Hot spices to ward off colds


 Spices and herbs we use everyday have great medicinal value.  Vinaya Govind shares the therapeutic uses of some of them.

The next time you have minor illnesses such as respiratory problems, or if you want to give your immune system a boost during the cold season, reach for the spices in your kitchen cabinet.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon, which induces warmth to the body, is a perfect spice for the monsoons and the winter. Mix a pinch of cinnamon powder in a teaspoon of honey. Add this to a glass of warm water and drink it in the morning to keep cold away.

Cloves: Cloves added to curries, soups or teas, help ease joint pains in cold weather. Respiratory problems like coughs and throat infections can be kept at bay with this spice.

Cardamom: Cardamom can prevent colds and coughs. Boil a couple of cardamom pods in water. Strain and add a little honey to it. This should be taken as a bed time drink to clear respiratory and nasal congestions. It also induces sleep.

Besides, being a mouth freshener, cardamom’s aroma is believed to refresh one’s spirits during gloomy weather.

Cumin: Cumin seeds, or jeera, being a rich source of iron enhances the functioning of the immune system to fight against contagious diseases. It is a disinfectant that can kill the common cold virus.

Make a cup of warm tea made by boiling cumin seeds in it. This tea helps dilute phlegm in the chest. This dilution makes expulsion of phlegm easier.

Ginger: With anti-inflammatory properties, ginger helps fight throat and chest infections. A piece of crushed ginger in your tea or chewing a small piece of ginger with a crystal of salt can keep winter ailments away. It is also a good natural decongestant and anti-histamine. The use of ginger-garlic paste in curries or crushed ginger and garlic in soups is perfect for winters.

Black pepper: A pinch of black pepper powder mixed with a teaspoon of honey helps in thinning the phlegm and makes its expulsion easier. A few black pepper corns can be chewed with a tbsp of fried gram to clear throat congestion.

Fenugreek: Fenugreek has anti-viral properties to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Consuming a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds with a glass of water will relieve digestive problems too. Fenugreek can be roasted and powdered before adding it to soups and curries, to help fight common cold.

Turmeric: Turmeric is a natural antibiotic. A pinch of turmeric added to a teaspoon of honey or a cup of hot milk helps to relieve headache, cold and throat infections.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg is effective in curing colds and coughs. Use of nutmeg in soups or gravies is the best way to make the spice a part of your diet.

Mint leaves: Mint leaves chewed with a pinch of salt can keep throat infections away. It also eases nasal congestion. Boil a few mint leaves in water and inhale the vapour to arrest a runny nose.

Some magical potions that can relieve colds:

*Boil a teaspoon of jeera in a cup of water. Add crushed ginger to this and boil for a couple of minutes. When warm, dissolve a tsp of honey in it. Make this tea fresh and drink it hot whenever you have a sore throat.

*If your cough is persistent, try this. Boil about two cups of water with a lump of jaggery in it. Add an inch of crushed ginger, a few pepper corns and a clove. Continue to boil till it reduces to one cup. Consume this hot. If you have dry cough, add a few cumin seeds to the water. (Use of dry ginger instead of fresh ginger is equally effective)

*Over a hot pan, place a few guava leaves till they brown along with a few pepper corns. Now, boil these leaves and pepper corns in water. You could add a little sugar, jaggery or honey to sweeten it. This mixture helps in diluting phlegm and its expulsion as well.

*Pick a few tulsi leaves, wash them and dry them on a towel. Now lightly crush them with your palms and eat the leaves as you would eat paan. Slowly swallow the juices that get extracted as you chew. This gives relief from cough. If you are preparing a syrup for kids, choose ‘Krishna tulsi’, a spicier variety.

Gently heat the leaves on a tava. Now, using your palms, crush the leaves. The dark green extract got from the leaves should be mixed with a teaspoon of honey. This syrup will give relief if kids have a bad cough, especially at night.
nJuice extracted from betel leaves in the same way can also be given to children suffering from persistent cough.

*Leaves of the ‘doddapatre’ plant can be chewed with a little salt for relief from throat infections.

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