Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. The earliest accounts of Ayurveda come from a collection of Hindu religious texts called the Vedas, which were written more than 3,000 years ago.

It’s still practiced widely around the world today as a type of alternative medicine. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine treat health issues using a holistic approach, which often includes herbal remedies, exercises, and lifestyle changes.

The Ayurvedic system of medicine is based on the belief that the universe is made up of five elements: air, space, fire, water, and earth. It’s thought that these five elements make up the three components (doshas) of your body and that illness develops when these components become imbalanced.

There’s little scientific evidence that Ayurvedic medicine is an effective treatment for any health problems, including common illnesses like the common cold and flu.

However, some herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine may make healthy additions to your diet and help you manage common cold and flu symptoms.

A dry cough is one that doesn’t produce phlegm or mucus. It can be a symptom of the common cold or asthma. Pollution or allergens in the air can also cause a dry cough.

Tulsi, otherwise known as holy basil, is a common remedy for a dry cough. In Ayurveda, tulsi is also known as the “queen of herbs.”

Tulsi tea is often touted as a home remedy to get rid of a cough. At this time, there’s limited research on tulsi’s health benefits. However, a few small studies have found promising results.

Research has found that tulsi may help liquefy phlegm and improve cough symptoms caused by allergies, asthma, or lung disease.

One older study published in 2004 without a control group examined the potential benefit of tulsi tea for people with asthma. The researchers found that the 20 people in the study improved their lung compacity and had less labored breathing by the end of the study. More high-quality research needs to be performed before drawing conclusions from this study.

According to a 2017 review of studies, holy basil seems to be relatively safe and may also help normalize your blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels.

You can make tulsi tea at home by brewing four to six tulsi leaves with about 32 ounces of water and steeping it for about 15 minutes.

Ginger is a widely used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Modern research has found that ginger contains several active compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

The first study examining ginger’s potential benefits for coughing and respiratory infections in people was published in 2013. In the study, researchers looked at the effect of ginger on isolated human throat smooth muscle cells.

The researchers found that active ingredients in ginger — 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 6-shogaol — may have the potential to relax the muscles in your throat. More research is needed to see if ginger can improve coughing caused by the common cold or flu.

You can make ginger tea by adding about 30 grams of ginger slices to hot water and letting it steep for at least 5 minutes.

Licorice root contains anti-inflammatory compounds. A 2019 review of studies looked at the effectiveness of applying licorice topically to a sore throat caused by surgery. The researchers concluded that licorice could help manage throat pain.

In a 2013 study, researchers examined the pain-relieving effect of a licorice gargle on 236 participants who needed thoracic surgery. The participants all required a double-lumen tube that’s known to cause throat irritation.

The participants either gargled 0.5 grams of licorice extract or 5 grams of sugar diluted in 30 milliliters of water. The researchers found that the number of post-operative sore throats was significantly reduced after gargling with licorice.

At this time, it isn’t clear if licorice can help you manage a sore throat caused by a cold or flu. If you would like to use licorice, you can try mixing 0.5 grams of licorice extract with water and gargle for about 30 seconds.

Sudarshana powder is commonly used in Ayurveda to treat fever. It contains a mix of 53 herbal ingredients and has a bitter taste. It may help treat fever that’s associated with anorexia, fatigue, nausea, and an upset stomach.

However, more research needs to be performed to determine its effectiveness.

Garlic is thought to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that may help reduce your chances of developing a cold. The average adult has two to four colds per year.

A 2014 review of studies examined the potential benefits of garlic for the common cold. The researchers found eight relevant studies. However, they concluded that only one small study was suitable for analysis.

The one study that the researchers analyzed found that people who took 180 milligrams of allicin — garlic’s active ingredient — for 12 weeks reported 24 colds, while the placebo group reported 65 colds. However, several participants in the garlic group noticed a garlicky smell when burping, so the study had a high risk of bias.

More research is needed to determine garlic’s benefits for the common cold.

If you want to add garlic to your diet, you can try consuming one to two raw cloves per day.

Ayurvedic medicine shouldn’t be used as a replacement for traditional medicine. Some herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine can have side effects. It’s a good idea to talk to a pediatrician before treating your child with Ayurvedic medicine.

A 2016 case study describes a 10-year-old boy who developed high blood pressure after consuming a high number of licorice candies for 4 months.

Herbal supplements aren’t closely monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They may be relatively safe, but some supplements can contain toxic ingredients not listed on their labels.

Some herbal medicines contain high amounts of lead, mercury, and arsenic, which can lead to toxicity.

Several other home remedies may help you manage your cough, including the following:

  • Honey tea. You can make honey tea by mixing about 2 teaspoons of honey with warm water or tea.
  • Saltwater gargle. Saltwater helps reduce mucus and phlegm in your throat. You can make a saltwater gargle by mixing 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water.
  • Steam. Steam may help clear mucus or phlegm out of your lungs. You can make steam at home by filling a bowl with hot water or having a warm bath or shower.
  • Bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple. Consuming pineapple or taking a bromelain supplement might help break up mucus in your throat.
  • Peppermint. Peppermint may help soothe your throat and break down mucus. You can either try drinking peppermint tea or adding peppermint oil to a steam bath.

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest types of medicine and is still practiced widely as a form of alternative medicine. Certain herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine may be able to help you manage cold and flu symptoms when combined with traditional medicine.

It’s a good idea to talk to a doctor before adding a new herb to your diet. Some herbs can interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking.