Updated: Mar 4, 2019
"What can I do to get rid of this nasty cold" could be the most commonly asked question I get. I hope this blog post will prove helpful.
I could fill pages with herbal information and suggestions and still not address every scenario.
So, as always, feel free to comment, questions or add your suggestions.
The old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" certainly fits in this case! All those things your mother or teacher taught you are worth heeding: Wash your hands often, cough into your sleeve, sleep, eat well (avoiding sugar as much as possible), sleep some more, drink some hot tea... you get the picture!
Diet and sleep can be difficult to adjust for some people, but trust me, eating well and sleeping enough will do more to keep you healthy than most anything else.
OK, but how about some herbal options? Every fall I step up my elderberry tincture routine. I sub in the local schools and will often hear when there is "something going around", and will increase my elderberry tincture frequency accordingly. You can read more about elderberry here.
Another elderberry product worth investigating is elderberry syrup, which is very tasty. I, personally, use the tincture more often as it is easier to make and to carry along with me to take through the day. However, kids will likely be more open to take elderberry syrup vs. the tincture. It does make some yummy gummies, also. My recipes are here: elderberry syrup/ elderberry gummies.
Other tips for prevention: Eat lots of garlic (preferably raw) and onions. Garlic is one of the most potent antiviral and antibiotic herbs and is easily available. If you can't tolerate raw garlic, you could look for a good garlic supplement. I consume garlic most often in the fire cider that I make - here's the recipe. We often have it as the base in our salad dressings or I'll add it to soup, sprinkle on vegetables or eggs, or just take a spoonful.
TIPS FOR COLD CARE
OK, so you caught the cold going around. Now what?!
As I said up above, I could fill pages with herbal suggestions for how to deal with all sorts of colds and still not address every scenario. So I will share what I typically do. And yes, even as an herbalist, I occasionally get hit with a cold, but it no longer lasts days and days - typically 2-3 days vs. the 2 weeks that were typical before. I consider a cold to be a good booster for my immune system and an indication that it is working well (at least that's what I tell myself...)!
If I feel a cold coming on (or have had someone sneeze/cough in my face), I will increase my elderberry tincture to 6 drops or so every couple hours and take a teaspoon of fire cider when I think of it, hopefully every few hours. I will also start taking some large doses of a Vitamin C powder that I keep on hand - ¼ teaspoon mixed in a small amount of water that I gulp down every ½ hour for a few hours. Mine is ascorbic acid crystals, but I know there are other types out there, too. ¼ teaspoon = 1,054 mg of vitamin C as ascorbic acid. Elderberry tincture, fire cider, and vitamin C will often take care of whatever I felt coming on.
If the cold insists on settling in, I typically get a sore throat and sinus congestion. I throw together what I call my "Poor Me" concoction: 2 Tablespoons each of elderberry syrup, fire cider, and garlic/onion/honey syrup with 1 teaspoon of elderberry tincture added to the mix. I stir it all together and sip a bit off a spoon every half hour or so. I initially made this mix because I knew they should all help, but I was too miserable to figure out what to take when, thus my "Poor Me" mix. I also continue to take ¼ tsp. of vitamin C powder every hour or two, as vitamin C is an excellent antihistamine, which is typically needed. I also eat pineapple due to advice I got years ago from. friend who said it helps prevent loosing your voice, which often happened to me. Not if I eat pineapple!
I also try to rest and sleep when I can. Your body heals when it is sleeping. I once heard the explanation that when you are awake, the body systems are just busy keeping you going, that repair and healing is accomplished when you are sleeping and it has the time and energy required for healing.
I also eliminate sugar from my diet, other than the honey in the syrup mix, as sugar suppresses one's immune system.
I drink lots of tea. If you are looking at the shelves of tea options in the store, Yogi makes some great teas with a good blend of herbs - when I checked some time back they were the only brand that included mullein leaf in their blend, which is great for lung support, so I went with them. 2 of my favorites are Yogi's Breathe Deep or their Throat Comfort.
Bad cough? Sip on a spoonful of the garlic/onion/honey mix. Studies show that honey is as effective as most OTC cough medicines. And with the addition of garlic and onion, it becomes even more healing.
Bad sore throat? Typically, just gargling with fire cider seems to take care of it. I will also gargle with strong salt water. If it's really bad I would spray on some prickly ash bark tincture, one of my favorite tinctures for pain of all sorts.
Wow, this is much longer than I anticipated, and I've just begun! I will try to organize this and change it up a bit, soon. But knowing it is cold/flu season now, I wanted to get something written up.
Oh, the flu - I rarely get it. When I do, I simply vomit and feel sorry for myself until it goes over. Typically the regular flu doesn't last long and needs to run its course.
Influenza - another matter all together! That one needs a blog post all of it's own - stay tuned!
And as always, feel free to comment or email me with any questions or clarifications. And if you don't want to make your own syrups and tinctures, they are available in my store.
And, as always, if you are wondering if your symptoms are worth a visit to your family doctor, they likely are. Get in there and get it checked out! If you are having trouble breathing, have a high temp, pass out, etc... get yourself into your clinic!