Through the miracle of modern travel, I find myself now in Southern India where I will be working for a week. I will be first in Kovalam in the state of Kerala and then onto Bangalore. Of course this is how this pandemic has spread so quickly…in a day you can be just about anywhere in the world. I saw no signs of flu or illness anywhere when I changed planes in Frankfurt Germany, not one surgical mask – business as usual.
However in Bangalore, there is a detailed health screening form, electronic temperature taking and long lines of people all bunched together….and yes, lots of masks.
I have been following the stories of the spread of H1N1 in India by daily reading a couple of the national papers – The Times of India and The Hindu. This is an excerpt of an article that appeared a couple of days ago about Indian home remedies…. Every culture has them…some are familiar and others are a little bit different than those you might normally see. I am not endorsing any of them but rather sharing the cultural nature of home care.
The article recommended these treatments for any flu virus including swine flu. The author noted, “It is not necessary to follow all the steps at once. You can pick and choose a combination of remedies that suit you best. However, if you are already suffering from flu, these measures can help only up to an extent. And, if you have been infected by H1N1, visiting a hospital and staying in solitary confinement is a must.”
- Have five duly washed leaves of Tulsi (known as Basil in English; medicinal name Ocimum sanctum) everyday in the morning. Tulsi has a large number of therapeutic properties. It keeps throat and lungs clear and helps in infections by way of strengthening your immunity.
- Giloi (medicinal name Tinospora cordifolia) is a commonly available plant in many areas. Take a one-foot long branch of giloi, add five to six leaves of Tulsi and boil in water for 15-20 minutes or long enough to allow the water to extract its properties. Add black pepper and sendha (salt used during religious fasts), rock or black salt, or Misri (crystallized sugar like lumps to make it sweet) according to taste. Let it cool a bit and drink this kadha (concoction) while still warm. It will work wonders for your immunity. If giloi plant is not available, get processed giloi powder from Hamdard or others, and concoct a similar drink once a day.
- A small piece of camphor (kapoor) approximately the size of a tablet should be taken once or twice a month. Adults can swallow it with water while children can take it along with mashed potatoes or banana because they will find it difficult to have it without any aides. Please remember camphor is not to be taken everyday, but only once each season, or once a month.
- Those who can take garlic must have two pods of raw garlic first thing in the morning. To be swallowed daily with lukewarm water. Garlic too strengthens immunity like the earlier measures mentioned.
- Those not allergic to milk, must take a glass of hot or lukewarm milk every night with a small measure of haldi (turmeric).
- Aloe Vera (gwarpatha) too is a commonly available plant. Its thick and long, cactus-like leaves have an odorless gel. A teaspoon gel taken with water daily can work wonders for not only your skin and joint pains but also boost immunity.
- Take homeopathic medicines — Pyrogenium 200 and Inflenzium 200 in particular — five tablets three times a day, or two-three drops three times a day. While these are not specifically targeted at H1N1 either, these work well as preventive against common flu virus.
- Practice Pranayam (alternate nostril breathing technique) daily (preferably under guidance if you are already not initiated into it) and go for morning jog/walk regularly to keep your throat and lungs in good condition and body in fine fettle. Even in small measures, it will work wonders for your body’s resistance against all such diseases that attack the nose, throat and lungs, besides keeping you fit.
- Have citrus fruits, particularly Vitamin C rich Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice. Since fresh Amla is not yet available in the market (not for another three to four months), it is not a bad idea to buy packaged Amla juice that is commonly available nowadays.
10. Last but not the least, wash your hands frequently every day with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds; especially before meals, or each time after touching a surface that you suspect could be contaminated with flu virus such as a door handle or a knob/handle, especially if you have returned from a public place or used public transport. Alcohol-based hand cleaners should be kept handy at all times and used until you can get soap and warm water.
The remedies, plants and practices do vary from country to country…. some things however do not…hand washing remains the constant wherever you go. Along with a good diet, regular exercise and a good night sleep to keep your immunity in tiptop shape!
Feel free to write back with your home remedies from around the world…I am always interested what everyone does to feel better and stay well….I will keep you in the loop as I travel in India and Singapore for the next two weeks.