, 2023 | Ayurveda

When every season feels like flu season in your home, and over-the-counter medications and decongestants don’t really help anymore, it’s time for a change.

Boost your immune system, and feel good all year round with the incredible healing and fortifying benefits of Ayurveda.

Here’s how:

The Common Cold and Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, nasal diseases are termed as ‘Pratishyaya’ (literally translated to ‘flow of over formed secretions in the opposite direction’). These nasal diseases are typically caused by either an imbalance of doshas, or a weakened Agni (digestive fire) which tends to lead to an accumulation of ama (toxins) in the body.

Therefore, treatment and prevention of the flu or common cold focuses on restoring balance of the doshas, and strengthening the Agni, and thereby the body’s immune system.

As a result, the holistic Ayurvedic approach to the common cold involves a combination of lifestyle practices, dietary modifications, and herbal remedies that aim to manage and prevent the common cold by ridding the body of toxins, while at the same time boosting the body’s immune response; ultimately leading to a more balanced and healthier you.

Preventing the Common Cold

The first step towards combating the common cold or flu is to prevent its occurrence. Since Ayurveda emphasises a system that is both healing and preventative, it offers the ideal pathway towards optimal immune health; thereby reducing the risk of infection.

Some of the best protective measures which help balance the doshas and support immune function include:

  • A balanced diet

Following a balanced, wholesome diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats is often viewed as the best way to ensure immune health. At the same time, it is crucial to avoid (or limit) processed and heavy foods that can weaken digestion and contribute to the accumulation of toxins.

  • Herbal support

Incorporating immune-boosting herbs and spices into your diet, such as tulsi (holy basil), ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves, (which have antimicrobial and immune-enhancing properties) can support the body’s defences against infections.

  • Adequate sleep

Ensure you get sufficient, restful sleep as it is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. Establish a regular sleep routine and create a sleep-friendly environment to promote deep, rejuvenating rest.

  • Stress reduction

Chronic stress weakens the immune system and increases vulnerability to infections. Practicing stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness promotes relaxation and supports immune health.

  • Oil pulling

Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of organic sesame or coconut oil in your mouth for 10-15 minutes before spitting it out. This Ayurvedic practice is believed to cleanse the oral cavity, remove toxins, and support overall immune health.

  • Regular exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity helps support circulation, improve metabolism, and strengthen the immune system. However, it is important to choose exercises that align with your body type and constitution, such as brisk walking, yoga, or gentle stretching.

  • Personal hygiene

Naturally, following good hygiene practices, such as washing hands frequently with soap and water, and avoiding close contact with individuals who have cold or flu symptoms, is an easy and obvious way to prevent infection.

  • Seasonal adaptation

Ayurveda recognizes the impact of seasonal changes on our health. Therefore, adjusting your lifestyle and dietary habits according to the changing seasons, and adapting to the specific qualities and demands of each season can help maintain balance and prevent illnesses.

Fighting the Common Cold

The common cold is called “common” for a reason; being as it is very hard to avoid.

However, if infected, these Ayurvedic practices make managing its symptoms easy and painless; providing quick relief, easing discomfort, and promoting a faster recovery:

  • Herbal teas and formulations

Drinking warm herbal teas helps to soothe a sore throat, relieve congestion, and boost the immune system. Tulsi (holy basil), ginger, licorice, cinnamon, and cardamom teas are commonly used for their healing properties. Ayurvedic herbal formulations like Sitopaladi Churna and Trikatu can also help manage respiratory symptoms.

  • Steam inhalation

Inhaling steam from hot water infused with eucalyptus oil, tulsi leaves, or ajwain (carom seeds) can help relieve nasal congestion, open up the airways, and reduce coughing. This can be done multiple times a day for relief.

  • Gargling

Gargling with warm saltwater or herbal decoctions helps to soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation. Adding turmeric or sage to the gargle solution can provide additional antimicrobial benefits.

  • Ayurvedic nasal drops

Administering a few drops of medicated oils, such as Anu Taila or Nasya oils, in the nostrils can help relieve nasal congestion, clear the sinuses, and support respiratory health. These oils can be applied using a dropper or with the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

  • Herbal remedies

Ayurvedic herbs like Tulsi, Ginger, Ashwagandha, and Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry) are known for their immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. They can help strengthen the immune system, reduce fever, and alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

  • Adequate rest

Getting plenty of rest and sleep allows the body to recover and heal. Adequate rest supports the immune system and facilitates a faster recovery from flu and cold symptoms.

  • Warm and nourishing foods

Consuming warm, light, and easily digestible foods that are gentle on the digestive system such as soups, stews, herbal broths, and warm porridges can provide nourishment and support healing.

  • Hydration

Staying well-hydrated by drinking warm fluids like herbal teas, warm water, and clear vegetable broths helps in thinning mucus, supporting detoxification, and maintaining overall well-being.

  • Nasal irrigation

Rinsing your nasal passages with a Neti pot or saline nasal spray helps to relieve congestion while also flushing out microbes, irritants, and allergens.


While a cold may seem like a minor ailment, it drains our energy levels, causes pain and discomfort, and even negatively impacts our mood.

And though we have all reached for the typically-prescribed antihistamines, decongestants, and expectorants; they do not do much. They may provide temporary relief from the symptoms but have little to no effect on the toxins and mucus build-up that are the root causes of the ailment. In fact, their side effects are often worse than the disease they aim to cure.

Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to managing the common cold by considering individual constitutions (Prakriti), dosha imbalances, and specific symptoms. Treatment plans are tailored to each person’s unique needs, with the aim of restoring balance and promoting overall well-being. This means that in addition to treating and soothing the exhausting effects of the common cold, Ayurvedic medicine helps prevent its very occurrence. Sounds like a big win to me.

If you are interested in learning more about how Ayurveda can help combat such illnesses and conditions, enrol with us at the Ayurvedic Institute where we offer an array of educational courses in all areas of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Treatments. Our courses will provide you with a comprehensive education to further your career as an Ayurvedic Practitioner or an Ayurvedic Therapist.