When Kodi’s Mom chose the topic of the month as ‘Alternative medicine’ the first thing that came to my mind was my Paternal grandmothers home made remedies for common illnesses like the common cold, stuffed nose, headaches, cold and sore throat. Winter is looming around the corner, the temperatures are dropping pretty fast and toddlers and preschoolers bring an assortment of germs back home from their day care/preshcool. There is gloom in the air and everyone around the house has a blocked nose, cough or fever. My grandmother was an expert in brewing up some home remedies for certain illnesses like these and I would like to share them with you.
Stuffed Nose: One of the most frequent problems during cold weather – for this my grandmother used to resort to a treatment called ’pathu’. This is a paste like preparation that is applied to the nose, throat and forehead and clears up blocked noses in a jiffy. There is a staining potential involved so make sure that your toddler (over 1 year) is wearing an old dress and protect the pillow cases also by laying some old towels on it. On a rough stone, rub a piece of turmeric and collect the paste on a ladle as shown. Mix a teeny bit of sunnambu (calcium carbonate? taken with betel leaves and betel nuts) with it. Heat the watered down mixture until it boils and you are left with a thick paste. When it is still warm apply on the child’s forehead, nose and throat. Let it dry up for a few hours. You can later take this off by wiping with a wet towel. It does involve some work but I can vouch for its healing power. I have tried it many times with my twin daughters and it offers great relief to stuffed nose and head colds in toddlers in the age group of 1 to 3.
Cough: For dry coughs drink a glass of warm milk mixed with panamkalkandu (Palm sugar crystals). I usually stock some during India trips but I am sure you can find palm sugar here in some of the Asian markets. For coughs accompanied with phlegm – mix a pinch of turmeric powder and add some crushed black pepper (2 or 3 pepper corns is sufficient) to a cup of warm milk. For toddlers you can skip the peppercorns and just add some turmeric powder to the milk they drink.
Mouth ulcers: This one is a constant problem in our house with hubby getting mouth ulcers very often in the winter. He is one of those types, who hate going to the doctor or taking pills. It is actually easier for me to get medications into my daughters than trying to make him take a B-complex pill. My MIL had an excellent cure for this. Manathakkali (Black nightshade –courtesy wikipedia) leaves when used along with our regular spinach in cooking is a wonderful way to get rid of these painful ulcers. It grows in abundance in our garden but is generally considered a weed here in USA. My MIL also makes manathakkali vathal (a pickled version of the green berries of the Manathakkali plant). This has a longer shelf life and can be shallow fried with a little bit of ghee and can be eaten as a side dish with curd rice. My granny’s cure for mouth ulcers is to rinse the mouth with a little bit of gingelly oil.
In her post Kodi’s Mom mentioned fenugreek seeds as a cure for menstrual pain and I use it often for that purpose. Recently I read an article about the effect of fenugreek in lowering cholesterol (elevated cholesterol levels is scary but is becoming quite common in the Indian community living here). I use it daily in my sambhar seasoning and also add a spoon of fenugreek to the urad dal/rice that I grind weekly for my idlis/dosas.
Garlic: This is another thing that is commonly found in our kitchens and is renowned for its cholesterol lowering properties. My Mom, used to add this regularly in my post partum diet as it increased milk production in lactating mothers.
I hope you find some of these remedies helpful!