Monday, 26 September 2011

Surviving the lurgy

Autumn is here and it would appear that it has heralded it's arrival by striking down the nation with the dreaded 'changing seasons' lurgy. Few of my nearest and dearest have escaped, certainly not anyone who has being hanging out with me in the last week anyway, and it would seem we're not alone in our misery. Don't think I haven't noticed the constant sniffing and hacking coughs that seem to have melded into the general background noise of Dublin in the last week. Sales of Kleenex and other cold paraphernalia are through the roof. It's not normal to be able to get through a mansize pack of tissues in a day. And with the cost of lemsips being what they are I thought it a good idea to turn to the internet for some helpful home remedy tips to try and help me, my loved ones and anyone else out there with their phlegmy nightmare.

Firstly, I've tried two of my own concoctions this week, both of which I've found, if not curing, certainly very comforting, and more enjoyable than a lemsip.

Ginger, lemon and honey drink
  • This one's really easy. Take about half a lemon per mug, a spoonful of honey and about a knuckle of ginger (ie a piece the same size as the tip of your finger to the knuckle, I've no idea if that's an official measurement of ginger, anyone know how you officially measure ginger?), peeled and grated.
  • Put the ingredients in a mug, (not any old mug, your favourite mug, the one with the dangerous chip on it that you probably should have thrown out years ago but you just can't bear to be without, that mug), add hot water, leave to infuse for a few minutes, strain if you want to get rid of the ginger bits and sip
If you're brave enough you can add a clove of grated garlic (maybe start with half a clove), which has extra immune system boosting properties and is a good anti-bacterial agent. If you really can't stand the taste, and possible bad breath, you could try garlic supplements instead.
If you have any fresh peppermint leaves in the garden, these make a lovely addition and also have anti-bacterial properties. (Might help counteract the bad breath that the garlic may bring, but I've never tried the two together. Interesting combination perhaps)

Chicken Noodle Soup 

Who doesn't love chicken noodle soup? I'm not sure I would class this as a remedy but it is certainly comforting and it does contain elements that will relieve some symptoms.

chicken (leftovers from a roast are ideal, alternatively fry up a chicken breast)
peppers (optional)
mushrooms (optional)
spring onions
rice wine vinegar
soy sauce
groundnut oil (any oil will do really)

  • Firstly heat up your stock, bringing it to the boil. Reduce to simmer, add your noodles and cook as per instructions.
  • Using a wok, fry  the ginger and garlic in the oil
  • Add the veg and chilli (not the spring onion) and stir-fry for a couple of minutes 
  • Add soy sauce and rice wine vinegar (about two tablespoons of each, you can adjust this as you like)
  • When the noodles are done you can add them and the stock (this will now be your soup so add as much as you want to eat) to the wok
  • Add the leftover chicken to warm through
  • Add the spring onion and serve
 If you like you can add extra matchsticks of ginger at the end for additional immune boosting goodness.
A drizzle of chilli oil over the finished soup will give it an extra kick. A spicy soup will really help to clear out the sinuses so go for a bit more of a kick than you're used to. (you'll end up addicted to the stuff and never look back!)
You can put whatever veg, or no veg, as you like but I would pack it with lots of green pepper and pak choi for a vitamin C hit.

The two of these have helped me and my 'slightly suspicious of anything alternative' other half so far so hopefully they'll give you some comfort in this dark hour.

Other interesting tips I've found on the wonderful interweb are as follows:

Sage: Drinking a sage tea infusion can help with sore throats as it has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. Alternatively gargle with a sage, honey and apple cider vinegar infusion. Or drink as a hot tea.
Blackberries: Rich in vitamin C and given the time of year that's in it, it doesn't take much persuading to get me eating lots of these.
Echinacea: If you can be disciplined to take it and stick with it's worth investing in the drops. Not sure they're much help once you've got the lurgy but they definitely reduce the chances of succumbing, or if you do succumb the damage will be lessened somewhat.
Liquids: loads and loads of drinking people. But counter-intuitively, for me anyway, avoid the juice, the sugars feed the virus so avoid anything overly sugary. Lots of hot drinks, preferably brought to you in bed by someone easy on the eye.
Which brings me to.........HOT WHISKEY. As if  you had to be told. If ever there was a finer excuse to drink hot whiskey, I know not of it. Make it with honey instead of sugar (see above) lots of lemon and a good generous portion of whiskey. There's not much it won't cure. And if it doesn't fix your cold, have enough of them and you won't really notice it anymore anyway. Genius. 

There's loads of info out there about all this stuff. But all the sites seem to say pretty much the same thing: lemon, honey, garlic, ginger, sage, echinacea and REST!
 So go on, put your feet up, take the wonderful excuse that this misery brings and stay indoors, guilt free, watch terrible television, sleep during the day, and bark at people to bring you more tea. You deserve it. (but remember to say thanks, because they'll be the sick ones shouting at you next week and you don't want to make any enemies)

Websites used for inspiration in this post:

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