This time of year is called the cold and flu season because most viruses occur more frequently during the fall and winter. Our immunity can be lower and taxed by the colder weather and social factors, such as spending more time indoors near infected people. All of these illnesses are defined as infectious agents that replicate inside the cells of organisms. But as we have all seen with covid-19, they can become a pandemic (widespread occurrences of an infectious disease) without boundaries.
Cold symptoms can be a sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and possible fever. Traditionally, the theory is that a cold can occur from exposure to cold weather, which is how it got its name. Although there is no cure for the common cold, preventative methods like hand washing, not touching eyes, nose, or mouth, and staying away from other sick people are suggested. Additionally, symptoms can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and cough medicines.
Influenza (flu) is categorized by three types: "A" is called bird flu because they are the natural hosts and can also become infected by humans. "B" exclusively infects humans and is less common than A, and "C" infects humans, dogs, and pigs but is the least common. Symptoms of the flu include fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, and feeling tired. Nausea and vomiting occur more commonly in unrelated infections like gastroenteritis, sometimes called "stomach flu," which may have other complications, like viral or bacterial pneumonia and sinus infections. We are all familiar with the yearly flu shot available, which is considered the best defense against this virus.
Covid-19 stems from a family of viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that originated in China, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to flu symptoms but moves quickly to the respiratory system and is more deadly.
Ayurvedically, the cold and flu season begins as we transition from the hot, bright, and intense summer (Pitta) months into the fall (Vata) season, when the qualities become cooler, drier, lighter, and windier. This transition can weaken our immunity and make us more susceptible to illness. Then when the winter (Kapha) season arrives with its cold, wet, heavy, and stagnant qualities, infection is more prevalent.
Staying healthy is about building and protecting immunity. Ayurveda starts by strengthening the Vata dosha during the fall season using warmth, wetness, heaviness, and stability, which grounds the body, mind, and spirit and supports the immune systems for winter. As the heavier and more stagnant winter arrives, you could start to introduce the actions (warmth, dry, light, and mobile) to remove heaviness, wetness, and possible congestion and stagnation.
Below are some holistic practices (Diancharya) and suggestions that will help protect you from illness.
1. Rest is probably the most important consideration building our immunity.
3. Regular elimination is essential; drink 2 cups of warm water each morning after brushing teeth, this informs the body it is time to go.
4. Stay hydrated; it is recommended drinking half your body weight in ounces of room temperature, or warm water, and herbal teas throughout the day for optimum digestion.
5. Use a Neti Pot, the mild salt-water solution supports nasal tissues and prevent sinus infections.
6. Gargling with salt water loosens excess mucus, removes bacteria and relieves sore throats.
1. Do not skip meals or overeat, regularity in your meal schedule helps to balance Vata, and make your largest meal at lunch when the digestive fire is strongest.
2. Stay away from processed, frozen, canned, and microwavable foods.
3. Reduce or eliminate cold, heavy and acidic foods like meats, nuts, ice cream, yogurt, night shake vegetables and sour and green fruits which slow down digestion and create toxins, and choose lighter and simpler foods like soups and broths, white rice, cooked vegetables, and oatmeal.
4. Use warm spices and herbs like ginger, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, basil, rosemary, and coriander, which stimulate digestion and warm the body.
Herbal Remedies- (Recipes and handouts can be found on my website)
1. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory but will boost immunity and aid in digestion.
2. Chyawanprash, a rejuvenative Ayurvedic herbal jam, and is the most concentrated source of vitamin C in the plant kingdom and has rejuvenative and revitalizing properties
3. Jeff’s “Greatest cough drop” will soothe the throat and persistent coughs.
4. Turmeric Ginger Lemonade will break up mucus and reduce respiratory inflammation.
5. Tulsi tea is specific for its adaptogenic effects for colds and flu.
6. Chewing a small piece of fresh ginger relieves the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
7. Triphala churna helps to balance and strengthen digestion, immunity, and elimination.
Rejuvenation & Bliss (Handouts on website)
1. Use Nasya Oil to lubricate nasal passages and open up sinuses.
2. Facial steam with 5-10 drops of eucalyptus is recommended.
3. Before bed rub feet with sesame oil, put socks on and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
4. Ginger-Baking Soda Bath will release toxins and relaxes the muscles and relieves coughs.
5. Daily Ayurvedic self-massage will benefit the skin bringing calmness and stability.
6. Oiling the ears with sesame oil lubricates the upper eustachian tube and the cervical lymph nodes benefiting the lymphatic and glandular system and builds immunity.
7. Oil pulling or swishing is a powerful defense against a cold, removing bad bacteria and boosts good immune-boosting bacteria in your mouth