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With the arrival of crisp winter mornings and long dark nights, it’s that time of the year. Winter. Colds and runny noses seemingly go hand in hand with colder weather. Well, not anymore. Rather than stockpile Lemsip, we stock up on natural remedies for a cold. We have an ample stash of herbal teas and essential oils. Boosting and supporting the immune system throughout the colder months is always better than cure. But if you do succumb to a case of the sniffles these natural remedies will help you to recover and stay well long after.
Let’s face it, there’s not much allopathic medicine can do for the common cold. Visits to the doctor for a cold tend to be a costly waste of time. All too often it results in a prescription for already overused antibiotics which won’t fix the problem, but it will mess with gut flora. Perhaps pop a paracetamol then? Nope. Paracetamol has nothing in nature. It may numb the pain temporarily but it won’t support the body’s natural functioning. Natural remedies, on the other hand, can effectively kick cold’s butt into next year! Now that’s the sort of remedy I’m talking about!
Please note, I’m an independent consultant for Neals Yard Remedies Organic (NYRO). Some products mentioned are by Neals Yard. Simply because I love them and find them beneficial.
Natural Remedies for a Cold: Homeopathy – Safe, Gentle and Natural
Homeopathy is natural, gentle, holistic, plant-based medicine. It was used extensively along with all other natural medicine before Rockefeller and Carnegie poured huge amounts of money into changing up the way medicine was practised. Natural medicine wasn’t as lucrative as a pharmaceutical industry could be. Natural medicine became ostracized as nothing more than ‘quackery’. But I digress…
Homeopathy works with the body to heal itself. Remedies are selected according to the presentation of symptoms. Kits tend to come with a mini material medicia. This is simply a little booklet outlining each remedy and symptoms it’s used to treat.
Adding a Helios Basic 36 Homeopathy Kit to my natural medicine cabinet was money well spent. It’s been a Godsend for my teething son. Plus, my nine-year-old daughter is fast becoming a mini homoeopath with her growing familiarity with homoeopathy. She came running with Apis when I had the misfortune of standing barefoot on a bee. We never leave home without our kit.
Homeopathy for a cold
- Aconite – Take this remedy when you first notice symptoms. Aconite is only effective if taken before the cold takes hold. If you’re already streaming with snot it’s too late for this remedy.
- Bryonia – #1 remedy for painful dry coughs.
- Kali Bich – Most often used for painful sinuses
- Gelsemium – #1 remedy for flu
All of these remedies, except Kali Bich, can be found in the Helios Basic 18 Homeopathy Kit as well.
Always remember to select the remedy that matches the symptoms as closely as possible. Even if that means not selecting the #1 remedy for the ailment. Please don’t be tempted to take remedies as a preventative measure. Homeopathy does not work like this. In fact, you could find yourself experiencing the very symptoms you hope to avoid by taking remedies unnecessarily. Homeopathy is a big subject, it’s worth reading around if you hope to reap the benefits. If in doubt contact a homoeopath.
Elderberry Syrup – Back garden medicine
Each year we watch the elderberry tree in the garden spring to life. My daughter and I make cordial with elderflowers and harvest some berries in the autumn for syrup.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin A and C which are key to optimal health. Elderberries boost the immune system essentially keeping infection at bay. Here’s the best part; elderberry syrup tastes good. Even to children. It’s had the sproglet seal of approval here.
A few months ago daughter called me excitedly while at her grandma’s, exclaiming;
‘Mummy! They have the best elderberries I’ve seen this year here! They’re huge! Can we pick some for elderberry syrup?’
That’s my girl! We’d been foraging with a friend a few days previous and had limited luck finding good elders. The blackberries were good though. We gathered some of these mahoosive elderberries and took the impressive bounty home. Next is what follows when we’ve got elderberries in the house.
DIY Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 3 cups of elderberries
- 3.5 cups filtered water
- 1 Tbsp Organic Ground Ginger
- 1Tbsp Organic Cloves
- 1 Tsp Organic Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Raw Organic Honey (local is best)
- Mason Jar
- Shake the stalks lightly to remove bugs and debris. Then remove berries from the stalks. This can be tedious but be through. The stalks and leaves are toxic. I tend to rake them off with a fork into a bowl.
- Rinse elderberries and place into a pan with water, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by approximately half.
- Remove from the heat and cool. This is important. It must cool before you add raw honey. Heat will destroy the integrity of the honey otherwise.
- Stir in honey until dissolved.
- Pour into a sterilized airtight mason jar or glass receptacle of choice.
- Voilà! Homemade Elderberry Syrup.
Pop that bad boy in the fridge. Stir before use. 1tbsp for adults or 1tsp for children as required.
Frugal Tip: Freeze in ice trays and defrost as necessary. This way you’ll have a stash of elderberry syrup to last all winter!
If you can’t get hold of elderberries or aren’t confident foraging them, don’t panic. Quality elderberry syrup is readily available for purchase. Neals Yard elderberry syrup is made to a traditional recipe, it’s organic and very versatile. Take it with a spoon as medicine or dilute with water and enjoy as a drink. If you’re feeling adventurous drizzle it on granola and Greek yoghurt in the morning. It doesn’t matter how you get it in. The point is: Get it in your belly! Suitable for adults and children 12 months and over. This is our ‘go to’ elderberry syrup if we’re short on homemade. Just take it with a spoon and neck it.
Echinacea – Tea That Packs a Punch
Echinacea is part of the daisy family. It’s an immune system booster noted for its ability to increase white blood cell count. Increased numbers of white blood cells allow the body to gobble up and destroy infection faster. The result? Your recovery from illness quicker. Yay! This seemingly simple plant can be grown in UK climates and is often consumed as a tea. I’ll be adding echinacea to my living apothecary soon. Until then, keeping a stock of Neals Yard gorgeous Inner Strength Tea with echinacea and elderflower keeps us going.
The Inner Strength Tea contains warming ginger, elderberry and astralargus. Drinking it is like giving your immune system a hug. It’s nurturing. What’s more, it’s organic. Don’t wait to be poorly to enjoy this herbal tea. Boost your immune system starting today to keep colds away. Simply seep teabag in boiling water for 10-15 minutes and sip. Perfect!
Warning ⚠ Echinacea is not recommended for those with the auto immune disease, pregnant or nursing women or children. If in doubt contact a medical practitioner for advice.
Diffusing Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils can keep the air inside your home clean and fresh. This is especially important during winter when windows are kept firmly shut to keep heat from escaping. Our ultrasonic diffuser is in all year round. Wafting gorgeous therapeutic scents around daily. To ward off winter sniffles we diffuse the Organic Defense blend. This powerful blend of niaouli, lemongrass and thyme support the immune system. It promotes clear sinuses for easy breathing while purifying the air. The blend also makes a mean surface sanitizer.
Other useful essential oils to diffuse for a cold:
- Eucalyptus – Antiseptic, antiviral, expectorant and decongestant. Get the most out of this oil by diffusing at night while you sleep.
- Peppermint – Decongestant, antimicrobial. It soothes and relaxes. Can also be used with steam. Add a few drops of hot water and inhale the vapours. Bliss!
- Lime – Antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral. Smells amazing too.
- Frankincense – Great for coughs
- Hyssop – For respiratory infections
Always read up on essential oils before use. Not all oils are recommended for use with babies, young children, pregnant women etc. For reference I use The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood. I also recommend NYROs Essential Oils Books.
With so many natural remedies for a cold, these are just a few of my favourites. There really is no need to suffer ineffective chemical ‘cures’. Taking immune boosting herbal tea and elderberry syrup on your overnight oats regularly will set you up for a healthy and productive winter. And if you do succumb to the cold and noses start to drip? Remember, nature has your back. Homeopathy is gentle enough for babies and elderberry syrup will delight the kids. Enjoy the scent of the diffuser while simultaneously cleansing the air. Be well this winter.
What are your ‘go to’ natural remedies for a cold? Which remedies are you trying this year? Comment on your and favourite winter health tips below. Stay blessed.