Cough And Doshas: Their Relation, Symptoms, And Complete Ayurvedic Treatment
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Sep 05, 2021
Cough is one of the most common symptoms presented in any clinical setting. Ayurved has mentioned cough as ‘Kasa’. Ayurvedic texts describe causes, types based on doshas, complications, prognosis, and doshas specific treatment for cough and related issues in detail. Ayurvedic treatment for cough is becoming popular due to its effectiveness as well as safety.
In this article, we will see what cough is from Ayurved's perspective, its types, and symptoms according to dosha and Ayurvedic treatment for cough.
- Ayurvedic Medicine For Vataj Kasa
- Ayurvedic Medicine For Pittaj Kasa
- Ayurvedic Medicine For Kaphaj Kasa or Wet Cough
- Ayurvedic Medicine For Kshataj Kasa
- Ayurvedic Medicine For Kshayaj Kasa
What is a Cough?
A cough is a body’s natural way of protecting the throat or airways from pollutants, foreign material, or infections or clearing the secretions. A prolonged, vigorous cough associated with the expulsion of mucus or blood indicates an underlying disease that needs medical attention.
Cough Disease in Ayurved
Cough is described as “Kasa” in Ayurved. It may occur as Lakshana (symptom) or Upadarava (complication) in other diseases. Ayurved states that imbalance of the three doshas viz Vata, Pitta, and Kapha caused by wrong diet, disturbed digestion, and inappropriate lifestyle lead to diseases including cough.
Vata dosha governs the respiratory system. In Kasa, the downward movement of Prana Vayu (a subtype of Vata) gets obstructed due to an excess of Kapha and Pitta dosha. The body tries to expel the air forcefully to remove the obstruction. These lead to cough or Kasa.
Relationship of Cough and Doshas
Cough or Kasa has five types as per Ayurved based on the dominant dosha.
- Kshataja (caused by injury)
- Kshayaja (caused by wasting diseases)
Vataj Kasa or Dry Cough
This type of cough has Vata dosha dominance. It does not produce phlegm or mucus and is hence called dry cough or unproductive cough.
Symptoms of Vataj Kasa or Dry Cough are:
- Frequent urge for coughing and dry cough
- Pain in the chest
- Tired look in face and Weakness
Caused mainly by Pitta dosha, this type of cough produces yellowish or greenish mucus or phlegm in a little quantity.
Its main symptoms are
- Burning sensation in the chest or whole body
- Dryness in the mouth,
- Occasional vomiting of yellow material
Kaphaj Kasa or Wet Cough
This Kapha dominant type produces a lot of white, thick mucus or phlegm on coughing.
Its chief symptoms are
- Sticky mouth
- Headache and heaviness in the body
- Loss of appetite
This type of cough is caused by injury or trauma and shows a combination of symptoms related to Vata and Pitta types.
- Sputum is red, yellow, or black indicating infection and bleeding.
- The mucous is abundant but is not unctuous.
- May be accompanied by fever and joint pains as well.
This type of cough or Kasa occurs with wasting diseases such as tuberculosis. The condition results in a drying up and loss of tissue (ksaya). It occurs due to vitiation of all three doshas, but Vata is more dominant here.
Symptoms of Kshayaja Kasa depends on the dominance of dosha and include:
- Foul-smelling phlegm with green, red colour
- Excess weight loss despite high appetite
- Intense pain in the sides of the chest
Ayurvedic Treatment For Cough
To treat cough most effectively, you need to determine whether it is a dry cough (Vata) or a productive cough (Kapha) with mucus coming up, or Pitta has also become involved.
You can consult an Ayurvedic doctor to know which dosha is involved in cough and suitable ayurvedic cough medicine according to that.
Ayurvedic Medicine For Vataj Kasa
Vataj Kasa or Dry cough treatment in Ayurved includes the use of herbs and procedures that pacify Vata dosha.
Here Is A List Of Herbs For Dry Cough or Vataj Kasa
Tulsi or Holy basil is a popular remedy for a dry cough. In Ayurved, Tulsi is called the “queen of herbs” and is known for its Vata and Kapha pacifying properties.
Drinking homemade Tulsi tea 2 to 3 times a day is an easy way of managing dry cough. Brew four to six fresh Tulsi leaves with about a cup of water. Let it steep for about 15 minutes. Strain, add a pinch of black salt and squeeze ½ lemon to it, and drink it.
Mulethi or licorice is a common ingredient of many Ayurvedic dry cough medicine. It pacifies all three doshas and soothes a sore throat. It helps in easing chest and nasal congestion and reduces inflammation of the respiratory tract. All these give you fast and long-lasting relief from dry cough.
Keep a small piece of Mulethi or licorice stick in your mouth and chew it to combat dry cough. Its soothing effect provides relief from throat soreness and pain.
3. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is an excellent Vata pacifying remedy. In chronic dry cough, massaging lukewarm sesame oil into the chest followed by fomentation is recommended in Ayurved.
Ayurved has prescribed medicated ghee prepared using warm expectorant herbs like Kantakari, Adulsa, and Mulethi. For the digestive system anuvasana basti (oil enema) or niruha basti (decoction enema) is recommended.
Ayurvedic Medicine For Pittaj Kasa
For Pitta type of cough, cough relieving, cooling, and bitter herbs are preferred.
This bitter herb is a well-known traditional remedy for all sorts of respiratory troubles. It pacifies Pitta dosha, thins and loosens mucus within the chest and nasal cavities to facilitate mucus removal and ease breathing.
Mix ¼ teaspoon Kutki powder with an equal amount of turmeric and ginger powders and 1 teaspoon of honey. Take this mixture thrice daily with lukewarm water.
Neem is renowned for its medicinal properties for centuries. Its bitter taste and cooling nature pacify Pitta and its burning sensation. It has antimicrobial properties and reduces fever. Neem also boosts immunity.
Gargling with neem water helps relieve cough and sore throat.
3. Mishri (Rock Sugar)
It has sweet taste, cough relieving, cooling, and Pitta pacifying properties. It helps break down the phlegm and clears cough. Soothing property of Mishri helps reduce irritation in the throat.
Place a small quantity of Mishri in mouth and swallow gradually. You can mix rock sugar and black pepper in equal quantities. Grind the mixture into a smooth powder and consume 2 to 3 times a day.
With these herbs, the use of medicated ghrita (ghee) prepared with cough relieving and expectorant herbs like Vasa or Adulsa is recommended. Virechana (Purgation) is beneficial in the early stages to alleviate Pitta at its root.
Ayurvedic Medicine For Kaphaj Kasa or Wet Cough
A cough with phlegm or mucus is called a Wet or Productive cough. It has Kapha dosha dominance. Ayurvedic medicine for wet cough uses herbs that pacify Kapha as well as Pitta.
Here Are Few Herbs For Wet Cough
Ginger or Adrak is well-known for its Kapha balancing and warming properties. It facilitates the removal of excess mucus to ease congestion in the chest. Even dry ginger, known as Sunthi, is one of the main ingredients of the best ayurvedic cough syrup.
Drink a ginger tea 3 to 4 times a day with a teaspoon of honey to remove excess mucus and get relief from wet cough.
Honey is the best remedy for Kapha, according to Ayurved. Apart from good taste, honey has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties that help you reduce wet cough.
Take a teaspoonful of honey at night before sleeping to reduce cough intensity. You can continue to take it till you do not get relief from a cough. Honey is an effective and safe natural cough remedy for children.
3. Adulsa (Vasa)
This Kapha and Pitta balancing herb is a key ingredient of many Ayurvedic cough syrups for wet or productive cough. Its bitter taste and dryness help to balance aggravated Kapha dosha. It relieves the burning sensation due to its cooling property.
Take one teaspoon of Adulsa leaf juice with two teaspoons of honey to relieve wet cough and hoarseness of voice.
Along with these wet cough medicine, Ayurved has recommended purification procedures like Vamana (emesis), Virechana (purgative), and Niruha basti (enema of decoction of Kapha-Pitta pacifying herbs). Nasya or nasal administration of medicated oil is also mentioned as a treatment to relieve nasal and sinus congestion.
Ayurvedic Medicine For Kshataj Kasa
This type of cough is caused by injuries and hence requires immediate treatment. Herbs having Madhura (sweet) taste and Jivaneey (strength and muscle promoting) properties like Draksha, Yashtimadhu, Amalaki are used in the treatment.
Management of associated symptoms is done based on the dominant dosha. Generally, milk, honey, and medicated ghee are used as per dosha symptoms.
Ayurvedic Medicine For Kshayaj Kasa
In the beginning, when symptoms are not severe, the patient is given nourishing therapy using strengthening herbs like Bala, Atibala to stimulate agni or metabolism. Mild purgation using medicated ghee is advised for patients having over aggravation of doshas.
However, if all signs and symptoms of Kshayaj Kasa are present in a weak patient, then the condition becomes incurable.
When should you see the doctor for a cough?
Ayurvedic texts state that cough of any kind, if not treated, can progress to severe Kshaya type. A persistent and excessive cough may result in many complications affecting various systems. If your cough persists for more than a week, you should see a doctor.
Final word on Ayurvedic medicine for cough and doshas
Cough, in most cases, is a self-limiting respiratory issue. Ayurvedic treatment for cough requires identifying the dominant dosha based on the symptoms. Along with above mentioned ayurvedic medicine for cough, making dietary and lifestyle changes help to get sustainable relief from cough.
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