Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Home cures for common illnesses

MANY of us tend to run to a doctor at the slightest sign of ill-health. But drugs do not guarantee a cure. In fact, some medicines may do more harm than good. Taking antibiotics for a simple bout of diarrhoea for instance, may aggravate your condition.

 

Simple ailments like coughs and colds, headaches, sore throat and constipation can easily be treated at home at minimum cost and maximum safety. Drugs are not always necessary as our body has its own natural defences to fight off diseases. So why take unnecessary risks?

Below we bring you natural home remedies for several mild health problems.

Colds and flu

YOU don't need to see a doctor for these unless they last for more than a week or are accompanied by fever.
-- Take plenty of water and have adequate rest.
-- Eat lots of fruits like oranges (or drink the juice) and guava.
-- To relieve blocked nose, take deep breaths of hot water vapour for 15 minutes several times a day. All you have to do is sit on a chair with a bucket of hot water at your feet. Cover your head over the bucket with a sheet and breathe in the rising vapour. Alternatively, you can put a little salt water in your cupped hands and sniff it into the nose. Or breathe in the scent of crushed or chopped garlic several times a day.
-- Take chicken soup. Indians usually prepare their own soup, rasam, from garlic, cummin seeds, black pepper, tamarind, asafoetida, chilli and ginger.
-- Crush some ginger and extract 1 teaspoon of the juice. Sweeten with honey and take this three times a day for four days.

Coughs

COUGHING is our body's way of getting rid of phlegm and germs in the throat or lungs. Medicines are usually not necessary unless symptoms persist or there's blood in the phlegm.
-- Drink plenty of plain water.
-- Breathe in hot water vapour to clear the nose.
-- Have 1 to 2 glassfuls of plain cabbage juice a day.
-- Boil three carrots for 15 minutes, extract the juice and mix it with water to make half a glassful. Drink hot five or six times a day.
-- Boil three onions cut in quarters in 1/2 litre water for 5-10 minutes, strain the mixture, sweeten and drink as much as possible throughout the day.

Fever

MILD fevers are not life-threatening. You can easily bring the temperature down without having to see a doctor.
-- Remove all clothing or wear loose clothes made from thin material so that your body gets lots of fresh air.
-- Get someone to fan your body. It helps lower the body temperature.
-- Sponge the whole body with a wet towel. If this is not possible sponge the chest and forehead constantly till fever subsides.
-- Take soft foods like porridge and soft-boiled rice, and drink plenty of plain water or fruit juices.
-- Wash a fistful of green peas thoroughly and let them dry. Fry without oil, place in a cup, add cold water and leave for a while before drinking.

Headaches and migraine


-- Boil a handful of kangkung and then pound till fine. Pour a glass of water over it, add a pinch of salt, strain and drink the solution.
-- Crush a few bulbs of fresh garlic and rub on the forehead.
-- Apply thinly sliced potatoes on forehead. Replace with fresh ones as they dry up.
-- Cut a lemon in half. Apply each half to each temple and hold them in place for 10-15 minutes with a handkerchief or scarf bound round your head.

Sorethroat


-- Put 1 teaspoonful salt in a glass of warm water and gargle.

Constipation


-- Drink plenty of water.
-- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and foods rich in fibre, eg wholemeal bread.
-- Boil 1kg carrots in a litre of water for 2 hours. Then, blend in a liquidiser or rub through a sieve. Drink the soup.

Diarrhoea


-- Drink plenty of water.
-- Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) may also help. Put 2 level tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a litre of boiled water (you can add 1/2 cup orange juice or a little lemon juice if you like). Drink every five minutes day and night until you begin to urinate properly. A child may need to drink at least 1 litre a day.
-- Drink plain, strong tea (you may add fried cummin seeds or lime juice to it).
-- For babies, boil poppy seeds (kas-kas), grind and mix with milk.

Mumps

NOT dangerous in young children and swellings usually go away by themselves in 2 weeks. Mumps leave a strong, natural, active immunity so your child seldom gets a second attack.
-- Give him plenty of water to drink and also soft food that he can eat easily.

Sores with pus


-- Wash sores well with soap and boiled water, as long as there is pus.
-- Leave small sores open to air and bandage large sores. Change bandage frequently.
-- Tell your child not to scratch the sores as this would spread the infection.

Chickenpox

ONE attack leaves permanent protection against future infections. It is usually not dangerous and passes away on its own.
-- Tell your child not to scratch the rash. As a further precaution against bacterial infection, cut and clean his fingernails often and give him daily baths.
-- Remove the dry crusts of blisters with compresses.