By David Werner. Adapted for India by: The Voluntary
Health Association of India by Dr. C. Sathyamala. Revised and updated
by Padam Khanna with Dr. Stella, M.P. Mansukhani and Dr. Salai Pa Cin;
Illustration by Shinod A.P.
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
Cuts, Wounds and Stings
High Blood Pressure
Pregnancy Related Ailments
|Boil a handful of the
leaves of Vasa (Hindi: Arusa; Tamil: Adathodai) in a glass of water until
it becomes one half glass. Strain and add honey or jaggery to taste. Take
this 3 times a day for a minimum of three months. Give half of the adult
dose to children. Since asthma can become very serious, seek medical help
if it doesn't improve.
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
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.
|Wash the cut well with clean
water. Wash a piece of fresh ginger and grind it. Apply on the cut, and
bandage it with a clean cloth. Do not remove the bandage till the cut
has completely healed and the ginger comes off on its own. Keep the bandage
completely dry. It you can get Dettol (or similar antiseptic solution),
mix it with water and use this solution for cleaning.
Wash the affected area
with clean, warm water (if possible) and apply turmeric powder over the
area. Clean and apply turmeric powder everyday.
Cardon cactus can be used to clean wounds when there is no boiled water
and no way to get any.
Cardon cactus also helps to stop a wound from bleeding because the juice
makes the cut blood vessels squeeze shut.
Cut a piece of the cactus with a clean knife and press if firmly against
the wound. When the bleeding is under control, tie a piece of the cactus
to the wound with a strip of cloth. After two or three hours, take off
the cactus and clean the wound with water (which was boiled and cooled)
When an ulcer is clean without any pus, boil one ink nut (Hindi: Harithaki,
Balhar, Kalepar: Tamil: Kadukai) in a glass of water. Strain the water
and wash the ulcer with it. Then rub the nut on a clean surface. Apply
the paste on the ulcer. Keep the ulcer clean.
Old Ulcers and Wounds
When an ulcer or a wound is not treated, it gets infected and has lot
Cut an unripe papaya. Scoop out the inside pulp and apply on the
ulcer. Wash it off the next day and apply papaya pulp again. Continue
till the ulcer becomes clean. Then treat as for clean ulcer (see above)
with ink nut.
Note: Ripe papayas are rich in vitamins and also aid digestion.
Eating them is especially helpful for weak and old people.
Papaya can also be used for treating old ulcers (pressure sores).
The fruit contains chemicals that help soften and make dead flesh
easier to remove. First clean and wash out a pressure sore that has
dead flesh in it. Then soak a sterile cloth or gauze with 'milk' that
comes out when the green fruit or trunk of the tree is cut, and pack
this into the sore. Repeat cleaning and repacking 3 times a day.
The sap from the banyan tree is also good for cleaning ulcers, with
pus. This sap can also be used for cracked heels.
(An ulcer which is clean will heal without any antiseptic.)
Ulcers in the Mouth or Tongue
Ulcers in the mouth or tongue are often caused by not eating the right
kind of food (malnutrition.). These ulcers are painful and the person
does not feel like eating. This leads to more malnutrition.
These ulcers can be made less painful, so that the person can eat his
food properly. Only proper nutrition can cure these ulcers completely.
The following remedies help in making the ulcer less painful, by forming
a protective coat on the ulcer:
Grind the bark of a banyan tree. Put this juice on the ulcer.
Chew some guava leaves before eating. These leaves have pectin in
them, and, this coats the ulcer, making it less painful.
Apply the paste of Harithaki (ink nut) on the ulcer.
Stomach Ulcers and Heartburn
Persons with stomach ulcer or heartburn should avoid spices, very hot
water, tea or coffee. Smoking, alcohol must be avoided.
Soak some cooked rice in water for one night. In the morning add
two teaspoons of fenugreek (Hindi: Methi; Tamil: Vendayam) seeds to
the soaked rice and eat it on an empty stomach (before breakfast).
Fresh ash gourd (Hindi: petha; Tamil: Chambal Pusanika) juice taken
every morning helps in relieving stomach burn.
Dilute one glass of a plantain stem juice with one half glass of
water and drink it three times a day. The juice is alkaline and neutralizes
the acids in the stomach.
Aloe Vera (Sabila) can also help treat stomach ulcers and gastritis.
Chop the spongy leaves into small pieces, soak them in water overnight,
and drink one glass of the slimy, bitter liquid every 2 hours.
Eat one ripe banana every meal.
Boiled rice with milk or curd without any chillies and spices is
recommended. Pain after or in-between meals can be taken care of by
drinking either cold milk or even plain cold water.
Periwinkle with mauve flowers. Take the plant with its roots and
boil in some water. Strain and drink it before eating anything.
Take bitter gourd juice half a glass in the morning on an empty
stomach once a day for at least one year.
Soak 2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds overnight to be taken early
in the morning on an empty stomach for at least 1 year.
Dry and powder jamun seeds. Pour hot water on 2 teaspoons of the
powdered seeds; strain and drink the water once a day after a meal
for at least one year.
Pull out an entire touch-me-not (mimosa pudica) plant with its roots,
wash thoroughly and then grind it or cook it with rice. Eat this every
|If a person has mild
diarrhoea without any fever or vomiting or blood in the stools, and no
signs of dehydration:
Add extra water while cooking the rice and take out the extra water
when it is boiling. Let it cool, add a pinch of salt and give to children
Roast rice till it becomes completely black. Crush it. Give adults
two tablespoons with a glass of water after each loose motion. Do
not give to children.
Strong black tea without any milk or sugar and with lime juice is
effective for mild diarrhoea. This should be given only to adults.
Grind one handful of fresh guava leaves to a paste and boil with
water. Add one half teaspoon of jeera powder or cumin seeds and strain.
Give 2 teaspoons five times a day for 3 days. Give the children one
half of the adult dose.
Eat unripe bananas. This also helps in mild diarrhoea.
If mild diarrhoea is accompanied with blood or mucus without any sign
Take the white sap from a banyan tree and mix with some water. Give
an adult two teaspoons and a child one teaspoon after each loose motion.
The pulp of the ripe bael fruit is baked and it is given 3-4 times
a day for 3 days.
The dried powder of pomegranate skin can be given with 2 teaspoons
of warm water or buttermilk 5 times a day for 3 days.
Jamun seeds are dried and powdered. This is given 2 teaspoons with
water 5 times a day for 3 days. For children, give half of the adult
If diarrhoea is accompanied by vomiting:
Roast one handful of cumin seeds (Jeera), add the juice of one lime
and a pinch of salt. Drink this three times a day for 3 days. Children
should be given half of the adult dose.
Crush and take one teaspoon of the juice of yellow drumstick leaves
after food once a day.
Mix one teaspoon ginger juice, one teaspoon honey and one teaspoon
powdered cumin seeds. Take this once a day.
Curds, raw onion, garlic and turmeric powder to be used regularly
in the food also helps in reducing high bleed pressure.
Avoid excessive salt and animal fat.
|Phyllanthus niruri (Hindi:
Bhoin Amla; Tamil: Keela Nelli). This is a small wild plant. The leaves
have small berries under them.
Treatment: Take a whole plant and grind it. Eat this paste early
in the morning on an empty stomach. This also helps to stop vomiting,
and the sick person can eat his food.
Eclipta porstata/alba (Hindi: Bungran; Tamil: Karisilankanni). The
leaves of this plant can be cooked and eaten once a day. Boil a handful
of the leaves in a glass of water along with one spoon of castor oil
and 2-3 cloves of garlic give this to the sick person. This also helps
to reduce vomiting. The stools and urine become normal coloured.
Take 2-3 castor leaves and grind them along with 3-4 black pepper
seeds and 1 clove of garlic. Give the sick person a marble-sized ball
of paste every morning. This also helps reduce vomiting.
| Pregnancy Related Ailments
|Vomiting in Pregnancy
Powder 3-4 cloves (laung) and soak in a glass of water for half
an hour. Strain and drink this water as and when required. This is
not harmful and has no side effects.
One glass of lime juice with a pinch of cardamon powder (if available)
given as and when required. This is not harmful.
Pain during Menstruation
Grind a handful of the leaves of bitter gourd with 2 pepper corns
and 1 clove of garlic. Take this once a day for three days.
Take two teaspoonful of the juice of aloe pulp (mucilaginous part)
once a day starting three days before the expected menstrual period.
To be repeated for 2 menstrual cycles.
Swelling of Feet during Pregnancy
In case of swelling of feet during pregnancy, go for medical check-up.
Follow the doctor's advice. You can also do the following to reduce swelling:
Boil 1 teaspoon of palm sugar and 2 teaspoons of fennel (Hindi:
Saunf) together in a glass of water until it is reduced to one half
glass. Strain and drink three times a day till the swelling disappears.
Take a handful of coriander seeds and boil in a glass of water until
it is reduced to half a glass. Give it twice a day for 3 days.
Sometimes decoction made from corn silk (the tassels of silk from
the ear of maize) can help in reducing swelling of the feet. Boil
a large handful of corn silk in a glass of water. Drink 1-2 glasses.
This is not dangerous.
False Labour Pains
Boil a handful of drumstick leaves with 2 teaspoons of coriander
seeds (Hindi: Sukha Dhania; Tamil: Kotthamalli). Take about one glass.
If the contractions are false, the pain will disappear.
Powder the bark of cinnamon (Dalchini) and take half a teaspoonful
with water or milk as and when required. If the pain persists, consult
a health worker or go to a hospital.
Crush one or two cloves and put in the affected tooth. Let the juice
remain in the mouth for some time. If clove oil is available, soak
a small piece of cotton in clove oil and put it on the affected tooth.
Chew one or two cashew leaves and let the juice remain in the mouth.
Toothpowder made of burnt mango leaves also helps in reducing toothache.
Gargle with lukewarm water mixed with salt as and when required.
These remedies will help reduce the pain for some time. These remedies
will not cure the problem. Consult the health worker to find out if
the tooth needs to be filled or removed.
Avoid giving sweets, chocolates and candies to children to prevent
tooth decay. Wash mouth after meals.
|Papaya seeds can help get
rid of intestinal worms, although modern medicines often work better.
Papaya seeds must be dried in the shade, powdered and kept in a bottle.
Two teaspoons of powder is mixed with a glass of milk. Drink this at bedtime.
Repeat for 3 consecutive days.
Or, papaya 'milk,' that comes out when the green fruit or trunk of the
tree is cut, can be collected. About 3 or 4 teaspoons (15-20 minutes)
of this 'milk' is mixed with an equal amount of sugar of honey and stirred
into a cup of hot water. If possible, drink along with a laxative.
Crush one handful of
pomegranate leaves and boil with a glass of milk. Drink half of it early
in the morning on an empty stomach (before breakfast). After two hours,
drink the rest of the milk. Give two tablespoons of castor oil after another
two hours. This should not be given to children below 15 years of age.
CAUTION: Castor oil should not be given to children below 5 years
Do not give the person anything to eat before and during the treatment.
Grind neem leaves to a fine paste. For one week, take a marble sized ball
of this paste every morning on an empty stomach. Do not take this for
the second week. For the third week, take the neem leaves again as before
on an empty stomach. The whole family should take this treatment together
for curing threadworms.
Chop finely, or crush, 4 cloves of garlic and mix with 1 glass of liquid
(water, juice or milk).
For pin worms, drink 1 glass daily for 3 weeks.
For diarrhoea drink 1 glass every 2 hours until diarrhoea stops.
Grind one betel nut with a small glass of milk. Take this early
in the morning on an empty stomach. Do not give to children.
Take a handful of ash gourd seeds and grind them. Eat it in the
morning on an empty stomach. Two hours later, take two teaspoons of
Dissolve a small piece of asafoetida (Hindi: Heeng; Tamil: Kayam)
in water and drink it on an empty stomach once a day for 3 days.
Intestinal Cramps and Stomach Aches due to Intestinal Worms or Indigestion
Roast and powder cumin seeds or zeera seeds. Take 2 teaspoons with
warm water 3 times a day for 2 days at the most. This can also be
used with curry or mixed with buttermilk. If pain persists or increases,
seek medical help.
Angel's Trumpet (Dhatura or Borea): The leaves of this and certain
other members of the night shade family contain a drug that helps
to calm intestinal cramps, stomach-aches, and even gall-bladder pain.
Grind 1 or 2 leaves or Angel's Trumpet and soak them for a day in
7 tablespoons (100ml.) of water.
Dosage: Between 10 and 15 drops every 4 hours. (Adults only).
WARNING: Angel's Trumpet is very poisonous if you take more than
the recommended dose.