All the three doshas are responsible for the occurrence of common cold. Vata dosha common colds have dry coughs, little mucus discharge, hoarse voice, headache and a runny nose. People with pitta dosha who have common colds will have fever, sore throat, yellowish nasal discharge and continuous blockage of the nose. People with kapha dosha common colds have thick mucus discharges with dull headaches and heaviness of the head.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Common Colds
Bishop's Weed (Trachyspermum ammi) Bishop's weed has the power to open up clogged nasal passages. Its seeds are tied in a cloth and inhaled directly to clear congestions. It is very effective in treating nasal blockages in children.
Cassia (Cassis fistula) Cassia roots are effective in treating cold. The roots are burnt and the smoke from them is inhaled. The mucus discharge will increase after such a treatment, but within a while it will stop completely.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) Cinnamon is boiled in a glass of water with a pinch of pepper and honey. This reduces the sore throat problems and also prevents the cold from becoming chronic, or developing into something serious like pneumonia or influenza.
Cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum) Cumin seeds are antiseptic. So they have beneficial effects if the cold is accompanied with fever. It is also helpful in treating the throat irritations.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Ginger extract taken several times a day is an excellent remedy for treating coughs that accompany common colds. Ginger tea is also very effective in treating colds.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) Chewing a few leaves of tulsi (holy basil) will remedy sore throat problems. An extract of the leaves boiled in water can be used as a drink for the same benefits.
Onion (Allium cepa) Onion has the power to liquefy the phlegm. This makes the sticky mucus runny and it is discharged out of the nose.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Common Colds
Common cold patients are typically advised to fast for one day so that the body toxins wash out. Then the patients can have hot vegetable soups, or steamed vegetables with little or no spices in them. Foods that are difficult to digest such as cheese, yoghurt, milk, oily and spicy foods and sweets must be avoided.
Hot foods are advisable when you have a common cold. Hot chicken soup is a traditionally known remedy for common cold.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatment for Common Colds
Bhringasava is the prescribed Ayurvedic remedy for common colds. This is generally prescribed in quantities of 15 ml thrice a day for seven days.
The nasal drops called Anutaila are also prescribed by many Ayurvedic doctors. Other common medicines are Vyoshaadi vati, Kantara Arya Ava Lehya, Tribhuvana Keerti, etc. These preparations must be taken in time to prevent the cold from getting converted into flu.
Trikatu powder is suggested to be taken with honey. This decreases the inflammation of the respiratory tract. Shadbindu taila can be used as nasal drops. This is to be used twice daily as long as the symptoms of the common cold are felt.
(4) Home Medications
Take a pinch of salt. Put a few drops of mustard oil in it and blend it till the oil loses its fluidity. Dab this mixture on the nostrils, neck and chest. It will tingle a bit, but the relief will be fast.
Mix some jaggery and black pepper together. Boil this in water. Sip this quickly when hot as you do with tea.
Squeeze the juice of two lemons in a glassful of water. Put sugar to sweeten the mixture. This must be taken at bedtime to seek relief from the nasal catarrh.
One more remedy is to blend nutmeg and opium with cow's milk into a paste. This is to be applied on the nose and the forehead while going to bed.
Mixing black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and the seeds of the Nigella sativa (Krishna Jeeraka), and using it as a snuff helps in opening severely congested nasal passages.
Before going to bed, apply eucalyptus oil on the forehead, chest and the nostrils in the night. Then wrap yourself in a warm blanket and go to sleep. You will sweat profusely in the night, but let that happen. In the morning, the common cold will disappear, and so will any fever if present.
It is not advisable to remain in a cramped room when you have a common cold. Open the windows and let the air pass, but don't do this if it is cold outside. Take some walk in the fresh air and get enough rest.
Another point to note is that common cold is infectious. Hence, if you have got common cold, you should take all due precaution that it doesn't pass on to others.
Do not go near infants and children as they are the most vulnerable to attracting common cold. Also use a handkerchief when you cough or sneeze. Keep your utensils separate.