We catch an average of four colds a year – and with no known cure, your GP can only advise lots of rest and to stay hydrated. But nutritionist Sarah Flower tells us natural remedies going back centuries could help to speed up recovery. So if you’re feeling bunged up, try one of these traditional cures…
Hot Toddies date back to the 1700s and are traditionally made with spirits, honey and a range of spices. Often now we opt for brandy, honey and lemon. The brandy helps you sleep, the honey soothes the throat and the lemon adds the much-needed vitamin C. Lemon also helps clear lingering germs from the nasal passages. The jury is still out on the science. Even if it is psychological it’s a definite go-to for me.
Our grandmothers really did know best – this is an excellent remedy. There are even mentions of chicken broth used by ancient Greek physicians. Made from the bones of the meat or poultry, add any left-over vegetables and cook slowly for a nourishing meal. Bone stock is full of vitamins and minerals, as well as gelatine and collagen, to help you back on your feet. You can also add turmeric and cinnamon, as well as a dash of chilli – a natural decongestant – and ginger to speed up your metabolism.
CLOVE OF GARLIC
Garlic has a long-standing reputation for keeping winter bugs at bay. In the 1500s people were advised to apply a poultice of garlic and onion to their throats. Thankfully we’ve now moved on and can easily add garlic to our meals or even take a daily supplement. Garlic, with its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anticatarrhal properties, is a great weapon against flu.
Our ancestors used to take patients outdoors for at least an hour a day however sick they were. There’s a good reason – Vitamin D, which helps prevent flu and can regulate our immune response. We are now aware that a large number of people lack the recommended levels, especially in winter. For adequate exposure to the sun’s UVB rays you need at least 15 minutes a day. For those who can’t, vitamin D3 supplements are the alternative. It boosts the immune system and can help with depression and bone, joint and heart health.
This sounds obvious but there are measures we can all implement to help prevent catching a cold virus in the first place. We’ve gone through quite a history on this, from using carbolic smoke balls to iodine lockets hung round the neck in the early 20th century. Hospitals used to have brass door handles to stop germs because it effectively disinfects itself. Nowadays we can use disposable tissues and antibacterial hand gel.
Pelargonium is a herbal remedy based on geraniums that packs a punch and helps with respiratory infections, sore throat s and general cold and flu symptoms. Take it as soon as you begin to feel the onset of illness and continue until you are showing signs of improvement. It is natural but not advisable for the under-12s.