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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cold Remedies - Herbs

Most of us get colds sometimes, some more than others, and this is certainly a popular time of year for entertaining them. They wear out their welcome quickly. That thought reminds me of an old Snuffy Smith comic in which Weezy tells Snuffy her mother is coming for a visit and asks him to throw out the welcome mat. The next scene shows Snuffy throwing out the welcome mat - way out, over the mountain side! That's the warm reception most people would give a cold. So let's "throw out" our welcome mat...with herbs to let the colds know they aren't welcome.

At the top of my herbal cold prevention list is echinacea. It boosts the immune system, but should not be used all the time, which diminishes its effectiveness. An on again, off again approach is best; take it for 5 days, skip two. Or take it when you know you'll be exposed to others with colds. As soon as someone in your circle gets one, start taking echinacea. It's readily available in tablets, capsules, and teas.

Next on my list is ginger. It relieves congestion and is antiinflammatory, so it may help open sinus passageways, which may both help prevent and help relieve the symptoms of a cold. It's also helpful for sore throats and flu, and helps relieve nausea. Probably best used fresh, but also available as capsules, tablets, teas, as a spice powder, and candied. (I know from personal experience that candied ginger is very helpful for nausea and dizziness/vertigo, and it's very easy to keep on hand. Buy it by the bag at a health food store, where a pound will cost about the same as a tiny jar found in spice sections of grocery stores!)

Horseradish helps prevent colds by thinning mucous secretions so your sinuses can self-clean more easily, and its hot zing may give some temporary relief by opening your sinuses. Fresh grated is best, but if all you have is prepared horseradish, it's worth a try. Grate it in a food processor or blender as it will really make your eyes water! Follow directions for preparation and heed the dosage warnings at How Stuff Works.

Golden seal, garlic and ginseng are also useful for preventing and relieving colds. Not all together - just pick one and use it as a tea, or in the case of garlic as garlic bread, roasted garlic, or added to another food you enjoy. Raw garlic is best, but very pungent, and of course even smellier than cooked! GinsengUp is a lovely ginseng based soda. My favorite is the original flavor; my kids preferred grape flavor when they were young. Ginseng has the added feature of perking you up a bit; it gives you a natural boost. Note: Siberian Ginseng is not true ginseng. Get Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) or American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).

Whatever remedy you choose to prevent a cold or to diminish its symptoms, I hope you're feeling better soon!

Herbal Cold Remedy Information:

How to Treats Colds With Ginger Tea - Recipe and tips at eHow

Ginger Tea for Colds - Recipe and user tips at The People's Pharmacy

Horseradish: Herbal Remedies - article at How Stuff Works includes info on how horseradish helps prevent and treat colds.

Horseradish - article with properties of horseradish and instructions on use.

How to Avoid the Flu or Common Cold
- eHow recipe with horseradish and other ingredients.

Buy Herbal Cold Remedies at

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