Our six-year-old daughter woke up 2:30 in the morning with a nasty cough and fever. As we tried to calm her and our anxious selves down, our sick child asked me if I could make her her “honey-tea.” By this she meant our Holy Ginger blend that I give her with honey whenever she or anyone of us are under the weather. As I rushed downstairs, still a bit disoriented by this sudden onset of sickness in the middle of the night, I couldn’t help being proud of her choice of remedy.
Instead of popping a pill it is so much more gentler on the body to work with natural remedies. At least whenever we can. It certainly is tempting to go for a quick fix: just get rid of the symptoms and get moving again. Until the problem pops right back up again.
It is gratifying - and also an awesome responsibility to acknowledge - when you see your kids were picking up your beliefs!
So in the kitchen, I took a teaspoon of Holy Ginger and let it steep in freshly boiled water for 3 minutes. Holy Ginger is a herbal tea (or, tisane, for the purists) made up of the herb holy basil (Tulsi) and ginger. It is one of our most popular organic herbal blends. The smell of the dry tea is strong with the spicy pungency of ginger and the herbaceous notes of the basil. Together they make a smooth cup that is flavorful and vitalizing. No one has said a no to this cup yet!
After the tea had steeped, I quickly mixed in half a teaspoon of raw honey given to me by Lisa, one of our local customers. She had harvested the honey herself from her backyard. Talk about a gift! Once Tara had couple of sips of it she went back to sleep. For the rest of the night, every time she woke up, she wanted a sip of the tea. It comforted her.
This tea hides a personal secret. I spent my childhood in the plains of Darjeeling district where a lot of Hindu families kept an open altar in their backyard where a sacred Tulsi was planted. I remember the women offering incense, lamp and water to the plant daily. When no one was looking I would steal a few leaves and chew on them. Surprisingly I enjoyed the sweet-bitter pungency of the leaves. My tongue tingled long afterwards and the smell of the basil refused to leave my hands.
This plant sacred to the Hindus came to be called later commonly as holy basil. How did this plant get its sacred stature? The story goes that Lord Vishu one day cheated a woman called Vrindavani by taking the form of her husband and making love to her. This the Lord did because her husband was invincible as long as the Vrinda remained “loyal” to him. The subterfuge caused the husband to die but tragically Vridavani committed sati - jumped in the funeral pyre of the husband and killed herself. Lord Vishu felt sorry for what he had done and in repentance he turns Vrindavani into Tulsi, “the incomparable one”, sacred plant.
Tulsi is widely used in the traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda. It is used as a nerve notic and to boost memory. It is supposed to aid in removing phlegm from bronchial tubes, and also strengthen the stomach. It is used to bring down temperatures, sooth sore throats, aid respiratory disorders, reduce stress and help in common pediatric problems like cough, cold, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.
In modern time there is interest in using holy basil seed oil for cancer. Early research suggests that the oil can slow and improve survival rate in animals with certain types of cancer because of the oil’s antioxidant properties. There is some indications that the herb may be helpful in bringing down sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Now combine this with ginger. Although it has no mythological glamor, ginger as we all know can hold its own without any endorsements from the gods. Widely used in cooking in most parts of the world, the word ginger is believed to be derived from “inchi-ver” (ancient Dravidian, now confined to south India). Ginger’s healing and curative powers have been well documented in both ancient Indian and Chinese medicine. From digestive disorders to coughs and cold to respiratory disorders, ginger is supposed to be an effective healing and curing agent.
The cup is delicious and feels wholesome and warming. It seems to energize deeply, almost revitalizing your life force. I know a very sick lady who lives out in the country without any internet. She calls me when she is out of her “ginger tea” and I love going over to her place and delivering it. She swears it is what is keeping her alive!
By morning our daughter was doing better. But we held her back from school. It was a day she could stay at home and watch the Winter Olympics with her father and drink endless cups of our “holy honey-tea.”