Your mom or grandma likely taught you their tried-and-true methods for stopping a cold in its tracks—or at least for making you feel better. Was it homemade chicken soup? Perhaps it was tea with lemon, honey and even a shot of something a bit more, er, medicinal? Have you ever tried slurping a bowl of steaming Vietnamese pho or adding hot chiles to a dish to help “sweat” out the stuff that ails you?
Don’t let a cold get you down this time of year. Consider borrowing from these cultural remedies to construct a favorite concoction for yourself and your loved ones when unwanted sniffles and sneezes come calling.
Chinese approaches range from very simple (green tea or miso soup with the white part of green onion and fresh ginger) to complicated and very specific to symptoms, employing “potions” made from several ingredients such as ma huang (ephedra), cinnamon twig, apricot seeds and licorice. Take caution if an ingredient is unfamiliar to you or if you don’t know how one substance will react with another or with medications you are taking. Better yet, consult with a naturopathic physician or Chinese medicine specialist when venturing into this territory.
Raw garlic is a recurring ingredient in the cold home-remedy bags of many cultures. It can be found in steaming broths or drinks—or simply eaten au natural. The common denominator is that the garlic is chopped or crushed and consumed in as near a raw state as possible. The cold avenger in garlic is believed to be a compound called allicin, which gives this “stinking rose” its characteristic hot flavor. Allicin has demonstrated antifungal and antibacterial properties and can also be found in pill form.
Prevention is still the best measure for beating a cold, however. Pay attention to where you are putting your hands (avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth) and wash your hands often in hot, soapy water.
What is your favorite cold remedy? Share it with editor in chief Sandy Todd Webster: [email protected].