I suppose this article is really a note to self during, what feels like, a particularly horrible run in with, what everyone is describing as, a particularly horrible flu.
I’m not sure it really is a particularly horrible run in or if it is a particularly horrible flu. I’m more inclined to think of it as a virus that is always about in one form or another, as it mutates and migrates itself in a battle to stay alive. As for ourselves, we need to be battle ready.
If you happen to have been lucky enough to merely have the symptoms of a cold (no fever, body aches, headache pains) then you are experiencing what many naturopaths would describe as a healthy seasonal cleanse.
Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga and is the missing part of the puzzle when it comes to Yoga’s off the mat health practices!
Amapachana means ‘digesting the undigested’ and plays a key role in both cold and flu treatments as both are considered to have an element of ama (symptoms of poor digestion) as a root cause.
An amapachana diet can look a bit like a cleanse, but it is actually a diet that improves the agni, therefore, counteracting the production of ama and symptoms such as cough, blocked nose, fever, inflammation.
- Take fresh ginger and lemon tea throughout the day.
- Eat sour fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, limes and cranberry (eat at least 15 minutes before other meals or completely away from other meals)
- Eat steamed vegetables and warm vegetable soups, lentil soups or dhal with onions and garlic sautéed in ghee or sesame oil adding turmeric, cumin, coriander and mustard seed.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, dairy, sweets, sweet fruits, meat, fish and eggs.
- Add quinoa, cous cous, rice, barley, millet and amaranth once you start to get a real hunger and appetite for food back.
For those with fever:
- Ignore the above until the fever has gone.
- Take minimal foods whilst hydrating regularly with purest water.
- Take 1/4 teaspoon of coriander powder in warm water to make a fever reducing tea.
- Eat sweet fruits like grapes to hydrate and cool the body.
- Take a lukewarm quick bath with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar added. Wrap up quickly after bath and get back into bed.
- Monitor your fever to make sure it does not get dangerously high.
- Call the doctor if any worrying symptoms occur or if fever becomes too high or you become dehydrated and weak.
- Once the fever is over, take the amapachana diet.
Amapachana diet can be used at the junction of all the seasons to insure good health. The junction of the seasons is considered a vulnerable time for the body in Ayurveda. The more you take care of it via food, remedies, sleep, yoga, massage and lifestyle changes, the better the result.
Massage on the Marma
Marma points are much like acupressure points and can be used to improve the function of internal systems in the body.
You can use warmed sesame oil to massage the points or an ayurvedic herbal oil called mahanarayan oil, which is great if you’ve got post fever aches.
- Massage the centre of the soles and palms.
- Massage entire side of nasal bone and just above outside of the nostrils.
- Massage the middle of the sternum.
- Never massage with oils during a fever!
- Press and release on the front of the forearm between the elbow and wrist for 5 minutes, both arms.
- Get someone to gently massage both feet without oil for 3-5 minutes, concentrating on the areas above the heel mounds.
Ayurvedic massages can be booked according to symptoms or body-type. There are a huge variety of treatments for different conditions and needs.
Chywanprash has 30 times as much vitamin C as orange juice and is a great remedy for coughs and colds. It is also a immune system enhancer with natural moisture, proteins, minerals, fibres, carbs and antioxidants.
It provides a gentle detox due to the more than 50 herbs included in its ingredients and it is designed to balance all three dosha disharmony (low energy, inflammation, mucous).
- Take 1 teaspoon in hot water up to 3 x throughout the day.
- Simply take straight off the teaspoon.
Chywanprash is taken by the young, middle aged and the old in traditional Ayurvedic practices. The young (who love the sweet taste) and old can take it in warm milk to help build strength and immunity. The middle age spread can be curtailed by partaking daily in Chywanprash in hot water. Generally, because of it’s high anti-oxidant content, it is considered a preventative tonic for all.
Snehana and Swedana is an Ayurvedic treatment of oiling and sweating the body to remove deeply imbedded toxicity.
For colds only:
This simple ayurvedic concept can be adapted for blocked nose and sinus by using sesame oil to moisturise the face and neck and then steaming the face over a bowl of hot water with a towel over the head. Be careful when doing this! You can do this every couple of hours during the worst of your symptoms.
Internally, we can use heat and oil via the neti pot. Add 1/4 teaspoon of rock salt and 1 drop anu taila (great for sinusitis, rhinitis or sinus congestion) or sesame oil to the warmed water in the neti pot. This combination will both cut mucous, reaching the maxillary sinus by the cheekbones, and lubricate dried out and chapped areas of mucous membrane.
Spice up your Chai
Chai is the Indian word for tea. You can choose from, or use all, of the spices below to create your own blend of chai.
- Ginger – use fresh as it’s more widely beneficial for symptoms. It helps remove toxins, gets rid of cold symptoms, regulates respiration, melts mucous and eases inflammation.
- Turmeric inhibits inflammation.
- Black pepper eases cold, cough, flu and sinus congestion.
- Cinnamon clears mucous congestion, cough, cold and flu.
- Cardamom helps cough and cold.
- Cloves helps cough, cold and flu.
- Fennel eases bloating if it occurs.
- Garlic detoxifies and is good for cough, cold and flu.
Make a ‘chai’ with the above. Use about a tablespoon of the turmeric, coriander seeds, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. I add one star anise and a tablespoon of coriander. You can grate as much ginger (or juice it) as you can take in your spiced tea! If you’re really suffering, do add that garlic in. It will really help. Add all your ingredients to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes. Drink warm throughout the day adding 1/4 -1 teaspoon of honey to each drink (do not reheat once the honey is added to your cup).
If you have a fever, do not use the spices above! Just use the 1/4 teaspoon of coriander powder in a cup of warm water.
Start adding the spices above to your breakfasts, lunches and dinners to include Katu Rasa (the pungent nutrients) to your diet. These have health benefits including strengthening the digestive power, counteracting poor circulation, improving delivery of nutrients and driving cold out of the body before it accumulates and creates problems.
- During a cold, surya namaskara (sun salutations) can be used to increase agni and burn away a cold.
- If you have fever, gentle supine twists (lying down) will help release some heat but do not use effort or sustain any pose for over a few seconds.
Creating a daily yoga practice is one of Ayurveda’s recommendations for good all around health!
- For cold symptoms you can use bhastrika and kapalabhati.
- During a fever, sitali can be used if the fever gets too high and for extra rehydration. No other pranayama should be used until the fever has ended.
Using Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) each day is a great way to balance the nervous system, keeping it healthy and strong. This is another way of saying ‘Nadi Shodhana helps balance Vata dosha’ which, according to ancient text, is transport for problems and imbalances to deeper tissues. By keeping Vata healthy, we can keep any problems that arise in their original location.
When you learn about ayurveda, you learn Nature’s secrets!
Check out ‘Ayurveda for the Yogi Home‘ for your tailored at home health care plan.