Come winter and there is joy, celebration and togetherness in the air. But, along with all the goodness there are various kinds of infection around us. And, if not taken seriously, even the regular common cold and cough can quickly become more serious, leading to high fever and pneumonia; especially amongst kids.

But, the good news is that this can be nipped in the bud with tender, love, care and the good ol’ ginger!

Find a friend in Ginger

Haven’t we all heard our grandmas share some good old home remedies to treat cold? Well, apart from its ancient success, there is also good science behind grandma’s elixirs for sniffles, sneezes, and other winter woes. Treating a cold aggressively at the first sign can help limit its severity or even stop it in its track. This is where the handy, yet mighty GINGER comes in the picture – one root that all grandmothers swear by when it comes to treating cough and sneezes.

The ginger root, or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. It can be used raw, powdered dried, candied or pickled. Its pungent, spicy and aromatic flavour is extremely effective and has some excellent medicinal properties. Loaded with bioactive compounds and whole lot of nutrients, ginger extracts promote both mental and physical health.

How is ginger effective in treating cold and cough?
  • Ginger plays the role of a decongestant and an anti-allergen. It helps in lowering the symptoms of cold.
  • Ginger is also rich in aromatic compounds that are known to have excellent medicinal value.
  • Ginger is equipped with anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to increase immunity
  • Medicinal components of ginger are present in its essential oils, antioxidants and oleoresin – all these aid in relieving and suppressing cough.

7 ways to use ginger to treat cold and cough in children:

First, ginger is absolutely safe for babies if given in small amounts after the age of ten or eleven months. It can also be used in preparing baby’s food in addition to treating cold and cough.

Here are 7 ways to effectively use ginger as a medicine:

  • Honey, lemon and ginger tea:

Clean a tiny piece (about ½”) of ginger and crush it well or grate it. Add this to 1 cup of water and let it boil for few minutes till it’s reduced to half a cup. Now strain the concoction and add some honey and few drops of lemon. This makes it easier for little children to drink it up. Call it a “Cold-Flu Brew”, if you need to!

  • Ginger Vapor:

For this we need to boil ginger in water and make your child inhale the vapors; just as taking steam.

  • Thippili (Pipli) and dried ginger mixed with Honey: 

If your child is a little older, dried and powdered ginger powder (Sonth) can directly be mixed with a spoonful of honey with or without milk. An equal quantity combination of Thippili (longpepper) and dried ginger mixed with spoonful of honey has been found to have wonderful results in providing relief to symptoms of flu in children.  This mixture can also be further added to milk.

  • Ginger candy:

Ginger candy is another effective way to relieve cough. It can be made in small batches at home in order to avoid contamination and infection.

  • Ginger jaggery tea: 

This is yet another simple and effective concoction that is known to work wonders. Take a small piece (about1/2”) of ginger along with 4-5 peppercorns and crush well. Now add this to boiling water with a piece of jaggery. Further, add ajwain ¼ teaspoon. Let the mixture boil for around five minutes. Add few leaves of tulsi to this mixture and let it boil again for couple of minutes. Serve it warm to the child.

  • Pickled ginger:

Cut thin slices of ginger, and soak it in lemon juice with a pinch of salt. This not only gives extra taste to the meals, but also helps in relieving cold and cough along with the goodness of vitamin C from lemon juice. If this is had regularly, it will also aid in improving digestion and reduce flatulence.

  • Make ginger the hero of a vegetable: 

Mothers can try winter special recipes such as “Adrak ki launji/sabji” and “Tomato ginger soup” with a dash of lemon, which will add variety along with some relief.

 Precautions while giving ginger to children:

One common rule for any medicine, even homemade, is that it’s imperative to follow some precautionary actions.

  • Look for allergies

Ginger doesn’t usually cause allergy. However, if you are introducing it for the first time then look for any out-of-the-usual reactions on the body.

  • Adjust the spice levels

Ginger is spicy and hot. Thus, it’s important to adjust the quantity accordingly so that the child can tolerate the preparation. Dry ginger is spicier than fresh one. Further, it’s important to remember that too much of ginger can cause heartburn and an upset stomach.

Lastly, don’t go generic on ginger. These cures are only for cold, runny nose, mild cough, sore throat or a blocked nose. If the child is running a high fever or has a severe persistent cough, ensure that you consult a doctor to rule out any major infection.

Here’s wishing you happy and healthy winter holidays!

This article has been authored by Urvi Jhaveri, Head Nutritionist, Cuddles Foundation.

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