If you’re not sneezing, wheezing, coughing and complaining, you can skip this entire conversation. But those of us dropping like flies from one of the viral bugs going around are desperate for something – anything – to ease the misery.
Sure, you can go to the drugstore for help but you can find relief in your kitchen, too. You already know about chicken soup’s magical reputation. It’s not just folk wisdom. The fluid keeps you hydrated, the salt can be soothing, and the steam opens clogged nasal passages. If you add ginger, garlic, turmeric, or hot peppers it will intensify the effect.
Speaking of spices, the World Institute of Kimchi is studying the micronutrients and beneficial bacteria contained in the fermented food that’s a mainstay of Korean cuisine. (I personally consumed a half-gallon of kimchi back in December. I'm not sure it shortened my cold but it was so tasty it made me a lot less cranky.)
Elderberry syrup, a longtime herbal remedy, is on-trend right now but the purple liquid is more than a fad. Some promising studies indicate it may help lessen the duration of colds.
If you do only one thing, stay hydrated. Tea with honey is comforting as long as you avoid too much caffeine. Sports drinks will work, too.
Some cold-and-flu sufferers swear by medicinal whiskey. A while back, we here at WFAEats created our own recipe for an easy, no-measure Hot Buttered Rum just for you. Here it is:
Sugar, white or brown; or honey
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or other spices as desired
Fill a heatproof mug about 2/3 with boiling water. Stir in a spoonful of sugar or honey until dissolved. Fill the rest of the way with rum, then plop in a slice of butter. Sprinkle with spices to taste. Sip, and feel better. Serves one. Variation: Substitute whiskey for the rum, or omit the butter and add a slice of lemon.
Unless you’re sensitive to them, dairy products most likely don’t worsen mucus. However, drinking milk can make phlegm feel more, well, phlegm-y. Also, the proteins that dairy foods contain can be hard to digest so it can be helpful to avoid them when you’re sick.
Sadly, Vitamin C doesn’t prevent or shorten a cold. It probably won’t hurt to load up on those lozenges that can ease a sore throat, but massive doses won’t help.
Fortunately for most of us, the winter crud, and the dreary weather that seems to make it worse, will end before long. Spring is on its way and will arrive on March 20. That should give us all a nice respite – at least until pollen season begins.