There`s snow on the ground, Christmas is over so we are well and truly into cold and flu season. On average, adults can expect 2-3 colds per year and kids as many as 8-10. Those most likely to get sick are the people that have underdeveloped or compromised immune systems such as infants and seniors or the chronically ill but there are not many of us that can escape the winter season without getting at least one cold.
No matter how much we would like to, we can’t shield ourselves from every germ out there so if you or your family gets hit with a cold it’s important to know how to deal with it, naturally. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, your body’s natural defense system will kick in and it`s important that we allow our body to do what it`s supposed to but that doesn`t mean we can`t give it some extra support.
Here are 5 of my favourite natural cold and flu remedies that I turn to as soon as the sniffles begin:
- Raw honey & lemon drink.
Lemon has natural antibacterial properties, high levels of vitamin C and acts as a strong defense against germs. Raw honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and provides you with enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed through the pasteurization process of most other honeys. If anyone in my house feels a sore throat coming on, we just take a spoonful right from the jar.
Boil some water, add the juice of half a lemon and when cooled a little add a teaspoon of raw honey, drink and enjoy.
- Warming Sock Treatment
My husband is one of my toughest clients and unfortunately for him, he is always the first to try out my new recipes or ideas. Warming socks is something I was made aware of while I was at CSNN (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition) a few years back. To be honest I didn’t think much of it but then one day, I came down with a cold and tried it and OMG, it was amazing. My husband then tried it and he has told so many of his buddies about it and it’s the first thing he does now if he starts to get a cold.
The aim of the warming sock treatment is that it will help improve circulation and lymphatic drainage by encouraging blood flow to your feet and extremities. It can be used to clear congestion in the upper respiratory tract or lungs. I use it for colds, flu, sinus headaches and will use it every night until the symptoms have gone.
You soak a pair of cotton socks in very cold water. Wring out the socks so they are not dripping and put them on your feet. Cover the cold, wet socks completely with a large pair of wool or cotton socks. It’s important that no part of the wet sock is exposed to the air. Go to bed and sleep and when you wake in the morning, the socks will be dry.
When I tell people about this, they normally give me a weird look and say “but won’t my feet be wet and cold all night?” Yes, they may feel a little cold when you first put the socks on but after 5 minutes your body adjusts and you get used to it. It really does work, and is a great treatment to use on kids of any age.
- Omega Alpha Echinacea & Goldenseal
Echinacea & Goldenseal are both widely used herbal remedies that have been used traditionally for years. Echinacea has powerful immune stimulating properties and Goldenseal has antibiotic properties so they make a great combination to help treat that stubborn cold or flu especially when a secondary bacterial infection has set in. It should be taken at the first sign of illness but for no longer than 2 weeks at a time as it will lose its effectiveness. My go to brand is Omega Alpha http://www.omegaalpha.ca/en/product/6/Echinacea_Goldenseal/ which I get in the Natural Value Section at Zehrs/Loblaws.
- Boiron Homeopathics
Echinacea and Goldenseal is not something I use with my kids, just the big people in the house. The products I turn to for my kids are Boiron homeopathics. They have Coryzalia which is for colds and can be used for kids aged 1 month to 6 years. If your child is suffering from nasal congestion, a runy nose or acute rhinitis then this is the one. Its super easy to use and is sugar, dye and preservative free. They also have a cough liquid called Stodal that can be used for kids aged 1 – 11 years. I have been using their products since Ben was born and their teething product Camilla was a life saver for me!! http://www.boiron.ca/products/childrens/
- Honibe Lozenges
If you come down with a sore throat, don’t rush out and buy any old throat lozenge as you could be putting artificial colours, flavours, hydrogenated oils and even that nasty sweetner aspartame into your body. These are my favourite throat lozenges by a company called Honibe – http://honibe.com/honibe-honey-lozenges/. They are made from 100% pure honey and contain as few as 3 ingredients. They sell ones that also contain Echinacea, vitamin C, zinc and citrus and these are perfect to take at the first sign of a cold. You can get them in most pharmacies or natural health stores.
Chicken soup is not just an old wives tale, research shows that it has an anti-inflammatory effect. Sipping on warm liquids like broths and herbal teas can help loosen mucous and clear up congestion. I always try to have some in the freezer just in case the need arises. Home-made chicken soup is SO much better than the store bought variety as less sodium, sugar and preservatives. This is my favourite recipe taken from The Family Cooks by Laurie David.
Chicken Noodle Soup (The Family Cooks – Laurie David)
Makes 8 servings
1 whole bone-in skin-on chicken breast (1 ½ – 2lbs), organic if you can
3 carrots, scrubbed and chopped (unpeeled if organic)
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions (or 4 leeks, white and light green parts), chopped
1 bay leaf (optional)
4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely minced (garlic is great in cold season)
8 cups chicken broth (organic if you can)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of your favourite pasta (elbows, alphabets, stars)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, dill or chives
In large heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine all the ingredients except for the pasta and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Reduce the heat to low and keep it at a gentle simmer.
Every now and then, skim the scum (gray foamy stuff) from the surface with a large flat spook or soup strainer.
After 30 minutes, take the chicken out with tongs. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin, and pull the meat off the bones and chop or tear into bite-size pieces.
Add the pasta to the pot and simmer until it is tender, 8-10 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and add the herbs.
Taste to make sure it has enough seasonings. Serve and feel well