Coolants from your kitchen

Here’s a list of common herbs that can help keep our body cool this season while also adding flavour to our food
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

CHENNAI: Nature provides us with everything we need to restore balance and harmony within ourselves. Aiding us in maintaining our physical and mental health are herbs, nature’s medicine since ancient times. Botanically, a herb is defined as a seed-bearing plant with a fleshy stem, with no or fewer branches and that dies and goes back to the ground after every season.

Even as the world has become modern, we consume herbs almost on a daily basis that help keep us fit. “In our Indian meals, we regularly consume at least one or two herbs per day without knowing much about its magical health benefits,” says Dr Sindhu V, Siddha general practitioner, and paediatrician at Siddha 365 Health Care Clinic.

Combating hot weather can be challenging, requiring us to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. Focussing on what we can keep in control leads us to look for ways to keep our bodies cool. Dr Sindhu shares a list of a few herbs that need to make it to your list this summer while talking about their health benefits. “Adding these herbs daily in our diet can help us beat the heat and also keep us away from common colds that can occur due to infection,” she says.

It is necessary to keep our body at an optimum temperature to have a calm mind. By including any three of the mentioned herbs daily, alternated every week in our meals during this summer, we can find our body cooling inwardly and help us to avoid the stress that can arise due to the climate. “No matter how the climate changes, staying healthy should go on, and adding herbs consciously into our diet is one way to do it,” she adds.

Spearmint (Pudina)

  • Commonly called the kitchen herb, it is known for its fragrance.

  • The anti-inflammatory properties of its leaves provide relief from asthma and the common cold and help give a cooling effect on our stomach.

How to consume: Boil 10-12 mint leaves in hot water, strain it, let it cool, add salt or sugar for taste, and drink after a meal. This helps increase the blood flow near the skin surface, thus dissipating heat to cool down the body.

Aloe Vera (Katralai)

  • A perennial herb with a condensed stem known for its succulent leaves.

  • Rich in vitamin C, it helps in improving skin complexion and induces thermoregulation by soothing the blood flow in our body.

How to consume: Take one succulent leaf and peel off its skin. Wash the gel at least seven times, and blend it with one cup of curd, one tablespoon of cumin, and a pinch of ginger. Drink this aloe vera buttermilk at any time of the day to cool your body. Its gel can be applied to the scalp before a bath to relieve body heat.

Dwarf copperleaf spinach (Ponnangani keerai)

  • A perennial herb known for improving vision.

  • Rich in phosphorus, it helps treat sunburn and prickly heat.

How to consume: Make a simple side dish for rice with its leaves by adding tamarind. It can be eaten thrice a week in the afternoons.

Keelanelli plant (Keezhanelli keerai)

  • A short herb known for its edible leaves.

  • Rich in antioxidants and known for keeping the liver healthy can also help in dissipating heat during hot climates.

How to consume: A side dish for rice made with its leaves by adding tamarind can be eaten twice a week in the afternoons.

Indian hog plum (Kadukkai)

  • A time-tested herb that acts as a body cleanser by removing toxins from the body.

  • Rich in iron, it also helps in curing constipation and delays the ageing of the skin. Its powdered form can help in radiating heat from the body to regulate body temperature.

How to consume: Mix half a teaspoon of its powder with hot water and have it before bedtime, which may induce sleep by helping in thermoregulation.

Bermuda grass (Arugampul)

  • A coolant herb that helps in bowel movements.

  • It is good to consume its juice, that is rich in chlorophyll, on an empty stomach early in the morning. It helps to detoxify blood and keep body cool.

How to consume: Wash one cup of the leaves at least four times, cut it, and blend. Strain the juice, add a pinch of cardamom powder, and one tablespoon of honey, and drink it.

Oregano (Karpooravalli)

  • A perennial herb known for the astringent taste of its leaves.

  • Rich in anti-inflammatory properties, it cures the common cold and helps keep the body cool from hot climates.

How to consume: Take ten leaves and wash them. Blend it with half a tablespoon of lemon juice, and one tablespoon of honey. Drink it before a meal. Four to five leaves can also be eaten plainly.

Cumin plant (Jeeragam)

  • A herbal spice found in Indian recipes.

  • Rich in magnesium and phosphorus, it can provide relief from stomach acid burns and also induces digestion.

How to consume: Add half a teaspoon of cumin seeds in daily cooking. You can also soak half a teaspoon of it overnight, filter the water, and drink it in the morning.

Chia plant (Chia chedi)

  • An annual herb known for its nutrional seeds.

  • Its seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids essential for heart health and also help induce hair growth.

How to consume: Soak one tablespoon of the seeds in water. It turns into a gel-like substance. Consume daily in the morning and it will help in retaining the water content in your body throughout the day.

Fennel plant (Perunjeeragam)

  • A perennial herb used as spice.

  • Rich in calcium and antioxidants, consuming it daily can help prevent overeating.

How to consume: Add half a teaspoon to your cooking. You can soak half a teaspoon of it overnight, filter the water, and drink it in the morning.

Fenugreek (Vendhayam)

  • An annual herb known for its property of lowering the blood sugar level.

  • It helps in blood production curing anaemia.

How to consume: Soak one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds overnight in hot water. Filter and drink the water any time during the day. The water can be applied to the scalp before a bath to relieve body heat.

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