Constant sniffles and a runny nose can be very irritating, especially when it keeps on dripping. Runny nose and sniffles can have two causes.
They can be caused by cold temperatures during the winter and rainy seasons and are often accompanied by a sore throat and sometimes fever. Runny nose and sniffles can also be experienced because of an allergic reaction.
These are the people who suffer the most from sniffles and runny nose. Allergic sniffles and runny nose can attack at the most unlikely times and places.
Why Runny Nose And Sniffles Occur
A runny nose and sniffles occur when there is an excess production of mucus in your sinuses or nasal passage. Increased mucus production is the body’s way of flushing cold and flu viruses, irritants and allergens out of the body.
If you want to know how to get rid of a runny nose and sniffles fast, follow the below tips from Ayurvedic medicine.
1. Do steam inhalation.
One of the most popular methods of getting relief from a runny nose is steam inhalation. It can be easily done with a vaporizer but do not worry if you do not have one. A pot of hot water is enough to help you do a simple steam inhalation at home.
Just inhale the steam coming off the pot by leaning over it. Drape a towel over your head and face so the steam does not escape out into the open.
Just be careful you do not burn yourself. Do not bend down too much over the pot as the steam can burn your face and harm your eyes. Always keep your eyes closed while you inhale the steam. Take a break every now and then.
You can add 1-2 teaspoons of salt or apple cider vinegar, mustard oil or a few drops of eucalyptus oil, lavender oil or peppermint oil for a more soothing effect.
Steam inhalation is effective even in sniffles without a runny nose, blocked nose or congested nostrils.
2. Keep yourself hydrated.
Hydration helps thin your mucus so that it does not clog your nasal passage.
Drinking warm water and other warm drinks can help. Try herbal teas mixed with honey, hot lemonade, hot soups, stew or clear bone broth to help stop a runny nose fast, break up nasal congestion and soothe your nasal passages.
Stay away from caffeinated drinks as they dry out your nasal passages.
If your runny nose is associated with a sore throat, you can drink half a glass of warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon of lime juice and 2 teaspoons of honey. Add the honey when the water becomes drinkable, not when water is very hot.
You can add a quarter teaspoon of dry ginger powder (Sonth or Sunthi) or a quarter teaspoon of fresh ginger juice for a soothing effect.
Make sure to drink this 2-3 times a day for faster relief.
3. Use spices generously in your food.
Spices act as natural decongestants.
Black pepper contains a substance known as capsaicin which has an effect on the nerve fibers responsible for the regulation of the thickness of your mucus. At the outset, it will worsen your runny nose and sniffles because thin mucus will purge out of your nose. You will need to blow your nose initially, but after some time you will feel relief.
There is a vivid description of these herbs in the classical Ayurvedic texts. Trikatu consists of black pepper, long pepper and dried ginger (Marich, pippali, and nagara) and is beneficial.
- Maricha (black pepper) is pungent both in taste and at the end of digestion. It mitigates kapha and is easily digestible.1
- Pippali (long pepper), when dried is drying, aphrodisiac, pungent in taste and sweet at the end of digestion. It mitigates Vata and Kapha, gives relief in dyspnoea and cough but should not be used for a long period of time.2
- Nagara (dried ginger) promotes hunger, is aphrodisiac, absorbent and good for the heart. It stimulates taste, is easily digestible and sweet at the end of digestion. It’s unctuous, hot in potency and mitigates Kapha and Vata. Green ginger is also similar in properties.3
4. Use ginger tea or fresh ginger pieces with rock salt.
Ginger has long been known as an effective home remedy for runny nose and sniffles. It has both antiviral, anti-toxic, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties that help clear nasal passages.
You can take ginger in two ways.
- You can take ginger tea 2-3 times a day.
- You can slice a few pieces of ginger and eat it with a little rock salt.
Usually, all the herbs having a pungent taste increases Vata. The exception is ginger and long pepper.
One of the many health claims attributed to ginger is its purported ability to decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. A dried ginger extract and a dried gingerol-enriched extract were each reported to exhibit analgesic and potent anti-inflammatory effects.4
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology demonstrated that fresh ginger is effective against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) infections. These infections are responsible for a wide range of respiratory illnesses including the common cold.
The authors reported that fresh ginger prevents infection from the virus by blocking viral attachment and internalization.5
5. Use garlic.
Garlic has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties that make it a wonderful remedy for a runny nose and sniffles.
You can prepare a soup by boiling 3-4 cloves of garlic crushed in a glass of water. Boil for several minutes then strain and mix with a little salt or sugar to taste. This will help keep you warm on cold and damp days and will give relief from a runny nose.
A 2001 study published in Advances in Therapy demonstrated through a double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment that the group receiving garlic supplements had significantly fewer colds than the placebo group.
Additionally, when afflicted with the common cold, those who received the garlic supplements recovered more quickly than those who were part of the placebo group.6 Although the details behind garlic’s ability to exhibit antiviral properties is not well understood, a 2009 review published by The Cochrane Library states that garlic’s sulfur-containing derivatives may play a role in its antiviral effects.7
READ MORE: How To Fight The Flu With Ayurveda
6. Use honey.
Honey has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties that help reduce various symptoms of a runny nose.
You can mix 2 teaspoons of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it twice a day. Add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of fresh ginger juice to it as well. This enhances your immunity and helps a runny nose.
The antioxidant activity of honey is basically due to the presence of phenolic compounds and flavonoids, although the exact antioxidant action mechanism is unknown. Among the mechanisms proposed are free radical sequestrations, hydrogen donation, metallic ion chelation, or their acting as a substrate for radicals such as superoxide and hydroxyl. These biophenols may also interfere with propagation reaction, or inhibit the enzymatic systems involved in initiation reactions.7,8
7. Try basil.
Basil has strong antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-fungal and strong healing properties.
You can chew 3-4 leaves of basil every morning before breakfast and at night before going to bed.
Basil and clove tea also works wonders in combating runny nose and sniffles. It warms your body from the inside. Boil 8-10 leaves of basil and five cloves in a cup of water for ten minutes. Let it steep than add sugar to taste and drink twice a day.
Basil or Tulsi is perhaps one of the best examples of Ayurveda’s holistic lifestyle approach to health.
Tulsi tastes hot and bitter and is said to penetrate the deep tissues, dry out tissue secretions and normalize Kapha and Vata. Tulsi is recommended as a treatment for a range of conditions including anxiety, cough, asthma, diarrhea, fever, dysentery, arthritis, eye diseases, otalgia, indigestion, hiccups, vomiting, gastric, cardiac and genitourinary disorders, back pain, skin diseases, ringworm, malaria and insect, snake and scorpion bites.3,9
The biological activity of Eugenia caryophyllata has been investigated on several microorganisms and parasites, including pathogenic bacteria, Herpes simplex, and hepatitis C viruses.
In addition to its antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal and antiviral activity, clove essential oil possesses anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, insect repellent and anesthetic properties.10
Turmeric acts as an antidote to many health problems including a runny nose and sniffles. The herb has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties which make it very effective in treating runny nose and common cold.
- Take a cup of warm milk and add one teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Drink daily before going to bed at night. It boosts your immunity and helps in getting rid of sniffles and runny nose, as well as sore throat.
- Soak ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric in a cup of mustard oil or sesame oil. Heat the mixture over a fire until it smokes. Slowly inhale the smoke through one nostril than the other. Repeat this twice a day. This is known as Dhumpan in Ayurveda, or Ayurvedic herbal smoking.
- Have a cup of warm turmeric tea 2-3 times daily. Add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to a cup of hot water. Let steep for some time. When it gets warm enough to be sipped, add a teaspoon of honey and enjoy. This is very soothing to the nasal passages and the throat as well.
Curcumin demonstrated anti-influenza activity against influenza viruses PR8, H1N1, and H6N1. The results showed more than 90% reduction in virus yield in cell culture using 30 μM of curcumin.
The plaque reduction test elicited the approximate EC50 of 0.47 μM for curcumin against influenza viruses. In H1N1 and also H6N1 subtypes, the inhibition of haemagglutinin interaction reflected the direct effect of curcumin on infectivity of viral particles and this has proved by the time of drug addiction experiment.
Additionally, unlike amantadine, viruses developed no resistance to curcumin. The methoxyl derivatives of curcumin also did not show a noteworthy role in the haemagglutination.11 These results proved the significant potential of curcumin for inhibition of influenza.
8. Have jaggery.
Jaggery helps relieve a runny nose caused by cold temps as well as allergic reactions. You can have a piece of jaggery with your herbal tea instead of sugar.
Jaggery helps to thin the congested mucus in your sinuses and flushes them out.
9. Do Nasya with mustard oil.
Mustard oil has antibiotic, antiviral and antihistamine properties.
Warm a little mustard oil in a small vessel. Put 1-2 drops in each nostril several times a day.
This technique is mentioned under pratimarsha nasya in the Ayurvedic texts. It helps clear the nasal passages and respiratory tract as well as any mucus congestion in the upper respiratory tract and head area.
10. Try saline nasal drops.
Mix ½ teaspoon of salt in two cups of warm water. Using a dropper, put a few drops into each nostril with your head tilted back. Blow out the excess mucus and saline water. This will clear the nasal passage and soothe the sinuses.
If none of these home remedies works and your symptoms of runny nose and sniffles persist and are coupled with a sore throat and fever, then you should seek medical attention or consult with your health care provider to rule out the root cause.
READ MORE: How To Use A Neti Pot Correctly
Why A Runny Nose, Sniffles And Sore Throat Are Common When It’s Cold
Being cold by itself does not cause people to come down with a runny nose, sniffles and sore throat. The following though can contribute to frequent occurrence of colds, sniffles and runny nose during the fall and winter seasons.
Rhinoviruses (viruses that cause the common cold) thrive in low temperatures.
According to a 2013 article in Nature News, researchers have recognized this fact for decades.12 Additionally, a 2009 article published in Respiratory Medicine reported that in a cold environment, the upper respiratory tract temperature may be more favorable to the replication of rhinoviruses, leading to an increase in occurrences of the common cold during times of lower temperature.13
At low temperatures, our bodies may produce fewer antiviral immune signals and leave us more vulnerable to infections.
At the 2013 American Society for Microbiology conference, scientists from Yale University presented their research that demonstrated how low temperatures may compromise natural defenses against rhinoviruses.
In their study involving mice and a mouse-specific rhinovirus, they found that in colder conditions, the mice produced fewer antiviral immune signals than in warmer conditions. This reduction in antiviral signals allowed infections to persist more easily at colder temperatures.
Furthermore, the scientists performed research on human airway cells grown in either a cold or warm lab setting and infected the cells with rhinoviruses that cause colds in humans. From this study, they demonstrated that the infected cells grown in a warmer environment underwent programmed cell death at a higher rate than the cells infected in the colder environment. Programmed cell death is a form of cell suicide resulting from an immune response to limit the spread of the infection.
Cold temperatures and low humidity, characteristics of the “cold” season, are associated with increased occurrences of acute respiratory tract infections.13
Additionally, the US Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) explains that cold-causing viruses “survive” better in low humidity, which occurs during colder months. Furthermore, the NIAID also reports that cold weather can cause the lining of the nose to become drier and more susceptible to viruses that cause the common cold.14
Despite the inconclusive nature of research concerning the relationship between cold temperature exposure and the common cold, the cautious thing to do may simply be to stay warm during the cold season.
READ MORE: Ayurvedic Cold Weather Diet + Lifestyle
- K.R. Srikantha Murthy, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1, Sutra sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, chapter 12, page 269, verse 44
- K.R. Srikantha Murthy, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1, Sutra sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, chapter 12, page 269, verse 44,45
- K.R. Srikantha Murthy, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1, Sutra sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, chapter 12, page 269, verse 46-47
- Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has antiviral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.” J Ethnopharmacol. (2013).
- Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M. Garlic for the common cold.
- Curcumin inhibits influenza virus infection and haemagglutination activity Da-Yuan Chen a , Jui-Hung Shien b , Laurence Tiley c , Shyan-Song Chiou a , Sheng-Yang Wang d , Tien-Jye Chang b , Ya-Jane Lee b,e, Kun-Wei Chan b , Wei-Li Hsu a,*
- “Cold viruses thrive in frosty conditions.” nature.com/news. (2013).
- “Cold temperature and low humidity are associated with increased occurrence of respiratory tract infections.” Resp Med. (2009).
- “Common Cold.” niaid.nih.gov. (2011).