International Cold Remedies

"A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold" ~ Ogden Nash

This is a re-post from 2009, but since I'm sick again, here are some ideas of how families all over the world are trying to fight the cold.

Sore throat, stuffy nose, dizzy head, aching body - anyone here who hasn't had a cold before? Lucky you! There's a lot to be said about prevention, but unless you're a hermit on some tropical island - strike that. The cold virus is going to get you, sooner or later, no matter where you are, no matter how much echinacea you ingest, no matter how many disinfectant wipes you're using. And when it hits you, what do you do?

If you're in Germany, you might be offered hot milk with honey. This is a sweet and tasty drink that might soothe your throat at first, but the dairy will likely build up phlegm and mucus in your bronchi, so you decide between short term relief and long term, well, substantial coughing. I have also heard about the sweat-inducing properties of a bottle of warm beer, but you might not want to give that to your kids. If it's a tickly throat that's bothering you, you can also try wiggling your finger in your ear (something about connecting nerves) or cutting up an onion and leaving by your bedside while you sleep. Smelly, but effective. As are nasal lavages, or letting saline solution flow in one nostril and out the other with the help of e.g. a Neti Pot. Clears your sinuses right up; doesn't have the overall pore-opening effect of steam-inhalations with mint oil.

Mexicans like brewing a tea out of oregano, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and lemon peel, adding honey for sweetness. In Colombia, on the other hand, you might be offered orange juice with honey and melted butter.

Canadians seem to favor the mustard compress (mustard powder and water on a cloth) on the chest to help free the airwaves. Their US-American neighbors gargle with salt water or drink hot teas made from various onion, garlic, chili, honey and lemon mixtures. Chemical remedies are also easily available in the land of the free.

Hot cold-remedying liquids in Japan are very likely to contain ginger, green onion, and green tea. The more adventurous prefer sake and an egg. In India, you'll find cardamoms, cloves, basil, pepper, caraway seeds and cinnamon in your chai, and you may be offered to suck on licorice, too.

One of my all-time favorite cold remedies must be the Hot Toddy. Enjoyed in Ireland, Great Britain, and anywhere you have people of Irish or British descent, take a shot of whisky, add hot water, drop in a lemon wedge spiked with whole cloves, add honey or sugar to taste, and down the good stuff as hot as you can before going to bed.

For more organic hot cold-remedying drinks ideas, check out Natural News or eHow.

That's the whole trick, isn't it. Liquids for hydration, vitamins (lemons, oranges, garlic, onion) for speedy cell renewal and extracting mucus, and good old-fashioned rest. Not too many alcoholic liquids, but you get the idea. My ex-boss in Spain used to say, "use the chemical hammer (cold medicine) and it'll last seven days, go to bed and sweat it out and you'll be rid of it in a week." I think I'm going to go for a mixture of the two to get rid of the latest bout of the sniffles I'm battling right now. :-)

Hope these lines find you fit and healthy, or have given you some ideas how soon to be healthy again. If symptoms persist, do see your doctor, and if you have a family recipe sure to cure the common cold, please post it below! Til next week, have a good one.

Image by Sammy JayJay, Flickr, Creative Commons License.