Turning the Heat Up on the Common Cold

Tips from Maharishi Ayurveda

Come Fall, more than maple leaves turn red. Ever noticed how many red-nosed people you see in the stores at this time? Kleenex sales go up, and antihistamines fly off the shelves. Chances are, even as you read this, you're trying to stifle a sniffle. Take heart — you can win the cold war. And yes, you can do it without the standard ammunition of pills and rubs. Believe it or not, something as simple as sleeping on time could be your greatest anti-cold weapon!

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of healing, has an interesting theory on disease. It believes that all disease happens because the elements that make up our body go out of balance. The common cold, for instance, strikes when the body's digestive fire, or agni, is dampened. What causes that? Well, the cold weather itself! Yes, the temperature outside dips, and with it, your immunity.

Now look what happens: the dimmed fires inside fail to burn body toxins, or ama, fully. The ama accumulates, clogging the microchannels of the body and generating phlegm. Phlegm, or "Kapha," combined with toxins, or ama, makes mucus. Result: a case of the "ahh-tissues!"

Ayurvedic vaidyas say your body at this time is a land ripe and ready for virus attack. When your immunity is strong, the beej-bhumi, or "body soil," is infertile — it does not let virus grow. But when manured with ama, the body soil becomes fertile. Time for virus and bacteria to start taking root.

So much for the cause. Now for the cure.

The key, obviously, would lie in keeping the body fires burning bright. This is easily achieved, once you understand that a lot of ayurvedic advice is plain common sense and logic. The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians gives you the "must-dos" and "don't-evers" for this winter:


  1. Decembrrrrr. Common sense should tell you it's the season to stay away from cold foods like ice-cream and yogurt. So will a vaidya. He will add that you should avoid tomatoes, eggplant and bananas — for they are "cold" foods that slow down the agni.
  2. Keep your insides warm with warm spicescumin is considered the ace ama-burner. Stack up your spice rack with "thermogenic," or heat-generating, spices like black pepper, coriander, and cumin. Clove, boiled with milk, is excellent too.
  3. Vaidyas say cakes and desserts need more fire to digest. But that doesn't mean you have to ignore your sweet tooth all winter. Metabolize the sugar better with bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. The ideal winter dessert? Apple, stewed the ayurveda way: one Red Delicious apple, pierced with four cloves and boiled. Once done, remove the cloves and savor the clove-warmed, energy-enhancing fruit.
  4. Trust in turmeric, the yellow spice that kills ama and builds immunity. All it takes is a quarter teaspoon of turmeric in your lentils and veggies. Crushed fresh ginger will combat the heaviness of a "rich" meal.
  5. Happily, there are some solid ayurvedic formulations to help you zap that cold. Herbs that pack a powerful punch — improving your immunity, lubricating your lungs and clearing the body's channels. Maharishi Ayurveda's battery of highly-skilled vaidyas has developed Sniffle Free and Bio-Immune: herbal formulations that promise just what their names suggest. The Sniffle Free Aroma Oil and Sniffle Free Tea provide support as well.


  1. Follow the middle path: don't skip meals or overeat.
  2. Eat fresh, well-cooked food.
  3. Start your day with two glasses of warm water.
  4. Do not fast during winter — fasting weakens the body's defenses.
  5. Eat a timely lunch and an early dinner for good digestion.
  6. Sleep on time — not later than 10 p.m. Restful sleep builds essential energy, or ojas, boosting immunity.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.