Dear Ayurvedic Abbie: Can Ayurveda Help My Seasonal Dry Cough?

December 22, 2015    BY Kathryn Templeton

Dear Ayurvedic Abbie,

I have been busy and trying to take good care of myself, but while shopping the other day, it seems I picked up a cough along with the holiday gifts. I feel like every holiday season I get this dry cough. Sometimes it turns into bronchitis, sometimes it creates a sore throat, and then at other times it just stays this harsh, dry cough!?! What's up with my Christmas cough? Can ayurveda help me to get it to go away?

Please help,
Your Holiday Hacker

Dear HH,

Ugh, I get those dry coughs too! The winds of vata: cold, dry, rough, and light, can bring about many changes in our bodies and minds. Some of us forget to transition at the start of winter by adding scarves, ear muffs, and heavy jackets to our daily wear. We also forget to switch from room temperature drinks to warm tea and to add some pungent or warming spices to our meals.

In addition to the ways in which the change in season increases vata attributes, many of us work in dry environments that have now turned on the heat—filtered air being pumped into the office adds even more vatic elements.

Even the rhythm of the season is more erratic with the hustle and bustle of the season: shopping for gifts, parties, holiday foods, closing the accounting books for the year, and the family gatherings—enough to overstimulate any yogi's system! Vata, vata, vata!

The good news is that there are many ways that ayurveda can be of use here, even without delving into the rest of your medical history. (Having said that, if your symptoms persist please consult with your MD.) We basically want to offer opposite action to soothe, warm, moisturize, and bring some heaviness or softness to dispel this cough and boost your ojas, or immunity!

Here are three easy tips to quell your cough:

  • Drink warm tea made with licorice, marshmallow root, and vanilla bean. You can have two to three cups of this delightful mix a day. Please let it steep for about five to ten minutes. Yogi Tea makes something similar called “Throat Coat,” if you prefer instant to homemade.
  • Start to take one teaspoon a day of an immune-boosting mix of honey, raw ginger, and turmeric. This rasayana (restorative formula) will offer your agni (digestive fire) support to digest the season and build more circulation of the prana (vital energy) in your system. If this sounds too complicated try chwyanprash instead! This prash, another name for a marmit or jam, nourishes all the doshas and is an ayurvedic “go-to” for rejuvenation and immune system support.
  • Get oily! Take a nice warm sesame oil self-massage every morning, maybe with some warming scents: clove, patchouli, or amber. Apply the oil on your whole body (maybe not face with the essential oils) and let your skin soak it up for at least 20 minutes. Then shower and you are good to go!
  • There are a few new items this season at Banyan Botanicals that could be useful for managing your cough. Bronchial Support Herbal Syrup and Throat Soother Herbal Spray. These herbal supports will give moisture and warmth to your throat and respiratory system without stimulating or irritating the tissues.
  • Finally, please add at least one restorative yoga pose into your daily yoga practice. No daily yoga? Then start with viprita karani (legs-up-the-wall) after work. Take this pose for 10 to 20 minutes with a warm cloth on your throat and a soft pillow under your head for support.

After a week of following these tips your immunity will be supported (that 20- minute post-workday deep relaxation is key here) and hopefully, your cough will be soothed too!


Ayurvedic Abbie

P.S. Give a slippery elm throat lozenge a try! It would be a nice thing to have around for an afternoon snack!

Kathryn Templeton
Kathryn Templeton, MA, RDT/MT, E-RYT 500, is an Ayurvedic practitioner who has devoted her life to the health of others. A psychotherapist for more than 30 years, Kathryn is a master teacher in the field of Drama Therapy and continues to work both clinically and as an educator specializing in the treatment of individuals with complex trauma. As an E-RYT 500, NAMA Certified Ayurvedic practitioner and senior Para Yoga teacher, Kathryn has worked to develop specialized treatments integrating the... Read more>>