All the age groups are affected with cough, patients at extremes of age or with pre-existing lung disease or immune suppression being at particular risk. Cough is the most common presenting symptom, along with sore throat, rhinorrhea, headache and sneezing. Although these infections are generally of non-serious nature, they badly affect the quality of life and are one of the most frequent causes of absenteeism from work and lost man-hours. Therefore, the management of the common cold is desirable to improve the quality of life in these patients.
The commonest symptom is cough and it is a protective reflex, its purpose being expulsion of secretions or foreign particles from air passages. Cough may be useful or useless. Useless (nonproductive) cough should be suppressed, whereas useful (productive) cough as it serves to drain the airways, its suppression is not desirable and may even be harmful. Several classes of drugs recommended in the conventional medicine for the symptomatic management of cough are 2- pharyngeal demulcents, mucokinetics, mucolytics, antitussives and antisecretory drugs. These are non- specific remedies and may provide temporary relief from cough and other symptoms of common cold. A vast majority of upper respiratory infections including acute coryza (common cold) that is by far the most common, are caused by viruses. Immunity for these is short- lived and virus-specific. Specific treatment for these is lacking and is not desirable in other wise healthy individuals who mostly recover completely. However, symptomatic management is often recommended due to the discomfort caused by these illnesses.
Ayurvedic management of kasa or cough consists of the herbal formulations containing the herbs pacifying specific doshas (antagonistic to vitiated dosha), particularly the ones that are kasahara by the virtue of their prabhava. Besides, kaphanihsarak (expectorant action), shothahara (anti-inflammatory), swarya (for improving the hoarseness of voice) and demulcents are also included in these formulations. Such compound herbal formulations or herbomineral formulations like sitopaladi churna, praval bhasma, vasavaleha, kantakaryavaleha, Talisadi churna, shrinarabha ras, shwas kuthar ras and kuf kuthar ras, acts at the root cause of cough, thereby, reducing the duration of illness. These formulations also provide symptomatic improvement due to demulcents and expectorants contained in them, thus, improving the quality of life.
Few of the combinations that are usually tried in home as advocated by Ayurveda are as follows:-
a) Grind 4-6 black pepper seeds. Add a teaspoon of honey and mix it thoroughly. Taking this paste several times a day relieves cough.
b) Taking 10 gms of dried rind of Beleric myrobalans and 1/2 teaspoonful of black pepper. Grind them to a fine powder. Add a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoonfuls honey to this blend. Mix them well to form a paste. Administered twice daily, this paste relieves cough.
c) Taking about 10 gms of each of long pepper, dried ginger, holy basil leaves. Add 4-6 small cardamoms and grind to yield a fine powder. Consuming this powder with equal amount of honey relieves cough.