Kitchen & Garden Cures For Common Colds & More

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Colds, Flu, and You (Or Me, Anyway)

Headache, check. Sore throat, check. Stuffy head, check. Drizzly nose, check. Itchy eyes, check. Earache, check. Gotta be a duck, right? Or at least one of the virulent cruds that are making the rounds these days. Overall, I feel blessed to have escaped the worst of the seasons’ illnesses, especially when my entire household has been nailed by the nasties. However, even this garden-variety version is bad enough to have me canceling everything for the next few days.

Actually, I kind of love hunkering down with an excellent excuse to stay home. Sadly, the actual cold makes it a lot harder to enjoy the freedom (sniff sneeze sniff). Happily, my garden herbs are providing some garden-variety relief in the form of teas, soups, and gargles. My kitchen pantry supplies the rest of my remedy ingredients and I can already feel the effectiveness of these gentle treatments. For instant relief, put a dab of organic coconut oil on that raw, sore nose, and cover itchy eyes with warm, wet black tea bags (used ones work fine) while you take five. Drink plenty of hot herbal teas (ginger, chamomile, yarrow and peppermint are all useful) and rest when you can. The especially good news is that these old time techniques reduce the most unpleasant symptoms not by masking them but by promoting a cure.

It Starts With The Sea

Long, long ago, we came from the sea, and our bodies are largely salt water to this day. Thus, sea salt is a very natural balancer for our systems. Salty water’s not for drinking (though some folks swear by it), but this simple gargling solution eases a sore throat very quickly and rids your throat of the post-nasal-drip gunge that can turn into a bacterial swamp. Do this several times a day, or at least when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

Sea Salt Gargle

1 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Stir well and gargle with a small amount, spitting copiously and unattractively in the privacy of the bathroom. And shut the door, unless you live alone, in which case your pets will probably be fascinated and want to play too.

Apple Cider Gargle Or Sinus Swig

1 tablespoon organic apple cider
1 cup (or more) water, hot or cold

Use warm water and gargle (spitting as above) if your throat stays sore for more than a day. If your sinuses get involved, drink this stuff hot or cold every hour or two while awake to help battle both bacteria and viruses. Taken before or after meals, it’s a fine aid to good digestion. This combo also stops acid reflux almost immediately for many folks, who take it at bedtime to prevent uncomfortable nights.

The Allium Clan

When your body is fighting off colds or flu, turn to garlic and onions for speedy aid. The old chicken soup remedy still works, but the good news for vegetarians is that chicken is not the magic ingredient; onions and steam are what do your body good. Adding a few other vegetables can’t hurt, so use whatever sounds good to you (think kale and sweet potatoes). Pureed soups are easier on sore throats, and naturally antibiotic herbs like thyme and rosemary are less irritating than pepper, though a little smoked paprika offers body and depth as well as a little bite. The optional nutritional yeast adds a nutty, cheesy flavor that gives vegetable soups a savory, umami quality.

Super Soup For The Sickly

1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
2 large white onions, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon stemmed thyme, minced
1 teaspoon stemmed rosemary, minced
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium Carola or Yukon Gold potato, chopped
1/4 cup flaked nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 cup stemmed parsley or cilantro
1 lime or lemon, quartered

In a soup pot, combine oil, onion, and garlic over medium heat and cook to the fragrance point (1-2 minutes). Add the salt, the thyme and rosemary, and the carrots, celery, and potato, reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 8-10 minutes. Add water to cover all, bring to a simmer, cover pan and simmer until all is tender (15-20 minutes). Puree with a stick blender, stir in nutritional yeast and serve, garnished with parsley or cilantro and a squeeze of citrus. Serves 3-4.

To your health!

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