It's happened on several occasions that we've negated what our mothers and grandmothers have said. The times when they told us to eat soaked almonds daily or told us to gulp a tall glass of milk for stronger bones. And the time when they force-fed us ghee saying it would make us healthy. With desi nuskas up their sleeve, they've constantly questioned the effectiveness of allopathy and emphasized the effectiveness of home-remedies that have been passed on from generation to generation.
Had I not witnessed the magic of these remedies first-hand, I would have probably labeled them as a hoax. But I've been cured by my dadi's kaada when I couldn't manage to complete an entire sentence without coughing and by my mother's Sheera when I felt weak and tired. Kaada is basically a mix of ginger, tulsi leaves, pepper corn (crushed) and boiling hot water and Sheera is a gorgeous golden coloured syrup made withbesan(gramflour) and sugar.
(Sleep Well, Eat Well and Live Well: Follow Your Body's Natural Cycles)
A lot of these home remedies have their roots in Ayurveda and you'll find that some of the ingredients like ginger, turmeric and honey have been named in ancient texts as natural healers. Traditional medicine is still being practiced in many of our homes and is a testament to the phrase 'old is gold'.
We're in no way implying that traditional medicine should be the only form of treatment. We are only trying to understand the reason why Ayurvedic or traditional home-remedies have been around for so many years. They're safe, natural, in a lot of cases effective and have almost no side effects. A medicine strategy report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) corroborates this - " For millions of people, herbal medicines, traditional treatments, and traditional practitioners are the main source of health care, and sometimes the only source of care. This is care that is close to homes, accessible and affordable. While the affordability of this method of treatment might stand out, they are also a great way of coping with the relentless rise of chronic non-communicable diseases."
Ayurveda experts will tell you that before you can identify the ideal remedies, you need to figure out which of the three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) describe your body type and characteristics best. The remedies will be custom-made depending on the combination of your doshas and only then will your health be restored.
But without getting into the intricacies, we are going to outline few everyday problems and illnesses like cough and cold, sneezing, acidity, heartburn and their home-remedies that have worked for me in the past.
1. Acid Reflux - Ugh, you're uneasy, bloated and have an awful burning sensation in the stomach and chest? Yep, you've got acidity alright. You can pop an over-the-counter antacid or you can do what I've been doing for years- mix some ginger and lemon juice and have it. The lemon juice will help cut the acidity and ginger which is rich in Vitamin C and magnesium works as a brilliant anti-inflammatory and natural painkiller.
2. Cold & Cough - Let's get something straight, everything that's been told to us isn't factually correct. For example, you've been told 'don't step out in the cold with wet hair or you'll catch a cold' but that's actually just an old wives tale. Some mild sneezing and coughing is a common occurrence especially through season change when your immunity is at its lowest. Unlike a stomach ache, cold and cough lasts for a few uncomfortable days and so does not have an immediate cure. But there are a few remedies which if executed properly can help bring great relief and eventually cure.
Warm some milk, add turmeric and drink it. Turmeric is a real power spice and you'll find that it features in a lot of other Ayurvedic home remedies as well. It's a powerful anti-inflammatory and has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties as well. It's the holy grail of good health as it helps you fight cough, cold and chest congestion.
Steam inhalation is an age-old remedy. Back in the day, people used a container called a Neti Pot filled with saline water to clear clogged nasal passages. The spout was placed inside one nostril and the water is allowed to seep in and pass out through the other nostril. This is an effective (yet tough to implement) method to clear out the nasal passage. The other way is to breathe in steam through your nose from a pot of boiling water. Steam loosens a stuffy nose.
(Turmeric Can Help You Fight Infections & Boost Immunity)
3. Stomach Pain - We've all had those early morning stomach troubles where either we park ourselves in the washroom for too long or sometimes not at all. Ayurveda suggests a cure for both. There are a few reasons why you could be constipated: you've not had enough water to drink, you've eaten too many dairy products, the new-age irritable bowel syndrome and so on. But whatever be the reason, a few home remedies could work as a great quick fix. Take 2-3 spoons of Triphala with warm water at night as it works as a great laxative and leads up to an easy next morning. Also add more olive oil, sesame oil or ghee to your diet. Another great idea would be to eat a spoonful of flaxseeds before you sleep because like Triphala, it also works as a great laxative.
Another common occurrence is bloating and on a scale of 1 to 10 it's definitely more uncomfortable than constipation. Have we got any home-remedies to help ease that out? Yes, of course we do. Add some cumin seeds or jeera to boiling water, drain and drink. It'll cleanse your system and bring relief.
4. Acne - Unlike the other conditions mentioned in this article, that awful looking zit actually speaks for itself. It's very rarely a problem of the skin but more of what you ate or what you didn't. Too much fried food, irregular meals, constipation, heat-creating foods - any one of these could have done the job. Take some Neem leaves, crush them and apply on the acne. The leaves work as a great anti-bacterial and cooling agent. You can also rub an orange peel a few times a day for great results. My grandmother used to do this for me as a kid- mix sandalwood powder with rose water and apply as a pack twice a day.
5. Nausea - There could be a number of reasons why you're feeling nauseous: food poisoning, overeating, indigestion, motion sickness, allergy, an ulcer amongst others. According to Sunil V, Joshi, author of the book 'Ayurveda and Panchkarma, The Science of Healing and Rejuvenation', "Nausea is our body's way of telling us that there's food that wasn't digested properly and the body wants to eliminate it. A lot of times, people try and treat nausea with coffee or an antacid which temporarily makes us feel better. But what it does is create an imbalance and what was nausea by the day turns into acidity by the night. Nausea is and with time, it only aggravates the condition."
So what can we do about it? Mix some ginger, honey and lemon juice, and this should instantly make you feel better. Another great fix is one I usually try when I feel nauseous in the mornings. I drink thin, mostly runny buttermilk with a bit of pepper and it helps calm my nerves and makes me feel lighter.