There’s a crucial moment at the onset of a cold — a few hours, a day, maybe — when decisive action can shorten the duration or sidestep a cold altogether. If you catch that first throat tickle, you’re golden. Here’s the game plan:
1. Elderberry syrup, one spoonful 3x’s a day. My herbalist recommends Gaia, so that’s what I stick to. Elderberry syrup is antiviral, anti-inflammatory, probably magic, and tastes exactly how I imagine raspberry cordial does in Anne of Green Gables. Also it’s effective against bird flu.
2. Oil of Oregano, one capsule morning and night. I also buy Gaia brand capsules, because the hard pills taste awful and hurt my stomach. As a result of oil of oregano and elderberry, I haven’t needed antibiotics in eight years. It reduces infection and supports the immune system, but can cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach.
3. Raw garlic, a clove or two daily. Raw garlic has a laundry list of health benefits, but for our purposes, it’s an antibiotic and antibacterial. I slice up cloves thinly and make a little sandwich with two slices of green apple so it’s more palatable. You can also make salad dressing from three parts oil, one part vinegar, crushed garlic, a bit of mustard and honey. (Use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and raw local honey if you want to up the anti on health benefits.)
4. Sleep, as much as possible. Sleep deprivation compromises the immune system, and over time, it may also contribute to Alzheimer’s and Cancer. As far as colds go, I’m not saying you should give up a front row seat to watch live-streams in between naps at the first sign of a sneeze, but opting out of an after-party or two could save you from being the pariah with a hacking cough later in the week.
5. Fluids and steam. Drinking enough water to stay hydrated can help thin mucous, making it easier to expectorate (aka hock a loogie). Also, the steam from herbal teas or a warm shower can help ease congestion and lift sinus headaches. If congestion’s the culprit, add thyme, rosemary and mint to a pot of hot water and cover with a towel. Slip your head under the towel and breath in the steam to loosen everything up.
So there you have it: my powerhouse pre-cold regimen. I’m probably also drinking water with chlorophyll or Emergen-C and making nettle-based tea for vitamins and minerals, adding thyme and osha to the brew as an expectorant, or elecampane, licorice root and mullein as a demulcent (which is like a cough drop). For scratchy throat relief, try mixing slippery elm root powder and raw local honey for a DIY throat lozenge. A spoonful of raw local honey is also a great cough syrup, too.
Stay healthy, my friends.
– By resident hypochondriac Kate Barnett, who is not a doctor and strongly suggests seeing as many as possible if you’re sick.