Excerpts from "Home Cures and Popular Beliefs" from the book "Where There is No Doctor", published as a health guide by The Voluntary Health Association of India.
Please do note however, that home cures are effective only in mild diseases. Always treat a serious illness with modern medicine.
Cough and cold
If a child has a cough and cold:
• Crush 10-15 'tulsi' leaves. Give one teaspoon of this juice mixed with honey or jaggery three times a day to babies for 5 days.
• Heat four teaspoons of coconut oil. Crush one teaspoon of camphor (Kapoor or Karpura). Dissolve this in the oil. Keep it stored in airtight bottles. This can be rubbed on the chest and throat of the child to relieve congestion. (This can also be used for any muscular pain).
If an adult has cough and cold:
• Boil a handful of fresh eucalyptus leaves in two glasses of water, till only one glass is left. Strain this water and add sugar. Drink this three times a day for 5 days.
• Another effective medicine for cough and cold is Leucas aspera (Hindi: Guma, Tamil: Thumbai). This is a wild plant with white bell- shaped flowers. Boil one handful of fresh leaves in water with a pinch of turmeric powder (haldi). Inhale the steam. This helps to relieve congestion.
• Boil a handful of leaves in a glass of water until the water gets reduced to half. Add one teaspoon of honey. Give three times a day for five days.
• Soak a piece of turmeric in castor oil and burn it. Inhale the fumes. Burn a few pepper corns (Hindi: Kali mirch, Tamil: Milagu) and inhale the fumes.
• Mix together half a cup of bitter gourd (Hindi: Karela, Tamil: Paharkai) juice, half a lime and one tablespoon of honey. Drink three times a day for 5 days.
•Crush fresh ginger to get 1 teaspoonful of the juice and mix this with equal amount of honey. Take this every three hours. This is very soothing to the throat.
•Boil some water. Add the juice of one lime and sugar or salt. Take this hot once every 3-4 hours.
•Boil a glass of milk with a pinch of turmeric and pepper powder (black pepper) and drink it hot at bedtime.