Cold and flu season is here and new research confirms what we already suspected: colder temperatures can make us sick. Just a 9-degree drop in Fahrenheit can weaken our immune system, particularly in the nose, putting us at risk.
Tried & True Home Remedies
Few things are more comforting than a warm bowl of homemade soup when you’re feeling under the weather. Nothing beats granny’s chicken soup or halmae-ni-eui gimchi su-peu (granny’s kimchi soup) or minestrone della nonna (granny’s minestrone).
But beyond soup, there’s a slew of time-tested, flu-fighting home remedies that are gentle on the body, less expensive than over the counter medications, and just as effective. Stock up on ingredients now so you’ll be prepared for any coughs, congestion, or sniffles that may come your way this winter.
As always, before using any home remedies, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider. Not all remedies are suitable for everyone.
Kimchee is a probiotic food, which means it has beneficial bacteria that’s great for gut health and supporting the immune system. Fermented foods like kimchee, sauerkraut, and pickles may help to boost the immune system and fight off infections, including those caused by the flu and common cold.
Kimchee is a great side dish or snack and tastes delicious with steamed rice, on a hot dog, or in soups. There are no rules. Grab a jar at your local grocery store or H Mart, or make it at home for way less with the easy recipe below. When you start to feel more adventurous, you can experiment with different variations and spice levels.
A Simple Immune-Boosting Kimchee Recipe
1 head of Napa cabbage, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup of coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
2 tablespoons of grated ginger
2 tablespoons of saeujeot (salted shrimp)
2 tablespoons of green onions, finely chopped
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage and salt and mix well. Let the cabbage sit for about 30 minutes, or until it has softened and released some of its moisture.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, garlic, chili flakes, ginger, and shrimp. Mix well to form a paste.
Rinse the salted cabbage under cold running water and squeeze out any excess moisture.
In a large jar or other airtight container, layer the cabbage and the paste, making sure to coat the cabbage evenly with the paste.
Cover the jar with a lid and let it sit at room temperature for about 3-5 days, or until the cabbage has fermented and has a tangy, spicy flavor.
After the kimchee has fermented, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it continue to ferment for an additional 1-2 weeks, or until it has reached your desired level of tanginess.
Garlic-Infused Raw Honey
The immune-boosting and antiviral properties of honey and garlic pair up to create a hangover-free cough and sore throat syrup. If you feel a cold coming on, pop a whole honey-marinated clove, but not on an empty stomach. Raw garlic can cause gastrointestinal distress in some people, so wait for meal time, or take it with a slice of bread.
To really get the full benefits of the garlic, be sure to use fresh, raw garlic. Cooking the garlic reduces its flu-fighting properties to near-null. Similarly, it’s important to use raw, unprocessed honey rather than processed honey which may reduce its health benefits.
Honey Garlic Cough Syrup
1 cup of raw, unprocessed honey
8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
In a small mixing bowl, combine the honey and garlic cloves. Stir to coat the garlic evenly.
Transfer the honey and garlic mixture to the glass jar and seal it with the lid.
Let the jar sit at room temperature for about 24 hours, or until the garlic has infused the honey and the mixture has thickened.
After the garlic has infused the honey, transfer the jar to the refrigerator and let it chill for at least an hour before using.
To use the raw garlic-infused honey, take a teaspoon as needed to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. You can also add a spoonful to warm water or tea to make a soothing drink. Consume within 2-3 weeks.
Turmeric, Ginger, and Cinnamon Tea
Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are believed to have immune-boosting and antiviral properties. All three are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also has antioxidant properties and ginger has immune-boosting properties, which can help to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain. Cinnamon is antiviral and antibacterial, as well.
Partnered up with some raw honey and lemon juice, and that’s one powerhouse punch of a home remedy.
A TGC Tonic for Congestion, Coughs and Sore Throats
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric or dried turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 lemon, juiced (optional)
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Add the turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon to the water and stir to combine.
Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes, or until it has reduced slightly and has a strong, spicy aroma.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
Add honey and lemon juice to the cooling beverage.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the solid bits of ginger and spices.
Pour into a mug and sip slowly to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms.