Last spring, I suffered from an epic cold that dragged on for four miserable weeks – not one of those wussy colds with a slightly stuffed nose and a delicate little cough, but a full on, hit-by-a-mack-truck kind of cold that knocked me off my feet. And I have to say, I’m not pleasant to be around when I’m sick. Looking back, I feel sorry for my family.
Laying on the couch day after day (after day after day), I thought about how easily illness can turn a crunchy mama to soggy mush. The garbage suddenly overflows with used tissues and the kitchen counter is filled with plastic from the over-packaged instant dinners you’ve been passing off as “food” to your kids. Those same kids watch TV for 12 days straight and you couldn’t care less. It’s hard to care about any of that when you can barely lift your head from the pillow (let alone stop your one year old from colouring on the wall).
But, on the positive side, I learned a few tricks during that stint about how to make myself feel better without having to bundle my kids up and drag them to the pharmacy to buy enough kleenex to fill a landfill. I found that if I am a bit prepared ahead of time, I can make my illness a little bit greener.
Um, that doesn’t sound right at all…
Five Ways to Make Your Cold a Little Bit Greener Five Ways to Make Your Cold a Little Bit Crunchier
Ew. This isn’t working at all.
Five DIY Ways to Relieve Cold Symptoms
1. Kiss your Kleenex goodbye and use diaper flats or prefolds instead
You know those diapers you have left over from the baby (or possibly still use)? They make amazing tissues, I kid you not. They are big. They are absorbent. They can be used for a whole bunch of gooey sneezes and then thrown in the laundry. And they are SO SOFT! During my four-week spring cold snap, my nose did not get raw or red at all. True story.
I bought my flats from rediaper.ca and I paid $15 for a package of six. And I won’t need to buy Kleenex for years.
2. Make your own cough syrup
I have tried many different homemade cough syrups. There is something wonderfully empowering about being able to whip up your own concoction at a moment’s notice. The problem is that homemade syrups don’t always taste so good (although that shouldn’t matter – Buckley’s has set the bar pretty low when it comes to taste). But the recipe where you boil onions and garlic? It’s seriously disgusting. How about swallowing a spoonful of raw honey straight? I just can’t do it, I think it’s gross – and I LOVE honey! But I stumbled upon an amazing cough syrup recipe that tastes delicious and works quite well.
I found this recipe on quite a few different websites; all the sites credit the book Herbally Yours by Penny Royal.
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1-2 tablespoon honey (not for babies – everyone knows that, right?)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Mix the ingredients up and then take a teaspoon at a time as needed.
I know what your thinking – cayenne pepper? For a sore throat? I have to tell you, the pepper is the secret ingredient. Along with the ginger, it warms your throat up and is wonderfully soothing.
I had the chance to compare it to a traditional cough syrup in the spring. I made this one and I found that it worked pretty well. Then my husband brought home some Buckley’s after his shift at work and I took that too. The Buckley’s worked better. The next day, I took more Buckley’s but found it wasn’t as effective, so I took more of the homemade syrup – this time, the homemade syrup was the winner. Since then, I’ve stuck with this homemade recipe because I like the taste and the soothing sensation for my sore throat.
Update: My aunt tried the syrup today and said that it was ‘burning’ than ‘soothing’. Maybe her pepper is more awesomely spicy than mine is. I kind of want to try hers myself and see…
3. Homemade Lemonade
When I’m sick, I tend to drink a lot of Gatorade. I try to drink a lot of fluids when I’m sick and Gatorade just goes down easier than plain old water. I’ve now replaced the Gatorade with homemade lemonade which tastes SO much better. I like that I can control the amount of sweetener that I add. (Ha! I add LOTS!) I also add salt because it replaces electrolytes that are lost when you’re sick.
I was originally introduced to the recipe at our local health food store, Goodness Me, and I found the recipe on their website here. I never actually measure the amounts out, I just guesstimate as I go and I make it one glass at a time as needed.
1 glass of water
2 or 3 tbsp of organic lemon juice (Santa Cruz Organic Lemon Juice)
Honey or sugar to taste
A pinch of Himalayan salt to add electrolytes and salty deliciousness
Mix and drink. It goes down fast and tastes good. And you don’t end up with a dozen empty Gatorade bottles when you’re done!
4. Eat Homemade soup
I LOVE eating soup when I’m sick – especially warming purees made with ginger, garlic, or curry powder. Soups just make me feel nurtured – even if I made the soup myself. And homemade soups are SO much nicer than a box of slimy noodles and chicken in salt water.
Unless you have a fancy blender that purees and heats vegetables into a soup in minutes (and if you do, I’m insanely jealous), you will need to be prepared for this one. Last spring I cooked five batches of soup in one day and had intended to post pictures on my blog. That was the day before I got sick, and while the pictures never made it to the Internet, the soup was just what I needed to survive the month.
Right now is the time to make soup to freeze. Farmer’s markets are full of delicious vegetables that would make a variety of lovely soups. And seriously? All soups are pretty much the same – just a different star vegetable and few different herbs. Spend a few hours chopping veggies and then make four or five different kinds. Need somewhere to start? This Curried Carrot & Apple soup is my all-time favorite. And here’s an extra tip – if you are make soup to freeze, leave out the cream or milk and add it when you reheat the soup. It tastes better that way.
5. Wet Sock Treatment
This treatment is new to me, but a few different people have recommended it to me. Apparently it’s quite popular in naturopathic circles as a way to kick-start your immune system.
What you need:
A tub of warm water for your feet.
A pair of cotton socks.
A pair of wool socks (at least 80% wool).
Essentially, you put your feet in warm water for 10 minutes or so (don’t let the water cool down), and then immediately put your feet in cotton socks that have been soaked in icy cold water. Then put on the wool socks overtop of the wet cotton socks and go to bed. I tried this myself a couple nights ago, but I’m not certain that the wool socks were 100% wool – they could have been acrylic. I’m not sure if it worked – I wasn’t as sick in the morning as I had expected to be (given my sore throat, plugged nose and lack of sleep), and I slept really well. I’d like to try again soon with socks that I’m certain are wool and see how I do. I also read that this treatment works well for insomnia, and I can verify that I was out cold in a minute tops.
Pretty much everything on this list can be pulled together with things found in your pantry and around your home. Next time you’re sick, skip the trip to the pharmacy and snuggle up on the couch with your kids in your pyjamas instead.
I’m always looking to try new treatments – I’m planning to whip up a batch of homemade vapour rub from the Crunchy Betty blog next. How about you – do you have any tips to share?