slaying dragons, colds

From my bed I watch a tiny brown bird dropping its beak again and again into the white plastic container that has filled with water, and now ice. The sky is gray, has been gray for weeks, threatening, but never delivering on the promise. One of my housemates walks past rubbing the sleep out of his eyes on the way to the bathroom wagon, and a blackbird lands heavily on the narrow end of the white bin, scaring the small brown bird into flight.

The log I’ve just dropped into the wood stove is crackling softly, and I drink cup after cup of sage tea in bed in an attempt to tame the cold I feel starting in my throat and nose. First I was sick, then the Beard was, then just about everyone else we knew was, and every time one of us thinks we’re healthy, the other one re-catches it and passes it along before we’ve had the good sense to quarantine ourselves. The temperature outside oscillates wildly, and I always seem to be under-dressed, laying myself bare to another bout of the it’s-almost-spring cold in optimistically light layers.

And so, it seems, it is a good time to discuss DIY cold remedies. It takes a hell of a lot to get me to a doctor these days, which means I treat all the little colds and fevers and aches at home. The simplest trick, of course, is to rest as soon as you feel yourself in the downward spiral and to make sure you’re eating well and drinking a lot of water and tea.

My favorite remedy for any kind of sickness is the Dragon Slayer, which consists of a shot of lemon juice, garlic, and chili powder (recipe details at the bottom of this post). It might sound a little gross, but I promise it is not, and it will keep you from getting sick, cure you if you already are, and, if you aren’t, wake you up quicker than a cup of joe (though, of course, not for as long).

The lemon provides the vitamin C I once took in big grainy tablets, the garlic strengthens your immune system (as well as being generally full of health-giving magic—for other garlic fanatics, check out this article about all the crazy super powers that garlic is accredited with), and as for the chili powder, I have no idea what health benefit it offers, though drinking a shot involving it does make me feel like a pirate drinking gunpowder, and I like to imagine that the infusion of bravado adds a little something to my body’s strength.

German homemakers’ lore says that those with a light cold should drink a glass of warm beer before bed. Supposedly this makes you sweat a lot, and in turn speeds up the process of sweating your ills right out of your system. But as drinking a glass of beer right before bed means I will spend more of the night getting up to pee than I will sleeping, I’ve never tried it. But now! On to the recipe!

The Dragon Slayer

Ingredients:
1/2 fresh lemon
1 medium-sized clove garlic, minced
a dash of chili powder

Method:
Squeeze out the lemon and place juice in a small cup. Sprinkle in minced garlic and top with chili powder. Down in one go and marvel at the force of nature that is vitamin c mixed with garlic and sweet, sweet (spicey) chili.

What are your favorite home remedies for coughs and wheezes and winter colds? I’d love to add a few more to my personal arsenal, so please, let the commenting begin.

This post was a part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Real Food 101 at Ruth’s Real Food, Make Your Own Monday at Nourishing Treasures, Market Yourself Monday at Sumo’s Sweet Stuff, and Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager. Photo (cc) flickr user CocteauBoy

13 Comments on “slaying dragons, colds

  1. lemon juice, ginger, honey with a hit of cayenne
    nettle tea/broth (taste more like broth to me)
    miso soup with seaweed
    raw crushed garlic in a spoonful of honey
    reishi tea
    All time fav, put hot towels with some eucalyptus oil over torso, follow with cold towel. Do front, then do back. Makes you sleep like a baby
    Just go over being sick for a week myself, hope you feel better soon.

  2. At the first sign of a cold: Cut a good piece of ginger into small pieces and simmer it in a bit of water for a while. Mix the gingery water with lemon juice, elder berry juice and honey (preferably something strong like fir honey) and heat the mixture carefully up to a temperature you can still stand to drink.

    Drink, grab a book and go to bed. Wake up and feel better. Don’t know if it helps, but I like the taste and I imagine it keeps me from getting a real cold.

  3. In our household, we’re fans of boiling up cloves of garlic and adding in lemon juice and a dollop of honey. Drinking it as a hot tea, while wearing lots of layers and piling up under blankets, lets us sweat out the toxins. Seems to work a lot better for my bf than for me, but we’re still pretty religious about it. Or just plain chopped up ginger in boiling water, when I can’t stand the thought of garlic.

  4. Lots and lots of elder and echinacea tea. Probably I should add honey but I’ve never been big on honey. Fighting off a cold right now, in fact… but it’s not going to get good treatment because I already moved all my tea mugs to the new house. Oops.

  5. A soup with light broth, garlic, and greens (kale is great!)

    Sleep, sleep sleep, no alarm clocks!

    Hot toddy, pick your poison, with tea & honey. Regular old whiskey and diets on ice always worked well for me too. Mmmm, whiskey.

  6. When my chest is congested, I drink plenty of onion soup. It helps act as a natural expectorant. For a sore throat, I drink bouillon (it’s extra salty- sooths the throat) or gargle with warm salt water. For regular old head colds, I’m all for hot lemon and honey.

  7. seems like I just read somewhere that honey is really good for a sore throat. I had a wicked cold, got better, then a week later got one again. bleh

  8. I drink tea made from shredded cat’s claw bark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncaria_tomentosa). I like to add mint for flavor, hyssop to soothe my sore throat, and rosehips for Vitamin C, but it’s really the cat’s claw that does the trick. It’s an amazingly effective immunostimulant.

    My mom swears by “castor oil packs” – a blob of castor oil on a scrap of fabric with a hot water bottle mashed up against it, applied to your abdomen in that triangular space below your ribcage. She says it pulls the toxins right out of your body! (I’ve had mixed results with this, myself – sometimes it helped a lot, and sometimes I felt worse afterward. But if you already feel terrible, it’s definitely worth a try.)

  9. I usually just eat a clove of garlic straight or cut it up and throw it into some tea.
    If my roomie is around she’ll make some tea with ginger and mint leaves (after lecturing me about wearing more clothes or getting sleep or something), that usually works well for me. Sleeping is supposed to be good to, but I wouldn’t know much about that. Dancing somewhere way too crowded and hot has done wonders for me in terms of sweating (and dancing) the cold right out.

  10. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/fat-tuesday-october-25-2011/

    If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/10/grain-free-real-food-linky-carnival/

  11. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know
    a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why
    but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

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