Reducing Vata at the Start of a Cold
Lowered immunity is primarily a vata imbalance, and a state of depletion, dryness and low digestive fire (agni). Below are various ayurvedic tools to reduce vata when you first start to feel sick:
- Oil enemas (Please don’t do this unless you have been instructed on how)
- Avoiding any cold or dry foods. That means nourishing, warm temperature, and moist foods diminish vata in the diet and help to maintain healthy digestive fire. This is one reason why kitchardi is great when you are fighting a bug and why soups and teas feel so good.
- Neti. Neti is not intended when you are so congested that there is occlusion of the sinuses/ nasal passageways–it’s painful. Utilize neti if you are at the stage of dry mucus membranes/ light runny nose/ but still breathing through the nose without any problem. (Nasal saline spray for kids…I like Little Tummies brand)
- Nasya. After netiing (allow me to create that word), I put two drops of warm sesame oil (or any vata reducing oil) in each nostril. I also put two drops in each ear. All before bed because, ideally, we are laying down to receive the oil in the ENT (that’s dr. shorthand for ear-nose-throat) passageways. Are you still going to benefit if you put some warm oil in at another time of the day? Of course.
- Kitchardi. Moong helps to detoxify and rejuvenate at the same time. That’s my kind of bean (lentil? bean?…it doesn’t matter how we classify it, what matters is what it does 😉 )
- Spices. Garlic, ginger, any kind of pepper = antimicrobial + reduce vata + maintain agni
- Rest. Be still. Snuggle.
- Humidify. Warm baths and humidifiers are great. If you don’t have a bathtub or humidifier, just put a big pot on the stove and put it on low for a few hours. It’s great to add essential oils or herbs to the pot as well. Some of my favorite are ginger, cardamom, eucalyptus, frankincense, and cinnamon (all have therapeutic properties that help with cold symptoms 🙂 ). Warm and moist on the outside just like for the inside.
- Avoid foods that are too heavy… ice cream or fried foods, for example. This frees up more energy for healing instead of digesting, and also helps with maintaining healthy agni. Most colds start with vata imbalance and end with a kapha imbalance (congestion, lethargy), so we want to balance vata without aggravating kapha.