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  • Monika Getty

Home Remedies for Colds

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

It's that time of year: cold season. I always find it starts around now, when the kids have gone back to school, their germs mingle and mutate into something new and wonderful that gets brought home and shared with the family. Even if you don't have kids, chances are your co-workers do, so you get to share in the bounty.

When I was a kid, we had to be really sick in order to miss school; if you could still breathe and kind of able to function, we did not stay home. Maybe it was because my parents highly valued education as they didn't have much themselves, having to work to help their families once they were done grade 8. Or maybe my Mom just didn't have the time to take care of mildly sick kids! Either way, she didn't rely on over the counter medicines; she had her own way of healing.

Lots of rest in bed was the first order of business; if you were too sick to go to school, you were too sick to watch TV! Rest is important to allow your body the chance to fight off whatever it's fighting and gather strength to get better. Most of us don't rest enough, whether we're sick or healthy; we feel like we must constantly be busy doing something. Give yourself and your body a break by giving it the rest it needs.

Mom would also make sure we drank lots of fluids to keep hydrated. A favourite combination for a cold and sore throat was boiling water with lemon and honey. To a mug, add about 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey and top with boiling water, stirring to combine and adjusting to taste. Nothing made us feel as warm and relaxed, or soothed our throats more than that tasty drink! The adult version of this is the same, but adding about 1/4 cup of whiskey if you like.

She would also try her best to make sure we didn't infect the rest of the family. We washed our hands after we blew our noses and had our own towel to dry our hands with; we were not allowed to touch any other towels! She would wipe down any surfaces we did touch with a disinfectant to keep the germs from winning.

Even back in the day when I was a kid, my Mom was a bit progressive in how she had us look at things. When we got up, she would make sure we had a long, hot shower and told us to "picture all the bugs washing down the drain away from you", visualizing ourselves better. While we were in the shower, she would pull the blankets off our bed and open the window wide to freshen up the room, believing the cold air would help to kill the cold bugs too. Once we came back to our rooms, she would bundle us up in flannel pajamas, rub some eucalyptus salve into our neck and chests and put us back to bed.

Invariably my Mom would also make a big pot of chicken noodle soup to feed everyone, not just those that were sick. I don't know if there's any science behind it, but her homemade soup always made me feel better!

These days when I notice the cold going around, I make sure to wash my hands frequently with plain soap and water, drink lots of fluids and do all the things my Mom did for us. One of the things I always make when I notice one of us starting to feel unwell is a big batch of French Onion Soup from scratch. My theory is that all those onions, garlic and thyme will be able to kill just about anything the cold bugs throw at us! It's a really simple recipe, and you can easily double (or more) the recipe depending on your needs and the amount of people you need to feed.

French Onion Soup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 onions, sliced thinly

6 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 cup red wine

6 cups beef stock (preferably homemade, use vegetable stock instead for vegetarians)

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

In a big pot over medium heat, heat the oil and then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, allowing onions to caramelize (this may take a while). Add the garlic and stir for another 5 minutes. Add the red wine to help deglaze the pot, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the beef stock, bay leaf, thyme and mustard. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour and a half. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

(Personally I don't like the toasty cheese bread floating in my onion soup, I like to have it on the side for dipping).

What are some of your favourite home remedies for battling the cold season? Hope they make you and your loved ones feel better. Stay healthy!

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