Grandma’s Aromatic Cold Cure
Last night’s cold temperature reminded me of a bitter experience I had in my early youth. I was commuting to my job by bus in another town about 12 km distance away. The temperature reached minus 23 degrees Celsius. After several stops, the buss wouldn’t start. Ouch! We were caught between the two towns: with phenomenal view of majestic frozen mountains on both sides of the road. The driver suggested that we better start walking. So we did. We had walked about 4 km to get to the first house in the town where my job was. When the journey came to an end, my nostrils and left eye were almost frozen. Imagine the rest…..
Ok .. Ok I admit, I was way out of my thermal comfort back then.
Anyway, if you are living in Melbourne, you know that one cannot have this sort of experience. So why did I feel it was so cold?
Aha! You guessed: is all about personal thermal comfort. Meaning whatever I am comfortable in my own skin. Sometimes 14 degrees Celsius are just fine while other times not. That is because the thermal comfort is a subjective evaluation of what thousands of thermal skin sensors communicate to the nervous and endocrine system. Interestingly, the thermal skin sensors are distributed unequally on the body, with more sensors in the exposed regions of the body: feet, ankles, hands, wrists, neck, face and head. Therefore, having one or more of these regions exposed to the outdoor weather is linked to how cold/hot the body feels.
But would feeling cold make you getting the cold?
Feeling cold and catching a cold are not necessarily directly related. Even though colds and other respiratory illnesses are more prevalent in the colder months, it does not mean that they are caused by it. More likely, we get them because we might be tired, under emotional stress or lacking some essential minerals and vitamins. Colds are caused by a group of viruses referred to as rhinoviruses.
Best way to stay healthy this cold season is to keep the hands clean and avoid touching the nose, eyes or the face with unwashed hands. If the unavoidable happened and the cold signs (runny nose, scratchy throat, and nonstop sneezing) are developing, relax and read on. Grandma’s recipes are at hand.
Important to remember that the remedies provided here rarely cause adverse effects: some can inhibit viruses while other can alleviate cold symptoms. It is up to you to choose and educate yourself about what works best for you.
I share here three of my best ways to unbug yourself: the easy way: on your pocket as well as on your body.
#1 Decongestant Aromatic Herbal Bath
This is my absolute favourite and is an old fashioned remedy for colds. You can either brew a strong tea using the herbs below or use their essential oils (about 2 drops of each) to the bath.
In a large 5 l pot bring to boil water with:
- 2 cups eucalyptus leaves
- ½ cup of thyme leaves
- 1 cup of rosemary leaves
- 1cup of peppermint leaves
Cover and let it rest for about 5 min. Strain out the herbs and pour the solution in the bath making sure that the water is not too hot (about 40degrees Celsius ).
#2 Boost the Immune System with the Humble Chicken Soup
Slow cook a chicken soup with my secret ingredient.
- 1 medium chicken
- 3-4 carrots
- 1 parsnip
- 1 medium onion
- ½ celeriac root
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
- 8 – 10 black peppercorns
- 2cm fresh ginger
- Secret ingredient: shiitake mushrooms (lentinus edodes).
Since ancient times, (as early as AD60 by Pedacius Dioscorides, Roman surgeon under Nero) the chicken soup was considered the ultimate cold and flu fighter and a tested way to boost your own immune system. Today’s deep science understandings enable us to also know why. The trick with it is to cook the chicken as slow as possible in a slow cooker. By cooking for longer time at relatively low temperature, the soup has multiple benefits as listed in Table 1.
Table 1. The chicken soup: more than just another hot liquid.
|Increases mucus flow (Saketkhoo, et al 1978)|
|antioxidants||Carrots, onions (Suileria et al 2015)|
|Prevents dehydration||Parsnip- important source of potassium|
|Metabolism enhancer||Black pepper|
|Blocks the attachment and internalisation of human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV)||Ginger is an effective element against virus (HRSV) infections (Chang et al., 2003) –|
less dietary glycotoxins
||Cooking the foods using intense heat, causes the sugars to bind with proteins (e.a. collagen and elastin fibers) to form glycotoxins. The visual evidence of this termo-chemical reaction is the browning observed in food cooked above 110 degrees Celsius. The cookies and cake in the oven, the chicken on the grill, and the potatoes in the frying pan are all browning as a result of dietary glycotoxins.|
|Antiviral properties||garlic’s sulfur-potentially has a role here (Cochrane Library 2014)|
|Tonic to the immune system||Shiitake mushrooms possess substances called polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system by increasing the body’s production of antiviral substance interferon.(Gunawardena, et al, 2014)|
Feel free to add any other herbs. Experimenting is key in cooking!
#3 Aromatic Herbal Remedies and Inhalations
A plethora of teas are available in health shops and pharmacy. My current choice of herbal remedies is based on taste as well as scientific evidence. The following combination provides a nice, fresh and sweet taste that is pleasant either hot or cold.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
This herb’s essential oil is used as nasal decongestant and inhalants. It affects the bronchial smooth muscle cells (Meamarbashy et al, 2014) as well as it can be used in combating nausea even in pregnancy (Gordon & Love, 2018). In fact, the essential oil can be used in a diluted form on the temples to reduce headaches (making sure that the eyes are well protected).
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger blends well with many other herbs. It is also very versatile as it can be used in fresh and dried form equally. Ginger can be boiled for tea, in soups or stir-fries with equal effect. As it is a warming plant, avoid using when high fever is present.
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice root is commonly used in alternative medicine to treat colds and sore throats. However, licorice does not only act upon the respiratory system(Gulati et al 2016). It can also be soothing to the gut and work as an effective liver cleanser and blood detoxifier when combined with other herbs. Licorice will sweeten the tea due glycyrrhizin, a compound that can be up to 50 times sweeter than sugar. This sweet compound inhibits tissue inflammation, reduces oxidative stress and has significant anti-inflammatory properties. No wonder it has been heralded as the “go to” herb when cold season hits in so many cultures around the Globe (Ancient Greeks, China, India). Use the tea for maximum a week only as to avoid overdosing on glycyrrhiza (50 times sweeter than sugar). More about licorice is summarised in the (American Botanical Council).
For more information on how to aromatically keep the cold at bay using diet, herbs and aromatic essential oils, contact us.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or nurse and do not play one on the internet. Always check with a doctor or medical professional if a medical need arises.]
Gordon and Love, 2018, Chapter 54:Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy Pages 542-549, in Integrative Medicine, 4th Edition. Ed. Rakel D Elsevier Inc. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/peppermint)