Last week I got a cold. And not just any cold. This was a dripping, sneezing, aching, sore throat, sore ears, headachy beast. I was miserable. And went straight to bed.
As a Medical Herbalist, I luckily have a serious arsenal of natural medicine in my first aid cabinet.
But what if you don’t have anything? What do you do when you’re sick and trapped at home? When leaving the house seems an impossible task and there is nobody to run errands for you?
For centuries, people treated colds with ingredients found in their home. Today, we call such recipes “home remedies”, which implies they aren’t as effective as “real medicine”. However, recently medical research has exploded with information that many of these old remedies are effective. With some as effective as what’s made in the lab! For example, researchers found that Thyme kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and that Aniseed is antiviral.
Many common plants, herbs and spices have amazing medicinal properties. And are at your fingertips, if you know what to look for.
My top 3 tips to look after yourself without leaving the house:
1. Enhance your fluids to do more than just hydrate you
Drinking lots of water is important because fluid keeps your mucous membranes hydrated so that sticky mucus has less chance to form. Mucus provides a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
But did you realise you can easily enhance your fluids so they are even better for you?
Simply add some healing herbs!
When you infuse herbs in boiling water, you extract their beneficial properties. This gives you the benefits of both fluid and the herbs’ healing properties.
You may think herbal tea is simply a nice hot drink. However, by using medicinal herbs, you can transform it into a healing remedy.
Harvest and prepare the following fresh herbs from your garden. Add one teaspoon of each into a tea strainer, add just-boiled water and steep for 5-10 minutes before drinking.
Great Medicinal Herbs:
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is one of the best herbs for respiratory illnesses, as it is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Use the leaves and flowers and strip them off the stem.
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) is great for clearing sinus congestion and helps stimulate the immune system. Use the flowers by rubbing them off of the stem.
Narrow-leaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a common weed which soothes and coats the mucous membranes. Pick the long, thin leaves and chop them up finely.
Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) is a common spice that you will probably have in your pantry rather than your garden. Its warming properties help to break up mucus and is antiviral. Use the whole seeds rather than the ground spice.
(NOTE: You MUST be 110% sure that you are picking the right herbs – if you are even a little bit unsure- don’t do it!)
Steam is excellent to break up mucus in the nose and sinus cavities. Add a few drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil to enhance the benefits of the steam inhalation. The tiny essential oil molecules travel through the mucous membranes and fight the bugs.
Don’t have Eucalyptus Oil at home? Common plants from the mint family (Lamiaceae) contain essential oils which you can substitute: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and Sage (Salvia officinalis).
Sprinkle a handful of these fresh or dried herbs over a bowl of hot water. Cover your head and bowl with a towel and breathe the steam in deeply. Incidentally, this is great for your skin!
This is too important to leave off the list.
We are often guilty of “soldiering on” instead of stopping to let ourselves heal.
To fight a cold, your body needs all of its resources. Stay home. Sleep. Rest.
As a bonus, your co-workers will be much happier avoiding your germs. At least that’s what mine said anyway!
As for me? My cold definitely took a few days to come right. I kept an endless pot of medicinal herbal tea on hand, and am now back at work so that I can share my experience with you! I didn’t become a Medical Herbalist because I enjoy perfect health – I became one because I’ve experienced first-hand the healing benefits of plant medicine.
I know it will help you, too.
By Emily Boese, Medical Herbalist and R&D Manager at Artemis Natural Healthcare
If you don’t grow any of these herbs or your kitchen cupboard isn't brimming with herbs and spices, fear not. Artemis makes an amazing array of remedies for coughs and colds. Order them now from our secure online shop and have them delivered to your door.
We’d Love Your Feedback
Do you have any home remedies you would like to share?