Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies for Colds and Flu

Ayurveda_Cold_FluThe common cold is an upper respiratory viral infection that typically causes symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, headache, congestion, and sore throat. There isn’t one specific virus that causes cold symptoms. In fact, a cold can result from any one of literally hundreds that only take hold when your body’s immune system is not at its strongest. Antibiotics do not have any effect on cold viruses, and should only be prescribed and taken if the cold is accompanied by a bacterial infection. Flu shots and certain antiviral drugs, however, do provide some protection against and lessen the symptoms and duration of infections resulting from some strains of the influenza virus.36

People typically look to over-the-counter cold remedies to alleviate discomfort, but these fail to speed up recovery or even significantly relieve symptoms. In fact, experts suggest that natural herbal treatments may actually work better:36

  • Indian Echinacea (Andrographis paniculata). Called kiratatikta in Sanskrit, this annual plant grows native in the wild throughout India and Southeast Asia. It is a bitter, cooling, and drying Ayurvedic remedy traditionally used to treat pitta disorders. Believed to possess anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, andrographis is recommended in Ayurveda to boost the immune system during cold and flu season.15
  • Rigorous analysis of well-designed controlled clinical human trials involving almost 1,000 participants on the herbal extract from this shrub demonstrated that it is more effective than placebo for treating respiratory infections. Often referred to as Indian echinacea because it exerts similar effects to the North American echinacea plant, andrographis significantly reduces cold symptoms such as earache, runny nose, and sore throat, studies show that 6-g/day of Indian echinacea worked about as well as Tylenol® (acetaminophen) against fever and sore throat from respiratory infections. Results of three double-blind clinical trials involving about 400 participants demonstrated that a formula (Kan Jang®) containing both andrographis and Russian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) may be even more effective than Indian echinacea alone. 35-36

    Kan Jang® has also been tested in two clinical studies that suggest it may also be an effective treatment for the flu, reducing duration, severity, and complications. One study of lesser quality showed that andrographis was about as effective as amanditine, a pharmaceutical drug for the flu.35-36

    In addition, results from a double-blind clinical study involving 107 young adults suggest that Indian echinacea can help prevent colds by significantly increasing resistance to the viruses that cause them. 36

  • Ginseng (Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius). In Ayurveda, ginseng is used to boost the immune system. 1 It is considered a vata balancing herb with warming qualities.15
Banner

Two clinical studies (one with 323 and one with 43 participants) suggest that American ginseng may also be an effective herb for preventing colds. In the larger study, those who took the ginseng for the four month study period had fewer colds than the participants who took the placebo. They also had less severe colds and recovered sooner than the placebo group. The smaller study showed similar results. In two double-blind clinical studies those senior adults who took ginseng experienced less incidents of flu-like illness.36

Contrary to popular belief, yellow mucus is not necessarily an indication of a
bacterial infection.
This means that neither the study participants nor the researchers knew which patients were given
the Russian ginseng and which were given the placebo until the study was finished.
 
Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician. If you require any medical related advice, contact your physician promptly. Information at AyurvedicHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard medical advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.