It’s that time of the year when every other person is confined to bed with a respiratory infection. Constant coughing and sneezing leaves one feeling drained and weak. The nip in the air adds to the damp that helps the cold viruses thrive. My home too has not been spared. Since we were all involved in preparing for a family wedding, I took precautionary measures to ensure that the bug froze in its tracks instead of spreading to all and sundry.
To help accelerate the healing process, I always turn to natural ingredients. By natural, I mean those grown in my garden or stored in my kitchen drawers. As a family, we have always relied on home remedies as much as possible to ward off a cold. The leaves of the tulsi plant are used the most in my herbal concoctions.
A recipe I was taught back when I was in college is the one I turn to even today when I have pain in the throat or even a mild itchiness. The mixture of tulsi juice, ginger juice and honey takes just minutes to make. Sudha aunty, my friend’s mother, would make it quite strong and the first swallow was always not very pleasant. But ,that is such a small price to pay for the quick healing it generates.The honey was not just to make the mixture sweet but to also soothe the tummy from the spice of raw ginger juice. Make a batch to last the whole day and take one or two spoonfuls thrice a day. It makes a sore throat better in about half a day and the intense pain felt while swallowing also gets reduced very quickly.
How to make: Wash and clean the tulsi leaves. Crush or grind and squeeze out the juice. Pound the ginger to a pulp and extract the juice. Two tablespoons of each should do for one person. Mix the two juices with one tablespoon of natural honey. To get the best results take this mixture for three days. It doesn’t sap energy levels either.
Vetrilai or betel leaf is a creeper that grows on the trunk of my sapota tree. Left alone, under the shade, the leaves grow quite large and range from a deep forest to an intense parrot green. When we were kids, my mother and aunts would pinch the ends off the leaf stems and ask us to chew on them. Thanks to that, I have acquired a taste for this leaf.
A couple of months ago, I was fighting a rasping cough that just refused to go away. It was then that I was told (I don’t exactly remember by whom) to make a concoction with these leaves. Not only did it work but it also made me feel more energetic. My kid too felt a whole lot better and actually asked me to make it again the next day.
How to make: Boil betel leaves, tulsi leaves and a few peppercorns together in one glass of water till it reduced to half. Strain and drink the liquid. You can add honey or a pinch of salt to it if you like.
Another medicinal plant that can easily be grown is the karpooravalli. The leaves are thick and succulent. Just pinch off a bit of the stalk and plant it. It survives all weather conditions and stays evergreen. Two or three leaves can be chewed for much-needed relief from a cold. The texture can be hard to swallow, especially for the elderly. Then you can make a concoction by boiling it.
How to make: Boil it along with tulsi leaves in water. Strain and drink the liquid.
A masala tea flavoured with cardamom pods , ginger and peppercorns is extremely soothing for the throat .
The last on my list of home remedies for a cold is hot milk laced with turmeric and pepper. It’s the one thing that I hated as a child and continue to dislike intensely even today ! I being the good mom , don’t force this one down my kids’ throats either 😉 … To the happy milk drinker however, it’s the perfect cure for the monsoon malady.
Tulsi is a type of holy basil that grows in India. It is used widely in temples as offerring and also to adorn the deities.
This article is based only on my experience as a mother and a home maker. It does not stem from a professional knowledge about herbs or medicine. If you have any concerns or allergies , please do refer to your physician before trying out any of the above mentioned elixirs.