Kick that cold with a few kitchen staples

‘Tis the season for runny noses, sore throats, headaches, coughing, and brain fog.  Yay!!

Before you race to Walgreens, peek in your kitchen for some traditional Chinese herbs, masquerading as common foods.  You’d be surprised by the number of “regular” foods and spices that are used in Chinese herbal medicine.  I had an adorable Chinese Nutrition teacher who taught me countless therapeutic uses for foods found in most American pantries.  Her recipes, though effective, made me giggle because the amount indicated for each ingredient was always “the proper amount”.  Apparently the ancient Chinese kept it loose.

The recipe I’ve used and recommended the most is a simple, 3 ingredient tea to help bolster your immune system and calm your cold symptoms.  I’ve added in what I consider to be the proper amounts, but feel free to play with it.  It goes as follow:

Cold-Kicker Tea
Ginger (root) – 1-2 tbsp
Garlic – 0.5-2 tbsp
Scallions/Green Onions – 1-2 tbsp

All fresh & finely chopped
Bring to a boil in a pan or steep in a cup to make tea

I’m rather lazy about it, and simply put everything into a cup and add boiling water, just  like I would for any old teabag.  Though the ingredients are all quite pungent, the tea is surprisingly soothing and mild.  It reminds me of a miso soup…warm-flavored and nourishing.  I promise, you will not have fiery dragon breath …unless you go bananas with the garlic.  I always re-steep the same ingredients once or twice, and then eat the chunks when I’ve finished the tea.  Mmmmm.  If chunks aren’t your thing, simply re-boil/re-steep them a time or two, to extract ALL of their medicinal properties before chucking them.

This tea can be used to prevent illness when those around you are sniffling away, or brewed in the midst of a cold to alleviate symptoms and speed recovery.  I drink it throughout the cold season, and have been known to put down 5+ cups/day.  I’d recommend at least 2 cups/day if you suspect a cold coming on.   And to further entice you into brewing up some hot garlic lovin’, here are a few of the ingredients’  healing properties.

Ginger –  Strengthens the immune system, treat colds and flu, stops cough and moves phlegm from the lungs, warms the core, soothes upset stomach and treats vomiting, and reduces toxicity from food or ingested medicine

Garlic –  Antibacterial, antimicrobial, opens the sinuses, supports immune function, eases aches and pains, and stimulates digestion

Scallions –  Reduce sinus congestion, vent rashes, calm the stomach, and boost immune function

If you’re experiencing a sore throat, make sure to add in a warm salt water gargle every few hours.  This will break up the mucous that’s clinging to the back of your throat, and soothe the ache naturally.

And don’t forget that acupuncture has been proven invaluable when tackling cold and flu symptoms.  Getting a treatment at the first sign of a cold will often ward off the bug entirely, and acupuncture during a cold or flu will stimulate your body’s natural healing response and quell your symptoms.