Imagine curing most of your common illness at home, without a doctor, from ingredients in your pantry. Since generations, in India, the kitchen has been looked at as a dispensary, sustaining our health and curing our ailments.
Ayurveda, a pearl of 5000-year-old wisdom from India, that translates to the ‘science of life’ propagates that:
food is medicine
and medicine is food
and almost all ailments
can be cured by correct food intake.
Dr. Vasant Lad, a world-renowned Ayurvedic practitioner, has written a comprehensive guide, “The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Home Remedies” to help guide people to take more ownership of their health and reduce pharmaceutical medicine dependence.
Ancient and traditional cultures, across the world, have always looked to the natural world for health solutions, and it’s only in modern times that we have developed a dependence on a pharmaceutical prescriptions instead of our pantries.
Vannoy Gentles Fite, the author of ‘Essential Oils for Healing: Over 400 All-Natural Recipes for Everyday Ailments’ said, “I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it.”
Ayurveda believes in a holistic approach to healing. “The great thing about Ayurveda is that its treatments always yield side benefits, not side effects.” said Shubhra Krishan, the author of ’Essential Ayurveda: What It Is and What It Can Do for You’. Ayurvedic philosophy will be delved deeper into in our future blog posts but keep this list handy for the next time you get sick and tell us what natural remedies you tried and those that work for you!
* Disclaimer: Always remember that if the symptoms are severe and persisting, there are more underlying issues that need to be addressed, and visiting a doctor is strongly recommended, whether this is an Ayurvedic practitioner or a doctor of modern western medicine
Working from your head downwards through your body, we have compiled a list of remedies to help you sustain your overall health, in times of COVID-19 or otherwise.
Remedy for Headaches, Stress - Indian ginseng (Ashwagandha)
Preparation: Heat water in a pan and pour over some powdered ginseng. You can also get it in a capsule form and take one capsule for the same relief.
Dose: As and when you feel discomfort, especially in the early stages. Taken regularly, ashwagandha helps keep these ailments at bay and helps boost immunity.
Remedy for Tension Headaches and Migraines - Asafoetida (Hing) in warm water
Preparation: Just a pinch of asafoetida in half a cup of warm water will take those migraines away
Dose: A couple of times a day to alleviate immediate symptoms
Remedy for Forgetfulness - Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Almonds
Preparation: Consuming these nuts and seeds will help with memory long term. Soaking almonds overnight makes it more effective.
Dose: Every morning
Remedy for Insomnia - Poppy Seeds (Khas khas) and milk
Preparation: Lightly dry roast a teaspoon of poppy seeds on a small pan. Grind it into a paste. Mix the paste in a half a glass of milk and let the sleep envelop you.
Dose: If and when you’re suffering from insomnia. However, this is not a long-term solution and other underlying problems for recurring insomnia should be addressed.
Remedy for Earache- Garlic Clove or Coconut oil with crushed garlic
Preparation: Yes, this might sound strange, but it is very effective. Raw garlic is great at fighting infections. Just put a clove of raw garlic in your ear that hurts when you’re sleeping. Alternatively, you can warm some coconut oil and crush some garlic in it. Soak some cotton in the oil and put in your ear.
Dose: While the earache persists, particularly before bed.
Remedy for Nose and Chest Congestion - Steam inhalation with Caraway Seeds (Ajwain)
Preparation: Put a spoonful of seeds in a bowl, add boiling water on top and inhale the steam with a towel over your head and shoulders
Dose: 2- 3 times a day when you are feeling the congestion and especially before going to bed.
Remedy for Allergies- Shiitake Mushroom, Indian ginseng (Ashwagandha), Turmeric
Preparation: Blend the powdered form of all three herbs, lightly dry roast and store the powder. Mix one teaspoon in warm water and drink. Shiitake mushrooms, in particular, are an immunomodulant that can identify whether your immune system is being hyper or under active and can stimulate the correct response to help keep allergies at bay.
Dose: As allergies persist, especially around spring, consume 2 doses per day. It is more of a long term remedy as opposed to something that will immediately alleviate symptoms.
Remedy for Bad/Dry throat - Ginger, honey, lemon tea
Preparation: Grate ginger into a cup of water and bring it to boil. Let it cool till it is warm and squeeze lemon and a spoonful of honey. Remember: honey should never be consumed too hot. Sip slowly.
Dose: 3-5 half cups a day during the period of your sore throat and a few days after in the period of convalescence.
Remedy for Sore throat, Throat Ache - Clove (long)
Preparation: Take off the top ball on the clove and suck on the rest of it. It will immediately alleviate the pain and the hoarseness.
Dose: On a particularly bad period, you can take one every few hours. It is particularly effective to sleep with a clove in the mouth.
Remedy for Mouth Ulcers, Cough and Throat Ache and - Salt Warm Water Gargles
Preparation: Warm half a cup of water and add a 1 heaped teaspoon of salt. Let it dissolve. The water should be warm but not hot, the right temperature for you to be able to hold it in your mouth. Take half a mouthful and turn your neck back and gargle at the back of your throat for best benefit.
Dose: Morning and evening when you are presenting with really bad symptoms and can be reduced to just before bedtime when symptoms are alleviated.
Remedy for Dry Cough, Cold - Pepper, holy basil (tulsi) and honey
Preparation: Boil 3-4 Holy basil (tulsi) leaves in half a cup of water. Add some freshly crushed black pepper. Let it cool. Add a spoonful of honey when it is warm. Honey is especially soothing if it's a dry cough.
Dose: 2-3 times a day when you are experiencing symptoms.
Remedy for Bad Breath - Cardamom (Elaichi) seeds / Clove
Preparation: Break the cardamom pod to reveal the seeds. Suck on the seeds. With clove, remove the ball on top and suck on the stick.
Dose: When bad breath presents itself. Particularly after a meal of onions and garlic. However, bad breadth does indicate something deeper within the gut or mouth hygiene and needs to be addressed if it is persistent.
Remedy for Acne - Neem leaves
Preparation: Crush fresh neem leaves and apply to the affected area. If you do not have access to fresh neem leaves, dried leaves or dried powder mixed with a little water will provide the same results.
Dose: Can be repeated until the pimple goes away. Again, pimples are usually an indication that there are issues with digestion and eating habits so do understand the root cause of your acne if it persists.
Remedy for Weak Digestion and Low Immunity - ‘Kadda’
Preparation: People make ‘Kadda’ in many different ways across households. A typical formula is to mix a pinch of all the spices in the spice box. Cumin, fennel, pepper, a pinch of turmeric, little freshly grated ginger, salt, cinnamon. Boil it together. Drink warm.
Dose: Great to drink in the morning an hour before eating anything.
Remedy for Post Meal Bloating, Indigestion, Acidity, Gas - Fennel seeds (Saunf)
Preparation: Boil a cup of water and pour over some fennel seeds. Let it steep and sip slowly. Slow sips when the water is warm is the most effective remedy. One can also chew the seeds for the same relief.
Dose: It alleviates symptoms immediately so consume as and when you feel any discomfort. This can also be taken after heavy meals to aid in digestion before any discomfort is felt.
Remedy for Gripes/Diarrhoea - Fenugreek (Methi) seeds and/or Mustard seeds (Rai)
Preparation: Swallow a teaspoon of a mix of fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds with water. Either one also works well.
Dose: As you feel the discomfort and until diarrhoea is passed. Remember to also drink plenty of warm water.
Remedy for Nausea- Ginger water with lime/lemon
Preparation: Boil some water with crushed fresh ginger. Once it has cooled a bit, add a squeeze or two of lemon/lime and sip slowly when warm.
Dose: Drink a cup slowly and wait for symptoms to alleviate. Else repeat but do not drink too fast as it can make the nausea worse.
Remedy for Constipation - Psyllium husk (Sat isabgol) / 1 spoon of ghee / Okra / Papaya
Preparation: Psyllium husk: Put a teaspoon of the husk in a cup. Add warm water or warm milk. Stir and drink. The longer it sits the more firm it becomes. Ghee: Warm a spoonful of ghee and take it plain or you can mix it in some warm milk Okra: Slice an okra and leave it for about 8-9 hours in water. Drink the slimy water. Papaya: Eating ripe papaya will provide relief.
Remedy for Colds, Fevers, General Infection - Turmeric (Haldi) milk
Preparation: Bring a cup of milk with half a teaspoon of turmeric powder or fresh grated turmeric to a boil. You can add a pinch of freshly ground pepper. Drink when it's warm.
Additions: While the milk is hot, you can add a spoonful of ghee. And/or once it has reached a temperature that you can drink comfortably, you can add a spoonful of honey. Honey should not be consumed hot.
For Vegans: This can be made with nut milks and you can add a pinch of salt as well to help fight the infection. You can avoid the honey and ghee.
Dose: Drink every night when you have a fever and your immunity is down.
Remedy for High fever and Infection - Raw Garlic
Preparation: Eating raw garlic when you have really high fever and infection is incredibly beneficial. It is not a pleasant experience so topping it off with a spoon of honey is advisable and adds additional healing benefits.
Dose: In the late evening when you have a high fever. Should not be taken more than once a day. Do not take this remedy on an empty stomach because it may be too much for your body to handle.
Remedy for Irregular blood sugar levels- Bitter gourd (karela) / Mixture of spices [A – Bitter Gourd, B – Mixture]
Preparation: [A] Bitter gourd: Scrape the outside of the bitter gourd, juice it and drink it. It is very bitter but one of the healthiest ways to alleviate symptoms. [B] Mixture of fenugreek seeds, flax seeds, pepper, nigella seeds, turmeric powder and cinnamon. Soak a quarter teaspoon the above in a cup of warm water overnight and drink the water in the morning.
Dose: Drink daily first thing in the morning.
Remedy for Bruises /Bleeding - Turmeric (Haldi)
Preparation: Put a touch of turmeric powder or fresh turmeric on a cut or bruise.
Dose: As and when required. Can repeat until the cut/bruise has scabbed.
Remedy for Rashes, Burns, Itchiness - Pure coconut oil
Preparation: Rub some coconut oil on the affected area. Try to keep it away from fabric and any irritants.
Dose: Until the symptoms go, oil can be used to relieve symptoms.