This time of year, everyone seems to have the sniffles. Francisca surely had a list of natural cold remedies to treat the symptoms. Here are just a few she may have prescribed. This year, why not try a few home remedies before putting more chemicals into your body?
Here in Western Pennsylvania, spring is just around the corner, but like this seemingly unending winter, the common cold will not go away. I thought I would add to my list of home cold remedies. Most of these items are already in your kitchen.
Home Cold Remedies
Francisca used oregano in her snakebite remedy. It is also good for many other ailments, including the common cold. Oregano tea is helpful in loosening phlegm and soothing coughs and asthma. Make oregano tea from either dried or fresh leaves. If you don’t have any oregano plants hanging from your rafters as they did in Le Petit-Courty, you probably have a jar in the spice cupboard. Place a teaspoon of dried leaves in a mug and add boiling water. If you can find fresh oregano at the supermarket, be sure to buy organic. Tea made out of insecticide-laced oregano will not make anyone feel better. Use three teaspoons of fresh bruised leaves. Allow the leaves steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Breathe in the vapors as it steeps, then add a little honey (also adding additional antioxidant properties) and lemon juice, and enjoy your natural remedy.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar, especially unfiltered vinegar with the mother, is a powerful cold remedy. A few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon honey mixed in a cup of water will knock out a cold. Enjoy this sweet-tart concoction several times a day. Some add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for additional anti-inflammatory benefits and an added kick.
People have used ginger for thousands of years to expel toxins in the body. Ginger’s natural anti-inflammatory properties will soothe your throat and warm your body to chase colds away. You need about a two-inch piece of ginger root. Peel and thinly slice and add to about four cups of water. Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, and then strain into mug. Ginger is naturally sweet, so taste before adding anything additional, but a squeeze of lemon, cinnamon, and honey also add flavor and benefits.
For a sore throat, mix a few tablespoons of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle for thirty seconds, up to eight times a day. Why does this work? Did you ever notice that your throat feels raw and swollen when it is sore? The salt naturally dries the excessive fluid and reduces swelling. The bacteria that cause a sore throat cannot grow as easily in the drier environment. The salt may not kill the bacteria, but it will make your throat less hospitable for it to take up residence there.
Eat spicy foods, spicy enough to make your eyes and nose run, which will help clear congestion. Hot peppers also have an expectorant effect that helps loosen mucus and clear your lungs. If you like garlic, try cooking it to soften and then crush and spread on a sandwich or use to make a tea.
Catnip for Colds
Catnip or catmint – You won’t find any outside this time of year, but if you can find a plant from a greenhouse, catmint is easy to grown indoors. Place it on a sunny windowsill, as lack of light will prohibit the leaf growth. Pinching off the flowers as soon as they appear will also help the plant fill out. Make sure to water it enough in the dry winter environment. As soon as the plant grows to about six to eight inches, you can start using the leaves. Plant outside after the last frost and replace your indoor catmint plant in the fall with a fresh plant.
A tea made from catnip may soothe a sore throat and cold symptoms, and help loosen phlegm, but catnip also works as an antacid, for diarrhea and stomach upset. It may reduce anxiety and insomnia as well. The anti-inflammatory properties of catnip also make it an effective treatment for arthritis and help with the swelling of insect bites. Catnip works as a sedative, so do not mix with other sedatives. It also may act as a diuretic so use it in moderation. To make the tea, remove the water from the heat for a minute or two before pouring over the catnip flowering tops and steep.
I blogged about this “weed” in an earlier post. Tea made from Hemp Agrimony leaves are also relieves sore throat.
Weiner, Michael A., Earth Medicine, Earth Food. MacMillan Publishing Co, Inc. (1980) Print
Ward, Bernie, 650 Home Remedies, An Essential Companion for Every Home. Globe Communications Corp (1996) Print