Understanding the bigger picture of the common cold

You got sick. And it doesn't matter how- from your kid, from that woman that sneezed without covering her mouth, from the people at work - you know, these things go around. And from this comes the mad rush to LOAD UP on echinacea, on antibiotics (damn them, they won't prescribe it anymore), on oranges, on remedies from the chemist. You're trying everything and it's just lingering on.

Here's why.  The body is trying to get rid of the toxins that are marring it's path of release. You have channels in the body (lymphatic) that needs a clear run whenever it encounters a bogie man. The white blood cells war is on and when they shoot to kill they need to be able to move that dead body out. If it's blocked then the system tries to help out by getting sick to clear it out. It inflames itself a little to help circulate the good guys to fight the good fight.

Living a diet and lifestyle that ensures these channels are clear is the best way. Clearing your nose and tongue, clearing your bowels and urination system, clearing your sweat channels and your mind. (I'm going to keep saying it - prevention is better than cure. Say it with me!)

You need to do a check in when you are working with a cold. Do you have regular bowel movements? Do you need to surrender to relaxing and stop working? Do you need to drink more water? Do you need to increase circulation and sweat? Do you have an efficient elimination system for the crap to exit.

And then there's part 2 - increasing the immunity. Some herbs and foods are immune boosters. Citrus fruits (for some, not for Pitta) and the good old chicken soup has definite magical powers. There are also tonics you can take as herbs that do the trick as well. This is best done on an individual basis. For instance echinacea is warming and wouldn't be good for a Pitta person if there is a tendency towards heat (get rid of the cold, cause another issue). Rest is absolutely key in getting over a cold because it centralises the immune system, using the energy available to fight the critters. If you're up and working, the energy will be more dispersed and therefore it takes longer to shake.

This is what I do (and as mentioned, please use the advice as a general idea of the concept of a protocol. Seek professional advice for personal matters)

  • I stop everything and rest, afternoon naps, to me, have super powers and for some reason seem to help me recover quicker than sleeping during the night - probably because it's warmer and it feels naughty resting during the day.
  • I drink a lot of hot drinks which help the lymphatic to move through.
  • I simplify my diet so that my digestive system doesn't need to take all the energy available digesting food.
  • I take particular herbs, a lot of them, to help boost my immune system, until I feel the cold move to the other side.
  • I make sure I'm very regular. If not, I give myself a herbal boost, a little purge, to really clear out old debris.
  • When I'm on the other side, I take a tonic that boosts immunity (Chyavanprash) which helps to build my body up again so that I don't get a second bout as I'm still feeling pretty weak.

So prevention is better than cure. Be mindful that if you don't adjust your eating and lifestyle practises come early Spring, the same will happen again. So the idea here can one of two things to remedy this. Either you are so aware of your tendencies you counteract them on the way to Spring doing a little cleaning every day. OR you need to do a Spring cleanse to avoid the build up of undigested food from making you sick.

That's what we call toxins in Ayurveda - undigested food. It's not the bugs out there making you sick, it's your body's inability to be able to process life and create strong tissue (body) and it's reflector cousin, the mind.

Good luck this Winter. It's getting chilly out there. Keep warm, keep digesting and keep minimal in your movements.


Sandra Radja

Established in 2012 The She Oak aims to provide healing through diet and lifestyle counselling as well as educational programs. I believe in teaching others to not only know their inherent constitutions that will best serve them but also how to help themselves should they mis-align with their true nature. Ayurveda treats the individual not the disease.