Any virus entering your body will enter via your nose and your mouth, and the degree to which it is able to continue its path into your respiratory tract and lungs and or into your digestive system may be influenced the conditions in your nose and mouth! It will therefore quite possibly influence the severity of infection, duration of illness and complications.
This post was prompted by my own practices that I have used in past cold and flu seasons, and a podcast on the Evolve with Pete Evans show with Bill Giles. Bill gave some great tips on creating conditions in the nose that viruses and bacteria do not thrive in and stopping the virus spreading into the body. Listen in to the podcast and check out my Instagram post which summarised Bill’s advice.
For all of my followers and students you will know how much the Ayurvedic teachings (Yoga’s sister science) resonate with me, and one reason for this is they are a bit like old fashioned home remedies. I love using old fashioned home remedies to reduce illness, prevent illness and heal from illness. I think there is so much wisdom in their simplicity, with how they relate to nature, their belief in balance within our bodies and our environment and most important of all taking responsibility for ourselves.
This is particularly applicable now. Just the belief that you can take measures to enhance your health, immunity and state is incredibly empowering. Just so, that your body has the power within to fight illness and heal itself given the right conditions.
Your mind and beliefs are so powerful (may I state my belief that they are THE POWER), so use them well dear people and take your health in your very capable hands.
Here are some Ayurvedic and Old-Fashioned Ways we can protect ourselves from the Corona Virus, and for that matter, any virus or bug that spreads in our communities.
Ayurveda believes that all toxicity in the body begins in the mouth.
Tongue scraping uses stainless steel or copper scrapers to literally scrape your tongue from back to front. You stick out your tongue and scrape 10 times. You will notice white or yellow build up on the scraper. Wash it off the scraper – I rinse it off with water in the bathroom sink. Simple as that. Do this first thing in the morning before drinking or eating anything.
What you are doing is removing bacteria, food residue, fungi, dead cells and toxins from your tongue. If this is not removed, the build-up of toxins travels into your gastrointestinal tract and entire digestive system.
Ayurvedic teachings report that this toxicity weakens our digestion, hampers and weakens our immune system, reduces our ability to assimilate nutrients, causing weight gain, skin conditions, illness, digestive complaints including bloating, gas and constipation.
Scraping can improve your oral health, improve immunity, strengthen digestion and elimination.
Key Message: Tongue scraping removes toxins from your tongue, reduces these toxins accumulating in the mouth and entering your digestive tract.
Salty Water Wash and Gargle
This one is an old-fashioned remedy that I love and try to do when there are nasty germs around or when I feel the first sign of a dry or tickly throat.
Boiled water (let it cool) mixed with good quality salt – you can get specific on the dilution, but I am happy to be pretty casual with my mix. Approximately ¼ tsp to ½ cup water. Do this practice before anything else is ingested – no eating or drinking. Rinse the mouth, swishing it around and spit out. Gargle it as well a few times. A few mouthfuls is fine. Whatever ‘feels’ right for you.
This can be done as needed or as a preventative rinse – I use it a few times a week and every day if I am unwell.
Key Message: Warm salty water mouthwash cleans the mouth and throat of bacteria.
Another Ayurvedic Practice to clean the mouth and remove toxins (particularly oil soluble ones) is Oil Pulling. It is said to be brilliant for oral health and hygiene but also strengthens digestions, prevents inflammation and enhances the immune system.
Immunobiologist Bill Giles recommends moist not dry conditions to stop the virus. Oil pulling helps create this moist environment, especially after a more drying practice like the Saltwater Wash.
How to do it:
Using Coconut Oil (especially if you run hot or it is warm weather) or Sesame Oil (if you run cold, have stagnant energy or it is cold weather).
Place a tablespoon…I use a teaspoon as it is more palatable for me…in the mouth and swish for as long as possible.
2-3 minutes is great starting place but build up to longer if you like or can. I do mine while I boil the kettle and/or empty the dishwasher.
Spit it in the bin or garden. It is full of your mouth toxins and well – it’s oil so no going down the drain.
Rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth if you like, depending on your morning routine.
A note on Commercial Mouthwash:
I remember my dentist telling me years ago to give up Alcohol containing mouthwash as it strips the mouth of all bacteria, killing off the good guys too which may lead to worse breath and oral health. We want to keep the good stuff, so switch to alcohol free mouth wash or ditch it completely for Saltwater cleaning and Oil Pulling!
Key Message: Oil Pulling is like an old-fashioned mouthwash to remove toxins from the mouth and create a more moist environment.
Drinking Hot Drinks
Hot drinks are more hydrating than cold. Really?! That’s contrary to what most of us are inclined towards but look at Asian cultures and their tea drinking culture in hot weather.
Ayurveda believes that hot drinks are cleansing (especially if Lemon and Ginger are added) to the liver, dissolve toxins from your system, stimulate your digestion (digestive fire in Ayurveda) and enhance the metabolism.
Warm drinks keep the throat moist and warm which as Bill Giles mentioned may deter the virus.
One of the best ways to start our day is to start re-hydrating after our sleep. So, first thing after mouth cleaning, start hydrating with hot or warm water and continue sipping on warm water through the day as opposed to chugging down cold water in few sittings.
Warm or hot drinks can include tea and herbals, but keep in mind it is not a licence to drink lots of tea or coffee. Remember the dehydrating effective of caffeine as they are both diuretics which cause the body to lose water.
The benefits of drinking warm water according to Ayurveda are:
Prevents and treats constipation by hydrating digestive organs.
Hydrates dry skin from within.
Requires less digestive energy leaving more energy for healing.
Flushes the lymph system, including that around the gut.
Softens hardened tissues, dilates, cleanses and hydrates deep tissues.
Digestive Fire is the fire of metabolism, digestion, absorption and assimilation. Cold water is said to put out the fire. Hot water helps it to burn strong, helping you to digest, break down and assimilate what we eat.
Warm water slows down our drinking pace. Excess water dilutes stomach acid weakening digestion.
Key Message: Hot water improves digestion, hydration and lymph flow, thereby strengthening the immune system and maintaining warm moist conditions in the mouth and throat.
Ayurveda uses two methods to cleanse and lubricate the nose, much like I have described in Mouth Cleansing.
Cleaning the nose is said to prevent and heal allergies, colds and flus. It is also said to improve your breathing, headaches, release tension, assist with sinus infections, colds, flus and allergies.
Neti is the practice of cleansing the nasal passages with a Neti Pot and salt water. This is the disinfect stage, creating unhelpful conditions for bacteria.
You use a Neti Pot for cleansing. It must be clean to begin (wash and rinse with boiling water), then boiled water is added. When the water is warm (not hot) add ¼ tsp sea salt to ½ cup water and dilute the salt.
Standing over a sink, you tip the Neti pot spout into your nostril and tilt the head sideways. The water enters the nostril and hopefully flows out the other. Breathe through your mouth. Use half the water and then swap sides.
Neti is recommended occasionally but more often during cold, flu and allergy season. It is said that if you have allergies or sinus infection you can practice up to 3 x day.
Neti Pots can be purchased from Health stores or Ayurvedic supplies stores.
Nasya is the second stage and lubricates the nasal cavities with oil. This is the moisturising stage and is very important especially after the drying conditions of Neti cleansing as more mucus may be formed if dry conditions are prevalent.
Remembering the advice of Bill Giles, a moist and warm environment is ideal, so oiling the nose sounds super useful to me!
The more gentle approach to Nasya is to put a drop of specially formulated Nasya Oil, or Sesame oil on your pinky finger and insert it into your nostril. Rub it around and you are done. I use Coconut Oil a few times a week using this method.
The traditional way is to lay on your back, tilt the head backward, release 5-10 drops of oil into each nostril using a dropper. Inhale and lay still for a few minutes. This is quite strange at first and the first time I used this technique it was quite intense. So, I suggest the gentle approach first and then purchasing a dropper and/or specially formulated Nasya Oil from a practitioner or ayurvedic supplies shop.
Key Message: Ayurveda uses the practices of Neti and Nasya to clean and moisturise the nasal cavities. Simply oiling the nose using your pinky finger may be helpful to lubricate the nose and create moist conditions.
Breathing in Steam & Diluted Oils
The old-fashioned method of warming and moistening the breathing passages is so good and one I use quite often and all the time during cold and flu season.
I always use a combination of Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oil and breathe it in deeply into the nasal passages and throat. I imagine it killing any bacteria and clearing the inflamed breathing passages, creating space and healing. Does it? Does it matter? I believe it to be, so it is to be!
You can do this in a hot shower and drop a few drops of oil onto the water/floor, or in the bathroom basin. Follow the directions on oil quantities on your oil bottles, and ensure it is diluted into hot water and the steam breathed in.
Key Message: Using steam and diluted oils warms and moistens the breathing passages ideal for deterring viruses and bacteria.
What other Natural Home remedies do you use? You have these in your tool kit, and now you have some additional Ayurvedic self-care methods to love and care for your nose and mouth. Use these as your first line of defence!