December 9, 2010
It is December and the weather has become colder and in some places more wet. Since this is typically the time of year where we are all more susceptible to colds, I thought I’d make my inaugural post about the different ways my family and I prevent and cure colds. Ever since I’ve been studying Ayurveda at Vedika Gurukula, we haven’t had anything more than a runny nose for a day or two in this house. Sometimes, I feel like an Ayurveda magician! Life is easier when you have a few tricks up your sleeve and I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you. These tips that I offer are very easy to handle for both you and your kids. When I break out the spoon with honey and spices, my one year old daughter goes “mmmmmmm!” before she even eats it.
Colds are a very common problem that we all have experienced: runny nose, sneezing, dryness. If not cared for, they can lead to worse infections in the body. For this reason, it is extremely important to learn how to eliminate the excess kapha [watery secretions in the body] and rebuild our system to health.
One of the causes of cold-like symptoms is weak digestion. This is something worth paying close attention to.
Other causes to the common cold are exposure to cold or extremely wet conditions. This occurs because even though we think we are our own self-contained organism, we are not separate from our outside environment. Akasha (Ether), Prithvi (Earth), Aap (Water), Tejas (Fire) and Vayu (Wind) compose the Universe, including the human body. Hence, if it’s wet and cold outside, you may experience this in your own body.
“When our creator, that one great intelligence, sometimes called God, sometimes Nature and sometimes referred to as 'IT" was (and is) creating the universe - the same building blocks were used. Hence, what connects each one of us is that we all are composed of the same essence (energy) and is that we are all essentially the same. Whatever difference that we perceive is not a qualitative one, merely quantitative. When we sit in front of the Grand Canyon or any other large splendour of nature we observe it's natural offering of space and stillness - and before long we embody the same stillness and space. When we sit by a lake or river we notice sentiments and hidden emotions arising in our hearts and a busy noisy city street aggravates anxious thought and sensations in spite of us.” – Shunya Pratichi Mathur For more information read about “Dance of the Doshas”These Ayurvedic remedies involve using honey, warming herbs and spices to help you break down and force out mucus while re-kindling your digestive fire. While the idea of a snotty nose might not appeal to you, chances are that if you can transition from being ‘stuffed up’ to ‘blowing it all out,’ then you are well on your way to recovery.
There are many remedies out there that work and I encourage you to explore all the knowledge and information that is available. My intention with this post is to be a good resource for those unfamiliar with the healing powers that many common things in your kitchen hold. Start by really paying attention to how you/your kids feel afterwards. One suggestion is to keep a journal.
It is important to remember to not overdo any of these remedies. Since, many of them increase heat in the body, too much could create a whole new set of health problems.
Lets start with some basic things to avoid when preventing or curing a cold:
* Avoid cold foods and drinks.
* Avoid yeast, salt, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, and refined sugars and flours. All of these increase mucus.
* Avoid overeating, especially at night.
* Do not eat when you are not hungry.
* Avoid sweet and juicy fruits including oranges, bananas, pineapples, figs, avocados, tomatoes, coconut and melons
* Do not eat between meals.
Tips for prevention:
* Follow the diet appropriate for your constitution and current condition
* Eat seasonally
* Takra - buttermilk (recipe below).
-It enhances agni [digestive fire] & like a nectar in cold season, BUT avoid when already have excess mucus and when it’s cloudy out. Do not drink after sunset.
- This is my daughter’s favorite! I believe it was her 4th word after "mama", "dada" and "more". I give it to her after or in place of meals. Even my dogs love it!
* Chyvanprash - The main ingredient amalaki is the richest natural source of vitamin C
* Neti pot – keep nasal passages healthy
* Use turmeric in cooking
First sign of mucus/cold:
* Trikatu w/ honey or trikatu w/ warm water - up to 3 times a day
-Trikatu is made up of Pippali (long pepper), Shunti (dry ginger) and Maricha (black pepper). It is available in powder & capsule form
* Eat light foods (no dairy, wheat, sugar and fried foods)
* Don’t sleep in daytime even if tired
* Cinnamon w/ honey or cinnamon tea
* Turmeric w/ honey
* Licorice w/ honey – twice a day
* Ginger juice w/ honey
A quick note on honey –
It should always be raw and unheated. Heated honey creates toxicity in the body.
Honey also enhances the medicinal qualities of what it’s combined with and helps them to reach the deeper tissues.
Kitchadi (recipe below)
Homemade chicken stock w/ turmeric ( for young kids, cook white basmati rice in the stock)
Eating only these foods or foods that are similar is most important for when feeling the onset of a cold or the cold is already full blown. You do not want to clog up your system anymore than it already is. These foods will help while most others will only hinder the progress you are trying to make.
Steam for congestion:
Boil eucalyptus oil/leaves and inhale steam
Boil dry ginger and inhale steam
Recipes of the day:
- 1 part - room temperature whole milk yogurt
- 4 parts - water that is previously boiled but brought back to room temperature
1 part yogurt : 4 parts water
- hand whisk/churn yogurt with a molinillo (or use immersion blender)
- add water to yogurt
- churn until frothy
You can add digestive herbs such as fresh ginger/salt, cumin, curry leaves, trikatu.
- ½ cup white basmati rice
- 1 cup mung dal (soak in water for a couple of hours)
- 2 cups of vegetables – beans, greens, squash, carrot, etc
- 1 pinch of hing (asaofetida)
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 TBS of ghee
- Himalayan rock salt (to taste)
- Heat ghee in pot
- Add hing
- Add cumin seed
- Add turmeric
- Swirl and add all of the ingredients
- Mix well
- Add 2 more cups of water
- Cover and cook for about 15 minutes on low-medium heat
- Add more ghee on top if desired and garnish with cilantro
There is a plethora of knowledge out there. These are just a start for some easy things to keep on hand. You don’t need to do all of these things. Give one or two a try and listen to your body. Then, share your comments below.