By Jamuna Rangachari
Our kitchen is full of ingredients which can easily alleviate mild colds, coughs, fevers, digestive upsets, pains and aches, says Jamuna Rangachari
I have always known a little about herbal remedies but never took them seriously, until a recent experience proved their stunning effectiveness. My tooth was infected and hurting and I went to see the dentist. He asked me to come the following week for a root canal, after prescribing some antibiotics and a pain killer, if I needed it. I took the antibiotics, but not the pain killer. I also decided to try the herbal remedies I had heard about from my own family for tooth pain. I chewed cloves, applied the inflamed gum area with asafoetida and lime juice religiously, and brushed my teeth softly after every meal.
Slowly but surely, the pain vanished. The next week even the dentist was surprised and said I could postpone the root canal as the pain was no longer there.
At around the same time, my husband returned home from travel with a severe digestive issue. I gave him a mixture of roasted cumin (jeera) and pepper powder and buttermilk sprinkled with asafoetida which he had religiously twice a day. The stomach and the digestive tract got sorted out on their own.
These incidents convinced me that we have a treasure trove of remedies right in our own kitchen and I set out to investigate this possibility. Here below is a list of remedies for common ailments which we can handle on our own without having to rush to the doctor or buy expensive drugs.
Cold and cough
|Honey and cinnamon: A delicious and effective cure for cough and cold|
Tulsi leaves: Tulsi suppresses the cough centre, reducing the amount of cough and helps expel phlegm from the chest. This enables it to give great relief to coughs, cold, and other respiratory disorders including chronic and acute bronchitis. Boil it in water for five minutes and quaff it down as a tea.
Carrom (ajwain) seeds: Carrom seeds are known to be good for digestion. Not many know that it is also good for cold. Roast it and consume it to feel better.
Honey with cinnamon (dalchini) powder: This works very well to prevent and even cure cold and cough.
Pepper: Pepper is very good for colds and coughs. It helps to use pepper in most dishes instead of chillies to beat the cold.
Turmeric: Raw turmeric can be roasted and kept in the room to drive away cold.
Digestion and related issues
A combination of pepper and cumin seeds (jeera) is very good for digestion. One can roast it, grind it and have the powder alone or with curries.
Buttermilk with asafoetida (hing) also helps in digestion. This is one of the reasons why buttermilk is often offered after a wedding or grand meal.
A simple concoction one can keep and store is powdered carom seeds (ajwain), cumin seeds(jeera), black cumin seeds (shahi jeera) and curry leaves in equal proportion in combination with dry ginger, black pepper and rock salt as per taste. A little bit of this can actually be had every day for good digestion.
Another lesser known herb is “sweet flag” called ‘bach’ in Hindi. The herb looks like a small shrivelled bark and has a good odour. In Tamil it is called vasambu or “pillai valarpan” which means you can bring up your baby with this herb, as it combats most issues that babies face. Adults, on the other hand, need to just heat it, powder it and have it with honey. This is available in most grocery stories in the South and in ayurvedic shops everywhere.
Take bach root powder (two pinches) with honey in the morning to cure any digestive issues.
Take about 100 grams of fresh turmeric root, wash them and crush them nicely. Boil this in about
eight litres of water till it reduces in quantity to about four litres. If food poisoning is accompanied by loose motion, having this water continuously for about two days would resolve this problem without side-effects.
You could also add 15 grams of bach to about 50 grams of neem leaves. Make a decoction out of this and have it two to four times. The problem would be resolved.
For inducing hunger, roast pigeon pea (toor dal), rice, cumin (jeera), pepper, roasted gram (bhuna channa dal), and powder it. Eat a teaspoon and wash it down with warm water.
Dates: Hunger is satiated and induced at the normal level with dates.
If you have just these two remedies without any other food, in good time, your hunger will be restored to normalcy
It is strongly advised that a person suffering from fever should have a decoction made of tulsi leaves. In case of a fever boil a few leaves of tulsi with powdered cardamom in half a litre of water and drink it.
Boil bach root in water. Cook for few minutes. Filter and drink, three to four times a day.
Consuming peanuts regularly relieves one’s leg pain
Powder cinnamon sticks and have it regularly for all kinds of pain
Boil one teaspoon saffron in one cup. Let it reduce and have this regularly.
Lime juice and honey
Drink one cup of warm water mixed with lime juice and honey everyday for pain relief.
Tooth and gum
Keeping a clove at the place of tooth ache is bound to make it better.
The inner flesh of the pomegranate (anar) when chewed for a while, makes the teeth much better and removes all toxins. From now on, preserve this and do not throw away the flesh when you have pomegranate.
Powders and mixtures that make a huge difference
Mix five spoons of honey with cinnamon powder. Have this after spreading it all over your gums.
Mix lemon juice, baking soda and rock salt. Again, spread this all over your gums and then have it.
Mix lime juice with asafoetida and apply it on the area which has the pain.
Ginger can be chewed and the juice consumed. This makes the teeth and gums stronger.
Coriander leaves can be chewed.
Neem leaves could be chewed as this again makes the teeth stronger.
Pudina or mint leaves can be dried, preserved and had with rock salt everyday.
It is extremely important to keep our immunity strong in order to stay healthy. Today, with increasing pollution and degradation of the entire environment, it is even more important to boost our immunity to combat the infections and attacks on our body. Some of the things that could help are.
Two to five oranges everyday actually keeps cold away.
Amla or gooseberry also helps to fight all ailments. Though amla juice is available everywhere, it would be better if we could get fresh amlas once in a way and have them regularly.
The probiotic fibre found in bananas, also known as resistant starch, selectively feeds the protective bacteria and improves one’s immunity.
Watermelon cubes, packed with glutothome (an antioxidant), boosts immunity. While in season, it is one of the best sources of nutrition as well.
The simple turmeric with its curcumin is known to combat many ailments; even the West has commenced research on its efficacy. Though Indians use turmeric powder in their daily cuisine, raw turmeric had straight from the garden or without cooking is more beneficial.
Clearly we could make all of these items a regular part of our cuisine, adding them to chutneys, curries and vegetables, using the same principles. Leaves of all kinds should always be included in our diet, the fresher the better. As we can see, spices have multi-dimensional effect on our bodies helping them to function better. The only side-effect herbs and spices have is positive.
In today’s world, we spend a lot on medicines and stock them for basic first aid at home. Even when a baby is born, the first thing many of us do is to ask for medicines we ‘might’ need for the baby and even the mother. Earlier, our elders, usually the grandparents, used to be the doctor cum healer at home, and what a good job they did of it. Even Hippocrates, whose oath all doctors have to take, advocated, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’
Caption: Honey and cinnamon: A delicious and effective cure for cough and cold
Bio: Jamuna Rangachari is a writer who has authored two books for children, and compiled and interpreted Teaching Stories-I and II for Life Positive.
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