Cold and Flu season is once again upon us. Noses are stuffed up, germs are being passed around schools, and everyone is in a panic over when they can get their H1N1 shot. I am in the process of getting over a cold myself, and it is certainly never a fun time. Even more difficult is finding the right combination of medicine to combat these annoying illnesses. Commercials everywhere tell you to buy this brand, not that one. Very rarely do you see them advertising simple home remedies, like chicken soup or orange juice for kicking the germs out of you. And prices on Airborne, Tylenol, Day/Nyquil and others aren’t exactly cheap.

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Not to mention all the side effects they can cause! The main ingredient in Tylenol, Acetaminophen causes 3 times as many cases as liver failure than all other medicines combined. Advil may cause stomach bleeding, and Aleve contains Naproxen sodium, which has been linked to stomach upset, heart attacks and strokes. I don’t know about you, but I certainly would not want to take a medicine that could cause those kinds of side effects, no matter how great they claim to be. Fortunately, there are natural remedies you can make at home, which are effective, cheap and easy to make, and you’ll know all of the ingredients it takes to make them.

  • Herbal Broth
    6 minced garlic cloves
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups of water OR vegetable broth
    1 teaspoon fine-chopped, fresh cayenne pepper OR ½ teaspoon dried powdered cayenne
    1 teaspoon fine-chopped, fresh rosemary OR ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
    ½ teaspoon fresh thyme OR ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    a pinch of salt (to taste)1. Add the garlic to the olive oil and sauté on high, until the garlic starts to change color.
    2. Add the water (or broth) and turn the heat down to medium-low; simmer for 20 minutes.
    3. Add the rest of the herbs and salt; simmer for 5 minutes.
    4. Serve, sip slowly.
  • Herbal Inhaler
    2 quarts water
    ¼ cup fresh yarrow OR 2 tablespoons dried yarrow
    ¼ cup fresh peppermint OR 2 tablespoons dried peppermint
    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary OR 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme OR 2 teaspoons dried thyme1. Place water in a saucepan on the stove.
    2. Add all of the herbs and simmer, uncovered on low heat for 30 – 45 minutes. This will allow the vapors to waft through the house.
    *Do not allow to boil dry!*
    3. If you wish to do this without needing to supervise the pan, place everything in a slow cooker and set on high and uncovered. This will work for an hour or 2 (at most).
  • Salt Water Rinses
    These can be used for your nose and your throat.Nose:
    8 ounces warm water
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda1. Mix all of the ingredients together and put into a bulb syringe.
    2. Hold one nostril closed by applying finger pressure while squirting the mixture into the other nostril
    3. Let it drain, and repeat 2-3 times per nostril.

    Throat:
    1 cup warm water
    1 teaspoon salt

    1. Simply mix the water and the salt and gargle, 4 times, daily.

    Another throat mixture that can work is the following:
    1 tablespoon raspberry leaves OR lemon juice
    2 cups hot water
    1 teaspoon honey

    1. Steep the raspberry leaves (or lemon juice) in the hot water.
    2. Add honey
    3. Let mixture cool to room temperature, then gargle.

  • Ginger Tea
    1 heaping teaspoon fresh, grated gingerroot OR ½ teaspoon dried ginger powder
    1 cup boiling water1. Steep the gingerroot (or powder) in boiling water for 10 minutes.
    2. Let cool until tolerable enough to drink.
    3. Drink a cup at least 3 times a day.

This is a very short list of home remedies, but hopefully they will help you out! Along with these remedies, are the typical “cures” of vitamin C (such as orange juice), green tea, and chicken soup. Other foods that are also good for you to eat while sick include: bananas, bell peppers, blueberries, carrots, chili peppers, cranberries, mustard and horseradish, onion, and rice.

One other very important thing I should mention: while these methods may be “green” or herbal, they never should overrule a professional medical opinion. If your symptoms or illness persists a few days to a week after using these methods, it may be best to see a doctor, just in case. There is always a chance that something more serious (such as pneumonia or swine flu) could be masquerading as a common cold or regular flu; and its really better to be safe than lain up in a hospital bed.