ice Winter is a time when we tend to succumb to respiratory infections, especially when the temperatures are changing abruptly and we are not sure how to dress appropriately for the outdoors. I strongly oppose frivolous use of antibiotics for viral respiratory conditions and hope that most of you would agree with me. Let’s talk prevention and natural remedies for winter colds. Prevention starts with sleeping 7-8 hours a day, drinking adequate fluids, and eating three healthy meals and two snacks every day. Wash your hands with soap and water instead of using a hand sanitizer. The latter makes the skin sticky and creates bacterial resistance. At this time of the year it would also help to check your vitamin and mineral levels by asking your doctor to run a series of blood tests. Replenishing what you are deficient in will help to boost your immune system in an organized and meaningful way, instead of blindly popping supplements that everyone else is taking. For people who tend to get sick a lot and have normal blood tests, I recommend IV vitamin drips with antioxidants – this method of delivery bypasses the gastrointestinal tract and brings the anti-oxidants straight to the bloodstream. But should you still get afflicted with winter viruses, here are some of my favorite natural remedies:
Foot bath:
This is great for any viral cold, which presents with runny nose, sniffles, and nasal congestion. Fill up a medium to large foot bassinet with hot water. How hot? Well, make sure not to burn yourself, but make it sufficiently hot but still comfortable. Dissolve one heaping tablespoon of dry mustard in the water. Slowly lower your feet into the water – and make sure your ankles are fully submerged. Close your eyes and relax for 15 minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly and put warm cotton or wool socks and get a good night sleep. You are sure to wake up feeling 95% better.
A soothing cough remedy used for centuries by all Eastern Europeans, from Poles to Ukrainians. Every ethnic culture adds its own unique twist to this recipe, but I shall describe the recipe I have been using and recommending to my patients – it helps with any intractable cough. Bring eight ounces of whole organic milk to a boil in a ceramic or glass container. Stir in one egg yolk. Add 1/3 teaspoon of organic ghee and 1 teaspoon of organic honey. Stir vigorously. Swallow one teaspoon at a time, slowly, over several minutes. This concoction coats the back of the throat, calms the cough, and improves the hoarseness.
Raspberry for fever:
Add one teaspoon of raspberry preserves to a cup of hot black tea. This provides a great fever-lowering effect, especially if you have an aversion to acetaminophen or ibuprofen – two common anti-pyretic medications.
Milk with Baking Soda:
This is great for cough or scratchy throat. Preboil an eight ounce mug of organic whole milk in a glass or ceramic container and stir in 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drink slowly over 15-20 minutes. This works wonders for adults and kids even though it tastes yucky.