Over the past month I have noticed how many individuals have already come down with the cold and other ailments like virus infections and upper respiratory infections. It has been amazing to see this, especially with the brief change in weather where it was extremely hot for a few days and then dropped down to average fall temperatures. Colds and these other ailments are signs that we have been immuno-compromised somehow and it is up to us to notice what factors contribute towards these health issues.
Catching a cold usually happens when our digestive systems are compromised. Our digestion creates the foundation for a strong immune system. When the digestive system is stressed by temperature, state of mind (stress), and different types of foods/beverages, we experience a drop in our immunity. The elements are upon us during the fall months and this means that the qualities of cold and dry take over the atmosphere. Additionally, as we have come inward and are spending more time inside again we are raising the thermostat of the home and this is increasing dry and warm qualities. It is the dryness that we have to catch before it catches us. This dryness either begins in the nose or the throat area. Because of this, it is essential that we maintain moisture as much as possible. This moisture supports the healthy function of our skin and therefore, our overall immunity.
Below is a list of quick tidbit suggestions to help with strengthening our immunity and reducing the negative effects of dryness:
1) Eat warm foods only.
2) Increase daily use of oils by cooking with them, such as ghee, coconut oil flaxseed oil and even fish oils (taken internally). Increasing nuts, can be helpful (less for Kapha types.)
3) Avoid raw, cold, ice and frozen foods/beverages.
4) Use a cool air humidifier in the bedroom, at least. (avoid humidifiers in fully carpeted rooms.)
5) Increase hydration with warm water, add lemon or lime or even honey. Additionally, teas such as chamomile, licorice, Dashamula, tulsi, ginger and chai tea (with or without the milk) and add honey.
6) Add or increase Vitamin C to your daily regimen.
7)Add or increase Vitamin D to your daily regimen.
8) Add or increase Vitamin B-complex.
9) Get plenty of rest. This means getting to bed around 10 and up by 6/7.
10) Soups this time are great!
11) If there's a scratchy throat feeling, a turmeric (1 tsp.) and sea salt (1/8 tsp.) in 12 oz of warm water and gargle will help. You could also add 1/2 tsp. of licorice powder.
12) For the sinus', I recommend using a medicated oil (through Banyan Botanicals or Ayurvedic Institute links on my website under "Herbs and Supplies") or simply melting ghee in a sterilized dropper bottle and applying a couple drops of ghee in the morning and at night before bed. You can also carry a bottle around with you and anytime you feel dryness in your sinus you can add a drop of this nasya. Note, that if you are using the ghee nasya, that you should heat up some water and put this in a small mug and let the bottle sit so the ghee can melt.
13) Slippery Elm Lozenges can also help soothe the throat.
14) Gargling with 2 tbs. of warm sesame oil after brushing, for 10-15 minutes every morning can help with immunity.
15) Regular/daily application of warm oil, as in self-massage or what is called "Self-Abhyanga" in Ayurveda, with (sesame/almond, more for Vata; sunflower/almond, more for Pitta) can support immunity. This warm massage is best before a shower, minimally removing the excess oil with a small amount of natural soap (if any) and a wash cloth.
16) Dress warm and make sure that your neck is covered!
17) Minimize stress overall. Stress has a drying and cold quality, which affects our digestion. Practices like Yin Yoga and slower moving yoga, along with breathing practices such as "Alternate Nostril Breathing" can help with managing stress.
18) Minimize your exposure to technologies because staring at screens can have a drying effect with its stressful depleting effects on the nervous system.
19) A drop of warm sesame oil in each ear before bed can also support the microbial lining in the ears. You could also add a drop of warm ghee to each eye before bed to support eye health and keep them moist.
20) Herbs like licorice, guduchi, ashwagandha, amalaki, echinacea, ginger and turmeric can help boost immunity. Herb formulas such as Chywanprash can strengthen immunity and support the nervous system. Banyan Botanicals has a great formula called Immune Support which is very helpful and takes the edge out of the body should it feel susceptible to colds and virus' but also as a supplement if you're feeling ill. (Check with a qualified practitioner to get more specific with these herbs and to make sure they're the best one for you.)
21) Exercise is important because it not only maintains vitality of the body but because of the increase of oxygenation and stimulation of blood flow you also affect the lymphatic system, which is not only important for detoxification but also immunity. Sweating helps to remove toxins that are dormant in fat cells and when we sweat, through exercise, we liquefy the toxins from the fat cells that then return into the digestive tract for elimination through urine, feces and sweat. Sweating also helps to maintain moisture in the skin. Too much sweating is depleting, therefore Vata types should minimize sweating because they become depleted faster and cause other health related issues. The right amount of exercise helps keep immunity up and toxins down. (die