Respiratory infection is a major health problem worldwide, especially among children. In India, 15–30% of all deaths in children under the age of 5 years are caused by acute respiratory infection. However, there are a number of home remedies available to treat and prevent the common cold from turning into a life-threatening disease. Here are a few of them.
1. Water: Drinking lukewarm water reduces the inflammation in the throat and fights common cold, cough and sore throat. It also hydrates the body and washes out the infection.
2. Ginger vapour: Boil two teaspoons of ginger shavings in a large bowl of water until it starts giving off a ginger-scented vapour. Make your child inhale this vapour. Ginger vapour is safer than most vapour capsules available in the market.
3. Dry ginger coffee: If your baby is older than 10 months, this is a very effective remedy for her. Boil a cup of water with a small block of jaggery. After the jaggery has dissolved, crush a 1-inch piece of dry ginger and two peppercorns and add it to the boiling water. Allow the water to boil for 4–5 minutes and then add 6–7 basil or tulsi leaves. Let the mixture boil until the basil leaves wilt. Give two teaspoons of this concoction every four hours. Adults can add coffee powder to this mixture, hence the name dry ginger coffee.
4. Ginger and tulsi mix: Pour half a cup of water into a pan. To the water add a half-inch piece of ginger and 5–7 tulsi leaves and boil it until it is reduced to half. Cool this preparation and give it to your child.
5. Lemon juice and honey: Add one and a half teaspoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey to a cup of lukewarm water. Stir well and give to your toddler at regular intervals. A word of caution: Do not give home remedies containing honey to children less than one-year-old. Also, discuss with your doctor about giving honey if your child has any immune deficiencies.
6. Cinnamon and honey: Add two pinches of cinnamon powder to one spoon of honey and give to your child. Make him drink some warm water afterwards to wash it down. Making cinnamon a part of your child’s daily diet can help him develop immunity against cold.
7. Clove and honey mix: Roast a few cloves on a tawa or a hot plate and grind it to powder. Mix a pinch of this powder with a teaspoon of honey and give to your child.
8. Milk and turmeric: Turmeric has been used since ancient times to cure many infections. Add one and a quarter teaspoons of turmeric to a glass of boiling milk. Cool it until it is lukewarm. Give this mixture to your child before his bedtime.
Home remedies have been around for centuries and have been used by many generations. They are a proven, safe, low-cost and speedy way of treating many minor ailments. Other than being natural and non-toxic, they are gentle on the body. Also, when a child recovers by consuming a medicine prepared for him by his parent, it strengthens the bond of trust between the two.