In a return to tradition, many societies today are going back to traditional herbal and ayurvedic remedies, as they are increasingly getting popular along with allopathic medicines, and statistics reveal that 4 out of every 5 Indians look to and rely on traditional medicines. No wonder then that the conventional concoction of honey, ginger and tulsi (basil) leaves is on ther revival path in many an Indian household as a remedy for cough and cold, in preference over that ubiquitous cough syrup. Though most herbs are known to be effective as conventional medicines, there are those few special ones that can give you an extra health bonus. We look at some here.
Popular as a skin-balm-additive and anti-acne product, Aloe vera is today become the single largest herbal component that has maximum applications in cosmetics and beauty products. The high value of this succulent green plant is evident from the fact that this has been in use for many many centuries in several cultures, of Greece, in India, Egypt, China and Japan for different medicinal purposes. Power-packed with over 75 active ingredients ranging from enzymes, sugars, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and with antiseptic and healing properties, aloe vera restores lost elasticity of skin, makes it less wrinkled and even protects the skin from the ill-effects of radiation. Being an amazing antiseptic, aloe vera also helps speed up the healing of wounds. This plant is also effective in flushing out toxins and toxic waste from the body. Furthermore, it acts as a great laxative by increasing intestinal water, mucus secretion and intestinal peristalsis. The ability of aloe vera to regenerate cells makes it a great anti-wrinkle agent that also reduces stretch marks and scars, and speeds up the healing of pimples and acne. Though internal dosage of aloe vera requires prior consent of a doctor or a herbalist, topical application of aloe vera is extremely safe and effective. People with sensitive skin should do a patch test before proceeding with topical application.
TULSI (HOLY BASIL):
Tulsi, known as the holy basil in lands abroad, is a plant that is considered sacred in certain traditions. It has fragrant leaves known to aid digestive function. A simple 100 mg per kilo of body weight consumption of tulsi leaves is thought to reduce acid-secretion and protect the mucous membrane of the stomach wonderfully. Another bonus — it also heals ulcers effectively. Tulsi leaves are loaded with phytochemicals that possess strong antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant and immunity-enhancing properties that make a body strong and fit to fight different ailments. Its use has also been renowned for cold and cough, as it helps mobilize the mucus and induce its expulsion from the body. Tulsi capsules are easily available today at Ayurvedic and Siddha stores. You can also gargle with a glass of water boiled with tulsi leaves for sore-throat relief.
Turmeric needs absolutely no introduction to Indian households. This yellow-colored root of the turmeric plant is first dried, powdered and then used for a variety of purposes including flavoring, colouring and as a stimulant. However, due to its very ubiquity very few people have really paid any deep attention to its medicinal value. People having cold and cough can benefit by consuming a teaspoon of honey with a pinch of turmeric powder. A substance called curcumin, which is an important part of turmeric, has wonderful antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in the treatment of arthritis. Turmeric is also said to be an effective naturally-occuring mild antibiotic.
A pungent, flavoursome herb belonging to the onion family, garlic has a variety of medicinal uses and its application dates back to ancient Egypt. Indians are said to be at a much lesser risk of developing colon and cervical cancer, due to their liberal use of garlic, spices and condiments in their food preparation. Garlic in particular, is extremely beneficial in that it helps prevent grave ailments like high blood pressure, gastric cancer and high blood cholesterol. A recent study conducted by the Tagore Medical College at Udaipur revealed that regular garlic consumption by heart patients resulted in a significant improvement of their condition, and that they experienced a significant drop in their blood pressure rates, thus resulting in reduced chances of mortality. Heart patients often suffer from angina (chest pain), which is possible to control by regular intake of garlic. You can’t really go wrong with this versatile herb. Add it to your soups and gravies; it adds flavor and boosts the health of your heart too.
An Asian herb with aromatic seeds, fenugreek has been used since long to counter appetite-loss, reduce blood-sugar levels, and to aid healing of ulcers and boils. A clinical study conducted by the Gandhi Medical College in Hyderabad has found that the cholesterol levels of patients who were given 25 gms of powdered fenugreek seeds before meals everyday were significantly lower than those who weren’t given fenugreek. Needless to say, fenugreek is an all-rounder, and is recommended for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems.