Natural remedies to combat a cough and cold

Sunday 28th Oct 2012

Sitting here with the fire blazing, I canít help noticing that the promised Indian Summer failed to arrive.

When I read the Daily Express last week I must admit I was looking forward to a few days of bright blue skies and warming sunshine.

But the reality was dank and dreary days and foggy nights.

70 degrees Fahrenheit they promised us - I barely think that the mercury managed double figures!

Instead of my beloved family being all rosy cheeked with the sunís kisses, they are red nosed from the beginnings of a winterís cold.

We are not alone in our suffering either, judging by the way folk looked when Lara and I did the shopping yesterday. The shops were full of Bristolís finest with streaming noses being dabbed with tissues and barking coughs stifled with hankies.

So, it looks like the beginnings of the cold season are upon us - mind you, after the cold wet summer we have had Iím not surprised that more than a few of you are suffering from snotty noses, bunged up sinuses and rattly chests.

Click here for the best in natural remedies for coughs and colds

Natural ways to combat the winter colds

Living in a climate such as Britainís, it is no wonder that 'natural ways to cure the common cold' is probably the most searched term on the internet.

But way before the magic box was invented it was also a challenge that inspired our ancestors, and they came up with many imaginative, if not entirely wholesome, ways to deal with coughs and colds.

Last year I conducted a piece of research about ancient cures, and also asked you for your family favourites, and we ended up with some pretty astonishing results between us.

From passing a child under the belly of a horse or donkey three times, to tying a sliced onion in a sweaty sock around the throat, and who could forget heroin being prescribed for coughs in the nineteenth century! The ancient wisdoms certainly made us chuckle.

Over the past twelve months I have discovered even more outlandish ways to cure a cough and cold:

- A remedy for whooping cough where four (why precisely four I cannot say) live woodlice have to be eaten in a spoonful of jam. If this doesnít help, the advice is to catch and skin a wood mouse, make a pie from it that the child must eat and then have the pelt tied around their throat for nine days, fur side down.

Apart from ridding the house of a few pests Iím not sure that there is much merit in either of these.

- We all know the Ďeye of newt and wing of batí type of potion, however it seems that lizards are an important constituent of an ancient Chinese remedy for coughs and colds. The poor creatures are stewed alive in a broth of pork bones...Iíll have mine with fried rice then please!

More rational ways to help a cough and cold

Needless to say I remain a firm fan of honey and lemon as a daily tonic to help dampen the effects of a winter sniffle, however if a nasty one rears its head you might need something a bit stronger (no not whisky this time!):

- Lobelia is a traditional medicinal herb used to suppress or ease coughing. The lobeline alkaloid is an agent that acts as a cough suppressant.

In addition, medical researchers say that lobeline may actually reduce the effects of nicotine in the body by regulating the release of dopamine which is a chemical in the brain that's associated with addiction.

So it's a good way to treat smoker's coughs as well as common coughs!

- From early days the pleurisy root has been regarded as a valuable medicinal plant. It is one of the most important of the indigenous American remedies, and until lately was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

It has a specific action on the lungs, assisting expectoration, subduing inflammation and exerting a general mild tonic effect on the system, making it valuable in all chest complaints.

- In ancient Greece, Egypt and Arabia, physicians used the squill bulb as the base of an expectorant, diuretic and remedy for the cough.

- Red Sage has antimicrobial, antiseptic properties and is particularly useful for chest infections. It has also been used traditionally to treat asthma.

- Liquorice has a soothing effect that calms irritated mucous membranes, sore throats and dry coughs while its expectorant action makes coughs more productive and clears phlegm.

- Research concentrating on the medicinal uses of garlic shows it is effective against several bacterial infections.

- Echinacea is a widely used herb to help the body rid itself of catarrh, and cure the symptoms of colds, boosting the bodyís immune system into the bargain.

ĎThatís all well and good,í I hear you cry, Ďbut where in the whole of Christendom am I going to find any of that lot?í.

Well dear friends, look no further than here

Collected together under one roof (actually in a special cabinet in the Good Life Letter office!) are products containing some of the most widely used, and proven, natural ways to deal with a pesky cough or cold.

Keep up the good work with the honey and lemon, but make sure that you have a drop of something stronger to hand to help.

This time when Iím talking about something stronger Iím actually referring to one of the natural remedy preparations, rather than a drop of Scotlandís finest cure-all...

...although now that Iíve thought of it, a wee dram would surely warm the cockles of my heart too!

Get your stock of natural cough & cold remedies in, enjoy the choice!

Yours, as always




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