gharelu nuskhe that are like quick fixes for almost every physical ailment. These remedies involving natural ingredients like everyday spices and herbs have been passed down through generations of Indians, who still believe that these work better than any chemical medicine or treatment. There are certain lesser known yet magical concoctions and potions prepared in various ways by different communities across the subcontinent, which are yet unknown to others.
One such preparation is the 'chaata churan' that is fed to infants in Punjabi and Sindhi households. I remember a small steel container sitting on my one-year-old nephew's bedside cabinet. My aunt would often feed him just a little bit of the greyish white powder from that steel container, before every meal. It was only later that I came to know that even I was fed the churan, when I was a kid, and that it is supposed to improve digestion and prevent constipation in babies.
The churan is a powder made by grinding several Indian spices including cumin or jeera, carom seeds or ajwain, dried ginger powder or sonth, crushed almonds, cardamom or elaichi, rock sugar or mishri and finally fennel seeds or saunf. All the ingredients are ground very finely, mixed together and fed to kids, either mixed with a spoonful of honey or in a bowl of milk. But how safe is this churan for toddlers?
According to Ayurveda expert Dr. Dhanvantri Tyagi, the churan is ideal for kids between ages one and eight and that it's good for multiple reasons. "This is a traditional preparation and all the ingredients in it are great for digestion and also promote liver and stomach health." Dr. Tyagi says that the powder can be a great immunity booster for kids and adds, "The dried ginger or sonth in the powder is a good appetite stimulant and it also regulates body temperature, while mishri acts as a tonic for the kids. This powder can also give an energy boost to the kid. Moreover, this churan is also anthelmintic in nature, which means that it has anti-parasitic properties and it can kill germs in the body."
Dr. Tyagi says that all the ingredients in this churan are cooling for the kids' bodies, adding that there's a similar preparation for kids between ages eight and 14 called trikatu. "This powder is made from three ingredients- sonth, kaali mirch (black pepper) and pippali or Indian long pepper. But this is not good for toddlers as the pepper can result in vomiting and diarrhea in kids that small."
The chaata churan, on the other hand, is perfectly safe, is easy-to-prepare and store and is extremely beneficial for newborns. It should be stored in air tight containers and just a pinch of it can work wonders for the digestive health and immunity of your toddler.
Any Indian who has grown up around her grandparents will have a wealth of home remedies or