How To Get Over a Cold

The cold season is upon us and chances are you’ve at least felt that dreaded tickle in the back of your throat at least once. The common cold can be extremely debilitating if left unattended but here are some great ways to get over a cold fast!


What Causes a Common Cold?

So in order to learn how to get over a cold, we first need to look at what causes the common cold. The cold, rough, dry elements of winter are associated with an increase in Vata, the air element in Ayurveda.  You can see this yourself, as your skin, eyes, lips and/or nose are probably dryer during the winter season. So how does this dryness translate to an increase in bacterial and viral infections?  Our skin is our primary defenses system, keeping out germs and pathogens.  It’s the biggest organ in our body – we might think of it as our fortress with extra defenses of mucous membranes at all openings to combat foreign invaders.   Dry skin is more likely to crack or chafe, allowing those germs to sneak in. Our tears, snot, and spit all help capture germs and keep them from entering the blood stream.  However, when these dry out, they can’t do their job efficiently.  So what causes a common cold? Well the short answer is as simple as not being hydrated.

How Long is a Cold Contagious?

Each cold is different so this is by no means a definitive guide. However, most colds are contagious before you even know you have a cold. Most often, a cold is contagious a day before you start to really show any signs or symptoms and can last up to two weeks. The first 7 days following the onset of a cold is your most contagious period. During this period it’s important to avoid contact with anyone as much as possible. Also, ensure you wash your hands often to help keep others from picking up your germs.

How To Prevent a Cold When You Feel It Coming

If being dehydrated causes a cold, then the first line of defense is to stay hydrated.  This doesn’t just mean drinking more water but that’s a good place to start.  Drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning helps to combat the dehydration that takes place when we’re sleeping and begins to give your body the resources it needs to produce moisture.

Daily skin oiling or abhyanga is also a great way to hydrate from the outside in.   Vitamin D3 is absorbed through triglyceride-rich fatty acid or sebum, which is naturally produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin.  Daily lubricating of the skin helps this process and improves overall immunity.  In Ayurveda, sesame oil is cooked with lymph supporting herbs in low heat to create oil abhyanga oil. This process breaks down the molecules of the sesame oil so that it can be absorbed deeply into the dermis of the skin.  

Oil pulling is another method of hydrating and breaking down plaque that forms in the mouth.  Plaque is an extremely sticky, colorless to pale yellow deposit of biofilm that regularly forms on your teeth.  Oil breaks down sticky substances so a daily gargle with sesame oil dissolves plaque that forms after eating.  Plaque traps bacteria and germs in the gums that can then be absorbed into the blood stream.

Swishing oil in the mouth might sound off putting, it’s really quite easy to get used to.  The secret is to use a small amount of oil to begin.  Take a teaspoon of sesame oil (should be light, unrefined-not the kind used for chinese cooking) and put in your mouth.  Swish it around for a few minutes and spit it into a paper towel-this saves your plumbing!  Try to increase the time each day until you get to 10-15 minutes.  Your mouth and health with thank you!


If the dreaded symptoms of a common cold are beginning it’s important to act quickly to bolster your defenses.  First, assess your symptoms:  is there congestion and coughing or more a sense of overall achiness and fatigue?

Colds usually respond well to

  • warm liquids (lots of them)

  • nasal washing (use boiled, filtered water) 

  • rest with brief periods of easy movements.  

Best Tea For A Cold

Turmeric tea is a powerful antiviral and antibacterial that can shorten the duration of a cold.  We cover other Home Remedies For Colds but this is one of my favorites. Make it by the cup or in a large pot and drink it all day:

1 cups hot water

1 tsp turmeric 

½ inch raw ginger, peeled and sliced

juice of ½ lemon

raw honey to taste

Neti Pot

Nasal Washing: neti pots are inexpensive and easy to find.  Be sure to use boiled, filtered water that is cooled to lukewarm.  Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of turmeric.

Standing over a sink with your head parallel to the counter, slowly drip water into the top nostril and let it flow out of the bottom nostril.  If the water backs up into the sinuses, drop your chin as you pour the water.  Pause, blow your nose between sides.  If you’re stuffy it might take several tries to get things flowing!

How to Get Over Your Cold Fast!

Movement is important.  When we’re feeling badly rest is essential but so is movement.  However,  it’s not the time for a big workout or even dragging ourselves into our daily lives.  Rather, some simple stretches or an easy, short walk give our lymph the opportunity to do it’s work of bringing needed support to the cells and sweeping out toxins that have accumulated. Bottom line is to move but also stay rested. This combined with some solid hydration will help you get over that cold fast.

Illness is our bodies way of letting us know that it’s needs extra attention.  Daily awareness and regular self-care helps to keep us vital, young and healthy!

Karen Quinn