Cold Kickin’

I don’t get sick. I normally scoff at any discussion of “flu season” and sail through the winter without so much as a stuffy nose. On the rare occasions I do catch a cold, I may have a few, mild symptoms that clear up in a few days.

Because of my seeming invulnerability to them, I never thought colds were a big deal. Sure, I knew people might do some coughing, a little sneezing, but they also got to take time off work and watch movies on the couch; a fair trade-off, as far as I was concerned. And when I got a cold, I wouldn’t really do much for it. I’d try a little vitamin C and echinacea in a  half-hearted attempt to ward it off, or add a little ginger or lemon to my tea, but that’s about all I ever did. No cough drops or syrups, no humidifiers, no fussing around.

I was surprised then, when last week, I got a cold that dug its sharp little teeth into my jugular and wouldn’t let go. One that woke me up coughing once an hour every night, making my ribs sore and my head ache. A cold that forced me to drop my cocky attitude and look for remedies. With a new-found sympathy for others who have suffered in this way, I tried pretty much anything anyone suggested.

I’m getting better now, thankfully, and I’ve learned a few things in my adventures into the land of the nasty cold. In honour of cold and flu season, I thought I’d share some of my favourite remedies with you all. So, without further ado, I introduce:

Blackberry Honey’s Top 5 Cold Kickers

1. The Neti Pot

This is my neti pot. I love it.

This is my neti pot. I love it.

This is one I’ve resisted for years on the simple premise that it seemed so gross. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the neti pot, it’s a small tea-pot with a lid that seals tight. You put luke-warm water and a saline solution in it and bend forward over the sink. Next, you put the spout of the tea pot in one nostril and tip your head to the side until the water runs out the opposite nostril. Gross, right? Except, I’ve discovered that it’s amazing. It’s helped me sleep longer in the night and breathe more clearly during the day. And it’s not really that hard to do. There’s a tiny bit of discomfort (like when you go swimming and get water up your nose) but the results are well worth it.

2. DIY Humidifier

Low-tech humidifier

I don’t own a humidifier, but started wishing I had one after my fourth sleepless night of itchy, scratchy coughing. So, when my wise husband suggested we try this, I didn’t argue. We boiled water in a kettle, poured it into a regular, mid-sized kitchen pot, added 4-6 drops of a decongestant oil mixture (menthol, eucalyptus, cajuput, mint and clove – you could probably use any one of these) and set it by my bed. That night, I only woke up once. Sweet, steamy joy.

3. Turmeric



A colleague suggested this one. Add about a teaspoon of turmeric and some honey to whatever tea you’re drinking. I recommend ginger tea, since the flavour blends well with the turmeric. Choose your tea wisely, I can see it going terribly wrong with an inappropriate tea choice. This took the edge off my poor sore throat. And turmeric has also been found to prevent cancer, ease depression, help weight management, treat arthritis and more! Best to use a dark-coloured mug with this one, though, because the turmeric can stain.

4. Effervescent Vitamin C

Yummy C

This comes in little packets. You add it to your water, making it a little bit bubbly and full of vitamin-C goodness (usually about 1000 mg). I have found this useful in preventing colds in the past. And this time around, I’ve just loved having it as an alternative to plain water and tea. I found myself craving vitamin C in a way that no juice could remedy and this was perfect. I would recommend finding a brand that uses natural sweeteners like stevia instead of aspartame.

5. Sleep

Where I sleep.

This seems too basic to even mention, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the basics. In my often over-stimulated, iPhone-addicted life, I don’t always allow myself to just sleep when I need it. I think I need stimulation all the time, so I’ll opt for reading in bed or watching a movie on the couch to rest. But I found that turning off the TV, putting down the book and allowing myself to sleep in utter silence was really what I needed.

So there you have it, my home-remedy treasure-trove. If you have a cold, may you get better soon! If you are healthy, may you enjoy good health always! What are your favourite home remedies? Share them here! And while you may be doing some shopping this holiday season, don’t forget to tell us about the best money you’ve ever spent!

14 thoughts on “Cold Kickin’

  1. Zinc. I swear by zinc. And Cold FX (which is only available in Canada and which contains some inordinate amount of ginseng). Mr. BEZ gets sick very often these last few years, and these things keep the colds from really getting him down.
    I’ve been lucky. Since moving to Belgium, I haven’t gotten sick. The grey, clammy weather must agree with me or something? Or maybe it’s just cause I don’t socialize with people that much! I find people get sick in waves, when the weather changes- that’s what I learned in Bahrain. Because it’s never cold there… but when the wind/air changes everyone gets the flu.
    So grateful no colds (touch wood) while pregnant. That would not be fun.
    Feel better!

    • Ah yes, zinc! My mom swears by ColdFX too. I could never figure out if it was a natural remedy or not, but it sounds like natural? Nice that you haven’t been sick since being in Belgium and yes, I’m sure being sick while pregnant would not be fun, glad you haven’t had to deal with that!

  2. Sleep is uber important to me – if I can get 9 hours in during the Winter months I am golden. I also eat 8 to 12 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I tend to use the dishwasher and wash the sheets and towels with hot water this time of year too. Have a Great One:)

    • Wow, it’s great you are so healthy! How do you manage to get in all those fruits and veggies? I’ve got to admit, I often cut corners on sleep. Maybe I’ll aim for 9 hours in these winter months and see what happens! And good idea with the dishwasher, sheets and towels too! Thanks!

  3. I know it has already been said, but sleep is key… preferably with a hot lemony drink before nodding off. Lemon Theraflu in US or Lemsip in Ireland/UK can be wonderful. Warming things give me great comfort when under the weather- warm tea, warm soup, lots of blankets, warm mist humidifier. Sounds so cozy, pity about the being sick part!

    • Yes, I know what you mean about warm things! I’ve been dressing in so many layers, it’s ridiculous! And I gravitate to anything with warmth. I’ve also been using a “Biomat”, which is like a giant heating pad. Very comforting. May you keep warm and cold-free! 🙂

  4. Good recommendations! I am always run down at this time of year and have had my run in with the cold bug more than once this fall – very odd! My favorite is fresh lemon, unpasteurized honey, and chopped ginger in water just off the boil. Get it just right and there is something magic about it! I also stock up on Berocca whenever I pass through Heathrow. It’s like fizzy Vitamin C tablets but they are also loaded with B vitamins and a bunch of other stuff. (I’ll bet if I was getting 8-12 servings of fruit and veg in a day I wouldn’t need them!) Agreed. Sleep is the best thing in the world. At this time of year I need at least 8 hours a night and, like you, I rarely get it. Thanks for sharing your remedies… I may have to try your homemade humidifier trick.

    • The lemon, honey and ginger concoction sounds wonderful! And fizzy vitamin tablets with all kinds of goodness. If you try the humidifier, let me know how it works! And I hope you’ve had the last of your colds this year!

  5. Everyone needs to listen to you about that Neti-pot. They really help. I have a similar thing that is in squeeze bottle form so that it forces the solution through your sinuses. My daughter has severe asthma and must use one daily.
    The turmeric is interesting – I’ve never heard of that. I read an article once that suggested it may help prevent some cancers?! I’ll have to try it for a sore throat next time.

    • Yes, I’ve heard that the neti pot can help for asthma! Glad it’s helped your daughter! And I hope you won’t ever have to use the turmeric – but if you do, let me know what you think! And yes, various studies have found it may prevent various kinds of cancer – a bit of a wonder-spice, actually.

  6. My husband swears by the Neti-Pot but I’m convinced I’d be the one who’d just swallow all that salt water and puke. I swear by the ginger/lemon/honey concoction. I drink it like crazy when I feel like I’m getting sick or am sick. Not sure it does anything but it certainly tastes and feels good. And I swear by just taking time off– in general I think we all push ourselves too hard and that just always makes it worse. When I was a dancer our teacher used to say there was no point in pushing through sickness (at least in class — performances were another thing) because you make it worse (and make everyone else sick). Also I swear by movies. Feel better!

    • I know how you feel about the neti pot. I used to feel the same way. But then it ended up being easier than I thought it would be. So never say never… 🙂

      And you’re right about the time off. I think I’ve had this cold so long because I worked (overtime) the first couple days I was sick. 😦 It was a good lesson that taking time off really is important.

  7. My version of the Neti-Pot is called NeilMed, which I love. I once had a doctor suggest Astragalus instead of antibiotics when I had a nasty cold, and now I take it whenever I’m feeling like I’m heading down that road… It’s an immune-system booster that has, according to this doctor, more longevity than echinacea ( I find it works wonders with, as you say, some vitamin C, some good tea, a cozy bed, movies and lots of sleep.

    I have to admit I kind of like getting a bit of a cold every now and then– it reminds me to slow down when I’m overworked and overtired, and allows me to catch up on Downton Abbey without guilt. It also inspires my husband to bring me soup for dinner and take care of things around the house, which is lovely.

    • I have the same neti pot! I’ve never heard of Astragalus, but thanks for the tip! I might try it next time. It sounds pretty great!

      And I know what you mean about enjoying a good cold once in a while – as long as it’s mild. 🙂 But then, maybe we should just schedule Downton Abbey days and down-time for ourselves anyway! Then we wouldn’t need the cold part! 🙂

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