When I was growing up, my mother always used a home remedy as a first step to treat a seasonal cough, cold or upset tummy. Now that I am a mother of two children, medicines are not my first preference for every little ailment either. I continue my mother's practice not just for my children but for the entire family.
Our bodies can throw us out of the loop at any time. Hence, I most usually do not wait until the seasons change or until a flu, cold or cough start. I make it a habit to take preventive measures by giving natural immunity boosters on a regular basis (especially when the season is about to change) to help the body prepare to fight infections.
Most of the ingredients for these tried-and-tested home remedies are almost always in our kitchens and many of them are super-easy to make and taste delicious too.
1 - Turmeric Milk
Turmeric Milk (haldi doodh) is a very popular medicinal drink that is generally had when you have a bad cold or a cough. At home, I serve this drink to my children when the seasons are about to change. This magic drink has over the decades been known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It helps boost the immune system and fights colds and coughs well.
Although you can use turmeric powder to prepare this drink, the best medicinal benefits come from using freshly grated turmeric root.
Try having a warm glass of turmeric milk just before you go to bed. This will help minimise coughs and uneasy cold allergies.
2 - Chyawanprash
Chyawanprash is an age-old Ayurvedic jam that is made from a mere 20 or so herbs and spices. However, one of the main ingredient ingredients is amla (a tropical gooseberry), which is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. Amla is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for digestion, bacterial infections, diabetes, metabolic activity and many more.
Chyawanprash is one of those immunity boosters that my children have every day and as a family we do try to have it as often as possible too. This is one of those immunity builders that work slowly in the body and do not have an immediate impact.
Recipe: There are many brands in India, that make Chyawanprash and for the lack of time, I buy my Chyawanprash too. But if you wish to make it at home Cucumber Town has a very simple recipe with ingredients that you can get straight out of your pantry.
A favourite way to savour Chyawanprash is to have a large teaspoon of it along with a hot glass of milk before the night's sleep or just down some in the morning.
3 - Raab (Warm Millet Soup)
Raab is a warm health drink made from pearl millet (bajra) flour that is infused with ginger and ajwain. It is most often prepared and served to strengthen the immune system of a new mother or to someone who is low on energy or has a congested chest.
Having said that, it is also a perfect winter drink that warms your body and helps strengthen the immune system too. Bajra helps lower cholesterol and it is rich in antioxidants, iron, magnesium and many other minerals. You can read more about this wonder millet here.
Recipe: Raab (Warm Millet soup)
4 - Mung Pani (Warm Green Mung Soup)
Mung Pani is a wholesome soup made from whole green mung beans. It is my mother-in-law's hearty soup for children of all ages.
The soup is most commonly prepared when one is sick or recovering from an illness. Green mung beans are rich in iron, proteins, vitamins and minerals, making this soup an immunity and strength builder.
You can read about the numerous benefits of mung beans here.
Recipe: Mung Pani (Green Mung Soup)
5 - Methi-Ajwain-Kala Jeera Powder (Natural Digestive)
This is a generations-old family recipe that my mother used to give us to build immunity and help aid digestion. When I got married, I found this very same home remedy used by my mother-in-law who served it along with warm water (my mother served it along with buttermilk or curd rice). Whichever way you choose to have it, the methi-ajwain-kala jeera powder has numerous health benefits. It is said to help regularise bowel movements, keep cholesterol in check, stabilise blood sugar levels and also reduce joint pains. Click to read more about the benefits of methi and ajwain
6 - Tulsi Kashayam
Colds, coughs and allergies are what most of us suffer when seasons change. As I child I used to battle these illnesses with a warm glass of tulsi kashayam. I love the strong peppery and sweet taste along with the infusion of the tulsi leaves. Another special ingredient that is added to the kashayam is the panagal kandu, also known as palm sugar, that again has numerous health benefits.
Tulsi, also known as the Indian Basil Leaf, is a fairly common plant at Indian homes. Among other benefits, it is said to help in the treatment of respiratory disorders and in reducing blood glucose levels.
Recipe: Makes 1 glass
5 to 6 tulsi leaves, roughly torn
3 to 4 whole black peppercorns, pounded
1 tablespoon panagal kandu (palm sugar)
an inch piece of ginger
Bring all the ingredients to a boil until you see a greenish brown tea. Check the sugar and adjust to suit your taste. Drink the tea along with the leaves or strain it and enjoy the decoction.