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DIY Cold & Flu Relief

Written by Julianne Puckett on . Posted in Way of (Vermont) Life

Photo by Julianne Puckett.

You probably don’t need reminding that it’s cold and flu season again.

Just watch or listen to the news any day this week and you’ll hear a story about the flu or the flu vaccine (or the shortage thereof). As the flu vaccine is merely a preventative, some of us will in fact suffer from the flu or a bad cold this winter, if we haven’t already.

So how can you make yourself feel better? Just ask my dogs.

Seriously, my dogs have been the beneficiaries of many a DIY remedy, for everything from minor scrapes (Vaseline and socks) to pink eye (calendula tincture). Sometimes, when they get sick — with nothing too serious, of course — and it’s a Saturday night with no chance of seeing a non-emergency vet until Monday, I’ll try a home remedy. Recently, they suffered a minor bout of kennel cough. To ease their symptoms, they enjoyed taking spa-like steams in the bathroom (likey), sipping warm lemon water (didn’t likey as much) and lapping up spoonfuls of honey (likey a whole heck of a lot).

All this got me to thinking: what kinds of home remedies could I employ if my two-legged family is hit with the flu or a bad cold?

Here are my recommendations (remember, I’m not a medical professional and all these suggestions are based solely on personal and/or anecdotal experience):

Chicken Soup — It’s not just a folk remedy: chicken soup really is good for what ails you. The broth helps you stay hydrated, while two of its key ingredients (or at least ingredients in the stock), onion and garlic, are believed to contain natural antiviral properties. Additionally, the hot broth can soothe a sore throat and warm a chilled body. Need a quick chicken soup recipe? Check out this one on my blog: make it for dinner tonight or freeze it for when the next cold strikes.

Fire Cider — There is much old New England lore about apple cider vinegar being a promoter of good health and vitality, which is possibly why it is the main ingredient in “fire cider.” Today, everyone from home-cook bloggers to celebrity chefs are touting some version of this cider concoction for cold relief. The one I like best comes from the From Scratch Club, a group of DIY homesteaders, cooks and food swappers from upper New York state. In addition to the apple cider vinegar, this adapted recipe calls for honey (for its antioxidants and antibacterial properties), horseradish root (for Vitamin C and antimicrobial properties), garlic, onion, ginger (to combat nausea and congestion) and hot peppers (to ease gastrointestinal distress). Mix up a big batch to refrigerate at the beginning of cold season and drink a hot cupful at the first signs of aches and sniffles.

Eucalyptus Oil — If your head is all stuffed up, put a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil on a wet washcloth and place it on the floor of the shower while bathing. If you don’t have the oil, substitute a big dollop of Vicks Vap-o-Rub: it’s much less nasty to put that goop on the washcloth than smear it all over your skin, don’t you think?

Lastly, I offer a remedy for the winter blues, an ailment that will be equally as serious as the flu to many of us Vermonters in the coming cold days of February, when Detox January is finally over:

Maple-bourbon smash, anyone?

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