As a child, I often suffered from a leaky nose, accompanied by other respiratory problems. I carried a rather large handkerchief to school every morning and when I got home, every fiber in my hanky was drenched in my mucous. I am very allergic to smoke, smog and dust and there was no paucity of those three elements in the Bombay air.
I would come home from school, with a ‘Rudolph’ nose and a fever on some days, so weary from being sick that I would collapse on my bed, in my school uniform. On such days, changing out of my uniform into comfortable clothes also seemed like an uphill task. My poor mother tried so many things to make me feel better.
There were several home remedies including some Ayurvedic conglomerates I consumed to relieve myself of my vexatious symptoms. Most households in India utilize Ayurvedic therapy in some form even today. My grand mother, who also lives with us, would prepare something called ‘Kashaayam’ for me to drink. ‘Kashaayam’ is a Tamil word to describe a medicinal concoction of pepper, ginger, coriander and a little jaggery mixed in hot water. I’d gulp down this pungent liquid and my throat would burn for a few seconds following which, I’d experience some temporary relief from my congestive symptoms. I also indulged in steam therapy for which my mom would make me stick my face (at a safe distance of course) over a vessel of boiling water. She’d mix a dollop of Vicks in the boiling water, and the combination of ‘Vicks Vaporub’ in the steam would clear my sinuses. For a sore throat, several turmeric and salt water gargles would help a great deal.
Another common malady I sometimes suffer from is acid reflux or heartburn. I have my disposition, prone to stress and anxiety, to thank for that. To combat acid reflux, I have with me these herbal pills called Pudin Hara, which an Indian company called Dabur manufactures. ‘Pudin Hara’ literally translates to ‘Mint Green’. They are basically small, spherical pills in a gelatinous coat, which appear neon green in color. Dabur claims it is perfectly natural and safe. I take two at a time for full effect. Within a few minutes of swallowing these pills with a glass of cold water, instead of that stinging sensation of acid reflux, I feel a soothing, minty wave of airflow through my esophagus. I am guessing, menthol, mint or whatever cooling ingredient, the folks over at Dabur use to prepare Pudin Hara, enters your urinary tract pretty rapidly, because you will experience the cooling effect of Pudin Hara when you urinate as well. Apparently, the medicine flows straight through you, cooling down its path as it does so.
I want to reemphasize my strong faith in Ayurveda’s ability to treat minor “ooohs” and “aaahs”. Besides the ones, I mentioned above you can try ginger juice in a glass of warm water for indigestion. Apparently a daily dose of garlic in the morning can cure indigestion as well, but that’s a strong odour, so it may not be a favourite.
I am sure many of us are already aware of various topical homemade face packs that can be improvised to serve the purpose of beautifying the face. In my teen years, I frequently applied turmeric and milk cream pastes to my face and walked around the house with a yellow face, staining all of my clothes and quite possibly everything that came in my way. Every time the door bell rang, I’d dart at lightning speed into my room, to save myself and my family from the embarrassment of me being seen with a turmeric face mask, by an important guest!
Lastly, the award for ‘The most precious herb of my life” goes to: ‘haldi’ or turmeric. I try to add as much of this spice as I can to my cooking without drastically changing the flavour of my food. Anti-carcinogenic properties, baby! Also, I cannot emphasize enough the anti-oxidant properties of green tea! I am all about combating free oxidative radicals. So, before you go reaching for those prescriptions and over-the-counter bottles, I would like to encourage you to incorporate some friendly herbs into your life. You may be quite surprised!
Happy Herbs! 🙂