The Interviewer will be referred to as ‘I’, and the informant as ‘S’. Translations for Hindi words will be italicised and in parentheses. The Informant is a 52-year-old Punjabi mother, born and raised in North India.
I: Do you have any common notable remedies or medicinal recipes for a fever, maybe a flu?
S: Yeah, for virals! For flus, fever, cough, cold, we call it kaadha (decoction). It’s pretty generic… and everybody calls it kaadha.
I: Are there different recipes of kaadha, depending on where you go, who you ask—
S: Yeah, yeah, yeah! There’ll be different recipes, and I’m not really a master of them, but I used to make a lot of it when my daughter was younger. Now, today, I do not remember really the exact ingredients of what went into it, you know, which was the primary ingredient at which point of the recipe, but there used to be things like… dhaniya (coriander/cilantro) powder was for stomachache, and god-knows-what… no! Dhaniya powder was primarily for fever, but basically you have ginger—again, what goes into it is mostly heat-inducing ingredients, again, so you won’t have the cooling things going in there—so, primarily you’ll have ajwain (carom seeds, a very common ingredient in Indian foods and folk remedies), ginger, you’ll have dhaniya or dhaniya powder, long (cumin), cinnamon, tulsi (holy basil), haldi (turmeric), very importantly… a lot, depending on what the problem is and where you’re from. But, let’s say you take two glasses of water, you put it on to boil with all this stuff in it, all these spices and herbs, you put it to boil, and you allow it to boil till you reduce to quantity to about half on a slow flame, and you let it sit. Kaadha basically means, like, brewing, so you allow it to become a kaadha, like a brew, so you brew it enough to reduce the liquid to about half the quantity that you started with, and… cool it a little and then you add a dash of honey, because it’s very bitter and you give this to children too, and then you serve it. You have it, a few times a day, and it’ll help!
I: Did you learn this recipe from anywhere, that you can remember?
S: No, not really, it was, again, something we all kind of had in our childhoods, through our lives, so I learnt it from my mother. However, actually, there was this homeopathic doctor, Dr. [Name], he’s the one who guided me with some ingredients and varieties of kaadha, he streamlined the one that I would make, catered to my daughter, like, ‘oh, you add this, these are the primaries for fever, these are for stomachache,’ and whatever else. And… I also remember, I remember him telling me that with little ones, with children, when it comes to fever, you don’t give… immediately, like allopathy promotes that you immediately give the Crocin or Calpol when they hit, like, 99 (degrees) or 100, but he stopped me from doing that. He said that fever is very important, because you don’t want to treat the symptom, you want to treat the problem, and fever is your body’s way of fighting the problem. So, your body is heating up so much that the problem is being fought, being killed, but when you bring down the fever, you’re not allowing the body to fight. And, he said, basically, ‘kids can handle high temperatures far better than adults can,’ so he said, ‘no matter the temperature, do not panic, it doesn’t mean the same thing as an adult having the same temperature. You can stick to cold swabs and homeopathic stuff, but you don’t need to use allopathy unless it gets into… an emergency situation.’ It’s always worked for my daughter.
Kaadha is a very common remedy in India, and there are many variations of it, depending on the illness, and the person making it and the region they’re from. Kaadha (काढ़ा) essentially means, as the informant states, brew, or literally, decoction, a medicine derived from plants. Here, the plants differ, but the main ingredients always have similar properties: they are heat-inducing. This belief in and use of heat-inducing ingredients can also be seen in, “Lapsi: The Common Cold Cure?” (http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=59861), except this is a very common remedy, and usually makes use of more spices. Where ‘lapsi’ would provide relief and usually taste pleasant due to its fewer spices and bitter herbs, kaadha is known to be bitter and a pure decoction, the ‘pain’ part of ‘no pain, no gain’, and many Indians swear by its effectiveness in helping cure most common illnesses, including stomachaches, fever, the common cold, a cough, a sore throat, etc., even in children. It is a hot drink, had multiple times a day, just as the informant states, and since it is hot and also has spices in it, it would heat the body from the inside out, but it is even used to treat a fever: this is why it is often recommended by homeopathic doctors, and since it uses heat-inducing ingredients to fight off, well, a fever, it can be classified as a homeopathic remedy as well, all while being a classic, Indian folk medicine, that has been used and trusted for decades upon decades.