Meet the Kitchen First Aid Kit You Never Knew You Had
So, your 3-year-old is bawling from a bruise — what do you do? You know it’s not a big deal, but … it feels like a BIG DEAL. The size of the child you care for is inversely proportionate to the anxiety you experience when anything big or small goes wrong, which is why kitchen remedies are so helpful: No matter what system of medicine you ascribe to, kitchen remedies can tide you over the immediate, anxious period (assuming the situation is not serious) until you can consult a doctor.
To help you put together your own first aid kit of ayurvedic home remedies for children, we chatted with Ayurveda doctor Mamta Trivedi.
Reach for these kitchen remedies when your kid has …
While acidity is uncommon among younger children, kitchen remedies for acid reflux are helpful to have on hand for teenagers (not to mention yourself). Though many swear by cold milk, Trivedi doesn’t recommend it; milk is not easily digestible and raises the blood’s acid level, she says.
Instead, a mix of coarsely ground fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds, mixed with water and strained, should be sipped. These spices all have soothing and cooling properties that help relieve the burning sensation of acid reflux. Fennel also contains the compound anethole, which naturally suppresses stomach and gastrointestinal tract spasms.
Bruises & Wounds
Trivedi advises applying haldi (turmeric) on the injury to aid in killing germs. A fresh, liquid form of haldi is best. After, Trivedi suggests sprinkling on the juice of an aloe vera leaf, which has quick healing properties.
Frisky children running around are liable to burn themselves at some point — on a cup of tea, in bath water, etc. The best thing you can do for a burn is to run cold water over it immediately. After a minute of water, rub a slice of raw potato gently over the area, Trivedi says, to draw out the heat, help relieve pain and, in turn, heal the burn faster.
Colds & Flu
Perhaps the most troublesome and uncomfortable part of respiratory ailments is the build-up of phlegm. To cut through it and clear the throat and head, Trivedi recommends a home mix of ginger, fresh haldi, betel leaf, and peepal leaf. All the ingredients should be blended, she says, until they form a juice that can be sipped. (She suggests adding a dash of honey for fussy eaters.)
Cuts & Scrapes
Few 5-year-olds manage to avoid cuts or scrapes. And once again, haldi is a godsend for kitchen remedies that can ease these injuries, says Trivedi, besides being easily available in all Indian spice racks. Apply fresh haldi in liquid form directly to the cleaned abrasion to stop the bleeding and prevent septicaemia.
Whether you call them runs, loosies, or trots – diarrhoea in children is far more debilitating than in adults, leaving them dehydrated and weak. The best home remedy is chewing on some chikoo skins or fresh pomegranate seeds. Chikoo rind has purgative properties that can help pass waste from the stomach, Trivedi says, and help put an end to the diarrhea.
For adolescent girls and sometimes even in the early twenties, menstrual cramps can be extremely painful and interfere with normal function. A shot of the strained juice of mint leaves mixed with honey should be consumed frequently – the antispasmodic properties of mint provide immediate relief for the pain, and also help with menstrual nausea.
Whether caused by dryness or a virus, sore throats can be especially painful for children and make it uncomfortable for them to eat and swallow. Fresh haldi, that mainstay of kitchen remedies, can be mixed with hot water or milk and sipped as one of many home remedies for sore throat. Salt water gargles also help relieve the pain and clear any infections.
After icing, mash a clove of garlic with fresh haldi, and mix with mustard oil and melted camphor to form an ointment that can be applied to the sprained area overnight. Or, for a quicker and easier remedy, heat half a brinjal with cow ghee in a pan and apply the vegetable directly to the sprain. Brinjal and garlic both have anti-inflammatory properties, which will ease swelling and pain. But note that both substances should be allowed to cool completely before applying them to the sprain.
Stomach ache & Indigestion
Stomach ache treatment depends on the constitution of the body, Trivedi says, and how Ayurveda’s vatta, pitta, and kapha are imbalanced within it.
However, jeera (cumin seeds), ajjwain (carom seeds) and black salt will provide relief from any kind of stomach ache: Jeera stimulates enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and aids digestion; ajjwain contains high levels of thymol, which also aids digestion and relieves gas; and black salt is a digestive stimulant that balances the production of natural stomach acids.
Trivedi also advises nauseous patients to sit in a vajarasan position to relieve flatulence and alleviate discomfort.
Cavities, a shaky milk tooth, or sensitivity after eating ice cream can all lead to toothaches. To keep the pain at bay until you get to the dentist, have your child chew on a clove, Trivedi says, or better still, pack the tooth with a ball of cotton wool dipped in clove oil. Cloves contain eugenol, which is a chemical compound widely used as an analgesic, and have anesthetic properties, which will help numb the pain..
Ayurveda is most effective when the treatment is customised to the constitution of the patient, Trivedi reminds. But since the kitchen remedies above are recommended only for emergencies, general treatment will still be better than no treatment at all. The best part is, you probably already have them on hand.