Colds, Flu, and Covid
Oh sigh, it’s chicken soup time again (a vegetarian version works too). Despite (or maybe because of) the general relaxing of pandemic rules and prohibitions, a lot of people are still getting sick. Fortunately, vaccinations and all those boosters seem to be quite helpful in reducing the impact of covid; my younger friends and neighbors who have or had it recently say it’s not much different from a cold. However, many friends closer to my age say covid is more like a flu. Mild or nasty, nobody is calling it fun. Besides covid, there are other virulent viruses making the rounds locally. Since my daughter and I both have allergies to alder and hazel pollen, we’re also appreciating the soup, since our symptoms aren’t that different. Headache, earache, scratchy throat, drizzly nose, itchy eyes, ick, right?
I was recently gifted with delicious chicken broth proudly made by a younger friend who raised the chicken herself. The soup it made was incredibly tasty and made me feel truly nurtured. With so many covid- and flu-stricken friends and neighbors, soup is simmering daily around here. So are a few other garden-based home remedies, from tea mixtures and gargles to a comforting skin salve. I especially love that these traditional treatments are as much or even more effective than many over-the-counter medications (which often include ingredients I can do without).
Remedies From The Garden
Even in this chilly month (as freezing weather continues), my hardy garden herbs are providing wholesome ingredients to use in comforting teas, soups, and gargles. My kitchen pantry supplies the rest of my remedy ingredients and I can feel the effectiveness of these gentle treatments almost immediately. For instant relief, a dab of organic coconut oil will soothe a raw, sore nose or chapped lips. A steeped mixture of organic coconut oil and calendula leaves cured my granddaughter’s chaffed and itching wrists helps heal the rosacea that painfully flushes my face beet red for a raft of reasons, from wind and rain to warmth and wine (dang). To make it, steep 1 cup of organic calendula petals (available online or from your own garden) in 1 cup of warm (melted) organic coconut oil in a crockpot or double boiler over low heat for 3-4 hours, then strain out the petals. Store the golden salve in small canning jars and seal the lids so the salve stays fresh until you’re ready to use it.
Every time I go outside, I wash my eyes and brows with organic baby shampoo to remove the pollen that clings to hairs. Through the day, I cover my itchy eyes with warm, wet (usually used) black tea bags covered with a hot compress while I enjoy a mini break or a tiny snooze. Whether you feel sick or just tired, it’s energetically helpful to drink plenty of hot herbal teas (ginger, chamomile, yarrow and peppermint are all good ones), hopefully resting while you sip. My favorite part of such time honored techniques is that they reduce unpleasant symptoms not by masking them but by promoting a cure. Our bodies WANT to be in balance, and when we help them help themselves, positive changes can come quickly.
Help From The Sea
Long, long ago, we came from the sea, and our bodies hold our own personal salt water seas to this day. Thus, sea salt is a very natural balancer for our systems, but sadly, most sea salt contains micro plastics. It’s a good idea to use sourced sea salts from pristine environments, such as Redmond or Himalayan sea salts, both mined from ancient (thus pre-plastic) seabeds. Salty water’s not optimal for drinking, but this simple gargling solution quickly eases a sore throat 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. A salty water swish is also helpful for improving gum health and rinsing teeth after a meal as well. Vinegar is also beneficial for your mouth and digestive system, whether you rinse with it or drink it (always well diluted!).
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.
Those Helpful Onions
When you’re fighting off colds or flu, the allium clan, notably garlic and onions, offer speedy aid. The classic chicken soup remedy definitely still works, but happily for vegetarians is that chicken broth is not the magic ingredient; onions and steam are what do your body good. Other vegetables will also help, so add whatever appeals to you (kale and sweet potatoes, for instance). 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. Nutritional yeast is high in protein and has a cheesy-nutty flavor that gives vegetarian dishes a savory, umami quality.
Garden Powered Super Soup
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
2 large white or yellow onions, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon stemmed thyme or oregano, minced
1 teaspoon stemmed rosemary, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chopped kale or cabbage (or both)
1 purple or golden potato, chopped
1/4 cup flaked nutritional yeast
1/4 cup stemmed parsley or cilantro
1 lime or lemon, quartered
In a soup pot, combine oil, onions, and garlic over medium heat and cook to the fragrance point (1-2 minutes). Add salt, herbs, and vegetables, reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 8-10 minutes. Add water to cover all (4-6 cups), bring to a simmer and simmer until all is tender (about 20 minutes). Breathe in the steam as it cooks! Puree with a stick blender if you want a smooth soup, stir in nutritional yeast and serve hot, garnished with parsley or cilantro and a squeeze of citrus. Serves 3-4.
To your health and wellbeing!