After a month of fasting, everybody looks forward to some ‘feasting’ during the Eid holidays. It is tough to contain yourself faced with the huge variety of scrumptious sweets and savouries served up everywhere you visit. In fact, most of our friends and family spend Eid snacking away on these tasty treats, and quite a few suffer from the side effects of this festivity — indigestion.
Here are a few tried and tested home remedies for your tummy troubles, from my Grandma’s secret stash!
Before trying oral remedies for gastrointestinal discomfort, give these exercises a shot:
• Lie on your back and lift knees to stomach (I did this with my babies from day one as it gives immediate relief).
• Crouch on the floor like you’re looking for something under a sofa.
• Circular massage on the stomach: apply firm but gentle pressure on the abdomen under the rib cage and work clockwise around the area (also good for babies).
• Stand and stretch — raise both your arms and try to touch the ceiling.
Place a hot water bottle on your abdomen to relieve gas and cramping. With babies, remember to wrap the bottle in a towel, to prevent burning.
Cumin seeds (Zeera): Take with yoghurt, after meals, to prevent heartburn. This remedy, courtesy my late Daadi, was a lifesaver this Ramazan, since parathas for sehri always left me with heartburn- but not anymore!
Carom seeds (Ajwain): These seeds are antibacterial, antiviral and antiparasitic. Add a pinch to food, or tea, for a unique taste and aroma; treat your taste buds and aid digestion simultaneously.
Lemon Fizz: Blend one whole lemon with 1 tsp of sugar and half a cup of water. Strain into a glass, pour in enough of any clear fizzy drink to top it up, and add a big pinch of black salt. Drink immediately, or the lemon rind will make it bitter, to ease bloating and gas. A yummy cocktail after heavy meals!
Mint (Podina): It soothes the stomach muscles to ease cramps. You can chew on it, add some leaves to tea or pop a mint candy in your mouth. I always carry some in my bag since it’s great for motion sickness too.
Cinnamon-Ginger tea: ¼ tsp cinnamon powder + ¼ tsp ground ginger + pinch of cayenne pepper + 1 cup boiling water — cover and brew for 10 minutes. Take 2 tbsp every 15 minutes to calm the digestive system, counteract stomach acids and relieve gas and nausea.
Fennel (Saunf): Boil 2 litres of water with 1tsp fennel and 1 green cardamom (choti elaichi). Cool to room temperature and use as drinking water to prevent gas, cramps and indigestion. My mom made this for me after I had my kids. It worked like a charm and helped my children get through their ‘colic phases’ too.
Diarrhea, as a stomach problem, is in a league of its own and so demands unique remedies:
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: It is the most important and foremost remedy for diarrhea. Make a hydrating solution (to replace electrolytes, water and glucose) by adding 2 tbsp sugar or glucose, and 1 tsp salt to 1 litre of water. Drink it frequently.
Modify your diet: Don’t aggravate an already ailing digestive system. Eat plain bread, crackers, rusk, boiled rice, yogurt, bananas and plain, boiled pasta to give your stomach a rest.
Tasty Lemon tea: My family loves this tea not only for its health benefits, but also for its delicious tangy-sweet taste. Brew 1 cup half strength tea, add 1 tsp lemon juice and sugar to taste. Drink after meals to aid digestion, or on an empty stomach to prevent dehydration.
Rice water (Peech): This is an age-old, remarkably effective remedy for treating severe diarrhea, even in babies. Boil 1 tbsp of rice in 1 ½ cups of water until really overcooked. Strain, and take a spoon of the starchy liquid at short intervals. Add a little sugar if you like a spoonful of sugar, it really helps the medicine go down. Brown rice works best.
Coriander (Dhania): Boil 1 tbsp of coriander in 1 cup water to extract its juice. Take small sips intermittently to prevent dehydration and treat diarrhea.
Bananas: They are easy to digest, suitable for all age groups and provide lots of energy. Make a smoothie by blending 1 banana, 1 cup water and 2 tbsp of flour for quick relief from diarrhea.
Yoghurt: It is highly nutritious and can be easily digested, even by babies. It helps alleviate diarrhea, and resupplies good bacteria to the digestive tract (which are depleted during diarrhea).
Jelly Slurp: This is definitely my kids’ favourite diarrhea remedy — dissolve jelly in 1 cup hot water, then stir in 1 cup cold water. Drink before the jelly sets. Gelatin has a binding effect and the high sugar content provides energy.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, September 11th, 2011.
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