Fresh from the garden

Home remedies

Fresh from  the garden

There’s a chill in the air that’s sending everyone straight to bed — with a high temperature, blocked nose and a sore throat — for weeks at a stretch. But instead of camping out at clinics and hospitals, you could make a quick visit to your garden (or kitchen, if you don’t have one). Most of the raw ingredients in your house have some medicinal properties and might come in handy — as a prevention and a cure.

KR Prakash believes that home remedies not only act as excellent medicines but also help enrich the body and mind. “Common herbs found in our backyards can help us live healthy. A garden of herbs has a soothing effect on the mind and is a stressbuster,” he says. According to him, drinking a glass of water with five curry leaves in it in the morning, on an empty stomach, can improve and strengthen one’s immune system.

He also has other suggestions that are easy to follow. “Maduvamsha leaves help stimulate insulin secretion and reduce blood sugar, and are also used for stomach ailments and liver diseases. The entire brahmi plant can be used, in various ways, to control hypertension and heart ailments. Rosemary leaves make digestion easy, and can be used as tincture for rheumatism, migraine and arthritis.” He mentions that ashwagandha leaves improve physical energy and the chakramuni roots help relieve urinary infections and specific fevers.

James Joseph started ‘JackFruit 365’ a while back because he noticed that 80 per cent of jackfruits in India were going to waste even though they have many medicinal properties. One of the best uses of the fruit is to control diabetes, he says.

The best part about home remedies is that the preparation differs house to house and there is space for improvisation. Depending on region, weather, vegetation and cultural practices, remedies for various illnesses and for general well-being are available. Rajeshwari, a homemaker raised in Mangaluru, has simple concoctions for when her family falls ill.

“When someone in the house has a cold, we inhale steam with tulasi in the water. One can also make a concoction with dried ginger, pepper and jaggery by boiling them and drink it hot,” she says.

Sitalakshmi, born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, says, “Turmeric milk for cold and throat ache is very good. We have been treating our daughters for generations with turmeric milk and ginger. As a family of singers, we also used to drink hot water with two drops of honey to improve the voice. Steam inhalation is the best to clear a blocked nose and hot ‘rasam rice’ is a must for fevers.”

Some plants can also replace cosmetic products. “Rosemary oil helps increase hair growth and aloe vera can be used as lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, sunscreen and more,” says KR Prakash. Rajeshwari adds, “If you have a burn on your hand, immediately get your hands on aloe vera pulp, honey or chicken fat that’s been made into an oil, or apply egg white. I’ve recently learnt that all-purpose flour that’s been stored in the fridge works as well.” But whatever the recipe or ingredient a person is using, they shouldn’t underestimate the herbs and spices. As KR Prakash says, having faith is also an integral part of home remedies.

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