Traditional herbal remedies to keep monsoon woes at bay

The monsoon season though much welcomed by all, also brings with it, its share of woes in the form of increased susceptibility to common cold, cough, congestion and assorted infection and ailments. For majority of these, it is not necessary to pop a pill. There are several time-tested traditional remedies that keep monsoon-related ailments at bay, and it is not much difficult to find these either, as they are readily available in the kitchen or garden.

Joint pain

  • It is a tradition in few southern states of India to welcome the rainy season with a herbal drink, known as “chukkumalli kappi”, essentially a brew of dry ginger, coriander and chittarathai herb (lesser galangal herb). This is not just a traditional empty ritual. Joint pains get aggravated during the cold and humid months. This herbal drink, works as a pain killer, apart from improving digestion and appetite.

Common cold

  • In case if running nose, rub a nutmeg on a smooth grinding stone along with milk. Apply this on nose and forehead.
  • To reduce excess sneezing, boil two tablespoon fennel seeds in 1 cup water till it is reduced to half the quantity. Filter it. Have a tablespoon of this every morning and evening for a few days.
  • If you feel you are likely to catch a cold, chew on a few basil leaves, and this could prevent its onset.
  • The herb karpooravalli (Coleus Ambonicus) is anti-allergic and keeps away common cold. Just sauté the leaves, grind them and mix the paste with curd. The tangy karpooravalli can be included in regular diet in any manner, or you can even chew the raw leaves. Their pungent property helps reduce phlegm in the body, apart from improving digestion and appetite.

Cold and Cough

  • For dry cough, the standard remedy of milk boiled with turmeric and pepper powder works wonders. If required, filter this, and add a little palm sugar to this filtrate to soothe sore throat.
  • For wet cough, try decoctions of adathoda and omavalli (Coleus aromaticus). A decoction of adathoda leaves removes phlegm from the body and works as an expectorant. When making a decoction, remove its midrib, and boil a single leaf in a glass of water adding a pinch of pepper powder. Drink this twice a day for three or four days.
  • Another such traditional recipe mostly used in southern states is the ‘Thippili Rasam’. Saute a few leaves of thippili (long pepper) and add to rasam, or any such gravy preparation. Its anti-allergic properties help prevent cough.
  • For cold with phlegm and mild cough, take 8 to 10 basil leaves in a cup of water. Add 1-2 garlic cloves, half-piece crushed ginger and 4-5 pepper corns. Boil the water and keep simmering till the quantity is reduced to one-fourth. Cool and strain the solution, add a teaspoon of honey and drink every morning.


  • To keep away from catching viral fever, drink a decoction of Kalmegh herb (Andrographis paniculata), an annual herb with bitter taste of neem, by boiling four leaves adding pepper powder, boiled in a glass of water.
  • In case of mild fever associated with cold, neem leaf decoction taken with pepper powder lowers temperature.

Nasal block & Sinusitis

  • Sinusitis is more prevalent during the rainy days. Simple steam inhalation of the ‘nochi leaf’ (Indian chaste tree), with a pinch of pepper added to boiling water can clear a nasal block.
  • Make a fine powder of equal quantities of green cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black pepper and cumin seeds. Sniff this frequently to induce sneezing.
  • A tablespoon of crushed carom seeds and tied up in a muslin cloth can be used for inhalation to relieve nasal congestion. In case of nasal block in children, a bundle of carom seeds can be placed near their pillow while sleeping.

Few monsoon tips

  • Stay indoors in the mornings between 5am and 10am when pollen counts are high.
  • Better to dry your clothes in an automatic dryer, as if you hand clothing outside, pollen can collect into it and can be carried into your home.
  • Keep the grass of your lawn cut short, and get someone else to mow the lawn.
  • When planting new plants, consider ones that are low pollen producers.
  • If a room has been kept closed for several hours, keep the windows open to ventilate the space thoroughly before bringing in the child or aged person into the room, as enclosed and humid conditions promote growth of microbes.
  • Ensure that undergarments are thoroughly dried after they are washed, as wet clothes invite fungal infections.
  • Keep out of water stagnation that promotes breeding of mosquitoes.
  • When boiling water, add cumin seeds which makes the water anti-viral and baceridical.

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