Common cold, also called rhinitis, is caused mainly due to allergies or viral infections and is a common symptom in many disease conditions. It is referred to as pratishyaya in Ayurveda. This condition is characterised by inflammation of the nasal mucosa, sneezing, headache, running nose and fever. Common cold occurs due to an inequilibrium in the vata dosha in the body. Panchakarma (five treatments) and other therapies, such as nasya (nasal insufflation), swedana (sudation or sweat therapy), vamana (medical emesis), dhoomapana (herbal smoking) and basti (enema) can be useful in removing the stagnant mucus from body and thus maintain vata balance. Many herbs like tulsi (holy basil), maricha (black pepper), adulsa (vasaka), haridra (turmeric) and ginger are highly effective in treating a common cold. These herbs are available in various dosage and forms, individually and in combination. A proper diagnosis and regular medication along with panchakarma and a healthy lifestyle can completely cure a common cold.

  1. Ayurvedic view of common cold
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for common cold
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for common cold
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for common cold as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for common cold
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for common cold
  7. Takeaway
Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Common Cold

Common cold or pratishyaya is a condition affecting the respiratory system and is characterised by inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose. The main symptoms are irritation, running nose, sneezing, headache, white or transparent discharge from the nose, itching of the nose and eyes and sometimes fever. This condition is contagious but curable.

According to Ayurveda, in this condition, kapha, pitta, or rakta dosha move in the direction of vata dosha. Hence pratishyaya is caused due to an imbalance of vata dosha. The condition can be cured and prevented by maintaining the balance of the vata dosha. Depending on its symptoms, pratishyaya can be classified into four subtypes:

  • Vataja (caused by vitiated vata): Discharge from the nose and sneezing.
  • Pittaja (caused by vitiated pitta): High-grade inflammation, leading to secondary infections.
  • Kaphaja (caused by vitiated kapha): Thick, foul-smelling discharge with heaviness in the head.
  • Raktaja (caused by vitiated rakta dhatu): Blood-stained discharge from the nose and redness in eyes.
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The main aim of the treatment for common cold is management of the condition and prevention of its recurrence. Common cold can be apakva (acute phase) or purana (old), and the treatment will differ based on the type of cold. The condition is believed to originate from stomach; hence, improving pachana (digestion) is mainly suggested. Inhalation of volatile oils such as eucalyptus can also provide relief from mild symptoms of common cold. The aim of the treatment is to remove all the stagnated mucus from respiratory system and clear the doshas.

  • Langhana (fasting)
    Langhana helps in improving digestion. In apakva pratishyaya, you may be advised fasting to help cleanse your digestive system and rid the body of the vitiated doshas.
  • Swedana
    • Swedana is a procedure in panchakarma, which involves stimulation of the sweat glands to induce perspiration and stimulate circulation. The treatment is carried out for 30 to 45 minutes in a wooden insulated chamber in which steam is introduced along with decoction of some medicinal plants. Snehana (oleation) is given before you enter the steam chamber.
    • It is commonly indicated in asthma, respiratory ailments such as common cold, stiffness of joints and many other conditions.
    • The treatment is not recommended if you have any dry skin disorders or if you are thirsty or weak. It is contraindicated in pregnant women.
    • Post-treatment guidelines: You are advised to take rest after the treatment and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Nasya
    The main aim of this treatment is to reduce nasal inflammation and remove the sticky discharges from nose.
    • Nasya is done in two ways: Marsha nasya in which medicated oil or ghee is instilled in the nose. This is followed by pratimarsha nasya, which is a nasya karma done on a daily basis.
    • Avpeedaka nasya is where a  paste or juice of a herbal drug is given initially, followed by virechana nasya to cleanse the nasal cavity.
    • You may also be given nasya with apamarga beeja, which contains the extract of chaff-flower seeds or kathphala (kayaphala), followed by avpeedaka nasya. Anu taila (oil) is also helpful in reducing nasal inflammation.
    • Shadbindu taila (an oil preparation containing herbal juices), nirgundi taila (oil of the five-leaved chest tree), shunthi (dried ginger) nasya, or tulasyadi nasya (containing the extract of tulsi) can also be given to cure a common cold.
    • Nasya is avoided in patients who have a high fever, indigestion and those who have fasted recently.
    • After nasya, you may be given a soft massage over the forehead, cheeks, palms and back of the neck. Hot water gargling is also advised after nasya.
  • Dhoomapana
    Dhoomapana also known as medicinal smoking involves the inhalation of various herbs and medicinal smoke. The aim of this treatment is to remove all the remaining doshas after nasya treatment and make the nasal mucosa normal.
    • Dhoomapana done with ingudi (egyptian myrobalan) and sattu (a powder of grams) is useful in common cold.
    • Adraka arka, the extract of ginger, can also be given by nebulization.
    • If you have pittaja pratishyaya or dryness of the skin and eyes, dhoomapana is contraindicated.
  • Basti
    • Basti is a very effective panchakarma treatment for pratishyaya. Basti is an enema of medicated extracts or oils.
    • It helps in maintaining the equilibrium of the vata dosha. A basti that is properly given will stay in the colon and lower parts of the digestive system and removes all the malas (waste products) from the body along with the vata dosha.
    • In vataja pratishyaya, asthapana (non-oily) and anuvasana (oil) enemas are the common treatment modalities. An oil or ghee enema is given to the patient at night time.
    • Shirobasti, in which medicated oil is poured on the forehead at a controlled rate, is also recommended for common cold.
    • It is a safe procedure to eliminate toxins from the body. You are advised not to eat for an hour after basti.
    • It is contraindicated in pregnancy, menstruation, anal inflammation and diarrhoea.
  • Nasaprakshalana (nasal douching)
    It includes douching of nasal cavity with vacha kwatha (calamus decoction) to release the secretions stuck in the nose. This treatment can be included in the everyday routine to reduce the effects of polluted air on the nasal mucosa.
  • Vamana
    • Vamana is done to remove cough and mucus from body through the mouth, Emesis can be induced using different kinds of herbal extracts either in ghee or in a decoction of liquorice and sugarcane.
    • This treatment is given during the morning time.
    • In the case of kaphaja pratishyaya, emesis is induced using salt water. It can also be given with tila (sesame) and mash yavagu (a gruel of well-cooked cereals).
    • After the treatment, you may be advised to avoid speaking loudly, overeating and doing stressful physical activities.
    • Vamana is not well tolerated by all patients and is contraindicated in pregnant women and patients with cardiac complications and hypertension. It should not be given in elderly patients and small children.

Ayurvedic Herbs for Common Cold

  • Tulsi
    • As per the traditional system of medicine, the entire tulsi plant including its leaves, stems, and flowers has medicinal properties. There are many different varieties of tulsi.
    • To treat common cold, an infusion of tulsi leaves or fresh juice of the leaves can be consumed with honey.
    • It can be used safely in all age groups.
    • Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties help to relieve nasal inflammation and infection in common cold.
    • Its immunomodulatory properties help inhibit the release of histamine, the chemical that triggers an allergic response, thus proving beneficial in allergic rhinitis.
  • Ginger
    • The juice of ginger or shunthi (dried ginger) is effective in relieving common cold.
    • Adrak swaras (juice) can be taken with milk or sugarcane preparation to mature the cold. Ginger juice can be used as a vehicle to take other preparations.
    • Its anti-inflammatory and anti-infective properties are effective in treating common cold.
    • Ginger causes excess pitta in the body, produces acid indigestion and can lead to pitta disorders in a person with pitta dosha; hence, it should be given with caution.
  • Maricha
    • Maricha reduces inflammation and congestion in common cold.
    • It is used in its powdered form with honey or water.
    • Maricha churna (powder) can be consumed with lukewarm water to reduce cold symptoms.
    • It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful in common cold.
  • Adulsa
    • Many parts of the plant such as its leaves, roots, and flowers have medicinal properties.
    • The fresh juice of adulsa leaves has an expectorant action (expels phlegm). It also produces bronchodilation, thus relieving congestion.
    • Vasakasav, made from its extract, is used in pittaja pratishyaya.
    • Adulsa should not be given to pregnant women as it can cause abortion.

Ayurvedic Medicines for Common Cold

  • Sitopaladi churna
    • It is a combination of five ingredients, maricha, twak (cinnamon), ela (cardamom), mishri (rock sugar) and vanslochana (bamboo resin).
    • The churna can be taken with honey or ghrita (clarified butter).
  • Talisadi churna
    • This churna is a combination of maricha, pippali (long pepper) shunthi, twak, ela and vanslochana.
    • For common cold, the churna should be consumed with honey or ghrita generally before meals.
  • Vyoshadi vati (tablet)
    • It is commonly used in all types of pratishyaya and consists of jeeraka (cumin seeds), twak and ela.
    • Nasal discharge, nasal blockage and headache are relieved by the oral intake of these tablets.
  • Trikatu (three acrids) churna
    • This churna consists of pippali, maricha, and ginger combined together. It is an excellent formula for common cold.
    • The formulation can be taken with guda (jaggery) or ghee (purified butter). However, it should be taken with caution as it increases pitta in the body.
  • Haridra khanda
    • This preparation is in the form of granules consisting of turmeric powder as the main ingredient along with pippali, vidanga (false black pepper), trivrit (Indian jalap), maricha, shunthi and ela.
    • Haridra khanda has an antihistaminic effect that controls sneezing in common cold.
    • Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which helps in controlling all the symptoms of common cold.
    • Haridra khanda granules are taken in lukewarm water.
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  • Consume old sali rice and pulses such as kulattha (horse gram) and green gram.
  • Cow milk and ghee should be taken.
  • Include ginger and maricha in your diet.
  • Consume fruits and vegetables such as radish, garlic, drumsticks, amalaki (Indian gooseberry), oranges and pomegranates.
  • Always eat hot and freshly prepared food. Use guda, roasted sattu, haritaki (chebulic myrobalan) and chyavanprasha daily.
  • Drink lukewarm water.
  • Take steam inhalations daily.


  • Do not eat cold and dry food.
  • Do not drink alcohol. (Read more: How to quit alcohol)
  • Avoid going in the cold wind.
  • Do not take a bath with cold water.
  • Avoid exposure to pollen and dust.

In a research study, individuals with chronic cold were given regular Ayurvedic medicines and nasya treatment for a certain amount of time. Follow-up of these individuals demonstrated complete relief from symptoms within 3 months, and the nasal mucosa was back to normal.

In another clinical study, 45 patients showing common cold symptoms received shadbindu ghrita nasya as panchkarma treatment and haridra khanda as internal medicine. The symptoms were completely relieved in one month using nasya and regular medicine. The study concluded that these treatment modalities acted in prophylactic and curative ways.

Panchakarma therapy and Ayurvedic medicines taken under proper guidance are effective against common cold.

Most medicines used in the treatment of common cold are safe. However, most ayurvedic therapies and medicines may have some side effects if not taken properly.

  • Panchakarma therapies should be avoided in small children and very elderly patients. Pregnant women and menstruating women cannot take these treatments.
  • During swedana, some patients might experience vertigo if the treatment is taken for a prolonged time.
  • Therapies like vamana, if not done properly, can lead to frothy emesis or blood in the vomit.
  • Excess intake of ginger can cause acidity in a person with pitta prakriti, and trikatu churna also increases pitta in your body.

Hence, it is best to take these medications and treatments under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

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Pratishyaya or common cold mainly occurs due to allergies or viral infection. Correct diagnosis and treatment by an Ayurvedic practitioner can cure the condition completely. The treatment modalities are prophylactic and curative. Successful management of the symptoms is possible with early diagnosis and strict adherence to the diet advised by the doctor. Panchakarma therapies and Ayurvedic medicines taken in proper doses can prove helpful in curing common cold.

Dr Bhawna

Dr Bhawna

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Dr. Padam Dixit

Dr. Padam Dixit

10 Years of Experience

Dr Mir Suhail Bashir

Dr Mir Suhail Bashir

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Dr. Saumya Gupta

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