Jan 28, 2013

Herbal Healing for Colds and Flu

Nearly everyone we know has had the flu this season, in addition to several colds. Last weekend, my husband came down with the flu, too. I love him and of course I feel bad that he's sick - but as a mom my first thought was: "Oh no! I hate having mommy duties when I have the flu!" So I went into hyper drive, trying to make him more comfortable while keeping the rest of us well.

Now, I don't claim to have a cure for a cold or the flu - but I do know two recipes that can help.

The first is from Dian Dincin Buchman, Ph.D.'s Herbal Medicine (which I highly recommend). It's a recipe I've been using all winter - and so far, every time I've used it, I've avoided getting sick. There are two powerful ingredients in this recipe: Cayenne pepper, which is widely used for warming the body and providing nutrients, among other things) and raw apple cider vinegar (which I've written about before).

For best results, take this recipe as soon as you have a hint you may be getting sick. Or, you can take it before you have physical symptoms, but know you've been exposed to a cold or the flu. You may also take it once you are ill because the recipe has a warming, calming affect on the body.

Cold & Flu Remedy

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (sea salt is preferred, but table salt works, too)
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg brand, which is available at many grocery stores, as well as health food stores and online)

1. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

2. In the meantime, warm a quart-sized canning jar under hot tap water. If you're using a glass measuring cup, warm it under hot tap water, too. (The hot water will prevent the glass from breaking when you pour boiling water into it.)

3. Pour the cayenne pepper and salt into the prepared canning jar. Measure out 1 cup of boiling water and pour it over the cayenne mixture.

4. Pour the raw apple cider vinegar into the canning jar. Stir.

5. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Refrigerate.

Dose: Take 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon every half hour.

If you have a sensitive stomach, you can substitute the boiling water for boiling chamomile tea, brewed strong. You'll also probably want to take the smaller dose (1 teaspoon).

I know this mixture sounds horrible, but I actually kind of like it. I love the warming sensation it gives once it's consumed, too. (UPDATE 9/13/16: Stir the mixture before taking a dose.)

My husband refuses to even try this remedy because he finds vinegar of any type disgusting. So I've been giving him some special tea, and he says it makes him feel better. It's from Rachel Waver M.H.'s Be Your Own 'Doctor'. Again, one of the most important ingredients is cayenne pepper, but there's also soothing honey and lemon juice, plus additional easy-to-find spices that help fight illness and are soothing.

Fight the Flu (or Cold) Tea

1 whole clove (or a pinch or two of ground cloves)
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cinnamon stick (or about 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon) 
1 teaspoon real honey
juice from half a lemon

1. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

2. In the meantime, place the clove and sage in a tea ball and place the tea ball in a mug. (If you don't have a tea ball, strain the tea through cheesecloth after it steeps and before serving.)

3. Place the thyme, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon in the mug.

4. Add boiling water to the mug, the quickly add the honey and lemon juice. Cover the mug with a saucer, so most of the steam stays inside the mug. Serve warm.

I will warn you that my husband consumes a lot of hot peppers, but he finds the cayenne in this tea quite  strong. (This might be because I don't have lemons on hand and therefore can't add them to the tea.) So if you have a sensitive stomach, consider adding a little less cayenne.

This post featured on Homestead Abundance


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  1. I prefer my vinegar drink, but my husband is like yours and won't touch anything that smells or tastes like vinegar. I'll have to try that tea for him.

  2. Well, I just tried drink #1 for whatever is ailing me. Dang, that's strong! Curious if I need to shake it up before using, or if I should just let that sediment sit on the bottom?

  3. Liberty, I agree it's strong! After a while, though, I start liking it...even craving it! I always stir the mixture before I take a dose.