It seems like every winter my body is just on the verge of being sick. It's like there is a constant shadow of a cold hanging over my head, and most mornings I wake up with a scratchy throat, some sinus pressure, and other unpleasantness. But then as the day progresses it seems to go away. Just yesterday I developed one of the worst sore throats I've had in years, and today there is barely a trace of it. What the heck?!?!
Cold and flu season can be a pain; especially if you are like me and seem to pick up every single germ and bug that passes back and forth between us humans.
Powwowing is really focused on helping issues after the fact. But sometimes you just can't get to your local powwow or, more likely, you don't even have a local powwow! It really is a waste of time and money to go to the emergency department for the common cold. I wouldn't want to discourage you from seeing a physician if you feel you need it, but there is a reason they call it the "common" cold. It's common. Everyone gets one. Don't panic. Instead, try some of these tried and true methods for relieving your symptoms. If you really and truly feel that you need proper medical attention, then by all means go. But you can still do some of the following:
Tea. Lots of it. There are all sorts of herbal infusions (ie. teas) available these days, and some even do what they claim to do. A few of my favorites are chamomile, for it's calming and relaxing effect, and lemon, because it basically soothes everything... Small warning, chamomile tea tends to feel 'dry' in my throat and therefore doesn't do much good when my throat is sore or I have a dry cough. I might also recommend echinacea tea (add some sweetener to it...lots of people like honey---I do not---but sweeten it with whatever you like). Mint tea. There are lots of teas of the mint variety and all of them are good for relieving stuffiness and can even soothe an upset stomach.
Chicken soup. It's true, homemade chicken soup really does make you feel better. Since it's the winter season, you may even have some baked turkey in your fridge. A nice hot and hardy soup made with fresh veggies and turkey and rice and potatoes can really do wonders for even the worst of colds. And the added benefit of the turkey is the triptophan, which may even help you fall asleep!
Mustard plasters. I know, it's REALLY old-fashioned, but don't discount it. Chest rubs and plasters can have a tremendous effect on relieving chest and head congestion. I'm sure your grandmother has a favorite recipe, just ask her.
Vapo-rub. Do it. You won't smell nice, but it works.
Cough suppressants. You can make your own with a little time and effort. Here's how. You will need:
Spearmint extract (they sell these in the baking section of the grocery store)
3/4 cups water
3/4 cups clear corn syrup
3 cups sugar (hey, no one promised they were sugar free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons food coloring, if you like
1 baking dish lined in aluminum foil
Boil the water and sugar and corn syrup together until the sugar is dissolved. You will also need a thermometer to make sure the water temperature reaches 300 degrees. Once it does, remove from heat, add a teaspoon of each extract and add the food coloring. Mix until it's all blended. Then add the baking soda and watch it get all fizzy. Pour into the foil-lined baking dish. Let it cool. If you did it properly, it will solidify. Once it does, remove the foil and hardened mixture and put in a plastic bag. Smash it up with a hammer. Eat as needed. And yes, this is a modified recipe of Coal Candy, another Pennsylvania-born tradition!!!!!!
Salt water. You can gargle with salt water to relieve a sore throat or you can boil salt water on the stove and put your head over it, and cover your head with a towel to keep the steam in. You can also add a few drops of spearmint extract (leftover from the above recipe) to the water to breathe that in.
Sleep. Turn off Netflix, put down the Kindle, turn off the lights, and go to sleep. Sleep is our greatest weapon against illness as our body repairs itself while we sleep. You will get better faster with plenty of sleep.
If you still feel lousy and need some powwowing, write to me. If it's even worse than that, like the flu (ugh) then go see a doctor.