Autumn,  Herbalism,  Lifestyle,  Winter

The Best Natural Cold-Busting Remedies

Hi friends. This autumn cold season has hit unbelievably hard this year. At one point last month I think everyone I know was either sick, getting sick or just getting over a cold. Really nuts. But! Will you believe — and I swear this is true — that this fall alone I nearly got sick FOUR TIMES (as in, felt that initial tickle in the throat, started sneezing, runny nose, etc) but managed to turn that around sometimes within HOURS? It can be done!

I wanted to pop in today and share just how the heck I have managed that — the quick answer is due to herbal remedies! I saw someone on Twitter the other day mentioning how they are getting sick and they hope it turns around, but y’all, the power is (generally) within us to take the reins and administer some extra help ourselves!

So here’s my method how I managed to turn a cold around four different times back to complete health this season alone. Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am in no way a health care professional – I offer only my personal experience of getting a cold more often not having done these things vs. having done them and personal research as a student of herbal studies. If in doubt, always consult a health care professional.

Preventative Care

For preventative care only, I take echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) syrup. I have the Valdimar Gresik brand syrup although more seasoned herbie types or those with access to homegrown only — never wild (as it is endangered) — echinacea flower could make their own through a root and aerial parts decoction. Echinacea will not help you very much at all if you actually start showing cold symptoms.

I take this syrup: the day I will be traveling somewhere, before attending a large gathering of people, if planning to be in the company of anyone with a cold, anytime I feel like I could use an immune system boost, but obviously not if showing symptoms.

Other best ways to avoid getting a cold in the first place are PLENTY OF SLEEP (I’m talking 8+ hours a night, naps if necessary), frequent hand-washing, avoiding touching buttons, railings, anywhere on my face. I also drink tea (often herbal tea) instead of coffee regularly, take immune-boosting medicinal mushroom elixirs, adaptogens (such as immune-boosting astralagus), try to drink plenty of water, cook with a lot of vegetables especially onions and garlic – all things which probably don’t hurt.

At First Signs of a Cold

So, you feel that tell-tale tickle — this is exactly the time you need to start administering some herbal or nutrient-booster helpers and start to take it easy immediately. The earlier you catch an oncoming infection, the easier it is to lessen its severity, so I implore you: don’t wait! Don’t wait ’til you finish doing a task, teaching a class, sit through a meeting – a cold can develop in an hour or less. The literal moment I feel as though I feel the first signs of sickness:

–Take elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) syrup, one tablespoon every couple of hours. It is also a preventative, but elderberry syrup is a serious help to aid the body in fighting cold AND flu viruses. It is best drunk mixed with some water — I like taking it in sparkling mineral water because it makes me feel fancy which I definitely don’t feel inside at this point. I have enjoyed both Nature’s Way and Harmonic Arts brand syrups. In North America you can usually find it at any well-stocked supermarket with a robust “natural goods” isle, a co-op, or a health foods store. Some herbalists even advise taking one dose every waking hour. You can also take it once a day for prevention during a particularly strong cold or flu season. This should be the #1 thing you keep in your pantry, in my opinion.

— Take zinc tablets (10mg) every few hours. I hoard these from American drugstores to take with me, but you can probably find them at drugstores or pharmacies. The ones I have say that you should take every three hours, but not drink any liquid in the half hour after taking them, but other than that, drink plenty of water.

photo via Sherradian on Flickr

— Cook with and eat foods that contain the following: OREGANO, THYME, ROSEMARY, GARLIC, ONIONS, and GINGER. Most of these are potent anti-microbials. I’m sure you’ve heard lots of old-wives tales, things like “leave a freshly sliced onion out on a table near you” but I do think that these practices do have some merit. My most trying illness-busting day recently, I cooked a french onion soup (LOADS of onions, thyme) for dinner that night and I can’t say exactly for sure, but it probably did not hurt and my cold was busted completely about 12 hours later. A friend of mine relies on a garlic soup which uses something like thirty cloves of garlic! (Fortunately here in the Czech Republic, we have beloved česnečka which is one of the most delicious soups in existence). Other spices which are especially useful when healing from cold or flu are: black pepper, basil, majoram, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper (think warming).

— Drink plenty of water and avoid coffee and alcohol!

Assuming you follow these tips and have a pretty good immune system, your cold should hopefully start receding in no time. Stay well this season!

Do you have any go-to methods I’ve overlooked? Please share them below!