Aug 13, 2015

Home remedies for treating cold/cough in children

Disclaimer: I'm neither a doctor nor a nutritionist. The tips below are based on my experience whenever my 3.5 year old daughter catches cold/cough. So use them at your own discretion. If the body temperature is very high or the child looks very weak, do consult your doctor first.

I find the below tips to be very effective during the initial stages when my daughter had started to sneeze 4-5 times or when she has watery eyes/running nose.

1) Warm water - Ensure the child keeps sipping a glass of warm water. This will keep him/her hydrated.

2) Coconut oil with camphor - Before putting the child to bed, follow this procedure. Mix a pinch of camphor in 2 tsp of pure coconut oil. Warm this mixture for 5-7 seconds. Massage this oil on your child's chest and back. The congestion will ease and he/she will be able to sleep better.

3) Tulsi-ginger extract - Pluck fresh tulsi leaves from your balcony/garden (Highly recommend you have a tulsi (holy basil) plant at home for these emergencies). In a mortar and pestle, add finely chopped ginger and a tsp of water. Mash it well. Then add tulsi leaves and mash them with little more water until the water turns dark green. Strain the extract. Add 1-2 tsp of honey and give immediately. This works wonders and the congestion/running nose comes under control.

4) Pepper-Jeera rasam - The appetite would be less whenever my daughter is not well. During those days, I make this rasam and give it with rice. The pepper feels soothing to her throat and she is able to eat atleast a serving of rasam rice without a fuss.

5) Pongal / Kichdi - For a main meal, serve either pongal/kichdi with a good pinch of turmeric powder and pepper powder. Both turmeric and pepper helps the body to fight the germs.

6) Turmeric milk - My daughter doesn't drink milk, so this tip doesn't help me much. But if your child has no issues, give a small cup of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric powder, black pepper powder and palm sugar.

7) Vicks Vaporub - Before bed, apply a small layer of Vicks on the child's feet and make him/her wear socks. This helps to give a good night's sleep. I have heard that Vicks should be avoided for young children but using a little bit doesn't do any harm. This is my opinion, feel free to avoid it if you are very concerned.  

Aug 11, 2015

Book Review - Nalam 360 by Dr. Sivaraman

Ever since I read his two books (aaraam thinai - volume 1 and 2) last year, I have become a big fan of Dr. Sivaraman. His ideologies, beliefs and principles resonate with me completely that I google him often to explore more about his work :-) That's how I came across his other books published by Vikatan publications. I searched far and wide in Bangalore but couldn't get them. Amazon and Flipkart have shipping charges that are almost the same as the cost of the books. During my last visit to Chennai, I made a trip to Vikatan office and bought his other books along with a few more interesting ones.

Nalam 360 is a series of articles that he has written focused on various ailments, ranging from allergies, migraine, thyroid, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity etc. In his usual style of being informative, witty and thought-provoking, he has written about the causes of each ailment and how it can be treated/controlled using traditional medicines and eating practices that have been followed by our forefathers/foremothers.

We have become a generation of instant gratification and instant relief from any pain. Popping pills for minor ailments like headache or fever have become a second nature. We don't take the time to think about why our body is sending these signals. Dr.Sivaraman reiterates on the basics like eating right, proper exercise, sleeping on time, keeping the mind at peace and slowing down. Some of our traditional Indian practices when it comes to food are so amazing that the quote "food is medicine" is the need of the hour.

5 key take-aways from this book

- The mother's body can detect any infection in her baby using the saliva when he/she drinks milk from the mother's breast. Then the required antibodies are produced in the mother's milk and the baby gets them during the next feed. What an amazing response mechanism nature has given! Not possible in the days of bottle feed and pumped breast milk.
- Foods that taste bitter (kasappu and thuvarppu) are great immunity boosters. He recommends regular intake of gooseberry, green tea, holy basil, fenugreek seeds etc
- Black pepper helps to fight allergy-causing foreign particles in the body and can be so helpful to combat sinusitis allergy
- The best way to fight migraine is to include ginger regularly in the diet
- In a 24 hour duration, around 1 to 1.25 litres of saliva is secreted in our tongue that helps to break down carbohydrates and starts the digestion process. Most of the common ailments like headache, acidity, food reflux, heart burn etc all have an underlying cause which is improper digestion. Concentrating on eating without distraction, chewing the food nicely and not gobbling up etc will help saliva do its work properly, thereby preventing indigestion.

There are many more such interesting insights on Indian spices, grains and food practices that we can learn from this short book. I have been incorporating many such ideas in my cooking and hoping to spread the message as much as I could. Would love to connect with readers who share interests in these traditional food practices. Do write to me.

Aug 7, 2015

Sometimes, convenience and discounts don't matter

Ever since the new vegetable shop opened up near my home (around 500 mtrs), I go there once a week and procure fresh vegetables. In the days of discounts and online grocery shopping, I spend atleast 30 minutes every week for this visit and maybe, pay a little more too. Traffic outside my apartment is terrible. With no footpaths or pavements, it is a challenge to walk and get to the other side of the road.

I asked myself - "If it has so many hassles, then why do I prefer to spend time on this activity?"

1) It gives me a reason to step outside my home
2) I walk to the shop and carry home a bag of atleast 3-4 kgs of veggies, providing me an opportunity for a little more physical activity in a day
3) The sight and feel of fresh veggies and greens give me a high
4) I can select the good quality ones from the bad, which I cannot do if I shop from online grocery stores. Invariably, there will be 2-3 rotten or unripe ones in a 1 kg bag of tomatoes
5) It gives me an opportunity to converse with the shopkeeper, someone who is outside my friends and family circle.
6) I carry a single large jute bag where he dumps all veggies together. Compare that to online grocery stores where each vegetable is wrapped in a separate plastic bag or box
7) He plays Tamil film/devotional music from the 60s, 70s and 80s, triggering a sense of nostalgia! :-)

If I analyze these reasons, it boils down to two underlying themes:
- experience of shopping and
- personal values

These can trump over the umpteen discounts and offers. I'm sure people who love to shop for clothes, shoes or jewelry would echo similar feelings.

How often do you prioritize the "experience" of purchasing a product/service over discounts and convenience? I'm curious to know!

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