Common Cold Prevention

“To prevent this, every night, what you should do is boil water, put flax seeds into it, cumin seeds into it, and there’s a special kind of leafy vegetable, which looks like mint but does not smell like mint. It is called “adulsa.” So, when you put that…it’s pretty pungent…. Like, but you just have to pinch your nose and drink it because it’s for your own good and if you drink that on a regular basis, your metabolism is such that there is good blood circulation happening inside you. You breathe better, you know. You need not do yoga basically, like it helps you cleanse your body well. People even believe that they will lose weight, but I don’t know. I don’t think so, in seeing myself. But definitely you will not catch a cold.”

In India, where the informant is from, there are a lot of variations in climate. It will start off maybe at five degrees Celsius and will increase to potentially forty-two degrees Celsius later in the day. On top of that, it is very humid, so you spend most of the day sweating through your clothes. The informant explains that at that point, no A/C can cool you and that most days you will sweat through your clothes within three hours. So, many Indians try to eat a lot of ice cream or milkshakes to combat the heat. However, they believe that when your head is hot, from the heat and the sunlight, and then you enter a cool place and drink something cold, your body cannot take the difference in temperature and it causes you to catch a cold. While they believe they know why they catch colds, the choose to use this cold prevention trick than trying to go throughout the entire day without attempting to cool off.

The informant assured me that this works and that she often drinks it for months during exam season. However, this is not something that she drinks all the time. Some people will drink it every other night for four years and decide they have built up enough that they will not get sick for awhile after. She does not believe there is a chance to build immunity against this, but she doesn’t think drinking it that much is helpful. For her, it depends on if she can afford to get sick or will have enough time to get well on her own that she drinks it, but she also believes it to be more psychological than physical. That being said, she still swears by it and drinks it as a safety procaution just the same because it has always worked for her.

The informant relayed this to me while we were re-shelving books in the stacks of Doheny Library at USC. She is one of my co-workers.

Personally, I feel like if Indians had the cure to the common cold, the world would have jumped on that awhile ago. Despite that, it sounds to me like the cleanse that has become a craze around Los Angeles. Those, as I am sure this drink as well, help you purge bacteria and such from your body. Unlike the cleanses in America though, you don’t only drink that for three days. Overall though, I think the psychological part plays more of a factor into preventing sickness than the drink itself does.