Ayurveda is a highly comprehensive system of nutrition and medicine. By providing an in-depth understanding of energetics, chemistry, and constitution, Ayurveda can help to provide solutions to ailments that Western medicine may not be aware of.
In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the most popular Ayurvedic remedies for cough. We’ll also touch on the theory behind these remedies so you can understand how they work.
Ayurveda on Coughs
The Ayurvedic word for a cough is kasa. Kasa, or cough, is considered to be one of two types of respiratory illness classified in Ayurveda, the other being svasa (breathing difficulties).
Coughs are believed to be caused by an excess of a certain type of prana. Prana can be divided into five different vayus, or ‘winds,’ each with its own quality. The vayu responsible for coughs is known as apana vayu, and is responsible for the elimination of all substances from the body – including the carbon monoxide from our lungs.
When apana vayu becomes obstructed, this creates a disturbed upward flow of the energy. This can manifest as coughs, stuck mucus, and other respiratory problems.
Managing a Kasa (Cough) With Ayurveda
Here are some tried and true Ayurvedic remedies for coughs of all sorts.
- A glass of warm milk, taken with turmeric and honey, can help fight bacteria contributing to respiratory problems.
- Licorice root can be chewed or brewed into a tea to fight inflammation and to enhance airflow in the lungs.
- Ginger and honey can be blended together to make a soothing, antibacterial cough syrup.
- Use a decoction of anise seeds as the base for making teas, and consuming plenty of immune-boosting teas, such as tulsi.
- Build the strength and health of the respiratory system by performing pranayama exercises.
- Consider installing a humidifier in your room, or creating steam by heating up a pot of water with an herbal infusion. You can also inhale the steam from the pot for a more direct effect.
- Avoid heavy, complex meals, favoring light, nourishing foods in easy-to-digest forms (such as soups).
Treating Coughs According to Constitution
Types of coughs can further be divided according to dosha of the person with the cough. There are vataja, pittaja, and kaphaja kasas. Different doshas could find more benefit by treating their coughs in a particular way.
- Vata is cool and dry, so one should treat a vataja kasa with warm and moist expectorants or anti-inflammatories to manage their cough. Warm sesame oil can be mixed with herbs like licorice or wild cherry bark and rubbed onto the chest.
- Kapha is moist and cool, and one should treat a kaphaja kasa with dry or hot expectorants, such as black pepper, cloves, or eucalyptus.
- Pitta is hot and dry, and one would treat a pittaja kasa by using cooling herbs such as mullein, neem, or licorice. A pitta would also want to avoid using hot or warm water when applying topical medicine to the chest.
Ayurveda has a complex understanding of coughs, and provides a number of different tips and tricks for managing coughs depending on the particulars. This article should provide enough information for you to begin treating a cough on your own, but it’s always wise to seek the assistance of a trained Ayurvedic professional.
Written by Nigel Ford
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)