Remedies for Cold & Flu Season

Illustration by Penelope Bagieu

Illustration by Penelope Bagieu

There have been some nasty flu bugs flying around this winter. Pretty much EVERYONE I know has had the same flu. They all said it was horrible and they were right – of course I got it too.

Ever wondered why cold and flu season coincides with the wintertime? Apparently nobody really knows for sure. According to the wiki on flu season, influenza cases increase “roughly tenfold or more” during winter months and there are a few theories about why this happens, but no solid answer.

One study found that the flu virus has a “butter-like coating” that protects it as it makes its way to your body. The theory is that in the summertime the coating is more likely to melt away before the virus hits your respiratory tract, killing the virus. In colder weather the coating turns into a hard shell making the virus more hardy and able to survive for longer periods outside of the body. (Source)

I suffer from asthma and when I get sick it tends to hit me hard, so I do what I can to prevent getting sick in the first place.

Here are a couple of things that I keep handy during cold and flu season that can help ward off the sickies, or can at least shorten the time you’re sick. They also taste good, which is a nice bonus when you’re already miserable!

Hot Lemon & Honey


This is a simple recipe my mom used to make me when I was sick as a kid. Unlike NeoCitran, it doesn’t contain any drugs, it tastes really nice, and it won’t cause any side-effects except maybe the warm cozies.

You’ll need:

Lemon juice – fresh or bottled, doesn’t matter.
Honey – raw organic is best.
Boiling water

Now do this:

Pour a small amount of lemon juice into a mug. Pour until it’s about 1-2 CM from the bottom. Then pour boiling water into the mug, leaving some extra room for about 3 TBSP of honey. Just keep adding honey until it tastes more sweet than sour. Curl up in a blanket and enjoy.

The lemon gives you a nice big shot of vitamin C. The honey, especially good quality honey that isn’t too highly processed, has wonderful antiviral properties, helps soothe your throat, and will give you a little boost of energy.

Rosehip Herbal Tea


This is another standby hot drink that packs a lot of vitamin C.

I used to haverosehiptea-imported a hard time finding rosehip tea, and had to hunt for it at health food stores and European grocers, but in recent years I’ve been able to find it at the supermarket more often.

It’s often combined with hibiscus. The tea has a nice reddish colour and fruity flavour.

Brew yourself a big mugful and add honey to taste. Again, the vitamin C and honey combo will do you good and it tastes a lot better than over the counter medicine.

Ricola Lozenges


This brand may be known here in Canada for its unintentionally goofy ads, but I’ve found that Ricola’s cough drops are very effective.

I never believed that a cough drop could do much more than soothe your throat and maybe give you a blast of menthol to make you FEEL like you’re breathing better, but whether there’s data to back it up or not I’ve found that Ricola drops do relieve sore throats and even help me cough less.

They’re made with a Swiss recipe of herbal ingredients and, as far as I can tell from the Ricola company website, contain no medicinal ingredients other than herbs. The sugar-free versions of their drops do contain aspartame though.

I guess everyone has their own stand-by cure for colds and flu. Of course there’s chicken soup. Some people swear by hot peppers, and for others it’s garlic, ginger or zinc. For some it’s a hefty swig of NyQuil followed by a loooong nap.

What works for you?


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