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