I hab a cold id by dose. (Sustainable cold care strategy)

I have a cold. Again. Hate this crap. I am one of those people who gets sick a lot. Any kind of rhinovirus comes near me, it looks in, peers around, and goes, “Party at Jenn’s!” and invites over all its friends.

I have pretty much abandoned most “conventional” cold treatments at this point–mostly because they don’t seem to work very well, or had side effects that made them less desirable than the cold symptoms themselves. (Sudafed keeps me awake. Nasal sprays are fine as far as they go, but then if you keep using them, after a few days they back up the nasal passages to worse than they were when you started.) So mostly I just suck it up and wait for it to pass, with a few aids that really to help ease the symptoms…while avoiding putting synthetic-y meds into my system and eventually into the groundwater.

My primary tactics:

Tea: honestly, any steaming hot non-dairy drink will do, but there are lots of great medicinal teas out there now. Traditional Medicinals is by far my favorite–I use their Cold Care PM all the time for head colds, and Throat Coat when I have messed up vocal cords and need to sing or speak. (Or when I have a plain old sore throat. It tastes and feels incredibly soothing.) When I was a kid, my mom just made plain old Lipton black tea with honey and lemon; that was great too.  Another friend turned me on to “hot lemonade,” which is, well, exactly what it sounds like.  Any of those nice steaming beverages go a long way to soothing and opening things up. (Er…hot lemonade with a shot of brandy is really nice before bed…)

Herbal Medicine: Long list here.  I am not a fan of herbs in capsule form, since once an herb is dried it loses a lot of its key alkaloids. But tinctured herbs have served me very well.  For a cold, the first thing I do when I feel it coming on is hit the echinacea; a few drops  of tincture in water or juice every couple of hours can often stave off what’s coming. (Note: don’t ever take echinacea tincture straight. It’s vile and it makes your tongue go numb. Don’t ask me how I learned this.)  Yarrow tincture is also a good antiviral, and Lemon Balm helps with congestion (as well as making the others taste better.)  Last summer I made myself an “immune tincture” using all of these in one herbal solution.  Saves a lot of money, although echinacea is a pain in the butt to tincture; it’s almost easier to just buy the bottle at Whole Foods or your local natural health store.

Fire Cider is also sort of in the herbal medicine category, but it’s so specific I’m giving it its own category.  I posted the recipe for it on this blog last year, so check it out.  Just to be clear: It looks like it would be vile but it’s honestly sort of yummy.  I kid you not.  And a shot of this stuff, heated, in hot lemonade or something or even by itself, will open up your sinuses like nobody’s business.  Plus it’s got all kinds of good antiviral and antibacterial ingredients.  But be warned: it’s very well-named.  If you dare to actually just down a shot (rather than sipping cautiously), you might well react like the cliche movie character downing a gulp of really bad hootch–gasping, watering eyes, pounding the table, all that.  (But your sinuses will clear out!) So I’d recommend going a little slower. (Don’t ask me how I learned this.)

Thieves Vinegar: also in the herbal-medicine category, but more specific.  The legend is that during the Black Plague there were these four brothers who made a living looting the homes of plague victims but who never got sick themselves; when they were caught, they traded their gallows sentence for their mother’s medicinal vinegar recipe that kept their immune systems so strong.  Like Fire Cider, this takes a long time to brew, but also like Fire Cider, it has a lot of really good stuff in it.  And next time I try, I’ll probably try a sort of hybrid recipe of the two, putting the Thieves’ herbs in with the Fire Cider ingredients.

Neti Pot: My latest acquisition.  Seems like I’m the last person in the universe to try this.  You put warm salt water into this little pot that looks like a genie lamp but smaller, tilt your head over the sink, and pour water into one nostril so it then washes around and comes out the other.

I have two basic comments to make about the Neti: First, i hate the way it feels. So all you my dear friends who’ve been saying, “Oh wow, the Neti feels just AWESOME!”–well, I love you still, but go to hell. 🙂 The first sensation is like pre-drowning (because, well, water is going up my nose), and then it’s not easy finding the right head angle so the water indeed does come out the other nostril without sending salt water down my throat or back into my mouth. And it’s messy. Because, well, you’ve got warm mucousy salt water pouring out of both nostrils. (Can I have an EEEUWW?)

On the other hand, second: the damn thing works.  I’ve used it four times since buying it yesterday, and each sacrifice of five minutes feeling gross and drippy and drowny has bought me 2-4 hours of clear nasal breathing.  7 hours if you count the good night’s sleep I got last night.  So if you’re willing to give it a shot, you can get nice ceramic ones at health stores or online, or a cheap plastic one at your local Walgreens (Sorry, Beth!),  and if it doesn’t work for you, no harm no foul, you can wash and sterilize it good and give it to a friend or something.

Essential Oils: at night, when I go to bed, I give my pillow a quick spritz of eucalyptus essential oil.  If I weren’t too cheap to buy a diffuser, that would be even better.  This gets the oil into the air, into my nasal passages, and also helps open things up.  The other benefit is that diffusing the oil into the air is a good way to get floating bugs out of the room and hopefully not into other family members I’d then have to take care of.  Nature’s Gift has a good “germ beater” oil blend that’s great for diffusing, both to help kill the nasties in the sick person and keep the nasties out of everyone else’s air.

Chinese Food: Okay, I know, the least sustainable option. (Indian food would probably work too. Mexican–well, your mileage may vary, but that never does it as well for me.) But takeout Chinese, especially since our local place gives us food in really good re-usable containers the kids can take for lunch or we can use for art project or Lego mini-people collections, is one of my favorite things for a cold. (It’s my indulgence, what can I say.)  You know that spicy mustard you can put on that horribly unhealthy deep-fried veggie egg roll? (I do at least try to go for the veggie ones.) It’s like wasabi, clears you right out.  And asking for extra hot peppers in whatever dishes we order also goes a long way.  (Cayenne pepper is touted in many circles as being sort of a wonder-plant--hard to say to what extent it’s true, but it does seem to have a lot of good uses!)

How about y’all–any good tactics?


Posted on July 7, 2010, in herbal medicine. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Jenn!

    I’m sorry you’re sick. I have never actually used a Neti pot but when I had a sinus infection in high school I saw an ENT and she gave me a recipe for a nasal wash. She said that you should use this daily to keep your sinuses clear but I only use it when I feel myself getting stuffed up. Once in the morning, once at night at least a half hour before laying down (otherwise you could end up putting fluid back in your sinuses which is counter-productive). The way I use it is kinda gross but it works. Stand over the sink and pour a little of the solution into your hand. Plug one nostril. Inhale the solution into your open nostril and let it drain out (sometimes through your mouth, sorry). Repeat with the other nostril. Blow your nose. My friends and family tell me it’s completely disgusting but I love it when I’m stuffy. Here’s the recipe:

    1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 qt water

    Feel better!

  1. Pingback: For What Ails (cold and cough remedies) « Green Mom in the Burbs

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