I’ve been sick with a cold and chest infection for the past week and I know chest infections can last a while (had one before that took 2 months to clear!) so I’ve opted to use some herbal remedies alongside the usual ibuprofen.
***Please check with your GP if you are pregnant or have a health condition before using herbs***
Cold and Flu preventatives
If, like me, you are prone to getting colds and flu then you might want to look at ways to prevent the viruses taking hold by changing to a healthier lifestyle. Increase your water, fruit and veg intake, get some regular exercise, take time to relax and get plenty of sleep.
Other aids include echinacea. You can take this in tablet form or tincture form. Echinacea is said to help boost your immune system. The trick is to take it for 7-10 days straight then give your body a two week break then take them again. If you took it all the time your body would just get used to it and it wouldn’t provide any benefit to your immune system.
Elderberry tincture is said to help shorten the duration of colds. Can be taken as soon as you feel a cold coming on or if you’ve been in the presence of people with the cold. I usually make my own elderberry tincture but this year I was late in going foraging and missed out. I opted to buy some from the supermarket instead but it tastes too sweet. Elderberries are generally available to harvest between August – September. As well as for medicine they are good to use in cooking too. Elderberries are full of Vitamin C.
Here is a link about how to make your own elderberry tincture:
Herbal Tea for colds
I learned to make this in a herbalism class I was attending many moons ago. It has been my go-to tea when I feel a sniffle/sore throat coming on. I know most folk are put off herbal tea because the taste of some of them are really vile, but this one has the added benefit of tasting light and warming.
You will need:
- A teapot
- A mug
- A tea strainer
- 1 peppermint teabag
- half a lemon
- 2 inch slice of ginger root
- half a cinnamon stick
- a teaspoon of chopped licorice root
- a spring of mint
- a few sprigs of thyme
- a tablespoon of honey
Add the teabag to the pot, with the sliced ginger root, mint, licorice, cinnamon and thyme. Take the lemon and slice two pieces off. Cut off the rind and add the lemon to the pot, and with the remaining lemon squeeze the juice into the pot. Be sure to remove lemon seeds. Add boiling water until the pot is full and then the tablespoon of honey, stir it clockwise and put the lid on leaving the pot to brew for 5 minutes.
Strain and pour into your favourite mug. Drink 2 cups per day.
The peppermint and mint are great for headaches and blocked sinuses, ginger can help with pain and inflammation and its warming. Licorice root helps to clear the respiratory system by helping the body to produce healthy mucus which helps to keep the respiratory system functioning without old, sticky mucus clogging it. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and thyme contains an essential oil called thymol which helps alleviate coughing and fights bacteria. Lemons are rich in vitamin c and are great for flushing toxins out of the body, and honey is soothing on sore throats as well as being antibacterial.
Great for treating congestion and chest infections.
3 tablespoons water
White dishtowel or any clean linen
1/4 cup grated organic ginger, optional
Chop and lightly saute the onions and ginger in a bit of water. The onions should be lightly cooked, not browned or caramelized.
Carefully drain the cooked onions and optional ginger and spread them out in the center of the dishtowel. Wrap the mixture in the towel burrito style, that is, fold the longer sides over the onions first and then fold the ends.
The onion poultice is now ready to place on the chest of the person suffering from congestion. Make sure the poultice is not too hot before doing this.
Alternatively, the onion poultice can be placed on the soles of the feet to draw the congestion out of the lungs to facilitate normalized breathing. It is normal for very productive coughing to occur shortly after using the poultice as mucus is expelled from the lungs.
Leave the onion poultice in place for 20 minutes. It can be gently reheated in the microwave and reused as necessary throughout the day.
It is best to make a fresh onion poultice every 24 hours or so.
Rubbed into the chest this can help treat congestion enough to be able to breathe more clearly. The most common is Vicks VapoRub but an alternative can be easily made at home.
You will need:
- A tub of petroleum jelly
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- a bowl
- a spoon
To make as you go along:
Take a tablespoon of petroleum jelly and add to the bowl. Add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil and 2 drops peppermint and mix together. Use by rubbing onto the chest or on the soles of the feet before bedtime.
If you can’t stand the thought of using petroleum jelly, there is an alternative recipe here: https://wellnessmama.com/3527/natural-vapor-rub/
Eucalyptus oil is also great to add to an oil burner to help ease congestion.
I generally increase my intake of spicy foods like curries, and onions and garlic when I’m sick to help fight the infection faster. Spicy foods can also help to sweat out the flu especially if you’re feeling feverish. One time I made an onion syrup to use as a cough medicine and it was foul! Never again, I’ll stick to frying them and eating them!
While you are sick I would recommend staying away from trying to do magic yourself. If you have some friends in the reiki or witchy communities willing to help, you can ask for them to send you some healing energy. IF you do not have a support network of fellow pagans then do something simple, and try to avoid using your own energy to do it. Try not to charge or empower spells using your own energy; ask the spirits, the gods or the ancestors. Pray to the moon, the sun, stars and planets, pray to the elements and ask for their aid. Use the correspondences, the power of time, the phase of the moon, the properties of the herbs and crystals. Otherwise you may make yourself feel worse and hinder how quickly it will take you to heal.
The most important thing to do when you are ill is to take time to rest. Any plan or project that is not absolutely essential can be left on the back burner until you are fit and well again. Please practice self care when you are sick. If you can barely keep your eyes open then close down Netflix and get your sick bahookie to bed.
Slàinte mhor! (great health) to you dear reader.