Spices To The Rescue!!

Turmeric Black Pepper

Ok, so we are in a lock down and do not have access to many things. It is very important for us to identify and use things that are handy. I have compiled a list of common spices that helps boost our immunity and also help reduce the mucus content in our body . Most of the spices have pungent, bitter taste, hot potency and aids to increase our digestive ability. I believe having good digestive fire is akin to having good immunity. Digestive fire is quoted in the samhitas (ancient Ayurvedic text books) as “Bhagavan Eeswar” (God himself). Let us identify and learn how to use them at different scenarios. Use only raw organic products wherever possible.

Amla: Amla or Amalaki has a synonym Dhatri (female that feeds in the absence of mother). Amalaki gives us all the qualities of a loving mother and hence given that synonym. This fabulous herb has many unique qualities. It primarily has sour taste; has cold potency and sweet taste after digestion. Replace tamarind or lemon juice with Amla to get the sour taste in your food. It helps reduce any accumulation of mucus, reduces fever, helps remove accumulated toxins, purifies blood, increases digestive fire and thus amplifies your immunity. Get frozen Amla from Indian store, cook it with some turmeric, salt and add it to your curries as a replacement to tamarind and lemon. Make sure you use the bigger Amla and not the smaller one. Alternately 1 tsp of Chyawanprash which has Amla as a main ingredient can be consumed every day for rejuvenation. You can use dried Amla powder to make a decoction. Take 1 tsp of amla powder, add 100ml of water and reduce it down to 20ml, consume this everyday for all above mentioned benefits.

Turmeric: With its bitter and astringent taste, hot potency and drying quality; turmeric offers many benefits to boost our immunity. It helps in clearing out mucus and aids in removal of any worm infestation. Add a pinch of turmeric to all the curries as a condiment and it can also be added to warm milk or tea. Consume 2 pinches with 1/2 tsp of ghee for improving immunity. If there is mucus then add 2 pinches of turmeric; 2 pinches of black pepper and 1/2 tsp of honey. It is a blood purifier also. You can also make a herbal tea out of it.

Black Pepper: This spice has pungent taste; hot potency and used to remove excess mucus from the head and neck region. It can help remove worm infestation in the body. It will increase digestive fire and remove excess toxins. Beware that it has the ability to increase heat content in the body; so use sparingly if you are suffering from any heat related problems like skin conditions, acidity etc. You can use it along with Turmeric and honey or can add a pinch to warm milk or tea along with turmeric.

Ginger: Its synonym is Vishwabheshaja–(meaning– used as a medicine through out the world). Another name is Kaphari–enemy for Kapha (mucus accumulation in the body). There are 2 forms of ginger –fresh and dry form. Dry ginger(shunthi) has pungent taste but becomes sweet after digestion and hot in potency. Fresh ginger(Ardrak) has a very piercing ability to cut through any accumulated mucus. Ardrak is an appetizer and improves digestive capacity. A piece of fresh ginger can be added to your tea or 1/4 tsp of grated ginger along with a pinch of salt can be taken before meals to aid in digestion. A pinch of dry ginger can be added to warm milk along with turmeric. With first sign of mucus take 1/4th tsp of freshly squeezed ginger juice to 1 tsp of honey and consume three times a day (reduce quantity and frequency if you are suffering from heat related problems). If using dry ginger powder use 1/4th tsp of dry ginger powder with 1 tsp of honey for desired results.

Holy Basil: This herb is pungent in taste and hot in potency. This plant is commonly seen in Indian household and is worshipped everyday. With its penetrating ability and hot potency it is used in common colds, fever, cough, and asthma. It also helps with removal of worm infestation and improves digestive fire. Pound the leaves and squeeze juice out of it, give 1/4th tsp juice along with 1tsp honey. Alternately you can make a decoction with handful of tulsi leaves,1/4th tsp grated ginger and a pinch of black pepper in 100ml of water and boil it down to 20ml. Add 3-4 leaves in your tea along with ginger and turmeric also. Be very cautious if you are already suffering from heat, skin or blood related problems

Cardamom: It has pungent, sweet taste, dry quality and cold potency. It is helpful in many conditions such as dry cough, asthma, increase in digestive fire. 2 pods can be added while making tea or take 1/8th tsp of the grounded powder with honey. Powder can also be added to freshly made lemonade for enhancing taste and digestion. Cardamom is especially beneficial for those suffering from heat related problems.

Coriander seeds: It has bitter and astringent taste. This herb is highly beneficial for those suffering from heat related problems. Take 2 tsp of seeds crush them and add to 40ml of water, keep it overnight, filter and drink in the morning to alleviate fever, thirst or urinary related problems. For excessive mucus in the body make a decoction with 1 tsp shunthi, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1 tsp fennel seeds in 200ml water boiled down to 50ml, filter and drink warm.

Cinnamon: This spice has pungent, bitter taste and hot in potency. It is antitoxic, helps in relieving throat and oral pain. Add 1/8th tsp of cinnamon powder, 1/8th tsp of cardamom powder, 1/8th tsp ginger juice with 1 tsp honey and take it to reduce mucus in the body.

Carrom Seeds: This spice has bitter, pungent taste and hot potency. It helps with improving digestive fire and reduces toxin accumulation in the body. It helps in relieving abdominal pain and bloating especially with little kids. Make a herbal smoke by frying these seeds on the pan and inhale the smoke with your nose (make sure to close your eyes while smoking) to help with creating space in blocked nose or chest. You can also make a poultice with hot carrom seeds and place it on chest to help with asthma and wheezing symptoms.

Cumin Seeds: This spice has pungent taste and hot potency. It is a very good digestive and carminative. Add a tsp of these seeds along with coriander and fennel to water, boil, strain and drink it every day for increased digestion. Grounded powder can be added to food as seasoning or can be taken before food along with a pinch of shunthi for increase in appetite

Betel leaves: These leaves have bitter, pungent and astringent taste and hot in potency. They are best digestives after eating food. Chew the leaf along with betel nut, clove, rock salt and lime to aid in digestion and keep mucus away. Caution for those with excessive heat problems.

Rock Salt: Salt has a lot of penetrating ability and can cut through very thick mucus. Heat sesame oil, add some rock salt to it and rub this all over the chest. Take steam with essential oils and notice how much clear your chest will be after this.

Essential Oils: Add 3-4 drops of essential oils like clove oil and 3-4 drops of eucalyptus oil to water, boil and inhale the steam to clear the airways from mucus and helps with relieving congestion.

Warm Water: Please make a habit of drinking warm water only especially during periods like this.

I know I have loaded you with so much information at once, however here are the few tips to follow during the curfew and keep yourself healthy

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap if you are out of a sanitizer
  • Make a habit of sipping hot herbal teas using any of the spices (adjust quantity and herbs according to your need and constitution)
  • Always eat fresh home cooked meals with spices that suits you and eat only 3 meals a day–avoid snacking as much possible and sip on hot teas in between meals
  • Do not forget to exercise, there are many yoga and exercise videos online
  • Take rejuvenating, immune boosting formulations like Chyawanprash, amla jam
  • Use hot fomentation and steam techniques along with ginger juice, cardamom powder, cinnamon powder and honey three times a day at the first sight of mucus accumulation
  • Use spiced warm milk for dry cough
  • Intermittent fasting helps with removal of toxins and undigested food
  • Do some breathing techniques and meditation to experience clarity in thoughts

I hope this article will empower you to use spices judiciously. Do not hesitate to contact me at manju@ayurhitam.com for further queries

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