Ammiji’s Immunity Kadha
Ingredients: Jaggery, Guduchi, Amla, Turmeric, Ginger, Tulsi, Vasaka, Mulethi, Kalmegh, Pepper, Pippli, Haritaki, Anantmool, Saunf, Ajwain, Green elaichi, Cinnamon, Star anise.
Weight: 90 gms
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If there were a desi/Indian equivalent to the ‘Chicken soup for the soul’ book series, it would most definitely be called ‘Kaadha for the soul’. The westerners consider their chicken soup as a cure-all for all ills, but we Indians have been harnessing the power of everyday kitchen herbs and spices to cure ourselves for centuries. Ayurvedic wisdom has been translated and transformed into our grandmothers’ recipes and food and drink has always had more subtext than a mere tongue-pleaser.
According to our grandmothers, the quintessential ‘kaadha’ is that magical elixir that can, depending on the ingredients, alleviate a cold, soothe a sore throat, settle the stomach, ease an aching joint, increase milk production in lactating mothers, cure a hangover, work on clogged arteries, boost immunity or warm you up from the inside on a chilly night. If grandmothers are to believed, it can even bring about world peace. (My grandmother, Ammiji, firmly believes that, but that’s another story!) 😀
Ammiji has a different kaadha for every season and every purpose. Her secret, fragrant pitara of strange herbs and spices lies in an old, forgotten corner of her kitchen. She’ll only open it up when she decides that someone in the family just won’t survive without one of her kaadhas. In a pan of boiling water, leaves and sticks and spices and flowers will be thrown in – till her entire house smells like some exotic bazaar at the edge of the world.
Seeing the need of the hour – we took her basic immunity kaadha that she force-fed her grandchildren every change of season – and augmented it with specific Ayurvedic herbs that are believed to enhance lung function and keep the respiratory tract healthy. Powerful, natural immunity boosters from the kitchen, when combined with these herbs, make for a mix that’s deliciously fragrant, soothing for the entire system and an antidote to most that ails us. The nature or taseer of the kaadha is not too hot, making it the ideal health tonic for all seasons, even in peak summer.
Here are all the ingredients that go into Ammiji’s Immunity Kaadha and the various benefits that they hold:
Benefits of ingredients:
Jaggery: Jaggery is one of the best natural cleansers for our body – it purifies the blood, detoxifies the liver and most importantly,removes toxins from the lungs, respiratory tract, stomach and intestines. So much so, that people working in coal mines are advised to make jaggery a regular part of their diets. It has antioxidants and minerals like zinc, manganese and selenium which boost the body’s immunity. It is also rich in iron and increases the haemoglobin count in the blood. Jaggery is also good for digestion and a healthy gut.
Guduchi: Guduchi or Giloy is known in Ayurveda as amrita, the herb of immortality. It is powerful in fighting off all kinds of infections. It is anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory, thus it helps bring down fever and alleviates all flu-like symptoms. It also fights respiratory problems and alleviates conditions like bronchitis and asthma. It provides a powerful boost to a body’s immunity and is also a great tonic for stress and despression.
Amla: Amla is one of the most powerful superfoods that has been effectively used in India since the Vedic ages. Amla powder is the richest source of Vitamin C and is more easily absorbed by the body than store-brought supplements. It is also a great source of calcium and iron. Its high antioxidant content and cell-repairing properties means that it fights damage in the body caused by free radicals. It also reduces the risk of heart disease and makes the blood vessels stronger. It provides a tremendous boost to the immunity and its rich Vitamin C content fights off bacterial and viral infections.
Turmeric: Remember haldi waala doodh? There’s a good reason that we were fed a lot of it as kids. The main bioactive compound in turmeric is curcumin which strong medicinal properties. It has immense benefits for the human body. It is chock-full of anti-oxidants and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is antiseptic in nature and helps fight infections. Turmeric is beneficial for each and every system in the body – whether it’s the respiratory system, the circulatory system or the nervous system. It increases the anti-oxidant capacity and the immunomodulating capacity of the body. Our kaadha has pure turmeric which is ground into a powder at home.
Ginger: If turmeric is the king of Indian spices, then ginger definitely has to be his wingman, if not a strong claimant to the throne. Gingerol, the main active ingredient in ginger, is a powerful medicinal compound that has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes the throat, breaks down mucus and keeps the respiratory tract healthy. It is a powerful digestive aid, and a healthy digestion translates to a healthy body. Studies have shown that ginger lowers cholesterol and is good for arthritis and other conditions. It bolsters the body’s overall immunity. Our kaadha has pure dried ginger which is ground at home.
Tulsi: Tulsi or Holy Basil is an adaptogen which has powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The essential oils found in tulsi act directly on our respiratory system. It is loaded with phytonutrients and Vitamins A and C. Tulsi fights infections and strengthens immunity at the same time. It is antitussive and an expectorant, keeping the respiratory tract mucus-free and healthy.
Vasaka: Vasaka, Adusa or Malabar nut tree is an Ayurvedic plant that has traditionally and successfully been used to treat cold, cough, bronchitis, asthma, infections of the respiratory tract, breathing problems and even tuberculosis. It has several bio-active compounds that boost immunity and prevent infections. It is a potent antibiotic and has the added advantage of being a very powerful natural expectorant. It expels mucus from the body and keeps the lungs healthy. Its powerful antimicrobial, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties make it the perfect weapon against infections.
Mulethi: Mulethi, Yashtimadhu or Licorice root is another Ayurvedic wonder herb that is widely recognized to help in respiratory issues. It helps ease a sore throat or cough and keeps the upper respiratory tract healthy. Its expectorant and bronchodilator properties make it suitable for any respiratory issues. Additionally, it helps the body produce lymphocytes and macrophages that boost up immunity and helps to fight infections. Mulethi is also great for the digestive system.
Kalmegh: Kalmegh is a bitter herb that helps fight upper respiratory tract infections. It is anti-inflammatory and boosts immunity. It is especially good for liver health. Kalmegh also balances the doshas in the body according to Ayurveda.
Pepper: Black pepper – yes, that same spice you use so frequently in the kitchen – has immensely beneficial properties. It is good for digestion as well as the respiratory system. It is vital to add black pepper to any concoction with turmeric in it since it makes the curcumin in the turmeric bio-available.
Pippli: Pippli or long black pepper is a fragrant Indian pepper that has a similar flavor profile to black pepper. It is, however, quick-acting and is a great restorative for the lungs. It is also a powerful digestive aid.
Haritaki: A rich source of Vitamin C, Haritaki or Harad aids a healthy digestion and alleviates flu-like symptoms.
Anantmool: This ayurvedic herb is a blood purifier and balances the doshas in the body. It supports a healthy respiratory system.
Saunf, ajwain, cinnamon, star anise and green elaichi each have digestive and balancing properties which makes this kaadha light and balanced for everyday use.
Disclaimer: This kaadha is not a medicine – preventive or otherwise. It is an herbal, homemade tonic that may, with regular use, boost immunity.