The lovely warm Autumn weather we've been enjoying has abruptly slipped away this week, to be replaced by cold, windy, wet, dark days, reminding us that winter is just round the corner. Now's the time to stock your cupboard with helpful seasonal remedies, so I thought I'd repost my article from last winter to help you get prepared...
Firstly, do bear in mind that all of this is very general advice - if you're taking any medication fromyour Doctor, or if you have an ongoing medical condition, are pregnant or breast feeding - the advice may not be suitable for you and you should consult a qualified herbalist before following any of the suggestions. Also, the doses given below are for adults - children and babies need smaller doses, tailored to their age - again, ask a qualified herbalist. I've concentrated mainly on herbs and foods that people may have in their kitchen cupboards - items that you can put your hands to and prepare fairly quickly and easily. Of course there's nothing to stop you planning ahead and getting these things in before the season of coughs, colds and flu is truly with us. The elderberries are lovely and ripe at the moment - why not make your own Elderberry Rob? It's good to be prepared
A hot honey and Cinnamon drink is a great idea (add a slice of lemon, too, for a vitamin C boost) - even better if the honey is raw, local honey and not one from a supermarket, most of which are pasteurised and little different to eating sugar.
If you’ve got a cold, keep dairy produce to a minimum - it makes you produce more mucus.
Keep sugar and white carbs to a minimum - they suppress your immune system (especially sugar - in all it's forms).
Take Vitamin C and Zinc if you have it - don't take zinc on an empty stomach, it's likely to make you feel very sick.
If you've got some Echinacea - start taking it - it will help your immune system to fight the virus more effectively. If you've got any elderberry - start taking that in combination with the Echinacea - elderberry is highly anti viral.
If you've got some peppermint tea and any thyme in your kitchen cupboard - combine the two - use a teaspoon of thyme with one peppermint teabag - Thyme helps to thin mucus, is anti bacterial and will help to stop you getting a secondary bacterial infection. Thyme will also help with coughs where there's a lot of thick yellow/green catarrh. Add ginger to the tea too - either fresh grated or powdered from your herb/spice rack - it's warming and will help with the chills of a cold. It will also help you to sweat it out - your body raises your temperature because viruses don't like it, ginger supports your body in this.
Eat Garlic - freely - have a couple of good sized cloves a day, unless you're allergic to it of course, or unless you suffer from gastritis or acid reflux (garlic is a hot, pungent herb and will worsen the inflammation of these conditions) and avoid too much garlic if you're on blood thinning medications as it's a blood thinner too. Crush the garlic up well and leave to stand for a couple of minutes - this allows the enzymes to activate different naturally occurring chemicals in the garlic cells, making it more potent. Then mix it with a bit of honey, if you like and eat it. Yes, you won't have many friends for a few days (or you'll find out who your true friends really are!) - but you'll fight the infection more effectively. You can make your own onion syrup for a cough by slicing up a raw onion (a red one, if you want a milder effect) and layer it up in a bowl with good quality honey or sugar - leave to stand overnight and in the morning, the sugar or honey will have drawn out natural chemicals from the onion (which is from the same plant family as garlic, remember) and you've made a lovely soothing cough syrup - take teaspoons of it through the day.
Dry, tickly coughs need soothing, mucilaginous (a fancy way of saying “slippery”) herbs – for example, marshmallow leaf or root, mullein or liquorice (caution with Liquorice, though, as it isn’t suitable for folk with high blood pressure) or a honey drink. If it feels as though there’s mucus there but its stuck, you can combine the above mentioned soothing herbs with herbs that will help you to effectively cough up the mucus – for example, thyme, coltsfoot or horehound. Aniseed and fennel will also help with coughs and they taste nice too.
For sore throats, make a sage infusion using one or two fresh leaves of sage or a teaspoon of dried sage - pour on boiling water, cover the cup with a saucer and infuse for 10 minutes or so. Strain off the leaves and allow the infusion to cool - use to gargle 2 or 3 times daily. A great anti microbial herb that is fantastic for treating mouth and throat inflammation and infections.
Do inhalations of Olbas oil, or Vick mixed with a bowl of hot water, with a towel over your head (keep your eyes closed) to help clear nasal/sinus congestion to help you sleep better.
Keep up your fluids. Eat nourishing, simple foods - soups are great. Obviously not if you're
vegetarian, but if you're happy to eat chicken - cook a free range organic one and use the carcass to make bone broth, add veggies - nourishing, healing and helps to support the immune system. Hope this helps and that you soon feel better.