Thursday, September 17, 2009
Preparing for Cold and Flu Seaon Part 2: Healing Home Brews
Did you know if you notice the signs of a cold early you can stop it before it really settles in? This is true for colds characterized by body aches, chill, and stiff neck. If you have been exposed to others who are sick, then monitor yourself for the early signs of stiff neck, aches, and chill or aversion to drafts. The trick is to promote sweating early on (sweating out the cold). I use a very reliable brew recipe from my Chinese medicine teachers at the first sign of a this kind of illness. You can make this brew up right away before the cold or flu takes hold and you start getting other symptoms like post nasal drip or congestion. It is really helpful to have the onion and fresh ginger on hand during cold and flu season.
Recipe for Wind Cold Brew with Ginger, Onion and Brown Sugar:
Boil together and simmer for 30 minutes 2-4 scallions or half an onion, 2-3 slices of fresh ginger (dried is okay too if you don't have fresh), and 1-2 Tablespoons of brown sugar in approximately one quart of water.
Bundle up and drink this hot to promote sweating. The sweating is what helps to kick out the cold. You can also drink it while sitting in a hot bath and then bundling up. This method works very well expel a cold out before can take hold. Sometimes, especially if you are around others who are sick, you may have to repeat this more than once, or repeat it the next day because the symptoms may start to creep back, but generally speaking once you have bundled up and sweated you will feel back to normal after this process. It is important to avoid getting chilled or exposed to drafts or wind to keep the cold from coming back.
What can you do if a cold has already set in? Fire Cider is a great brew to have on hand for sinus colds and congestion. It is especially good for clear or white watery phlegm due to the warming nature of the herbs included in the recipe. You can drink a teaspoonful or more straight, add some to hot herbal tea, soups or use it in cooking.
Rosemary Gladstar is believed to be the source of the original recipe according to Lady Barbara Hall from whom I received and slightly modified this recipe:
To make 1 pint jar (use glass) of fire cider you need:
1/4 cup shredded horseradish root 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger root 1/8 cup finely chopped garlic 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 2 or 3 sliced whole red hot peppers or a pinch of cayenne
Cover with apple cider vinegar and let infuse for four to six weeks. Shake during the infusion time daily if possible. Make sure you use a non-metallic lid for your container. Strain the vinegar and enjoy.
What about for the kiddies? Children are not likely going to be able to tell you that they are in the early stage of a cold or be inclined to take fire cider. Elderberry extract is a very good option for children as well as adults. It reduces fever and shortens the duration of colds. Seek out your local herbalist for elderberry extract. You can also look for preparations at your local health food stores. Sambucus nigra is the most commonly used elder berry. Here in Florida I collect Sambucus simpsonii which also works very well.
Tea pot by eco-friendly market member Claynfiber available at 1000markets.