Reduce fever/dissolve chest congestion

As school kids, my brother and I invariably fell ill right before end of term exams. Since copping out was not an option, my mother resorted to this strong medicine remedy from our kitchen. We were given this concoction in three doses, about 4 hours apart and it made us cough up a lot of the infected mucus and phlegm, and thereby, made us sweat copiously and broke the fever.  I know many families in South India still use this particular remedy for fever, cough or cold even today.

But, as with any remedy, even the kitchen remedies, you do need to use basic good sense and see if it suits you or not. Some of these spices are strong in flavor and may not suit everyone.

There are a number of such concentrates or decoctions that are common across India, and they are called 'Kashaayam'.

Black Pepper Concentrate (strong 'heat' - well, it IS pepper!):

Here's how:
  • Coarsely crush 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn
  • Add to 8 oz water in a pan and bring to a full rolling boil.
  • Reduce heat and let it boil until the water is reduced to about 3/4 or 1/2 the quantity. (Depending on how much pepper concentrate you can take. Remember the more concentrated, the 'hotter' the taste).
  • Let it cool completely, strain out the pepper and keep the liquid decoction.
  • Dosage: divide this strained decoction into three equal portions. Drink one portion every 4 hours.
  • Add a teaspoon of honey to each portion when you drink it. The honey sweetens the intense pepper taste and also soothes your throat. If you cannot take honey, try a spoonful of sugar (ideally, raw brown sugar, as that is healthier).

Be careful that if you break a sweat after drinking this decoction, you should cover yourself with a heavy shawl or shirt, so you don't feel cold after the bout of sweating. The sweating is a way for your body temperature (the fever) to reduce and is induced by the peppercorn.

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