Cold and Flu Rescue

When the weather gets cold outside, it's that time of year when cold and flu bugs are everywhere we go. We need to keep wrapped up warm, and wear hats and scarves when we venture out on a cold day. 

Here are a few things we can do to help prevent catching the common cold, and some natural remedies to help us on the road to recovery if we do pick up a winter bug.

 

1. Hot Ginger Tea

This is one of the best tea's to sip when you’re feeling stuffed up and yucky. The ginger is delicious, warming and just a little spicy. Aromatic constituents such as capsaicin (found in chilies) or piperine (found in black pepper) are part of a family of compounds that provide numerous healing benefits. In ginger the compound of that family is called gingerol, and it helps relieve congestion in a couple of ways. First, it lessens inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages and the sinus cavity, this inflammation contributes greatly to the buildup of pressure and congestion. When the swelling goes down, mucous can flow out instead of getting all jammed up. Although slightly less scientific, there’s also the fact that the spiciness has enough of a kick that it can just perfectly loosen up built up phlegm. The tea itself is wonderful for you because you’re getting extra fluids, which your body needs desperately when fighting off an illness, and breathing in the steam vapors can also help loosen up any congestion you may be experiencing. The recipe below is for an infusion, rather than a decoction (which is when you actively steep the herb in simmering water), but you can do either or.

You will need…

  • 6-8 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger root
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A squirt of lemon juice
  • A dash of honey (optional)
  • 4 cups of freshly boiled water
  • A glass jar

Directions

Place the ginger in a large glass jar and sprinkle in some cinnamon if you are using it. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and then carefully pour it into the jar to cover the ginger. Steep for 30-40 minutes, and be sure to cover your jar-this is important because it keeps all that evaporating essential oil goodness right where it belongs-in your cup! Strain (use hot mitts or a towel as the jar may still be quite warm) and then pour yourself a piping fresh mug. You may find that you want to reheat the tea slightly. Add honey and lemon if you are using them, sip and savor, and be sure to breathe in the steam. Store the rest of the tea in the fridge for up to 24 hours, reheating and drinking 3 times throughout the day.

 

2. Essential Steam

One beautiful, almost instant fix for a stuffy nose is to steam it out. This is a favorite remedy of mine and worth repeating in numerous remedy lists. You can glean the benefits of steam by breathing it in from a mug of hot tea, taking a hot shower, or filling a bowl with a hot water and adding an essential oil. The best essential oils to use for this are the strong ones like tea tree, peppermint, or eucalyptus (tea tree and eucalyptus being the best in my opinion.) The anti-bacterial/anti-viral properties of tea tree oil can be carried via the steam, which will help fight off any bug that you’re battling. Both tea tree and eucalyptus are, of course, rather strong smelling, which also helps dislodge congestion.

You will need…

  • 5-10 drops of eucalyptus, tea tree oil, or a combination
  • A heatproof bowl
  • Boiling water
  • A towel

Directions

Put the essential oils in the bottom of the bowl and then pour in several cups of boiling water. Start by putting your face over the bowl at a comfortable distance-steam can do some damage if you aren’t careful. Eventually have your face directly about the bowl as close as comfortably possible. Drape the towel over your head to trap all that healing steam, and take deep breaths. Resurface as needed if you become too warm. Have some tissues handy to blow your nose after! Repeat 2-3 times daily, adjusting the amount of essential oil to your preferences. Some people find that too much will make their eyes water, so start with less.

 

3. Lemon Juice and Hot Water

Lemon juice and hot water every morning is a great start to the day, and it has so many health benefits too. Lemons are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, B complex, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium and fibre.

Drink it first thing in a morning, and leave it 15-20 minutes before you have any breakfast. Lukewarm is best and it must be diluted as the hard lemon juice can damage the enamel of your teeth.

Here are just a few of the benefits: 

1. Reduces inflammation

Lemon juice can decrease the acidity in your body, which is where the disease starts to occur. It removes uric acid in your joints, which is one of the main causes of inflammation.

2. Cleanses your skin.

It helps flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function, stimulating the liver.

3. Gives your immune system a boost.

Lemon juice is full of vitamin C, which can plummet when your body is under stress and infection. So a daily dose can help keep our levels topped up and ready to fight infections and help us on stressful days. 

4. Helps fight viral infections. 

Warm lemon water is the most effective way to fight viral infections, and their subsequent sore throats. Plus with the lemon juice also boosting your immune system, it will simultaneously help to fight off the infection completely.  

 

4. Homemade Chicken Soup

Homemade chicken soup is a great meal to help fight the cold bugs. It has to have good wholesome, fresh ingredients. It also tastes so good and it's just the hearty, soothing meal you need to warm you up in the colder months.

Immune-boosting chicken soup recipe

  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 250g mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • Hand full of parsley, freshly chopped
  • Hand full of fresh basil, freshly chopped
  • 1 tbsp of each oregano, thyme, and rosemary, chopped*
  • 2 bay leafs, whole
  • A bunch of kale, washed and torn
  • 250g of snow peas or green beans, chopped
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs, chopped into cubes
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced and divided

Directions
1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, 3 garlic cloves, ginger and leeks. Cook until softened — about 3 minutes.

2. Add chopped vegetables, chicken, salt, chicken stock and bay leaf. Increase temperature to high, bring to a boil and reduce heat so soup simmers. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until vegetables soften, but aren’t mushy.

3. Stir the kale, peas, fresh herbs, 2 cloves of fresh finely chopped garlic into the soup. Simmer for another few minutes to blend flavours and soften kale. Adding these ingredients at the end ensures that the veggies are bright green and the garlic is providing maximum immune benefits.