Home Remedies For The Common Cold
It often begins with a slight rawness of the throat, a general feeling of lethargy, or the inability to think clearly. In our household, "Sure hope its allergies" is a remark I usually hear right before a cold rears its ugly head.
Living in a house full of busy people coming and going from school and jobs makes it hard to limit exposure to germs. In fact, it's almost guaranteed that someone in our house comes down with a cold (or rarely, the flu) whenever there is "something going around".
Me? Well, a few years back I seemed to always be the first one sick. My immune system was very weak, even though I considered myself to be a healthy person. Things have changed since I've found a diet that my body thrives on, and it certainly doesn't hurt to have an apothecary full of medicinal herbs at my disposal. Ah, the perks of being an herbalist!
Aside from proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, one of the best ways to ward off colds is to boost your immune system when you notice that other people are sick around you, or when you start to feel a little "off" and suspect you might be coming down with something.
For this reason, I find it useful to keep a bottle of echinacea extract or elderberry syrup on hand. I assure you that it is much nicer to have these remedies ready and waiting for when you start to feel crummy because making them when you are already sick can be a real drag!
How susceptible we are to illness, and how quickly our bodies bounce back are indicators of our general health. If you get sick often, chances are your body is not performing optimally and might benefit from a dietary or lifestyle adjustment.
My method of getting rid of colds or flus quickly:
- Echinacea tincture -I use the compound "Immune Boost" glycerite from my shoppe which is also packed with vitamin C.
- Elderberry syrup - So tasty!
- "Gypsy Tea" (recipe follows)
- "Cold-Kicker Juice" (recipe follows)
- Bone broth - This stuff is magical. I use the recipe for Chicken Stock in Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions and make a simple chicken and rice soup with it. If you are vegetarian, a good miso or vegetable broth will do.
- Avoid dairy and sugar- they seem to create more mucous and make cold symptoms worse.
- Rest - Probably the most important element of all!
This is a cold remedy that my mother has been making since I was a young'un. The original was just lemon, garlic, and honey; but this tastier and more effective variation I learned from my husband years ago. He affectionately calls it "Gypsy Tea".
Gypsy Tea Recipe
4 cups water
2 large lemons, sliced into wedges
4 garlic cloves, bruised and then sliced
3 inches ginger root, sliced
dash of cayenne
raw honey to taste
In a medium saucepan with lid, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add the sliced garlic and ginger into the pan, then squeeze the juice from the lemons into the pan, dropping the rinds in afterward.
As soon as the water boils, reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the optional dash of cayenne- be careful with this and always start off with less and work your way up. The diaphoretic action of cayenne is useful for colds but too much can make this tea undrinkable! Strain, pour into big mugs, and sweeten to taste with good quality raw honey.
This recipe will make about 4 cups, so if there is tea left in the pan, strain out the ingredients rather than let them sit longer in the pan. The lemon rinds will make the tea bitter which some people find unpleasant.
Cold-Kicker Juice Recipe
This is one of the most convenient ways to benefit from the antiviral action of garlic and lemon, the diaphoretic action of ginger, and the antimicrobial and throat-soothing effects of honey.
1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
3/4 cup water
4 cloves garlic, bruised and minced
2 inches of ginger root, minced
1/4 cup raw honey
Add the ingredients into a medium-sized jar (pint size works well). You can see in the above image that I coarsely chopped the ginger and garlic, but mincing works best since you will be eating the pieces along with the lemon honey mixture. I don't mind chewing up large pieces of spicy garlic!
Tighten the lid, and shake until the ingredients are combined.
Store this in the refrigerator and it should keep for 2 to 3 weeks, however it should be taken frequently in 1 Tbsp doses while cold symptoms persist.
That means this delicious cold-obliterating concoction will disappear before it has the chance to even think about expiring.
With the recipes I've listed above, you should have an easier time fighting off the common cold, so long as you don't over exert yourself.
If you absolutely hate being in bed with "nothing to do", try reading a book, or watching a nature documentary! Please remember that a weakened body provides the perfect environment for viruses like cold or influenza to thrive, so staying healthy is truly the best way to avoid dealing with these annoyances in the first place. If you do become ill, take it as a reminder that your body needs nourishing.
And another tip, try to stay away from those "cold suppressing" over the counter drugs if you can. They often only mask the symptoms, and in my opinion, are full of questionable (to put it lightly) ingredients.
Many natural remedies are available for other complaints associated with cold or flu: sore throat lozenges, cough syrups, expectorant teas, steam inhalations for sinus congestion. We'll go into some detail about those remedies another time, but for now let's keep it simple and easy to remember: echinacea, elderberry, garlic, lemon, and ginger.
...because I find in most cases not much else is needed!
Best wishes of health to you and yours.