I’m now five days in to a chest infection and cold and am feeling pretty miserable. With regular bouts of coughing and spluttering, washed down with antibiotics and flu remedy pills I don’t seem to be any nearer to kicking this things butt. I hate taking tablets and have gone in search of some natural remedies that conquer colds.
Four ways to conquer colds
It’s true, only time can really cure a cold but I’ve uncovered my four trusty cold-busting superheroes.
A warm detox bath
There is evidence to suggest that raising your body temperature helps you fight cold germs so I’ve been hopping in and out of a steaming hot bath more than usual. The hotter you can stand the bath the better as you need to sweat for it to have any effect. With this one you need to keep drinking liquids as the sweating is dehydrating – see honey and lemon combo below to solve this one. A hot bath also triggers maximum relaxation and it is helping me sleep better. This is giving my body much needed time to fight its immune battle. I also came across this great detox bath blog post that is definitely worth giving a go. You need to stock up on epsom salts, baking soda, ground ginger and essential oils. I’ve tried both tea tree and lavender oils (this mix was brilliant post childbirth too) and the lavender in particular is a real sleep-inducing treat.
Honey and lemon combo
Honey is a great natural cough suppressant and enjoys a double-whammy of both antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. A study published in Pediatrics revealed that 10 grams of honey given at bedtime to children reduced the severity of their cough and they slept more soundly. The added sleep and rest also helped reduce cold symptoms as their bodies had time to fight the bugs. For maximum effect, I’m mixing the honey with a shot of lemon juice, which is good for reducing phlegm. Isn’t that just a hideous word? Alas, there isn’t a nicer alternative to use in my blog post! The vitamin C boost from the lemon is also helping my immune system and hopefully reducing the likelihood of a repeat infection.
Note: this one isn’t for children under 12 months. Honey can contain botulinum spores which, whilst harmless to adults and older children, can’t be fought off by an infants’ immune system.
To bring much needed relief to my sore throat, I’ve been urged to gargle with salt water. Dissolving half a teaspoon of salt in a full cup of warm water, you gargle for a few seconds before spitting out. Don’t swallow! How does this one work? When you have a sore throat, the tissues get swollen or inflamed with the accumulation of fluids. Gargling with salt helps draw the water away from your inflamed throat tissue so the swelling reduces and you enjoy temporary relief. The salt is also a real bad-ass at killing and removing the infection-causing bacteria and viruses that linger about in the lining of your throat. And, as bacteria doesn’t like salt, it doesn’t regrow once flushed away. Happy days!
A steaming-bowl of chicken soup
Your grandma was right; chicken soup really is good for the soul and it’s also fab if you want to conquer colds. Evidence has been found that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent the horrible side effects you get from a cold – read more here. Arguably it’s probably more psychosomatic and the benefits come from tucking into a big bowl of the perfect comfort food. But, if consumed hot enough, the heat does help clear congestion and the liquid provides the hydration you need to flush out viral bugs. Here’s my favourite family chicken soup recipe if you don’t have one to hand:
Preparation 20 minutes, cooking time up to an hour
What you need:
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, bashed
- Large thumb-size piece root ginger, chopped into pieces
- 2 star anise
- 1.8 litres good quality fresh chicken stock
- 150g fine egg noodles
- 600g leftover chicken, shredded
- Juice 1 lemon
- Chopped fresh parsley to garnish
How to make it:
- Heat the butter in a large pan, then add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, over a low-medium heat until the veg is soft but not coloured. Stir in the ginger and star anise then cook a little longer. Pour in the stock, bring to a light simmer (just the occasional bubble, nothing more hectic) and cook for 40 minutes to let all the flavours infuse.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling salted water until nearly al dente. Drain, run under warm water for a minute to wash off any starch, then set aside.
- Taste the broth. If you can taste the ginger and star anise, it’s ready. If not, give it a few more minutes of gentle simmering. If your cold-hit tastebuds are struggling, get someone else to test it! Once you’re happy with the flavour, add the shredded meat, squeeze in the lemon juice and salt to taste. Simmer for a few more minutes to hat the meat then add the noodles and stir together.
- Ladle into bowls, sprinkle over the parsley and serve with lots of crusty bread.
So bathe, sip, sleep, repeat. Then all you can do is relax and dream of summer. If you’re really lucky, someone lovely will give you a gorgeous bunch of spring flowers. Thanks to Mr W for mine. Blurry love you. xx