Simple Ayurvedic remedies for common ailments in winter

‘Cold and dryness grows in winter. If not combated appropriately then it leads to various diseases. Most diseases however can be controlled by appropriate use of oil and hot fomentation’.


1. Oils to be used for treatment of diseases in winter

Coconut oil is cooling and mustard oil generates excessive heat. All other edible oils generate moderate heat. Those who cannot tolerate such oils however may use coconut oil for treatment.

Add 1 or 2 crushed flakes of garlic or an inch of ginger or vekhand (khus) to a bowl (vati) of any edible oil and cook it on a medium flame till it boils. Then put off the flame and on cooling filter and store in a bottle. This oil generates heat and helps in combating cold caused by winter.


2. Alternatives to fomentation

Use a hot water bag for fomentation. If not available then use a thick piece of cloth warmed by ironing. In winter sun rays are not too hot. So, exposure to this heat for some time is equivalent to fomentation. Fomentation can also be done when bathing, with hot water.


3. Treatment of some winter ailments

3 A. Cracking of skin

Due to dry weather the skin and lips crack. This is more common on the palms and soles. Dry skin itches and when scratched it peels off causing burning. Sometimes the skin in the urinary opening becomes dry and cracks causing burning during urination.

3 A 1. Treatment

A. Apply oil to the skin. This moisturises the skin and heals the cracks.

B. If lips dry excessively then apply oil to them 3 to 4 times a day.

C. Apply oil to the tip of the urinary opening 2 to 3 times a day.

D. For protection from cold use woolen clothing such as a sweater.

3 B. Cold (running nose) and cough

Travelling at night in dewy weather results in cold. Many people go for morning walks. If eyes, nose, mouth and ears are not covered during this time, then the morning dew may cause cold or cough. At night in sleep the mouth mostly remains open, cold blocks the nose resulting in breathing through the mouth. When this cold air flows into the throat continuously the throat becomes sore and induces cough. Cold causes swelling of the inner lining of the nose thus blocking the passage of flow of secretions from the sinuses adjoining the nose leading to a running nose and cold.

3 B 1. Treatment

A. Take steam inhalation 2 to 3 times a day. Steam helps in opening the nasal passages and helps in expulsion of phlegm.

B. Dip the tip of the little finger in oil and apply to the inner lining of both nostrils twice or thrice a day. This prevents drying of the lining and also reduces swelling. The cold air entering the nostrils is warmed before it reaches the lungs. Also pollen and dust particles from the air stick to the oil thus preventing allergic cold or cough.

C. In case of a running nose plug both ears with cotton balls throughout the day.

D. While sleeping cover, the nose, mouth and ears with a scarf in a such a way that it will not interfere with the respiration.

E. Switch off the fan at night. If it is hot then use a rotating pedestal fan instead of a ceiling fan. This prevents distress to the body as cold breeze does not strike it continuously.

3 C. Frequent urination or difficulty in starting the stream of urine

If this symptom has already been exists then it may exaggerate in the cold season.

3 C 1. Treatment

A. Every morning on waking up sit in a tub of hot water for 10 to 15 mins with the temperature you can tolerate. Ensure that the water level is till your navel.

B. Foment the lower abdomen with hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, twice or thrice daily.

3 D. Constipation

Cold contracts the anal sphincter (opening) and causes constipation. Fissuring of the anal skin causes pain preventing one from going to pass stool. Hence stool remains in the intestine for longer time and becomes hard. Washing the anus with cold water causes further contraction of the anal opening the leading to constipation.

3 D 1. Treatment

A. Before going to bed insert an arecanut sized cotton ball soaked in any edible oil in the anal passage. It falls off with the passing of stool. This keeps the anal muscles relaxed and they expand easily and also prevent hardening of stool. This helps in cases of piles and fissures. Those suffering from severe constipation should use a cotton ball soaked in castor oil.

B. When you sit on the toilet seat spray the anus and waist with hot water. This relaxes the anal muscles. Hot water on the waist facilitates faster expulsion of stool.

3 E. Muscle sprains in the neck and other organs

Cold causes contraction of muscles in the neck and elsewhere leading to sprains. In those already suffering with joint ailments the problem worsens in winter leading to more pain.

3 E 1. Treatment

A. Apply lukewarm oil to sprained muscle 2 to 3 times a day, do not massage too much.

B. Then do hot fomentation for 5 to 10 minutes and while fomenting move the affected part. The heat loosens the muscles. Movement of such muscles reduces their contraction.

3 F. Pain in heels

Walking barefoot over cold flooring or keeping feet on such flooring leads to pain in heels.

3 F 1. Treatment

A. Wear slippers

B. Hot fomentation of heels.

C. If you need to keep feet in one place for long (eg while working on the computer, when cooking) then rest them on a jute sack or foot mat.’

– Vaidya Meghraj Madhav Paradkar (18.12.2019)


While constructing a house those intolerant
to cold weather should use mud or ceramic tiles
instead of stone tiles such as marble, kota or granite

Marble, kota, granite and other stone tiles are more cooling hence cause distress in winter. In comparison, mud or ceramic tiles remain warm. So those who cannot tolerate cold should use mud or ceramic tiles for flooring instead of stone ones. – Vaidya Meghraj Madhav Paradkar


A rotating pedestal fan is better than a ceiling fan

‘Breeze of the ceiling fan falls on the body all the time. This is deleterious to health. If you sleep for 6 hours at night then 1/4th of the day you are exposed to this breeze. This causes dryness of the body, muscle cramps and pain in the neck, back, hip and other joints. Dryness in the airway leads to recurrent cold and cough. Due to excessive heat the fan is kept at a high speed. But when it becomes cold at night as you are in deep sleep you do not switch off the fan. So unnecessarily the body has to face cold breeze. As long as the immunity of the body is high it fights disease caused by breeze of the fan but when this immunity decreases disease sets in and the patient is not even aware that the fan is the culprit. Despite treatment as the root cause is not removed there is no improvement and not using the fan results in improvement.

A rotating pedestal fan is always better than a ceiling fan as the breeze is not focused at one point and the ill effects of the ceiling fan are avoided.’

–  Vaidya Meghraj Madhav Paradkar, Sanatan ashram, Ramnathi, Goa (18.12.2019)

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