A dozen homemade cold & flu remedies – part one
There’s no cure for the common cold – but there are ways to make yourself resistant, shorten the length of the illness, and ease the symptoms, without using drugs or chemist preparations. Try some of these ideas instead.
Lemons are easy to grow, and they fruit in winter when we are most likely to get a cold. Use unwaxed, unsprayed lemons if you are going to use the rind. They are high in vitamin C and help clear the airways.
Make a comforting hot drink with a slice of lemon in hot water with a spoonful of honey. This soothes the throat. Add some slices of fresh ginger if you need warming up.
You can also add slices of lemon, curls of lemon rind, or a few drops of lemon essential oil to a herbal steam as described below.
2. Lemon-scented gum leaf steam
Lemon-scented eucalyptus is easy to identify from its smooth white trunk, thin long leaves, and distinctive lemony scent when the leaves are crushed. Either harvest some fresh leaves, or buy the essential oil to make a steam treatment for stuffy sinuses or congested lungs.
Set up a bowl or saucepan of boiling water with a towel close by. Add 2-4 drops of lemon-scented gum or a handful of crushed fresh leaves to the hot water, and immediately lean over the bowl. Use the towel to make a tent around your head, so the steam is trapped. You might need to close your eyes. Breathe the fragrant steam as deeply as you can, allowing it to loosen clogged passages and spread healing throughout your airways. Lemon-scented gum is anti-viral, antibacterial, fungicidal and antiseptic.
3. Homemade chest rub
Lavender and rosemary are two of the cheapest essential oils to buy. You can also include plain eucalyptus or lemon-scented eucalyptus if you have them. Essential oils are far cheaper in bulk from specialty suppliers. Do not use rosemary oil if you are epileptic.
A simple chest rub can be made from plain organic coconut oil and essential oils. Spoon coconut oil into a small clean jar, like a babyfood jar. Organic coconut oil from the health food shop is best, but if you can’t afford this, Copha is a refined coconut oil that will work for this recipe. Measure 15 drops of lavender and 15 drops of rosemary into a 50ml jar and stir really well. (Or lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, to a total of 30 drops.)
To use, smear thinly onto the chest. The essential oils will be absorbed through the skin, as well as evaporating into the air near the nostrils and being breathed into the lungs. Lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus are high in camphor, which helps clear the airways.
4. Thyme leaf tea
Thyme has excellent anti-viral properties. The essential oil is powerful and should be used sparingly, but the fresh or dried plant is easy to use for beginners. You can make a herbal steam as described under number two, being careful not to add too many drops of essential oils. Or make a tea from the plant, which treats virus in the whole body as well as disinfecting the throat on the way down. Use one or two sprigs in a cup of boiling water.
5. Salt water gargle
Salt kills germs. It’s one of the simplest and cheapest ways to soothe a sore throat. Stir a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and stir until dissolved. Gargle mouthfuls of this and spit it out until it’s all gone.
The same recipe can also be used to bath the sinuses. You can buy a special neti pot from the chemist, or just use a large empty syringe. Fill it with the saline solution, block one nostril, tilt your head back, and gently squirt the water up the other nostril, trying to sniff it in as much as your stuffed nose will allow. It will run down your throat and out your mouth, or just back out your nose. Lean over a sink to catch the run off. Squirt several times up each nostril, until the cup of water is empty. Wash the salt off your face afterwards. This treatment has worked for painful, inflamed sinuses in the middle of the night, instantly reducing the pressure and discomfort. It feels a little messy but it’s really effective. Wash the syringe well in hot soapy water afterwards and make sure it’s not used for oral medicines again.
Elder trees grow easily and flower profusely in spring. Pick and dry the blooms for use in winter. They help induce sweating during a fever, and boost the immune system. The traditional herb tea for fevers or flu is equal parts yarrow leaf, peppermint leaf and elderflower.
The next six remedies are coming next week…
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