We are moving fully into Winter. This time of the year is rife with coughs, colds and flu, we’ve either got it, had it or know someone who does! As a hedgerow herbalist and holistic therapist I have many methods that I use to keep myself and my family well, but despite all of the prevention, we don’t always escape the lurgy! So what follows are some simple remedies that you can use at home to help ease the symptoms of colds and flu.
- Keep hydrated – make sure you drink plenty of hot drinks, but keep the caffeine to a minimum, instead opt for honey, lemon and ginger (put a chunk of fresh ginger in a cup, it can be reused several times)- helps ease sore throats and coughs, the ginger can ward off feelings of nausea; and herbal teas, particularly chamomile, as it is relaxing to body and mind and aids a restful sleep. For children, herbal infusions can be made using soothing and calming oatmilk, which is easier for them to take.
- Chicken soup, (bone broth) made fresh, with plenty of veg, onion and garlic – immune boosting, antimicrobial, effective for reducing the symptoms of upper respiratory infections. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can make an equally healthy broth using loads of veg, herbs and plenty of spices.
- Regular steam inhalation, a few drops of essential oil in a bowl of hot water, put a towel over your head and inhale the steam. This helps to reduce inflammation , opens up the sinuses and loosens mucus in the lungs. Essential oils that are beneficial are eucalyptus, rosemary, and a lesser known one, niouli, which is very similar to eucalyptus in its actions, but a little gentler and pleasant smelling. The oils have decongestant, antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- Cool mist vaporizer or humidifiers; these help prevent the spread of germs, help maintain moisture levels and so ease breathing – the use of the essential oils as mentioned above boosts the effectiveness.
- Once you are on your way to feeling better the best holistic treatments to have to help speed up your recovery are reflexology and ear candling. Reflexology is a very nurturing, healing and balancing therapy, it helps to stimulate the immune system and activates bodies own healing response. Ear candling is really effective at clearing the sinuses and ear blockages that can linger after a cold, and includes gentle facial massage and sinus drainage. They can be done together as a combined treatment, and are really super relaxing, the perfect way to give yourself a boost and pamper when you’ve been poorly.
- Elderberry syrup, rich in antioxidants, bioflavonoids and vitamin c , helps to boost the immune system and fights off colds and flu. It’s so easy to make this at home when the berries are in the hedgerow from late summer and into autumn, ready for use when the winter kicks in! (I’ll be posting a recipe later in the year).
- Echinacea, boosts the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and can shorten the duration of a cold or flu by 2 to 3 days – buy a good quality brand.
- Herbs and spices – there are many herbs that we can use to help keep us well, and fight off infections. Thyme and rosemary can be made into syrups, honeys and teas, chamomile as mentioned makes a wonderful relaxing tea, and is great for adults and children. Nettle, oatstraw and plantain make nourishing vitamin and mineral filled infusions (I’ll be talking about them in greater detail and showing you how to make infusions easily at home). Pepper, Kombu, Turmeric are all really healthy additions.
Brightest blessings – Namaste
(*These remedies are not a substitute for medical advice, if in doubt speak to your GP)