There was a recent discussion amongst Ayurvedic students regarding the flu shot. A number of them said that their preferred choice is not a shot, but a food: garlic. It inspired me to post a few of my own preferred Ayurvedic cold and flu formulas, some with garlic, some without, so you’d have a few of your own home remedies to choose from.
To be or not to be – that is the question for me when it comes to garlic. To include it or eschew it? Ayurveda likes it. Western Ayurvedis seem to love it. After all, Garlic is Kapha-reducing, immune-boosting, antiviral, antibacterial, and touted for its power to shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
But Yogis say no to garlic because it is rajasic-tamasic and, truthfully, you can notice how “sattvic” you feel when you have a complete meal balanced in all six tastes, with no garlic added. Apart from winter days when I feel one of us is getting sick, I avoid it. On the other hand, when a cold is coming on, there is nothing like garlic to snuff it.
Garlic Honey Cold Remedy
1/2 c honey
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled.
Put the cloves of garlic in a clean, glass jar and cover with the honey. Seal the lid and let sit for 3 days. Do not taste it or try it until at least 72 hours have passed. (I’m warning you. Enough said.) After three days you can eat it by the spoonful.
Since you don’t usually know when you will need it, and when the need arises you won’t want to wait three days (warning: wait!), it’s a good remedy to make up and store in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 1 year.
Check out Nouveau Raw’s version with great research from author Amie Sue ~ including the CDC’s ruling that children under the age of 1 should not be given honey.
I learned this next simplest of remedies ages ago from an Italian Nonna. More recently, in India, I was so sick I didn’t get up, barely even woke up, for over a week. I tried every remedy. Finally, I asked for a garlic clove, did this little trick, and instantly began to improve.
Garlic Sore Throat Remedy
1 unpeeled clove of garlic
Place the unpeeled clove in the back of your mouth, behind your molars, and close down on it. The juices of the garlic will trickle down your throat, killing bacteria. Keep it there for 20 minutes, or until the garlic peel is shredded. You will know when it needs to be removed.
I have to warn you again: this is anti-social behavior. Avoid taking if you must go out. Instead, try it at night before bed. And not to get personal, but if you share your bed, have your sleep mate take it, too!
While garlic is superior once the cold has begun, ginger reigns supreme when it comes to maintaining overall wellness in body and mind. Ayurveda has long used ginger to help relieve colds, fevers, headaches, as well as arthritis, digestive disorders, intestinal gas, menstrual cramps, nausea, anxiety, asthma, depression. It is showing benefits in tests for heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, sciatica, ulcerative colitis. Best of all, ginger is sattvic, meaning light, balanced, and peace-promoting, unlike garlic’s anti-social assault.
One simple way to keep a medicinal store of ginger handy is this Lemon Ginger Remedy. It, too, will keep in the refrigerator, but I make it fresh – enough to last a few days covered and sealed on the counter, so it’s never chilled and never taken cold. Come over to our house and you will see little bowls of this, and its variations, scattered about. I am always moving it to keep it in the line of sight: furtive missions to keep the family strong.
Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy
2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1-2 T Raw Honey
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Chop the ginger into little match-sticks. Place in a small bowl with the raw honey. Put this bowl in a larger bowl filled with hot water and let stand a few minutes until the honey is runny. Remove the bowl and add the lemon juice and cinnamon. Give it a light stir to coat the ginger thoroughly.
Take small bites throughout the day if you are sick, or just before a meal to kindle your digestive fire.
Honey is outrageous. An utter miracle. “It has sweetness (madhura rasa) with added astringent as end taste (Kashaya anu rasa). It is heavy (guru guna), dry (ruksha) and cold (sheeta). Its effect on doshas is as follows: It aggravates vata, scrapes kapha and normalizes pitta and rakta. It promotes healing process.” ~ Ashtanga Hridaya
It is also a natural antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant that speeds up the healing process. Last winter I posted this honey based remedy to avoid or dispel winter colds. But another popular remedy is this Honey Ginger Tea, using the same ingredients as above but with hot water to liquefy mucus and help warm the cold.
Honey Ginger Tea
2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1-2 T Raw Honey
Juice of half a lemon
Chop the ginger into chunks and put in a pot of two cups boiling water. Boil gently for about ten minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover and allow it to steep another 10 – 15 minutes. Once it is cooled enough that it wouldn’t burn you if you put a drip on your inner forearm, ladle yourself a cup, add the lemon juice, give it a shake of cinnamon, and stir in the honey. Drink daily in winter, or if you are sick, drink regularly throughout the day.
For a spicier version of this, try this Lemony Ginger Tea.
How about you? What do you do to stay healthy and strong in flu season? Do you have any natural recipes from “Nonna” that you rely on?
Wishing you warmth, health and happiness!