Home remedies are Malaysians best friends since we can remember. Why? Because we believe in the healing powers of local herbs and spices. In fact, we are not the only ones who believe strongly in home remedies. Herbal teas (tisanes) have been long been used in ancient civilisations around the world for healing and restorative purposes. Ancient texts in Egypt and China document the use of herbs infused in water for medicinal purposes and as early as the 1st century AD, Dioscorides – the legendary Greek physician – documented healing infusions from more than 600 medicinal plants.
Many of these herbs, flowers and roots used in herbal infusions are common household ingredients and thus can be speedily concocted into a healing remedy when the need arises. Whether it’s to soothe digestion, calm inflammation or fight off a cold, these everyday herbs can easily be formulated into a potent remedy.
Here is a list of my top 5 home remedies courtesy of Nature’s apothecary.
1. Ginger & Turmeric Warmer
This blend is one of my favourites! It is so deliciously warming on a rainy day and creates a lovely fragrant aroma in the kitchen. The warming and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and turmeric make it a great concoction for joint pain and arthritis.
Pandan leaves have traditionally been used to lower blood pressure and to control blood sugar levels. Lemongrass aids digestion and adds a citrusy aroma to any dish or drink.
- 2 pandan leaves
- 2 inches turmeric root
- 2 inches ginger root
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- Wash and clean the leaves, stalks and roots. Bring a one-litre pot of water to the boil.
- Trim the lemongrass stalks, removing any tough coverings. Use a mallet or chopper and bash the lemongrass, ginger and turmeric to release the goodness. Toss all the ingredients into the pot of boiling water and leave to simmer for one hour.
- Sweeten to taste with sugar or honey. Best enjoyed with good company!
2. Aloe Vera & Kalamansi Soother
The primordial-looking aloe vera leaf has been used in traditional healing systems throughout the world for centuries. The Ebers Papyrus in 1500 BC lists the use of aloe vera as a health remedy for both external and internal use. In Sanskrit it is known as ‘gbrita-kumari’, In Malay it is ‘lidah buaya’ or ‘jadam’ and in Chinese, it is called ‘lu hui’. A testament to its healing powers, aloe vera is one of the few plants that is used in Ayurvedic medicine to rebalance all three doshas – vatta, pitta and kapha.
The most common use of aloe vera is as a soothing agent for sunburns and wounds. But the properties of this translucent, gelatinous gel don’t stop there. It is also used for heartburn relief and as a gentle laxative. The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties of this plant make it a potent addition to meals and beverages.
Calamansi Lime is packed with Vitamin C and is known as a great immunity booster as well as detoxifier. The combination of the cooling, soothing aloe vera and the sharp, refreshing tang of the calamansi lime creates a harmonious yet powerful healing beverage.
- 6 Calamansi limes
- 800ml water
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of fresh Aloe Vera Gel
- Ice cubes (optional)
- Slice the Calamansi limes into halves. Deseed the limes and squeeze out the juice. Add the juice to the water and give it a stir.
- Prepare the sweetener using either honey or sugar dissolved in warm water. Add the sweetener to the kalamansi lime water.
- The fresh aloe vera gel can be cut into little cubes and added to the mix. I prefer blending the fresh aloe vera with the kalamansi mix and adding ice cubes to make it into a refreshing tropical mix that soothes digestion and aids detoxification.
3. Star Flu Fighter
If you feel as though you’re coming down with the flu, boil this up!
Star anise is rich in antioxidants and Vitamins C & A, and is also an antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral. It is commonly used in Asian cooking and traditionally used as a medicine to fight of flus and colds.
Cinnamon was one of the most sought-after spices during the Spice Trade, owing to its highly-aromatic fragrance and medicinal properties. Apart from being used as a flavouring for desserts, cinnamon is known for its ability to lower blood sugar levels and is also high in antioxidants.
- 3 star anise
- 2 inches ginger root
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Add the spices and ginger root to 500ml of boiling water.
- Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Sweeten with sugar or honey if needed.
- Drink warm throughout the day.
4. Brainy Booster
Centella asiatica also known as ‘daun pegaga’ or Indian pennywort is used in Ayurvedic medicine for its skin-healing ability and as a powerful brain tonic. This herb grows easily and is found rampant in swampy wetlands. Needing little care, this powerful herb is a must in all households. The fan shaped leaves of this herb are best eaten raw and are a welcome addition to salads (‘ulams’) and juices.
Pineapple juice is my chosen fruit to complement pegaga in this juice for the simple reason that it’s the only juice my daughter will consume despite looking green when mixed with pegaga! Thankfully, the pineapple is also loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes that add to the pegaga powerhouse.
- 10 pegaga stalks
- 1 whole pineapple
- Peel the pineapple and cut into chunks. Wash out the pegaga stalks.
- Juice both pegaga and pineapple chunks. Stir to mix.
- Serve to unsuspecting kids!
5. Anis Seed Digestive
The anis seed (Pimpinella anisum) not to be confused with the star-shaped seed pod of the star anise, is highly regarded for its ability to aid digestion. Similar in size and shape to the fennel seed, it has a distinct liquorice-like taste and is often used in Indian cooking.
Cardamom has a strong, rich aroma and is used to boost a sluggish digestive system as well as to ward off heartburn and indigestion. Add the healing warming, anti-inflammatory and wind-dispelling effects of ginger and you have yourself a powerful digestive aid!
- 1 teaspoon of anis seed
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 inch ginger root, peeled
- 500ml water
- Combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil. Continue simmering for 30 minutes.
- Best consumed after a heavy meal.
- Now that you’ve been introduced to the medicinal properties of some common spices and herbs in the kitchen, feel free to experiment and get concocting!
The Elixir of Life Revealed
I hope you find these home remedies as an alternative way to keep your family and yourself safe and well, especially during these troubled times. It is important for you to boost your immunity in order to keep your body strong and impervious to diseases. I won’t say these home remedies are 100 percent effective but it helps to provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients that your body might be lacking in. After all, there must be a reason why our ancestors live long and healthy compared to our generations. In the end, nature knows what’s best, right?
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