It's the change of seasons. One day is hot and sunny, the next cold and rainy. We don't know whether to bring an umbrella, a sun hat or a warm jacket--perhaps we'll need all three! From an Ayurvedic viewpoint, change disturbs vata. And so in the change of seasons, a cold or mild flu-like illness is quite a natural occurrence.
Preventing Seasonal Colds
To prevent seasonal colds, take care of vata. A warm oil massage and a ginger-baking soda tub is a great way to calm vata.
How to do Abhyanga, a self-massage with oil:
Abhyanga must be done on an empty stomach (at least 3 hrs after last meal), so for most people the morning is the best time. Do not do oil massage when you are on your moon.
- Be sure to have old towels available to sit on and for under your feet
- Warm the oil by putting a small plastic squeeze bottle of it in a sink or bowl of hot water for several minutes.
- Oil from head to toe (cover the whole body), then begin to massage beginning from the extremities (head, hands or feet) in order to move the toxins towards the gastrointestinal tract. Make circling movements on the joints and straight strokes on the muscles, continuously moving towards the abdomen. Continue at least 30 minutes.
- Let the oil soak in a few minutes while you prepare your bath, or go in the steam/sauna.
- Be sure not to become chilled at any point.
- Use sesame oil for vata, coconut oil or sunflower oil for pitta and castor oil or mustard oil for kapha.
How to do Ginger-Baking Soda bath
- Be sure the bathroom is warm - avoid getting chilled at any time.
- Use one bag of Ginger Bath Mix from Alandi's pharmacy, or 1/3 cup each of dried ginger and baking soda for each bath tubful of tolerable hot water (avoid excessive heat).
- Soak after external oiling and then get out when beginning to sweat. This is a mild sweat, you just have to break a sweat, do not force yourself to stay in the water.
- Cover with towels or bath robe and continue to sweat in the warm bathroom until you are beginning to cool down.
Do's and Don'ts for sweating:
- Do not do the bath if you are pregnant or on your moon
- Do not eat before sweating.
- Be careful of your slipperiness after the oil massage - do not slip and fall!!.
- Do not overheat. You should just be breaking a mild sweat over your whole body, not getting red.
- After sweating rinse off and be careful not to get chilled.
If you feel a seasonal cold coming on:
If a seasonal cold is coming on, you might feel achey, shivery or have a slight sore throat. In this event DO NOT do oil massage. When you are going down with something, oil massage can exacerbate the toxins and clog your channels. Just do the ginger-baking soda bath without the oil massage. This will really help.
If you get a seasonal cold
For a cold without fever, drink plenty of tulsi-ginger tea, eat soups and soupy kitcheris and get plenty of rest. Please stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others. Make roasted beet and shitake soup, carrot ginger soup. or cold cure dal. Avoid dairy products and heavy foods. Eat black grapes.
For a cold with fever, drink our recommended herbal teas for flu.
Stay at home in a warm room so you don't get chilled as well as to avoid spreading the virus to others.
Once your fever goes down, you may take soups or soupy kitcheri and eat black grapes.
Return to your daily activities slowly and with awareness of your energy level.
Note: If you are pregnant, it is better not to take any herbal home remedies without specific advice from your practitioner
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.
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