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How to relieve the symptoms of a cold...

Lots of my clients recently have been suffering from this nasty cold that's going round and asking me if there are ways of relieving the symptoms from an Ayurvedic perspective. Luckily the answer is yes! There are some simple rules to follow for a generic cold but its firstly important to note that people may experience the same cold in different ways, depending on their doshic balance.

For most of us, a cold is dominated by the kapha qualities earth and water, hence why we usually get them at this time of year (which is cold and wet), so the general rules to follow will be to alleviate the kapha elements and increase the pitta and vata in order to heat , liquify and move the excess kapha out of the body. A kapha dominant persons cold is even more dominated by earth and water as they already have plenty before the cold starts, this means channels can become incredibly blocked which can also lead to headaches, in addition it may involve extreme tiredness, lethargy and some nausea and a person's sense of taste may reduce.

For a vata dominant person the coldness of a cold can aggravate vata along with kapha (as vata is cold in quality too) making this person more likely to experience a runny nose (as vata creates movement), dry cracked skin, earache, dryness in the ears or blocked ears and a sore, dry throat (as the ears and throat are vata sites so excess vata accumulates here), they are also likely to become very tired and have aching joints with a feeling of weakness.

For a pitta dominant person a cold may also cause eye sensitivity, headaches, fever, darker coloured phlegm and mouth ulcers. This kind of person should be wary of following the below advice, stopping if the symptoms get any worse or any inflammation begins.


Put it in everything (in moderate amounts). Ginger is a great warming spice that does not heat the body excessively causing pitta imbalance. Fresh ginger boiled in water is a great drink that will circulate the channels and aggravate the mucus and kapha build up. If you have a headache grate some fresh ginger and smooth it all over a cloth then apply to the forehead, this will help take the excess heat away and calm the pain down.

2. Spicy food

We all know that curries can make your nose run, well this is because the heating spices help dislodge the kapha build up, moving it out of the body. Add spices to all your meals, think cinnamon, clove, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, allspice, star anise and turmeric but don't go crazy on the chilli!

3. Warm water

I've said it before and I will say it again, DO NOT DRINK COLD WATER WHEN YOU HAVE A COLD, it only makes your body more cold, unable to fight against the virus and unable to digest your food effectively leading to more toxin build up. Drink only warm water as a rule throughout winter and this should help keep future colds away too.

4. Avoid heavy, oily and cooling foods

Foods such as mashed potato, any dairy products, fried and oily foods, refined baked goods, some nuts (peanuts(oily), cashews(oily), almonds(cooling)) and dense sweet foods (banana is included here) are all full of kapha and so will increase kapha elements within the body leading to prolonged illness.

5. Keep cold and raw food to a minimum!

This is a general winter rule to help prevent colds and indigestion. I'm talking salad, uncooked fruit, nuts and seeds, ice-cream, anything raw. All cold and raw foods will just cool the body down more which reduces immunity, prolongs illness, creates toxin build up and indigestion (you may think that salad is a healthy choice but there is no point if your body is unable to correctly digest it and so does not receive any of the nutrients!), listen to your body I'm sure it will you tell you this it's self.

6. Avoid negative food combinations

What does that mean? Ayurveda teaches us that certain foods when consumed together will prohibit each-other from digesting. More of a general life rule, this also applies to colds as the last thing we want to do is deplete the digestive fire and create the build up of additional toxins in the channels and tissues. Negative combinations include: Fruit with yogurt (or anything for that matter, keep fruit on its own!) fish with dairy products and cold food with hot food.

7. Heating and drying foods are your friend

As I mentioned above adding warming spices to your meals can increase the fire quality helping burn up the kapha but there are some staple foods that are also great at increasing pitta: Carrot and root veg as long as it is very well cooked (other than white potato-think spiced carrot or beetroot soup!), beans and pulses (apart from moong beans), a little mustard, a little vinegar, whole grains, wheat products and cooked green vegetables. However going overboard with pitta dominant foods such as oranges, tomatoes, coffee and alcohol is never a good idea as this makes the body high in acidity/pitta which lowers immunity and creates an environment where viruses can thrive.

8. Stay out of the cold

Goes without saying- don't hang out in the cold and wet this will only increase the symptoms and decrease your bodies ability to deal with the illness. When inside wrap up warm, specially the feet and neck!

9. Try this simple remedy:

• Raisins - 1 tbsp

• Coriander - 1 tbsp

• Fresh ginger - 1 inch piece (sliced)

• Garlic - 4 cloves

• White pepper - ½ tsp

• Add 1 cup of water and boil for 15 minutes.

½ cup twice a day after meals

10. Coriander and ginger tea 3 times daily:

For one cup lightly crush 1 tbsp of coriander seeds and boil for 3-5 mins then add a tbsp of slightly crushed fresh ginger. This remedy is great for colds because it increase circulation, reduced inflammation and the ginger helps to remove toxins from the system.


This is a great Ayurvedic herbal powder to make a hot drink with. It helps the body deal with a cold and can even prevent it from coming if you catch it early! If you would like some you can order it from me, just drop me an email

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