Are you tired of hearing about the flu yet? I am! This season we got a double-dose of flu media attention between the seasonal flu and the dreaded H1N1 swine flu.
Unfortunately, given the pervasiveness of the flu this year, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know will catch it at some point. And it can’t hurt to be prepared! I like to keep some items on hand at all times, just in case I get sick (because I hate running out to do shopping when I’m feeling run-down.) I always keep some ‘comfort foods’ in the pantry, things that mom gave me when I was sick as a kid (like jello, ramen noodles, boullion cubes and saltine crackers. OK I know those aren’t organic, sustainable, chemical-free foods, but they work for me on a psychological level!!).
I also try to keep a supply of homemade chicken soup and chicken broth frozen in individual serving containers in the freezer. And of course I have a typical medicine cabinet filled with things from the drugstore, but which I try to use as a last resort after my natural remedies.
We can’t cure the flu, only alleviate the symptoms. So the best medicine is prevention – wash your hands a lot! (And get some yummy scented hand-lotion to keep them soft and make all this hand-washing less of a chore.)
If you do catch the flu, there are a number of kitchen remedies that can help your body recover. Many of these remedies are made from common ingredients that you can keep in your pantry year-round.
8 home remedies for the flu
- Rest – Ok, this is not technically a kitchen remedy, but warrants being repeated. If you feel yourself coming down with something, take a day or two to rest and recover. Give your body the chance to devote all of its energy to your immune system. Rest seriously works wonders for fending off ailments, especially if done for the first few days of the illness.
- Honey, Lemon and Ginger tea. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you really want to warm your body and sweat it out.
- If you have respiratory symptoms with the flu, drink sage or thyme tea. Make it yourself by putting either a small handful of fresh herb, or 1 tsp of dried leaves (from your spice rack!) to steep in boiling water. Strain, sweeten with honey, add a squeeze of lemon, and drink frequently. Sage and thyme are great for respiratory congestion, sage also helps a sore throat.
- Herbal Steams – Pour boiling water in a big mixing bowl. Add a handful of fresh or dried herbs, or some essential oils. Try sage, thyme, eucalyptus, pine or even tea tree oil. Lean over the bowl, cover your head with a towel to trap the steam, and breathe for 5-10 minutes. You shouldn’t steam if you have asthma.
- Make Yarrow, Peppermint and Elder tea.
- Make Sage Honey. This is best if done in advance, since the honey gets stronger with time. Put some chopped fresh sage leaves in a jar and cover with honey. Take a spoonful every couple of hours to soothe a sore throat.
- Drink lots of homemade broths and other nourishing foods. Broths are excellent during a cold or flu because they are full of nutrients, are warm and soothing, and also provide fluids. You can also incorporate some astragalus root into the broth, which boosts the immune system.
- Eat more garlic and onions. You might want to add a few cloves of garlic to the broth (above). Garlic and onions are nature’s antibiotic, and give a big boost to your immune system. Incorporate them into as much of your food as possible during the flu season. You can add garlic to your broth or tea, or make a garlic honey (same process as sage honey above). Just eat as much as you can, as soon as you start feeling run-down.
Remember, I’m not a doctor, just someone who is interested in traditional remedies for better health! Check with your doctor or a qualified herbalist before trying any new remedies on yourself, family or friends.
What other kitchen remedies do you use when you have the flu??