Most of us will be familiar with the joke about colds, “Cold vanishes in a week if you take medicines and they go away in 7 days if you do not take any medicine”. This joke indicates that there is no proper cure for colds. However, there are several remedies available in the Ayurveda field of medicine for both prevention of colds from occurring and for cure of colds within a short period effectively.
Basic Facts about Colds
You may be surprised to know that there are more than 200 viruses that cause colds. These viruses enter your body when the coughs or sneezes of other people have placed these viruses in the air or on objects that you touch. It is true to some that extent that colds go away on their own, if you remain in a clean atmosphere and take adequate rest. However, during the time colds persist, they can really make you feel miserable. Several simple home remedies will provide you faster relief from this miserable condition if you utilize the power of certain simple home remedies.
Misconception about Cold
One major misconception about colds is that you catch cold if you get exposed to chill weather or soak in rain. However, studies on colds have clearly proved that the weather or rain do not have any significant effect on the occurrence of colds. The New England Journal of Medicine reported a study on colds. The research team divided the people undergoing the study into two groups. Both groups were exposed to various viruses that are the cause of common cold. However, the research team kept one group in a room maintained at a temperature of 5oC when they were exposed to the cold viruses. They kept the other group in a room at 30oC when they got exposed to the virus. This large difference in the room temperatures of the two rooms did not have any noticeable effect and both groups began to suffer from cold at nearly the same rate, speed and strength of severity.
Symptoms of Colds and Their Severity
On most occasions, the symptoms of colds are confined around the neck, throat and the nostrils, making you sneeze and/or cough. You will also suffer from sore throat and nasal and throat congestion during attacks of cold. However, it is advisable to visit a medical practitioner if you face the following serious conditions or symptoms of cold.
- If you begin to wheeze substantially
- If you find normal breathing quite difficult
- If substantial amounts of phlegm come out of your mouth or get formed in your throat when you cough due to cold
- If you feel strong pain in your throat, chest, lungs, nostrils and ears
Home Remedies for Faster Relief from Cold
In Ayurveda, one of the traditional treatments for cold was with Andrographis herb. A study furnished Andrographis herb to one group of people suffering from cold, while the other group was provided with placebos or dummy pills. The study clearly showed that those who took Andrographis herb achieved substantially much higher reduction in the cold symptoms of sore throat and running nose, along with proportional decline in general body pains and aches that usually accompany an attack of cold, compared to those who took placebos. Any Ayurveda medication that contains the equivalent of dried Andrographis herb between 500 mg and 1.5 gm is quite an effective dose for quick resolution of cold.
Garlic is a powerful and natural antiseptic that has the ability to fight cold viruses effectively. You can put a small piece of garlic clove in your mouth, which will result in directing the garlic fumes towards your throat and lungs. When the garlic clove begins to soften, the flavour might become quite strong. If you feel the flavour as severe at any point of time, you can chew on the garlic, make it into small pieces and swallow it. You can drink a small quantity of warm water to wash away the garlic flavour from your mouth and throat. Garlic is also available in capsule forms of therapeutic doses. Allicin is the major component of garlic that acts on colds strongly. You can take medications that have Allicin but you should strictly adhere to the recommendations of the manufacturer. Further, people suffering from high blood pressure and taking medication for that should consult their physicians before taking medicines containing Allicin as a remedy for cold. On a few occasions, you may suffer from indigestion, diarrhoea or wind when you take garlic as the medicine for cold. You can minimise these side effects with enteric-coated medical capsules.
A steam tent created by keeping your head wrapped with a towel spread over a large bowl containing boiling water and breathing in and out that hot steam through your nostrils for a period of 5 to 10 minutes is quite effective against cold. However, you should be careful to keep a safe distance between the boiling water and your face, since inhaling these hot vapours or direct contact of the facial skin with the hot water can scald your skin. It is better to conduct this steam remedy with the bowl placed on a sturdy table but most people try this method sitting in their bed, which is not at all advisable.
If you want even faster relief from cold through this steam remedy, you can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or thyme oil to the hot water. But you should have your eyes tightly shut when you do this, since the combination of hot steam and the vapours of the above essential oils can cause strong irritation to your eyes.