Influenza Self Care with Ayurveda

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Influenza is usually a winter disease, with increased susceptibility in cold weather. An unseasonably warm winter doesn't free us from the 'flu, it simply puts it off until spring. Many of my patients report having influenza recently, while in some states the epidemic is still peaking.

Influenza is a serious illness, often causing additional morbidity with illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, and even leading to death in susceptible individuals. So if you really have influenza, rather than just a seasonal cold, please take care of yourself.

"In acute fever one should avoid day-sleep, bath, massage, solid diet, sexual intercourse, anger, wind and exercise." Charak Samhita.

Stay home

This won't be so hard to do as influenza is a prostrating illness--it's difficult to get out of bed. I remember passing out on the London Underground as a young medical student, and being taken home in a police car. One moment I seemed fine and the next moment I couldn't stand up. Be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, by keeping your germs to yourself.

Rest in bed

Again, it's a prostrating illness, do what your body tells you and stay in bed. You need rest to fight the infection. If you live alone, contact a friend for shopping and other support.


You won't have any appetite anyway, but many believe they 'should' eat. Instead, take only healing herbal teas for 'flu. Fast for four days or until your fever comes down and appetite returns--whichever is sooner. If you are pregnant or diabetic, don't fast. Consult your doctor.

Drink plenty

Drink your herbal teas plus extra lukewarm water.


You may find relief by taking a warm (not too hot) bath with 1/3 cup dry ginger powder and 1/3 cup baking soda to alleviate your aching limbs. Don't take this bath if you are home alone and don't lock the bathroom door. Take every precaution to avoid passing out and drowning in your bathtub! After the bath, settle in a warm room huddled under blankets to promote sweating. However, in a pitta situation, i.e. a really high fever, cold sponging and cold compresses to your forehead may be more helpful than sweating.

Do not sweat a child who has a high fever. Use cold sponging. A child with a very high fever can potentially have a seizure.

Maintain a light diet once the fever has subsided

After your fever drops or four days have passed, begin taking a thin gruel containing digestive spices such as ginger, coriander, and pippali (long pepper).

Gruel Recipe (Peya)


1 tbsp. dry ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
¼ cup basmati rice
3 .5 cups water


1. Coarsely powder dry ginger, pepper and coriander seeds
2. Add 800 ml of water and condense it to 400ml.
3. In this decoction of dry ginger, pepper and coriander seeds, cook the broken rice until it is fully cooked.
4. Then serve hot.

For your next meal, take a thicker gruel called yavagu

Yavagu recipe

1 part rice
6 parts water
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp. grated ginger

Boil rice in water till rice becomes soft. This can also be can be cooked in pressure cooker. Add salt, pepper and grated ginger when rice is well cooked and stir well. Yavagu is ready to eat.


Now try mung yusha.

Basic Yusha recipe


  • 1T green, unpeeled whole mung beans

  • 6 cups of water

  • ¼ t turmeric

  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds

  • ½ tsp grated fresh ginger

  • Salt and pepper to taste.


Boil until the beans are quite soft.; 30 min in a pressure cooker or an hour on the stovetop. Then add the spices to taste and serve.

As an alternative, you can have chicken broth. ("Jewish penicillin")

Next have Tridoshic Kitchari. Also, if dark grapes are available, try to eat them.

Take Cleansing Herbs

Triphala tea taken at bedtime is excellent when recovering from fever.

Finally, follow our Post Flu recovery tips.

Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Visit Alakananda Ma in Alandi Ashram’s ayurvedic clinic to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and virtual appointments available. Book now!