Winter can be difficult for the respiratory system. The change of temperature, the lack of fresh air or to cold can produce cough. Identifying the quality of a cough is a very important first step in the Ayurvedic approach to returning to balance. In the simplest terms, a dry cough shares many qualities with vata dosha and is treated differently than a wet cough, which is typically indicative of excess kapha (and can involve pitta as well, when there is inflammation). Let explore today these two conditions.

Dry Cough

A dry, hacking cough without much mucus is usually indicative of excess dryness is the tissues of the respiratory tract and may also involve constriction in the respiratory passageways. In either case, the condition is brought on by excess vata, which is dry, light, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear, and also frequently causes constriction in the tissues.Balancing vatta both locally and systemically will help. Try the following recipes and practices:

Spiced Banana. Eat ½–⅓ of a banana mashed with a teaspoon of honey and a generous pinch of ground black pepper two to three times a day. This mixture helps to clear excess vata from the respiratory tract.

Vata-Pacifying Diet. Following a vata-pacifying diet helps to calm vata in the digestive tract and also encourages its elimination from the deeper tissues.

Alternate Nostril Breathing. is deeply vata-pacifying and very soothing to the system overall. It can be powerfully supportive in eliminating aggravated vata from the mind and body.

Daily Nasya: Apply every day 4 drops of Nasya oil in each nostril.

Golden Milk in the evening

  • Turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon
  • Ginger powder, ¼ teaspoon
  • Milk (ideally organic and non-homogenized), 1 cup
At night, before bed (preferably at least 3 hours after dinner), add the dry herbs to the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, remove from heat, cool, and drink. This golden milk is simultaneously lubricating and soothing, but also warming and clarifying, so it helps to balance excess dryness in the throat.
Talisadi Licorice Tea

  • Talisadi powder, ½ teaspoon (or 1 parts)
  • Licorice powder, ½ teaspoon (or 1 part)
  • Raw honey, ½ – 1 teaspoon
Add the dry herbs to a cup of recently boiled water. Steep 10 minutes. Cool slightly, stir in the honey, and drink. You can also mix a larger quantity of the dry herbs ahead of time. In this case, add 1 teaspoon of the mixture per cup of water. This tea is warming, soothing, and detoxifying—perfect for balancing excess vata in the respiratory passages.


Wet Cough

A wet, productive cough with lots of mucus is usually indicative of excess kapha in the tissues of the respiratory tract. If there is irritation and inflammation, pitta is likely involved as well. The important thing is to balance the cool, slow, heavy, oily, and stable qualities of the accumulating mucus with influences that are warm, penetrating, light, dry, and activating. The following recipes and practices help to balance kapha locally and systemically:

Black Pepper. One of the simplest ways to do this is to increase your intake of black pepper, which embodies all of these balancing qualities. Freshly ground black pepper will be more potent than pepper that has been ground for some time. Add it to your meals, or take ¼ teaspoon with 1 teaspoon raw honey after lunch and dinner for three to five days.

Kapha-Pacifying Diet. Following a kapha-pacifying diet helps to calm kapha in the digestive tract and also encourages its elimination from the deeper tissues.

Ginger Cinnamon Clove Tea. A tea made with ½ teaspoon ginger powder, a pinch of cinnamon powder, and a pinch of clove powder steeped in a cup of recently boiled water can also offer the warm, clarifying qualities needed to pacify excess kapha.

Ground Mustard and Ginger in Honey

  • Ginger powder, ½ teaspoon
  • Ground Mustard powder, ½ teaspoon
  • Raw honey, 1 teaspoon
Stir the dry herbs into the honey and eat slowly. These herbs help to warm the body and clear excess kapha from the respiratory tract. This mixture can be taken two to three times per day to clear excess kapha from the respiratory tract.