Beat Covid at home
Don’t panic! Combat respiratory challenges through these easy home remedies, says Sandeshika Sharma
India is reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and people are in dire straits everywhere. But instead of spending our time and energy in fear and panic, it is important for us to turn our attention to some preventive immune boosting protocols. We provide some simple steps to support your effort in this direction.
Section A: Boosting your immune system
For all healthy individuals, who are limiting their activities in other areas, including not travelling by public transport or visiting social or religious congregations, the following advice is meant to apply.
• Getting adequate amount of oxygen and sunshine
Please follow your daily activity routine, as far as possible. Please find a way to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight, preferably early morning or late afternoon hours, as the temperatures soar.
• Ensuring a healthy gut
More than half of your battle is won, if you have a good balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. You can buy probiotic supplements or you can make simple probiotics at home, for a fraction of the price. Lassi, chaach, chaas and buttermilk are widely available everywhere. The aim is to make it more potent. You can simply store the lassi/chaach/buttermilk in an air-tight (preferably glass) bottle for upto 12 hours. When bubbles begin to form, you can be sure good bacteria have been trapped. To encourage the bubbling process, you may add a tbsp of kasundi/raai powder/crushed fresh amla into the drink and let the mixture sit for the desired duration. Now pour out your probiotic drink and add fresh lassi/chaach/buttermilk to your container. In the next 12 hours, your next batch will be ready.
You may also look up how to make acidophilis soda on YouTube. There are useful tutorials on the subject.
Alternative probiotics abound in the traditional Indian diet. Kaanji made with purple carrots/beetroots is great for daily and yearlong consumption. Pantaa-bhaat among Bengalis and Oriyas is another method of getting a healthy supply of gut bacteria. All these great fermented beverages should be made in air- tight containers.
• Adequate hydration of the body
Alongside lassi/buttermilk probiotic drink, try drinking green teas. With one tea bag, you can make up to a liter of tea. To get maximum benefit, soak the tea bag in about of a liter of water (preferably overnight/10-12 hours) and then heat up to make a full bodied tea. Aim to get three to four cups of this tea. You may add honey, if tea is lukewarm, else use jaggery. Avoid white sugar, which all of us inevitably consume through the course of our day, in biscuits, breads and occasional sweets.
• Reduce the digestive load
Eat smaller meals. Drastic reductions are not recommended. Have fresh lemon/lime in your salad or simply nibble on fresh lemons, with skin on. They’ll ensure your vitamin C levels are up and working. Also, you’ll have a good supply of digestive enzymes to help the food properly break down and get metabolised. If you find amla palatable, eat it whole or with honey. Like lemons, fresh amla is loaded with antioxidants. You’ll have an army working up your defences, if your intake of amla/lemons is adequate. Don’t throw away the precious lemon peels. Try to consume whole.
Similarly, pomegranate skin has good anti-viral properties. Boil fresh or dried pieces of the skin in water and consume the liquid in small doses. Ideally, the fruits you consume should be organic/homegrown. If not, the skins should be washed well with baking soda to get rid of pesticide residues.
Section B: Early signs of cold/cough/flu
If you have throat ache, body ache and you feel you are getting down with the flu, give these herbal remedies a try before rushing to pop in a crocin/tylenol. Our good old turmeric, black pepper corns and ginger should always be handy to brew thoroughly into a mild black or green tea/black coffee. After the water reduces somewhat, add 1/2 to 1 tbsp ghee and drink. Two to three glasses a day will be quite sufficient to break an early infection. Honey and fresh amla/fresh amla juice (squeezed from 1-2 amlas) can be had once or twice a day to give a further boost to a immune system battling an infection.
In the event of an onset of infection due to covid or another strain of virus, use these as complementary practices to get faster recovery. Homemade fresh fruit juices are also great treats for an ailing person, when the appetite is generally poor. Freshly squeezed sugarcane juice from a trusted juice shop is also a great treat during fever. It’ll hydrate and provide digestive enzymes that will support the recovery. Diabetics can skip such juices as it may unduly spike blood sugar levels.
Section C: Soar throat to pneumonia like symptoms
There is an abundance of medicines in nature. Unlike allopathic pharmacies, nature’s pharmacies are relatively cheap, if not entirely free.
The first and foremost principle in tackling an acute disease state is to keep our nerves cool; an important message especially for caregivers. Look around your kitchen cabinet and a lot of life saving remedies are within your arms reach.
If you could not stop the infection early enough and have developed full pneumonia like symptoms and you cannot rush to a doctor and have to be in home quarantine with/without medications you may try any or a combination of the following methods to get relief:
• Boil some neem or eucalyptus leaves in water and do steam inhalation with this water, at least twice every day. If you do not have access to neem or eucalyptus leaves, there are many alternatives. Use kapoor or camphor in your steaming vessel and add a few drops of ghee or butter to it.
• If you are not comfortable steaming, since the outside temperatures are very high as well, consider making a comforting tea or coffee with the following herbs infused:
fresh ginger root - ¼ tsp, fresh turmeric root - ¼ tsp, kalongi seeds - ¼ tsp, ½ tsp of ghee. Add the herbs and ghee to your tea or coffee and cook the combination for a good ten minutes before getting it off the flame. You can have this upto two to three times a day. Make sure to not consume these warming teas/coffees more than twice or thrice. Over stimulating the system is not advisable. Let the recovery be slow and sure.
• If you can get Ocem 5 from the pharmacy/fresh tulsi leaves, use it with a ginger tea. Crush two to three leaves per cup and let them steep into a made tea. Drink upto three cups a day.
Yogic practices of sukshma pranayam is important and essential. It will calm the mind and ease out the anxiety that follows a shortness of breath. Keep a peppercorn in your mouth if the coughing is persistent and dry. The peppercorn will help to expectorate the cough and open the airways. If prayer and mantra chanting works for you, please practice it. If listening to your favorite music is uplifting for you, please do it. By all means, the spirit has to be kept up. We can solve any tough problem if our minds feel joy, even when the times are very tough and demanding.
Be on a very light diet of fruits and take lots of sunshine and fresh oxygen. Nothing cures the lungs better than a whiff of fresh air and warmth of the sun, which we fortunately have loads of in our country. Our bodies are designed to heal given a gentle enabling environment.
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