Self Care for Colds

Our favourite guest blogger, Savitri, Claudia Flores,  is back. Do you want to know how to prevent a cold and care for yourself when you get one? Read on...

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Ohhhh my gato Pancha, I went to the post office and there was a guy behind me, he had a cold or something, he almost sneezed on my face, I am going to get a cold!!!

Florecita, we are exposed to viruses all the time. Sometimes we even carry a virus and we can make others sick without getting sick ourselves, so you never know who can get  a virus. If our immunity is strong, we probably won’t get sick even if we are carrying a virus.

This means my immunity is very weak in the winter because I catch a cold every winter.

I think a lot of people get colds in the winter because it is kapha season.


Everything in the universe is composed of vata, pitta, and kapha, and it is the same with the seasons of the year. Late winter and early spring is kapha season. It is kapha season because it shares the qualities of Kapha, like cold, sticky and humid. These qualities are in the weather; it is why we may get kapha-provoked during the winter-spring season, and for those of us with a kapha constitution,
we have more tendency  to catch a cold or flu in the winter because there is so much kapha around. Flu and cold viruses love cold weather.

Does the cold weather decrease our immunity?

Not exactly. You are more likely to get a cold when the weather is cold because you spend more time inside, so you do not produce enough vitamin D and melatonin which help your immune system. In addition, if your digestion is not strong due to your constitution or due to poor dietary choices you are more likely to get a cold.

Wait a minute, my digestion has nothing to do with getting a cold

As Hipocrates said, “every disease starts in the gut”. Some of the foods that we eat over the holidays are kapha-provoking foods like desserts. Florecita remember last Thanksgiving when after all you ate, you went out to eat ice cream, and then the next day you went to a buffet. All those heavy, cold, sticky and oily foods killed your digestion. It is like putting water on a fire. All heavy foods take some time to digest, and if you add something before they are digested like you did with the ice cream, the food is going to spend so much time in your GI tract without being digested. This undigested food is going to become in toxins. The weather and our constitution are things that we are not able to change, but there are things that we can do to reduce the risk of getting a cold.

Like what?

What we can change, it is our diet and lifestyle in the winter and spring to help to reduce kapha.

How are we going to do this?

•   Reduce all kapha-provoking foods during the cold season like dairy products, gluten, nuts and sugar.

•   Increase the quantity of vegetables, especially for breakfast and dinner.

Vegetables for breakfast???

Vegetables are a kapha person’s best friend. They help to scrape the undigested food or mucus from your GI tract.

Mmm what else do I have to do?

•   Cover yourself well when you go out.

•   Try to keep your doshas in control, especially vata, because vata will go out of balance before the other doshas.

•   Take 10 minutes every 2 hours to focus on your breathing or do a spiritual practice. Stress could decrease your immunity.

Too late, I already got a cold, what should I do?

 Five Steps to Get Rid of a Cold

Step one

Mix Mahasudarshan with honey in a jar and have one teaspoon 3 times a day after meals. Mahasudarshan is well known for its antiviral properties. If you do not have mahasudarshan, mix equal parts of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon and a little bit of clove powder.

Step Two

Drink the Kapha’s Terror tea. Drink this tea every hour for 6 hours, then drink the lemon-ginger- clove tea.

Kapha’s Terror Tea


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  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 8 cloves
  • 4 garlic cloves


Boil all the ingredients for a few minutes, then add honey and lime to your tea. Optional: add 2 inches of turmeric root to the boiling water or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder to the cup of tea after it is brewed.

Ginger clove lemon tea:


  • 4-6 medium-sized lemons
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger root
  • 2 cups local raw honey
  • 1 tbsp cloves


   Wash lemons, pat dry and thinly slice.

 Grate the ginger root.

In a quart mason jar, add lemon slices, cloves and ginger root, alternating in layers.

Add raw honey until the jar is full.

 Cover the jar and let sit on your counter for 12 hours.

  Store in the refrigerator and use it as needed.  To use, add 1-2 tbsp of the ginger clove lemonade in a cup of warm water. Stir well and enjoy.

Step three

 For at least 3 days, eat only foods that are easy to digest, like:

•   Kitcheri with vegetables.

•   Cold cure recipe

•    Well-cooked vegetables or vegetable soups. Spice them well, and favor vegetables that are hot in nature, like carrots, spinach, onions, garlic, bitter gourd, eggplant, and beets. Add warm spices like parsley, basil, oregano, bay leaves, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin.

But I need my protein, more carbs and dairy to help my immune system

Yes you need them, but you can have them when you are well. Right now all your body’s energy is focused on getting you well, so your body does not have the  time and the energy to digest heavy foods. If you eat heavy foods, they are going to stay in the belly for a long time, creating more toxins. It is why some people take longer to recover from a cold.

Step Four

Take care of your sinuses

Use a neti pot 2 to 4 times a day: Mix 2 teaspoons of sea salt or rock salt (not table salt) into 2 cups of purified warm water. This ratio is important so as not to irritate the sensitive nasal tissues. It is ok to use tap water. On a hot summer day, use cooler water.

Make sure to dry your nose well: Do the following yoga poses for 3 to 5 minutes: Anulom vilom, forward fold, waving palm and rabbit pose.

Step Five

Gargle 2 to 4 times a day using one of these two recipes and following the directions below.

Gargle recipe 1

Mix 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, 1/4 tsp of salt, 1 pinch of cinnamon and 1 pinch of black pepper in 1 cup of warm water.

Gargle recipe 2

Add two tbsp of fenugreek seeds to 6 cups of plain water and boil it for around 30 minutes.


Tilt your head back fully and gargle for 10-20 seconds (or longer), then spit out. It is recommended to let a small amount trickle down the throat to coat any deeper infected areas.

If you have a fever:

Do not try to lower a fever with drugs, because then the toxins will go deeper in the tissues instead of leaving your body.

Do not take your herbal formula

Herbal tinctures are ok and plenty of teas.

Pancha everything sounds wonderful, but I do not have all of the ingredients to do these remedies

Ok Florecita, click here for other recipes you can choose from.

This piece was written by a student of the Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder, Colorado. Learn more about studying ayurveda at our home school, or access your deep wellness with the support of our student practitioners in the Alandi Ayurveda Clinic.