Members of the older generation in India relied heavily on Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. It was largely due to their experience and knowledge of the medicinal properties of various herbs. Read on.
Doctors at home
When one thinks of traditional home remedies one gets a cosy feeling associated with wise grandmothers and simple, natural ingredients like turmeric, ginger, pepper, and honey. Members of the older generation in India relied heavily on Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, as they were not convinced of the efficacy and safety of modern allopathic treatments. It was largely due to their experience and knowledge of the medicinal properties of various herbs that they were able to treat common diseases like diarrhoea, gripes, cough, cold, fever, etc. Even today, it is quite common for parents to try to treat common illnesses at home by these methods rather than rush to the doctor at the first sneeze.
It is well known that the immune systems of babies below the age of one year are immature. Hence, they are very susceptible to falling sick with slight changes in weather, diet, etc. It is for this reason that most Indian households stock up on medicinal herbs to tackle common situations such as gripes in the middle of the night or a sudden rise in body temperature.
The First Step: Diagnosing the Problem
According to Indian tradition, whenever an infant cries abnormally for a long period of time, the first step should be to change his clothes and make him wear loose, comfortable, fresh clothing. It is advisable to avoid synthetic clothing as this affects the baby's sensitive skin and may cause itching and a rash. If the baby continues crying, lightly press the baby's stomach, ears and back. The baby will react immediately if it is experiencing pain in any of these areas.
If a baby (less than nine months of age) has a pain in the stomach, the recommended remedy is to crush 10 to 15 grains of dill seed in a teaspoonful of water. This extract should be mixed with a few drops of mother's milk and administered to the baby.
Another common stomach ailment is constipation. Everyone is aware how uncomfortable it is to be constipated. One loses one's appetite, feels that one's stomach is distended and dreads the next trip to the bathroom. If adults find constipation so discomfiting, one can only imagine what a baby must feel. Tradition has a cure for this too. Administer a few drops of castor oil mixed with a teaspoonful of mother's milk or lukewarm water. The dose of castor oil should be adjusted according to the age of the baby and the severity of the constipation. This once-a-day dose should be terminated once normal bowel movement has been restored.
Having a cold can be quite a nuisance, but for a baby it is particularly uncomfortable. There is a traditional method to alleviate the baby's discomfort. If the baby is less than six months old, take 4-5 nagarvel paans and place them on a sieve. Place the sieve on a cooking pan over a fire. 1 paan should be placed in the centre of the sieve to allow it to get moderately hot. These warm paans are then placed on the baby's chest one after another. However, make sure that the paans are not so hot that they burn the baby's skin. This procedure should be continued for about five minutes by re-heating the cooled paans.
In the case of babies over six months of age, one can use balls of soft cotton cloth in place of the paans. The balls of cloth should be heated on an indirect fire. The moderately warm balls of cloth should then be pressed gently against the baby's chest and back. Here again, make sure that the balls of cloth are at a temperature that will not affect the baby's tender skin. If it is not possible to heat the balls of cloth on an indirect fire, one can heat a piece of soft cotton cloth using a hot iron and then roll it into a ball.
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