Irrespective of where you live in India, winter always brings with it cold gusts of wind and the dreaded common flu. It’s a tough call for parents as they have to take care not only of their young children but also of themselves. Over-the-counter medicines do provide relief, but there is a chance you may take ill again. As allopathic treatment has its side effects, the Indian population is turning towards alternative forms of healing, such as Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a boon of ancient Indian sages and physicians and has been practised for more than 5000 years. With trial and error, they proved that the plants and herbs we use in daily life have the potential to fight common and seasonal ailments. The goal of Ayurveda is to promote overall health and well-being for the future. According to this ancient system, the human body is made up of five elements – space, air, fire, water and earth. These combine in varying proportions in people to form three life forces (doshas) which are Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha. If you’re experiencing any common winter problems, why not use these ingredients from your kitchen to heal yourself?
Home Remedies for Health Problems that Happen during Winter
Did you know that common ingredients like salt, honey and coconut oil can cure you of a throat infection and moisturise your skin? Read on to know how simple ingredients like these can cure a lot of your problems!
For a Sore Throat
Often the first indicator of the onset of a cold, a sore throat gives you that itchy feeling and sometimes, terrible pain as well. You can use these tips if your nose feels stuffy or you experience pain while swallowing food.
1. Salt water gargling
One of the most popular tried and tested methods to relieve throat pain, even your grandmother would recommend gargling with salt water. This is because salt has anti-bacterial properties that neutralise the acids in the throat, which reduces the burning sensation you experience. Mix 1/4 tsp of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle at least twice a day till the burning sensation goes away.
2. Turmeric milk
As per Ayurveda, everybody from children to adults should drink milk with turmeric and saffron to prevent cold and cough. It’s sad that we’ve forgotten this in a hurry to go ‘Western’. A glass of warm turmeric (haldi, as it’s called in Hindi) milk at bedtime does wonders for a sore throat and even persistent coughs.
3. Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is very useful when it comes to getting rid of the common flu. Adding 2 parts ginger, 2 parts cinnamon and 3 parts liquorice (mulethi) to your cup of tea instantly makes it a herbal one! Drink this concoction at least three times a day.
Remember the honey jar tucked away in your kitchen cupboard? If you’ve caught a cold, it’s time to bring it out. One of the benefits of this ingredient is that it doesn’t get spoiled for a long time and can reduce swelling in the throat. You can either have it raw or make a concoction of warm water with ginger, honey and a bit of lime to soothe your throat.
Garlic isn’t a general favourite of many because of its smell and taste. But, when your throat feels sore, chewing on raw garlic really helps a lot. It has a compound called allicin that can kill the cold virus present in your body. Place a garlic clove in your mouth and gently bite on it. The juices will flow down the food pipe and heal your throat.
Although some women face the problem of dandruff all year long, it tends to worsen on the cold days. At times, shampoos and hair conditioners that claim to make you dandruff-free don’t show the desired results. Here are some home remedies to keep your hair free from those snowy flakes this winter.
If your scalp feels itchy and is causing dandruff, neem will help keep the problem at bay. As neem has anti-fungal properties, it helps the body fight dandruff. It’s also used as an ingredient in many cosmetic products, such as neem oil. You can also use neem to prepare a hair mask at home. Grind the leaves to a fine paste, mix with curd and apply to your scalp. Leave for 15-20 minutes and wash off.
2. Egg Whites + Lime Juice
One of the reasons for dandruff is that the hair roots don’t get as much Vitamin C as they need. Vitamin C plays an important role in keeping the scalp in good health. This can be achieved with the following mixture; take two egg whites and mix them with some lime juice. Apply to the roots before you wash your hair and dandruff will soon disappear!
3. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
Amla is rich in Vitamin C and prevents dryness of the hair and dandruff. In addition to that, it also prevents the itchy feeling on your scalp. Here’s how you can prepare a hair mask using amla powder and a few tulsi leaves. Grind both to a paste, mix well and apply evenly. After around 30 minutes, rinse with water and a mild shampoo.
4. Fenugreek (methi) seeds
These seeds, though small, cure a variety of hair problems like excess hair fall, dandruff, dryness, baldness and hair thinning. You can either choose to soak them overnight and eat them on an empty stomach in the morning or make a fenugreek hair mask. For the hair mask, blend the seeds to a paste and then add some lime juice. Apply this paste to the hair ends and scalp and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with a mild shampoo to improve scalp health.
5. Reetha and Shikakai
Amla, reetha and shikakai are ancient herbs that contain a lot of Vitamin C. They cleanse your scalp and also prevent dandruff and other infections. Soak 2-3 amla pods, 5-6 reetha pods and 6-7 shikakai pieces overnight. In the morning, bring the mixture to a boil and let it cool. Blend the mixture, strain it and throw away the residue. Your own herbal shampoo is ready!
For Dry Skin
For those of you who have naturally dry skin, the cold winter just adds to the trouble. Dry and flaky skin leads to itching and rashes, and a good home-made moisturiser is what you need to leave your skin looking smooth and shiny. Use it liberally after a bath and wait till it soaks in.
1. Sunflower Seed Oil
This may sound ridiculous, but sunflower seed oil opens up skin pores and improves hydration when applied to the skin. Who knew this oil had another great use apart from cooking our favourite dishes!
2. Coconut Oil
A study shows that coconut oil is as effective as petroleum jelly when it comes to repairing dry skin. That’s because this oil contains saturated fatty acids that act as a moisturiser for dry skin.
3. Aloe Vera
If you have an aloe vera potted plant at home, you’re in luck! Cut off an outer leaf, peel it, and scoop the gel with a spoon. You can also mix with it with a natural preservative (like? Provide an example) and keep it in a jar for daily use in winter. It’s advised that after applying aloe vera gel, you cover the affected area with clothing like socks or gloves. Massaging it onto your limbs just before going to bed is another method of getting freedom from rough skin.
Honey can be used as a home treatment for dry skin. This nectar produced by bees has moisturising, healing and anti-inflammatory properties. You can directly apply it to the skin.
Apart from being the main ingredient in your favourite porridge, oatmeal also helps relieve dry skin. You can either add oatmeal in powder form to bath water or make your own oatmeal face mask.
For Ear Infections
Chilly mornings almost always bring earaches and irritation, however much you cover up with a scarf. It’s best to consult an ENT doctor if you experience this problem. At the same time, you can use these home remedies to fight off an ear infection.
Garlic is an excellent solution for an affected ear, nose and throat. Want to know how to make natural ear drops? Take 2 crushed garlic cloves and add some mustard oil to them. Heat this mixture till the garlic turns slightly black. Once it is cool, apply a few drops to the infected ear. Another way is to make garlic oil in just two steps. Crush and boil the pods with sesame oil. These drops using garlic provide instant relief against earaches.
Called tulsi in Hindi, this plant is popular in Ayurveda for its medicinal properties, one of them being a cure for earaches. Simply crush a few basil leaves and add coconut oil to the juice. You can use it regularly under supervision till the pain goes away.
3. Mustard Oil
Apply a few drops of lukewarm mustard oil to the affected ear for instant relief. Mustard oil is an old and tested remedy for an earache.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Make sure you use organic apple cider vinegar and avoid products that come with adulterants. You can dilute a bit of apple cider vinegar with water and use a cotton bud to apply the liquid inside the ear. Plug the bud and remain in the same position for 5 minutes. This Ayurvedic home remedy changes the pH of the ear canal, making it difficult for bad bacteria to survive.
Though salt is good for an ear infection, remember never to pour salt water into your ears. What you can do instead is place a cotton bud with warm salt in your ear for about 10 minutes. Doing this will draw out the bad fluid and reduce swelling. Since earaches are also associated with throat aches, you can gargle with salt water as well.
The above-mentioned desi cures are highly preferred by our old folks in place of pills. But, as everybody has a differing dosha, they may not always work. Ayurveda is generally thought to be a long-term and holistic method of healing the body. If you find that curing yourself naturally and at home is of little use, you shouldn’t think twice about consulting a doctor as soon as possible. End with a positive sentence about Ayurvedic remedies being a good choice in certain cases.