Sunday, November 4, 2007

Home made remedies

It's interesting that world over, different cultures have different home remedies for the same old ailments. In India, as always taking diversity to the extreme, it often seems like each family has their own unique set of remedies that are passed on.

Four years ago, when my son was a few months old, I was visiting my relatives in Bangalore when he developed a streaming cold. I didn't want to give him allopathic medicine without his regular paediatrician's advice, and somehow I have never found homoeopathy to work for me - too impatient, I guess. My atte ( mama's wife) came up with something that literally dried up his cold that same day. It's so simple too, and works wonders on small babies. Just take 1 tsp of milk, put 3-4 strands of saffron into it, heat it and leave aside for a little while. It will thicken and turn yellow as the saffron is absorbed. Just apply this to your infant's nose periodically. The runny nose will stop in a couple of hoursw. After a few hours, out will come a big sneeze, and that's it!

My dad's side of the family used to brew up a tasty kashaaya for coughs, and given that I almost always had a cough, bronchitis and asthma when I visited them as a child, I sure had a lot of this. Interestingly, I recently discovered that many of the ingredients used are found in ayurvedic OTC cough mixtures:

Boil together - a few leaves of tulsi, 1 inch piece of ginger, 1 few cloves and whole black peppers, 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark and a 1 inch piece of atimadara ( jyeshtha madu - called licorice root in English) - in a litre of water. Keep it simmering for a good 10 minutes after it comes to a boil. Serve it hot ( and if serving to adults, adding a tot of rum won't go amiss:)). It really soothes the throat, and tastes good. If you like, you can add a spoon of honey to this mix for older kids, though the licorice root adds sweetness on its own.

Over the years I've tried a variety of strange home remedies for my asthma, and found that many of them do provide at least temporary relief. One really bizarre thing that worked quite well was having black tea with salt. Another recipe from my ajji's kitchen was roast garlic. I remember her bedtime concoction for my coughs used to be hot milk with haldi and a tsp of ghee, which used to help me make it through the night.

Of course, the age-old remedy of steam inhalation is something that helps adults and kids with coughs and colds. I was really scared about my ability to be able to hold my child securely enough over boiling water so our doctor came up with an easy solution. We now just plug in an electric kettle filled with water under my son or daughter's bed, and make sure the doors and windows are tightly shut. All we have to keep watch for is that the water doesn't evaporate away!


Sharat said...

hi BEV...
thnaks for the recipe for a running does sound simple and harmless...
have a you apply the milk-saffron miture on the nose externally or do you drop it intoe the nosetrils- didnt understand tht part

bird's eye view said...

Hi Sharat,

You apply it externally - that's also part of what makes this completely harmless.

Asha said...

Interesting!! Good post B.
In B'lore, I always had allergic reaction to Parthanium grass which is nothing to do with cold virus. Once I left, symptoms stopped.
For cold, steam definitely helps to clear the Sinus temporarily! Glad it's working on your child!:))

Kodi's Mom said...

totally neat! hey, I can testify to the effectiveness of the saffron-milk mixture - we tried it when my son was 5mo and was congested; it offered him quick relief. It works only on infants, tho!

and the electric kettle idea sounds much better than using a humidifier...thanks, BEV for sharing :)

Sandeepa said...

I do the tulsi concoction all the time, but keeping the tulsi plant alive in the winter here is a big deal
A spponful of honey through the winter is great too

mnamma said...

Thanks BEV for sharing this with us. Should try your kashayam once. With flu season in swin ghere , your home made remedies would be pretty helpful. thanks again.

bird's eye view said...


Tell me about the parthenium! I used to start wheezing as soon as we passed Jolarpettai on the way into Bangalore and stop wheezing as soon as we passed it on the way back:)

Thanks, kodi's mom - you're the only person i know who had heard about the saffron milk thing, which is a pity - it's so easy and harmless and effective too. That's why this is a superb topic.

Thanks mnamma.

Sandeepa - maybe you can dry tulsi leaves in summer and store them. I remember taking curry leaves that way to france and they were still aromatic a year later so perhaps it'll work for tulsi too.

rozz said...

Will this saffron-milk work for 3yr olds??

bird's eye view said...


It's worth a try but the problem is they will keep wiping it away as soon as you put it on - even my 17 month old does that so it hasn't been effective

Dee said...

Thanks for this. I'd love to know about more home remedies as they are definitely safer than many of the over the counter ones..

mummyjaan said...

Little Bubs has had a croupy cough for the past 2 days, as if right on cue! I used your electric kettle idea last night when she (poor thing) was waking up every hour. I'm not sure if it was that or the karvol drops I put on the pillow, but she slept better towards morning. Winter is here :(....

Tharini said...

Sathya is running a terrific cold right now and I am going to try it. And tell you how it went. Thanks for all the tips.

Alita said...

Hi there,
It was a really interesting post to see, although I don't have children yet, but I am interested in natural remedies,
I think I'm going to


Hey, a very nice post...all of us keep looking for ways to cure kids with cold n cough with home remedies....A very good compilation of the remedies.

bird's eye view said...


That's terrible. hope she gets well soon.


Do let me know if it worked. My son is down with sniffles too, but at 4 years 8 months, there's no way he'll agree to having a bright yellow nose!

Thanks dee, alita and sugarcraft india

sai said...

oh yeah my paati (mom's mom) told me about the saffron milk thing and i do it and it can be done with breastmilk and that is more effective.
thanks for the tips. very thoughtful of u.

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