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Autumn is a bountiful season, best known for rich harvests and fruits. While it brings with it many gifts, autumn also comes with coughs and colds. Whether we like it or not, we are now at the time of year when runny noses, frequent sneezes, watery eyes and mild sore throats become part of life.
No sooner does monsoon end, than dry and cold weather has people falling ill. Seasonal changes, stress, intake of cold drinks and overexposure to cold can cause cough and viral infections that are easily spread as people crowd together indoors. And many colds viruses thrive in low humidity, making the nasal passages drier and more vulnerable.
Our in-house home remedies specialist, Dr. Dadi, explains how coughs and colds are caused by the aggravation of Kapha.
"If food is not digested properly, it transforms into toxins (ama). This serves to increase Kapha, especially if it is deposited in sites governed by Kapha, like the chest and upper body (head, neck, lungs and stomach)."
The common cold, which is caused by over 100 different viruses, can be spread by droplets from the mouths and noses of infected people sneezing and coughing. You can also spread a cold by shaking hands, or by touching an infected surface and then touching your face. After you're infected, the cold takes one to three days to surface and can last anywhere between a few days to several weeks.
Foods to avoid during a cold would include sweets (juices, pastries and candies), cold food and cold drinks, milk products like cheese and yoghurt, meat products, bananas, and refrigerated or frozen foods. Eat mostly light items, such as vegetables and soups, whole grain breads, and fruits that are not juicy (specially apple and papaya). Honey is also soothing in herbal teas or home remedies. Spices are fine to use, but overeating them should be avoided.
Since the digestive fire (jatharagni) is not very strong in the early part of autumn, heavy foods should be avoided. As it becomes colder and wetter, foods can become heavier and more warming. Try to avoid sour and acidic foods, as they increase Pitta.
Since the cold is one of the most common illnesses, it's best to treat it through simple home remedies that can save visits to the doctor and long absences from work and school.
Mix equal quantities (around 1 tsp each) of ginger powder, turmeric and black pepper. Take about ½ tsp of this mixture twice a day with warm water or mixed with honey.
Mix 1 tbsp of crushed licorice root and boil with 2 cups of water. Reduce to half. Drink while warm 2 or 3 times per day.
Mix ½ tsp of turmeric powder and ½ tsp of ginger powder in 1 cup of water and simmer on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Honey can be added. Drink it warm.
Take one teaspoon each of cardamom, ginger powder, black pepper and cinnamon. Add sugar and grind to make a fine powder. Take half a teaspoon twice everyday (after meals) diluted with warm water.
Equal quantities of powdered fenugreek seeds, turmeric and ginger powder can be mixed together. One teaspoon can be taken in the morning and evening.
In cases of a sore throat, chew a a clove or two of cardamon or a few raisins..
A garlic decoction made from 4 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 cup of water can offer relief. Boil until it has reduced to half the volume. Add a pinch of salt and drink warm. This can be taken 2-3 times daily.
Try these home remedies at your own risk. Please remember that home remedies cannot replace medicines. If your condition does not improve, seek professional advice.
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