Using simple foods for cold and flu, we can strengthen our immune system and avoid or shorten an illness.
Marketing and commercialization by the pharmaceutical and health food industries tries to convince us that taking responsibility for our health is difficult. We are encouraged to buy expensive products and to rely on the “experts” to guide us in our choices.
Treating our colds and flu at home doesn’t require complicated recipes or difficult to obtain and expensive ingredients. Here is a wonderful way to use simple yet powerfully healing foods like sage, garlic, ginger, and raw honey to make effective and great tasting medicine safe for the entire family.
Traditional Foods as Medicine
When you feel yourself with the beginning of a cold, there are some simple things you can do without turning to store-bought medicines or remedies. Many of our common kitchen ingredients have been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine.
In our modern world of medicine today, the pharmaceutical industry continues to churn out “new” and “improved” medicines for us to buy, and bombard us with advertising, and the FDA regularly recalls drugs discovered to cause harm.
But we can rely on simple foods that connect us to the earth and our ancestors. We can use the remedies that have been available through the generations. Research is confirming these foods as powerfully effective in supporting our immune systems and keeping us healthy.
Four Simple Foods for Cold and Flu
- Raw Honey
There are so many foods that support our health, but I chose these four because:
- They are have a long history of use as medicine
- Are easy to obtain
- Have extensive research confirming they are incredibly effective
- They taste great!
These four foods are effective medicine when used alone, but work even better together. Synergistically, these foods fight colds and flu by:
- Destroying the bacteria and viruses that make us sick
- Stimulating our immune system (such as increasing white blood cells)
- Preventing viruses from reproducing, essentially stopping a cold or flu in its tracks
Sometimes when we use food as medicine, we need more than we can comfortably consume. Medicinal honey is a great way to enjoy the nourishing and healing properties of plant medicines, and honey is an excellent way to pull and concentrate the medicinal properties in the plants. Using good quality local honey, we can enjoy the medicine of the plants and the medicine of the honey.
Benefits of Raw Honey
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists honey as a demulcent, which means it is a substance that soothes dry, irritated membranes. Honey is effective for soothing coughs and sore throats, and it has antimicrobial properties (nature’s way of preserving the honey for the bees!) These antimicrobial properties help us fight the cold and flu viruses.
Honey is an excellent way to extract and preserve the medicinal properties of the plants. And the great taste helps us take the medicine we need.
But beware, most “honey” sold in grocery stores is highly processed, meaning the honey is heated to such a high temperature that all the medicinal qualities are destroyed. In addition to this heating process, the “honey” is diluted with water, corn syrup, and often found to be contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals.
Sadly, most of the large national honey distributors import honey from countries with poor quality standards, and the FDA is unable (or perhaps unwilling) to test more than a very small percentage of the honey industry. *If this disturbs you, and you want to learn more, this is an excellent resource.
Your best choice is to buy organic honey from a trusted source, or better yet, buy local raw honey. Raw honey does cost more, but when making medicine for ourselves and our families, using raw honey is essential.
Benefits of Sage
Sage is a plant used as food and many kinds of medicine for thousands of years. For colds and flu, sage kills the virus and bacteria responsible for our respiratory infections, relieves our cough and sore throats, and because sage has astringent properties, it’s excellent for treating drippy sinus. Sage can be used alone as a tea, or as a gargle to sooth a sore throat.
Avoid medicinal amounts if you are breast-feeding (slows lactation).
Benefits of Ginger
Ginger is an incredibly versatile food and medicine that has been used for thousands of years. Traditional uses and current science agree that ginger has potent antibacterial and antiviral properties. Ginger also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and several large studies have shown that ginger is as effective at treating aches and pains as Ibuprofen. And by increasing circulation, ginger has a warming effect; perfect for the cold seasons.
Benefits of Garlic
For over 5,000 years garlic has been used as food and medicine. Garlic stimulates the immune system, helps thin mucous, and acts as an expectorant. Like ginger, garlic has anti-inflammatory compounds that help relieve the discomforts of cold and flu.
The Cooking Detective has a well-researched article on the 39 Health Benefits of Garlic.
Avoid medicinal amounts if you’re on blood thinners or antibiotics.
Easy Steps to Making a Medicinal Honey
- Raw Honey
- Clean jar
- Wooden spoon
- Knife and cutting board
- Fill a clean, dry jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with loosely chopped sage, ginger, and garlic.
- Cover ingredients with honey, stirring lightly to remove air bubbles.
- Add more honey as needed to completely cover the herbs.
- Cover and allow to infuse. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor. You can use within a few days, but I like to give mine a week before straining into a clean jar.
You don’t have to strain the honey, but I prefer to strain mine for a smooth honey and take it by the spoonful.
During acute illness:
- Adults – 1 teaspoon every 2 hours up to 10 doses daily
- Children over 1 year – 1/2 teaspoon every 2 hours up to 5 doses daily.
When I think about making medicine at home for myself and my family, I want to keep it simple and accessible. I have used these simple plant medicines, and I see how well they work. Unlike the store-bought cold medicines which simply suppress our cold and flu symptoms, the plant medicines work deep, supporting and strengthening our body’s immune system.
I’m excited to share this simple traditional medicine with you. I encourage you to give it a try, and let me know how it works for you! And don’t forget to share this with others.
Do you have a traditional remedy for colds and flu? Maybe something shared in your family?
Please Note: the information provided here is not intended to replace professional medical advice and care. It is simply my perspective for you to consider as you make good choices for you and your family’s health. Seek the support and care of a physician and/or complementary care practitioner you trust, and above all, listen to and trust in yourself. Be well!