It starts with a sniffle and a cough, then another cough. Soon enough everyone around you is coughing. And then you start to feel it too… This was me last week at work and may have been you recently too. I felt great one day, a little tired the next, then BAM, it hit me. The dreaded winter cold.
It’s about that time of year that the cold and flu start to spread. People coming home after spending time traveling and visiting family over the holidays. For many, the holidays mean spending time in close quarters with a lot of people. Possibly in warm houses with the heat on too high (like, ahem, my grandmother’s house…). Cold weather keeping everyone indoors with the windows and doors shut tight. Yeah, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
I usually come down with one bad cold a year and last week was my time. I spent much of last weekend curled on my couch with my warm scarf wrapped around my neck, box of tissues and warm dog on either side. Me being the holistic-minded person that I am, I got through it the natural way with no medications or drugs commonly found in the cold aisle of your local pharmacy. How did I do it? With my small arsenal of natural healing remedies, which I will share with you today.
I do want to start with the caveat that everyone’s way of healing is different. If you feel like you need to go to the doctor then go to the doctor (especially if you have a fever over 102). I am by no means a medical professional; this is what worked for me and may help you as well.
When you’re sick it’s important to drink a lot of fluids to flush out the toxins and help to thin the mucus that has built up. Hot herbal tea is the first thing that I turn to when feeling off and, in my opinion, is one of the best things to soothe a sore throat. Echinacea is an herb that stimulates immune activity and fortifies cells against invading microorganisms. Elderberry can be used for respiratory infections. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, helping with aches and pains as well as breaking up congestion. Peppermint helps to ease congestion and chamomile can help you sleep. Green tea has been shown to prevent sinus infections. Garlic is immune boosting and antimicrobial, so it can fight viral and bacterial infections. My main go-to is an echinacea tea by Traditional Medicinals, my favorite tea brand.
This category is a natural extension of herbs, as some of my favorite oils are actually from herb plants. Eucalyptus, oregano, peppermint, and frankincense are my go-to’s. This past week I would ease congestion with a eucalyptus steam every morning with my shower. After letting the water heat up, I would put drops of eucalyptus oil around the edge of my tub and inhale the oil as it got picked up from the steam of my shower. Oregano is antibacterial, anti fungal, and an immune stimulant. Putting a few drops of peppermint in a bowl of hot water and then inhaling will clear you right up (be careful, this one can be intense at first…). Frankincense, the mother of all oils, is anti-inflammatory and stimulating to the immune system. All week my oil diffuser has been spreading peppermint, lemon, and frankincense into the air of my apartment. I have also been gargling daily with salt water mixed with a drop each of oregano, peppermint, and frankincense.
Your grandmother wasn’t kidding when she told you chicken soup is healing. Bone broth, the base of chicken soup, is one of the simplest soup recipes to make and probably one of the best for you. Broth is extremely healing to the gut, which goes hand-in-hand with your immune system (about 80% of our immune system is housed in our gut). It has amino acids that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body and minerals in a form that your body can easily absorb.
Now, you can easily purchase bone broth at the store, but the homemade version is very simple and quite cost effective. A big pot of it can go a long way. Last weekend I made a chicken stock which I used to make chicken noodle soup. I used half of the stock for my soup, which lasted me about 4-5 meals. The other half is currently in my freezer to be used in my next soup recipe.
Here is a super simple chicken stock recipe that will help you use up scraps from your kitchen. If making this at home please make sure your chicken is organic.
1-2 organic chicken carcasses. I freeze mine in a gallon ziplock bag after cooking them and removing the meat.
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (it helps draw the minerals out from the bone)
2-3 cups vegetable scraps. I keep a gallon ziplock bag in my freezer where I store vegetable scraps from my cooking. It contains all sorts of stuff including onion peels, ends of Brussels sprouts and asparagus, kale stems, and the ends of carrots and zucchini.
Fresh or dried herbs (I love oregano and thyme for this)
Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Make sure there is at least an inch of space between the liquid and the top of the pot to avoid a possible mess if you boil over. Bring pot to a boil and then simmer, covered for about 8 hours. Then drain liquid into a bowl and let sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning skim off the top layer of fat and then you have your broth! Warm it in a mug to drink straight or use it to make a killer chicken soup. I also mix some into my dog’s hard food and he goes nuts. My chicken soup was based on this recipe.
Last but not least, rest. Give you body the time it needs to heal and fight the germs that have invaded your body. Last Friday I slept for 14 hours straight and when I woke up I felt much better (still horrible, but better!). If you’re sick you probably won’t want to do much anyways. Time for some Netflix marathon watching!
I hope that the dreaded winter cold doesn’t reach you this year but if it does, I hope these tools will help you along the way.