Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
So you may have noticed I've been off this blog scene for a week now. I'd like to say that the reason is that I've been holidaying my heart out, but unfortunately it's because I have had a nasty cold/flu thing for the last 6 days. The first 3 days were rough, but kind of sweet. I rested and read, the kids made me cards and (kind of) took care of each other. Day 4 everyone was feeling ready for Mom to be back on her feet. Day 5 was frustrating because not only was I not better, but my sinuses and jaw were starting to hurt and I feared that instead of getting better, I was going to start getting worse with an infection.
Soooo...I decided to try about 100 home remedies (okay, maybe 9 or 10). Last night I still went to bed feeling extra miserable and cursing the internet homeopaths and swearing that I was calling the doctor in the morning. And then. This morning I woke up, not feeling like what you would quite call a lark, but not feeling like a walking corpse either. I still had plenty of boogery goop, but the throbbing sinuses and jaw were gone and my fever, if not gone, is lower grade.
I am actually a big believer in home remedies when you are on the verge of getting sick, but after you are full-blown ill I think they get a little sketchier.
The other thing about home remedies--especially if you go all non-scientific and try more than one at once--is that you never really know if they're actually working or if it's something else you did or if it's just the body recovering on its own. Neverthless, I went to bed feeling like death and I woke up feeling only like someone with a bad cold. It's a big difference. Take it or leave it, but here's what I tried (in order of my belief about how effective it was):
1. Raw garlic. Let me be honest here. This is the one thing that I think actually worked. The others soothed and felt good, but I don't think they actually made a change in my health. Raw garlic is a natural antibiotic. What this means is that the next time your child gets a cut, you should smear some on that cut. Ha ha. Do not do that. Because raw garlic also burns like the sun on an August beach. The internet is powdered with tons of advice and conflicting opinion on garlic. You can eat it raw or take pills which supposedly retain the allicin (the antibacterial thing within the raw garlic). You can't cook it to get the benefit; that is agreed upon. And most agree that it's best to crush it and let it sit for a few minutes as that releases the allicin. However, opinions differ about whether or not garlic will wipe out the good bacteria in your gut with the bad or not, so you might want to use a probiotic while using the garlic. The internet is also full of suggestions about how to eat your garlic. Some say to pop a clove in and chew it up. I wasn't woman enough for that. Some say to juice it (seriously? these are the real homeopaths of the world). A friend said to chop up a clove, swallow without chewing, and then chase it with a glass of water. I thought I could probably handle that. Another friend said that she chopped a bunch of cloves and ate it with butter on bread. I, being extremely wimpy and wanting to get more than a clove into my gullet, decided to go with that method. It was actually kind of pleasant. When your nose is all stuffed up, you can barely even taste all that garlic. I toasted my bread, melted my butter, and chopped my garlic, then mixed it in with the melted butter, so the garlic wasn't cooked, but everything else was normal. I also did a little experiment of my own [grossness alert]: I had wondered what would happen if you were, say, to stick a clove up your nose and leave it there for a bit, so when my hands were garlic-juicy from chopping, I tentatively stuck a finger up to see how it would feel. It did not feel good. First of all, it burned like the dickens. Secondly, it set me off sneezing--7 or 8 times--more than I've ever consecutively sneezed in my life.
2. Warm tomato juice with lemon, chili powder, and raw garlic. I actually really loved this. It's another way to get a bit of raw garlic into your diet. It's also a way to get in some veggies when you might not feel like pulling out the salad fixings, and the salty tomato juice is just the thing for a sad throat. Also, it cleared my sinuses a bit. 1 C tomato juice, a couple dashes chili powder, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 1 garlic clove chopped. Warm the tomato juice, lemon juice, and chili powder in a mug. When it's warm, but at a drinkable temperature, add the garlic. Bottoms up. If you hate tomato juice, you'll probably hate this, but if you like tomato juice, this will be the funnest remedy you've got. Also, you're going to get some chunks of garlic there on those last couple gulps. They'll do you good, but I admit I gulped more and savored less on those ones.
3. Steamy bath with epson salts. This seemed to be my next most helpful thing. I threw some epson salts in the tub, plugged the drain, and then turned the shower on HOT (while I sat in the bathroom, not in the tub). This steamed up the bathroom while also filling up the tub. I sat in the bathroom and breathed and then when there was enough water, I turned off the shower head and got a bath. It was pleasant and soothing and cleared me up for a few pleasant minutes. Fluke or not, I don't know, but I'm not one to complain about a hot, soothing bath.
4. Steam treatment with mint and vinegar. Boil about 5 C water, add a few glugs vinegar, and 6 drops mint or tea tree (also minty and not related to actual tea) oil. Put your face over the bowl after it's cooled to a non-boiling temperature (boiling hot steam=burn your face off) and put a towel over your head. I'd never actually done this before. I had high hopes for it since the internet sings this method's praise--the steam was supposed to clear you up as was the mint; the vinegar was supposed to fight bacteria--but it didn't actually clear me up much at all. I was just about as stuffy after as before. However. My sore sore nose and lips felt much better and I actually had some color to my previously un-dead looking face. And that made it kind of worth it. Dab some moisturizer on those places that have been tissue-blown raw to take full advantage.
5. Salt gargle. This is always soothing to my throat. A glass of warm water and 1 tsp of salt. Gargle.
6. Eating spicy, pungent foods certainly didn't hurt. I could kind of taste these foods, which I couldn't say for most foods. And they did a little to clear me up.
7. Sleeping with an extra pillow should be been done on night one, even though I usually prefer a nice flat sleep. I sleep almost perfectly flat and on my back. When I got sick, I didn't change that, and I really should have because adding a big fat extra pillow let things drain better.
8. Warm lemon water with a bit of ginger and maybe honey. Soothing, yes. Medicinal, eh.
9. And I've been totally wanting to try this.
10. I'm also a big believer in Vitamin C and also D, although I think they do a lot more good at the front end of a sickness than in the passionate middle.