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Garlic – For common ailments as well as more chronic illnesses, boil five cloves of garlic with half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and a quarter-teaspoon of black pepper powder in a glass of milk, adding honey or sugar. This could be drunk every night at bedtime.

Even though cooking garlic or adding it to food isn’t bad and in fact adds aroma to the dish that is rich and flavourful, it is suggested that for medical purposes, one should eat the cloves of garlic raw and in their natural state as the benefits are at the maximum. However, if the taste is too strong, then using the method above will also help, without boiling the cloves.

Ginger – Ginger paste, when added for taste in food preparations itself helps to encourage digestion and elimination of flatulence. Take a small piece of ginger (about an inch) crushed, with a tablespoon of coriander seeds. Boil them together in a glass of water (250ml) and reduce it slightly. Add honey or sugar to taste and sip this ‘tea’ slowly.

You can make a tasty paste or chutney of ginger, pieces of fresh lemon with the rind, mint or coriander leaves and black salt, all mixed together into a palatable combination.

Ginger isn’t commonly used in dishes, although its inclusion provides a sharp heat to the mix. Ginger is best consumed when steeped in a liquid like water or tea and is very healing for a common cold or the flu as well and prevents respiratory infections if consumed regularly.

Thyme – Thyme is used in Italian dishes almost all the time due to its digestive properties. And there is another fantastic fact you may not know about it – an ingredient in thyme called thymol is used in mouthwashes and vaporized rubs because of its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Garnishing dishes with thyme is the most common way it can be consumed. But another more soothing way to include thyme in your diet is to steep it in tea for a few minutes before drinking the concoction along with some honey or sugar. Do note that even though thyme has immense healing properties, if consumed in large quantities it can disturb the digestive system causing discomforts like stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.

Basil – Boil a cup of water, add about 15 leaves and cover the cup. After about 5 minutes, add honey or sugar to taste and sip it like a tea. The leaves should also be chewed and swallowed.

You can prepare a good hot ‘basil soup’ by adding a handful of the leaves to your soup (especially lentil, bone or chicken or any clear soup) just before removing the soup from the fire and covering the vessel with a lid. You could serve the sup about ten minutes after that.

The juice of the basil leaf can be mixed with honey and consumed or the leaves themselves can be added to any of the spice-decoctions, such as cumin, star anise, ginger and coriander.

Basil will aid in lowering stress and depression and elevate the mood. Of course, adding it to a sauce or main dish will add flavour and texture to it.

Black Pepper – The easiest way to consume pepper is to sprinkle the freshly ground powder over a dish of food, especially fried food like meat, eggs or fish or fried vegetables like French fries, salads, yoghurt, butter, etc.

For most digestive disorders you can prepare a decoction of black pepper, ginger and coriander thus: Take equal amounts in weight of the three spices – black pepper, dried ginger and coriander seeds. Dry roast them and powder all together. Keep the mixture in a closed bottle or container. When required, add half to one full teaspoon of the powder to a cup of hot water. You may add honey or sugar to taste, squeeze the juice of half a sour lemon into it and sip it like a tea. You could also mix the powder with curd or honey and consume it.

It is recommended that instead of buying pepper powder from the store, you can buy full pepper corns and freshly grind them. The flavour is so much more powerful and the properties stay almost intact for a longer time.