Off Topic: Cold Remedies

331x271I have a bit of the sniffles so no perfume post for this week. I’m staying in and staying warm and drinking a lot of soup, hoping it will not become anything worse. Luckily I have cans and cans of soup that I can use up and restock later, and if necessary a market that delivers. I’m not feeling terrible, but why give it to everyone else?

I don’t like to take anything if possible, since I think it just treats symptoms and not the toot cause. I prefer vitamins and chicken soup. But if you have any tips, please share in the comments.

  • Liz K says:

    I usually use a cold as a excuse to drink gallons of hot lemonade with honey and to make Sicky Soup which is just chicken or mushroom broth with shredded (usually picked from a store bought rotisserie chicken) with some or all of the following additions: lots of fresh garlic, jalapeño or Serrano peppers, fresh ginger, lemon juice, fresh cilantro, and white miso. Even if you can barely taste it, it is soothing to the throat and has a bit of vitamin C.

  • fearsmice says:

    Great collective wisdom here — I’d only second the suggestion to take hot, steamy baths/showers with eucalyptus salts/gel, and light some eucalyptus candles if you have them. Hope you are feeling better soon!

  • Mariekel says:

    Ginger — steam yourself with it and eucalyptus several times a day, and also drink tea with ginger, honey and lemon/and or green tea with the same. It will help loosen everything up and ginger is a powerful antioxident. And all that steaming will make your skin look fabulous!

    I second using Gauifenesin, which is an expectorant. I understand you are resistant to taking medicine as a palliative, but expectorants will help you get rid of congestion so that it does not settle deeper in your lungs and potentially get you sicker. Same with taking Dextromathorphan as a cough suppressant at night, or anything that aids sleep. Sleep is your number one weapon, so it is important you get plenty of it, even if you need a bit of help to get there. Hang in there — hope your sniffer’s in good working order very soon!

  • oohlily says:

    So sorry to hear about your cold, that’s always miserable! I’ve found fresh ginger tea with a dollop of honey and fresh squeezed lemon works best at our house. Aromatherapy is great too, rosemary essential oil with an equal share of eucalyptus e.o in an almond oil base is one of my faves for colds, and you can include a drop or so of pine or lavender if you like. Your essential oil to carrier base ratio rate should be in the 13 to 18 drops e.o to 1 ounce pure almond oil.

    And as so many have already said above – Vitamin C, Euchinachea, neti pots and Puffs. Smith’s Rosebud Salve is awesome for the chapped parts of the nose, too!

  • Jackie b says:

    Hope you feel better soon!
    It is interesting to read all the remedies. I have used steam inhalations with good effect…put eucalyptus tea tree or thyme oil in.
    Even if you are too clogged up to breathe, steam in the room helps.
    Chest congestion is helped by Vicks Vaporub (cheap as chips) or frankincense and cajeput oil in a chest rub.

  • Aparatchick says:

    Here’s hoping you’ll feel much better soon! My wonderful old family doctor way back in the day used to tell me a cold would last “seven days without medication, a week with.” So he believed in just trying anything that would make you comfortable: staying hydrated, nice soft tissues, tea with honey (he didn’t see anything wrong with a splash of something alcoholic in that tea), and saline nose spray (which is very helpful). He did recommend Guiaifenesin (which is the active ingredient in Mucinex and is a lot cheaper – ask your Pharmacist for it) for congestion and that stuff does work.

    • Tom says:

      I wish there were more doctors like him around. Now they want to shoot you up with seven different things including Botox and diagnose you with restless toenail syndrome..

  • odonata9 says:

    I don’t like to take pills since they don’t really help much (other than the sleepytime cold medicines like Nyquil since often that is the only way to get rest when you can’t breathe or are constantly coughing). As other have said, neti pot or a just a saline nasal spray really help with congestion and gargling salt water for sore throats. A humidifier also helps with coughs and sore throats as well. While zinc does taste pretty bad and does make me a little nauseated, it really does work in shortening the cold duration (lozenges only!) Hope you feel better soon!

    • Tom says:

      Unfortunately I can’t take those PM things. I’m out cold for about three hours then buzzing like a hummingbird for hours later. Good for catching up on housekeeping, but the neighbors complain when I start vacuuming at 5am.

  • Tatiana says:

    I have no great remedies other than to stay hydrated. Cells need water to function and heal themselves. So drink plenty of OJ, soup, teas and water. Thank you for staying home and not spreading it around. I had a co-worker who would come in sick because he liked to use his sick days for vacation later in the year. He would insist he wasn’t that sick, even though it looked like he would drop any minute. Of course, he didn’t get much work done and then later the rest of us would become sick and have to use our sick days for being sick.

    • Tom says:

      I hate when people do that. I had a coworker who has Lupus (who also became a dear friend) and I never went to work if I thought I was contagious. Even if I used vacation time to do it. Especially these days when some can get work done from home.

  • maggiecat says:

    This isn’t exactly a cure, but some honey and cinnamon in hot water (about 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 tbs honey) is a delicious and soothing drink. Warm and cool fluids (not hot and cold – think moderation) are helpful, and honey speed healing of scratchy throats. Of course, you can always just blend some honey with tea and whiskey…:-)

  • DONNA M INLOW says:


  • nozknoz says:

    I use OTC hypertonic saline nasal spray regularly during dry winter weather and pollen season (basically most of the year). Something about it being hypertonic helps to reduce congestion a bit. It’s less drastic than a neti pot and easier.

  • Ann says:

    Hi, Tom, sorry you’re feeling poorly. I have to second Rosarita above on the green tea. I drink lots of it (and especially white tea. too). I’ve read several studies saying that it helps stimulate the immune system and can slow the growth of germs. It sure can’t hurt! Hope you feel better soon.

    • Ann says:

      P.S. Although it’s good for you in other ways, black tea is more highly processed and doesn’t have as many of the germ-fighting catechins as do green and white tea, not to mention its higher caffeine content.

  • Dina C. says:

    I agree with 50_Roses’ prescription for cold treatment. Hot decaf or herb tea, hot baths, Mucinex, and let me add humidifier. I put one in the bedroom, and one in my kitchen, where I spend a lot of my time. I had a cold in mid-December, and I still am coughing from it. Such a bother! Hope yours clears up soon and you feel better fast.

  • solanace says:

    Loved reading everyone’s recipes! I have a red onion – beetroot syrup recipe that is very simple and really, really works – my 3 year old likes it so much he even asks for it as a treat!

    coarsely slice a red onion and a similarly sized beetroot
    mix everything with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and let sit
    after half a day or so, a beautiful purple syrup will appear, you keep collecting it with a tablespoon.

    I also like my mom’s watercress syrup, which is more traditional:

    boil a bunch of watercress until the water is green, add some garlic, ginger, cinnamon and clove, sift, add honey and lemon juice.

    That, (fat) chicken soup, loads of water and rest!

    I agree with you. These traditional recipes are soothing and boost the body’s healing powers, unlike medicines that attack the liver and (barely) combat symptoms!

    Get better soon!

    • Tom says:

      Luckily it was more of a scare than anything else. But with the tales of people being sick for weeks I wanted to take a time-out in case it was something. I hate it when people who have sick time refuse to use it to show they’re “tough”. If you’re dribbling and hacking stay the F home! Don’t be thinking that coughing into your elbow is some magic bullet

  • Martha says:

    I like to take low dose zinc lozenges for the duration of the cold. When I say “low dose” I mean 5mg. The colds never seem as severe or long-lasting when I use the lozenges. As you posted, hot liquids, like soup, are good. I think Mucinex is probably fine if there’s a need, but otherwise it’s unnecessary.

  • rosarita says:

    Yuck, colds are a repulsive part of the human existence. My husband and I both battled one last month and here’s what we found soothing: herbal tea of your choice (we used green tea). Fill the cup about 3/4 full; add the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of honey and a dash of cayenne pepper. Great for a sore throat. Hope you feel better soon.

    • zingss says:

      Adding Ginger Tea as a suggestion for an herbal infusion. The ginger is clearing, and also helps the throat. And smells wonderful!

      • kelly says:

        Yes, ginger tea, echinacea, zinc, vitamin C.
        Also, there’s a delicious Yogi tea named Cold Season which has an amazing fragrance and taste.
        Smells like something from Slumberhouse!

    • Tom says:

      The cayenne pepper is a good thing..

  • Merlin says:

    I had really bad sinus the other day; so bad I thought I had flu and slept the whole day! I slathered myself in ‘The Smell of Freedom’ and ‘Ginger’, both solid perfumes from Lush. I think the strong aromatic essences used in this helped me bear the misery a little better!

    • Tom says:

      Of course the Lush store in BH closed..

      I’ve been drinking Blenheim’s hot ginger ale (named for the spice content, not the temp) I like it just in general, but when I have a cold it’s great.

  • 50_Roses says:

    I have been through so many respiratory infections I cannot count then all. Over the years I have tried a lot of “remedies”, including vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea, and none of them did me any good. The echinacea was simply useless, but the vitamin C seriously upset my stomach, and the zinc not only gave me nausea, but messed up my sense of smell for days. I have heard of people having losing their sense of smell long-term from zinc, so I do not consider it worth the risk. I will take temporary congestion over anosmia any day. I don’t bother with an annual flu shot either. I tried them for several years, and every time I got the shot, I ended up getting flu that season anyway, as bad or worse than the years I didn’t get vaccinated, and the last time I got the shot I had a bad reaction to it.

    Chicken soup can’t hurt. A neti pot can help relieve some of the nasal congestion and carries virtually no risk, since you are just washing out your nasal passages with saline. The only thing that helps me with the severe muscle and joint pain and chills that I get with any respiratory infection is a long hot shower. Drinking a lot of fluids–at least 3 or 4 quarts a day–helps too, as any dehydration will make the aches and congestion worse. It is really surprising how quickly you can get dehydrated with a respiratory infection. Your body excretes much more water during an infection; you sweat more, you produce more urine, and all that mucus is composed mostly of water too. All that fluid loss needs to be replaced.

    One OTC remedy which I do swear by, however, is Mucinex. Any respiratory virus–cold, influenza, or whatever–for me invariably ends up in my lungs, with severe bronchial congestion. I have to take maximum dosage, and take it consistently. I get the extended release tablets so I only have to take it twice a day. I start as soon as I realize I am getting sick, even before the congestion actually reaches my lungs, and it keeps it from ever getting bad. If I wait until I am congested, it takes about 2 days to break it up, so I prefer to be proactive. I don’t bother with analgesics, OTC cough suppressants seem to be worthless, and antihistamines are useless for a respiratory virus, as the congestion of a cold or flu has nothing to do with histamines. Pseudoephedrine, an OTC decongestant which used to be common but is now severely restricted due to its being used to make crystal meth, does work,. I usually don’t take it, but will if the nasal congestion is bad enough and painful enough to keep me from sleeping at night.

    • nozknoz says:

      Note that the dangerous zinc that can cause olfactory damage is the one applied inside the nose (spray or ointment, I forget which). The mineral supplement or lozenges taken orally are OK if not overdone. I occasionally take the tablets during cold season, especially if I feel tired. I rarely get sick but who knows if I can thank the zinc for that.

      • odonata9 says:

        Yes, Zicam makes all kinds of zinc that you can shove up your nose – swabs, sprays, etc. Don’t use them!!! I used these when they first came out before learning of the dangers and am so thankful I am OK. It makes me sick that they are still in business and still selling these dangerous sprays. I do use zinc lozenges still and they work well in shortening the length of the cold, though they don’t taste great.

        • 50_Roses says:

          I tried the zinc lozenges and regular zinc supplement tablets, and they did not help me at all that I could tell, but they did give me rather severe nausea. I decided that even if they did help,swapping congestion for nausea was not a good trade.

          • nozknoz says:

            The capsules that I have are the smallest dose I’ve seen, but still larger than I’d like, and not coated, so not slippery. I cut them in half and just take one half every other day in order not to overdo. Totally agree that it’s best to avoid anything that gives you severe nausea!

    • mals86 says:

      This sounds like the voice of experience, and I’m taking notes.

    • Rina says:

      I was going to post but you beat me to it. Mucinex/Guiaifenesin is a gawd-send! Honestly, it works instantly and consistently. What trips me out, is that is has a DEFINITE life to it. For example, I’ve learned from experience that I process 100mg of Guiaifenesin per hour, so 400mgs wears off EXACTLY 4 hours after I take it. 600mg=6 hours. It kills that sandy back-of-throat torture that keeps me asleep and coughing. Unfortunately, I have only found the 400mg as a generic but it’s worth the expense. Give it a try, you won’t be sorry…Feel better soon!

    • Tom says:

      I was told by a Doctor friend Mucinex. Luckily this didn’t develop much further and now that the temps are back up I feel fine. But I am taking notes and I thank you all for the tips.

  • Isabelle says:

    I experimented this season, and cured two colds using essential oils : one drop of eucaplytus radiata on a small spoon of honey three/four times a day, plus some eucaplytus radiata and tea-tree mixed in neutral oil applied to the sole of the feet at night. The last bit sounds strange, but it worked. A friend of mine uses lemon essential oil on the honey (it certainly tastes better).

    Otherwise, a grandmother’s remedy if you are at home, the “magic herbal tea”‘ : boil some cloves with a bit on cinnamon bark (you can add some ginger as well) for 10-15 minutes, let steep a while, bring to boiling point again and add fresh thyme, let steep again. Then filter and put in thermos pot to drink all day long. Add fresh lemon juice and honey in the cup before drinking.

    I hope you feel better soon.

    • Musette says:

      A lot of alternative medical practitioners advocate the use of essential oils, etc on the bottoms of the feet. I use a combo of black seed oil, geranium and tea tree in a neutral carrier on the soles of my feet. Your grandmother’s remedy sounds quite delicious! xoxoA

      • oohlily says:

        I used to get a shiatsu foot massages with essential oils. OMG. Sheer ecstasy – If everyone could have one daily, I’ bet the farm that the dosage of (prescribed)Xanax could be reduced by half. Too bad it’s not cheap. 🙁

        The soles of the feet are good for absorption, and you can tailor your e.o. choice to your aromatherapeutic needs each visit. It’s easy to mix and bring your own – my favorite for stress was an equal ratio of lavender and neroli in an almond carrier oil base. My masseuse said it was her fave too, that even just smelling it relaxed her. And I was putty by the end!

    • odonata9 says:

      My husband drinks thyme tea when he has a cold – it is a Mexican herbal remedy.

    • Tom says:

      It worked out to be more of a scare then the flu but I am going to pass that one onto my friends who are suffering..

  • elvie says:

    Oh sorry about it. My grandpa’s recipe (he would be 102 this year) was to cut some garlics in two, put them in honey for overnight, then eat the honey (saturated with garlics antibiotics and germ killing substances). Get better soon!

  • Jennifer Smith says:

    Garlic&onions are anti-viral as is zinc. LOTS of water to flush out stuff .Echinacea herb is a Immune system booster and ginger is good too . My Doctor recomends all of this and taking regular daily vitamins.
    I hope you feel better Tom.

    • poodle says:

      Agree on the mentholated Kleenex but the Puffs with lotion ones are quite soothing if your nose is really raw and irritated.

    • Alison says:

      It’s easy to get your garlic – just peel a few cloves, chop them up, and swallow the pieces! Excellent treatment for any viral problem. I also swear by nasal irrigation with a neti pot or Neil Med sinus squeeze bottle, available at any drug store. I do it every single day and hardly ever get sick.

    • Tom says:

      Luckily I love Garlic!

  • Yepez11 says:

    This is WAY out of left field but my best friend’s family swears by sleeping with an onion that’s been chooped in half on your bedside table. She has done it twice with positive results, according to her. They are Vietnamese so I’ll have to say “ancient Vietnamese Secret”. I’ve been wanting to try it but thankfully haven’t needed to yet the season. Hope you feel better soon.