In such times where life is anything but as we know it, keeping well and especially doing what we can to prevent illness is top of everyone's priorities. COVID-19 is a terrifying and as yet not fully understood disease. As often happens, a lot of information is shared across media channels, some of which is misinformation or passed on in good faith giving hope - sometimes false hope. Although experts across the globe are collaborating around the clock to understand the coronavirus and find treatment and a vaccine, nothing is yet officially approved. Despite claims to the contrary across various sites, there is no miracle cure or prevention, no diet or practice that can counter scientific understanding in this case.
This post therefore refers to one of the disseminated rumours that hot drinks and gargling are two ways to counter this and will focus on the first. This rumour indicates that regular sipping of hot liquids keeps the mouth moist and flushes the virus that may have entered the mouth to the stomach where gastric juices neutralise it, thus not spreading to the lungs which are the organs most severely and primarily affected by solidifed mucous in the airways that must be opened.
Sensible as this sounds on first reading, I would refer you to paragraph one. However, from the perspective of Ayurveda and natural home remedies it is understandable why many people globally have taken faith in this advice which will be explained below.
Ayurveda, a 5000 year-old science, is widely practised in the world, and although you may not have heard the term, practices such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga (Ayurveda's sister science) are, in fact, traditional Ayurvedic practices, although yoga has sometimes been popularised to positive and negative extents.
As for consuming hot foods and liquids, this is widely preferred over cold intakes (for some constitutions more than others - see main page) and over very cold, especially ice cold drinks and products generally, however popular they are. The reason for this is based on the simple concept that heat expands and cold contracts or constricts. A common example of this is the behaviour of wood at various temperatures.
Within our bodies are multiple "channels" transporting the "liquids" required for the body's numerous functions and oxygen. The principle of the effects of hot and cold on all things applies here too. Everything flowing through these "channels", blood, oxygen, enzymes etc, must do so freely and optimally or problems and imbalances will arise in our bodily system. Therefore, when we consume a lot of ice cold products, and especially on a regular basis, this has a constricting influence on the channels passed through.
(Imagine also the impact of very cold weather on the sinuses - post on sinus congestion help coming soon).
Consuming warm products is advisable as these have the effect of keeping those channels open and free of blockages and toxins i.e. anything our bodies instinctively know to expel to maintain our natural wellbeing. Our bodies perform this function for us but we often make it difficult for our own bodies to do their job properly! It is recommended that the first thing to put into our system before we eat or drink anything else in the morning is warm water which flushes impurities from the system and prevents constriction. The good condition of these channels is key to digestion as well - a highly important aspect of wellbeing - and there are recommendations on hot water in this too.
Further to this morning practice, the sipping of hot water during the day when you feel symptoms of a cold or have a scratchy, tickly throat is recommended to keep flushing out those impurities or toxins. I have done this when I have suspected the start of one of these symptoms and nothing further has developed. Other advice for cold-like symptoms using such natural home remedies is also available.
So, for advice to be offered across social media in this regard is understable and expected as it is long-standing advice heeded by many. As stated above in this post and on the main page on Ayurveda, nothing is flawlessly guaranteed to prevent or cure any condition and in the case of viruses, especially such an aggressive strain as we are currently bearing witness to, be wary of gaining false confidence. Maintaining good health and adopting good practices close to being in line with nature where possible rather than reliance on chemical infused pharmacy products, heavily processed foods or fizzy caffeine infused drinks for an energy boost is always advisable to prevent illness and boost your immune system for general health purposes.
If you would like more information or advice regarding any concerns, see the Ayurveda Natural Home Remedies page.
Julie Anne is a mental health speaker offering CPD accredited workshops. Her interest in natural home remedies and healthy living and a holistic approach to physical, mental and emotional wellbeing led her to study Ayurveda and gain the Diploma in Ayurveda with distinction in January 2020. She is now a registered nutritional therapist.