Combating Cold Season Naturally

A woman uses a towel and a boil of steaming water to fight a cold.d

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One of the more delightful books I’ve read lately is Dr. Jarvis’s Folk Medicine, a Practical Guide to Natural Health, written by a Vermont doctor in 1958.

Those familiar with this work will know that his remedy for practically everything from chronic fatigue to infertility is wildflower honey and apple cider vinegar.

Nevertheless, he backs up his claims with lots of good evidence from his own practice, his conventional medical training, and medical research.

Modern herbalists also tout the health benefits of vinegar and honey, so it seems these remedies have stood the test of time.

When it comes to preventing colds and flus, it should come as no surprise that most of his recommendations are the practical sort that most of us know innately.

In this day of pharmaceuticals, it would seem that we’ve forgotten common sense. In case you need a refresher in the medicinal wisdom of our grandmother’s era, here are Dr. Jarvis’s guidelines for staying well.

See the recipes below for more herbal cold preventions and treatment.

Dr. Jarvis’s Common Sense Cold Prevention:

1. Get enough sleep. Early to bed and early to rise make a person healthy as well as wise, since aligning your sleep schedule more closely to the sun is better for your system.

2. Dress for the weather and avoid chills. Don’t sleep with the windows open on cold nights.

3. Take hot baths (not scalding though). Drink warm foods such as tea and soup.

4. Eat breakfast. Eating early in the day keeps your body acidic (an alkaline system is more prone to illness).

5. Don’t worry. Be happy. Stress can make you sick.

6. Get exercise, especially exercise that you enjoy. Any recreational exercise including walking, hiking, gardening, biking, and even yard work will keep your body fit and less prone to illness, while getting your lymph system circulating more freely.

7. Limit work, both mental and physical, to the length of the work day. 12 hour days are not good for you. All work and no play make a man ill, as well as dull.

8. Eat well and regularly. Emphasize greens, grains, and fruits. Eat food that grows in your region. Avoid wheat and all sugars except for honey.

9. When feeling vulnerable, or as a preventative tonic, drink vinegar and honey as described below.

Tasty Vinegar and Honey Beverage

As a tonic and preventative, many natural health folks recommend drinking vinegar and honey daily.

The best vinegar to use is raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s), which is bio-active unlike commercial brands, that are essentially dead.

When choosing honey, an organic honey is much preferable to commercial clover honey which derives from plants that may have been exposed to chemicals.

Wildflower honey will have the widest variety of organic compounds that strengthen the body through synergy.

  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 8 oz. water

Mix all ingredients together in a glass, and stir well. Sip rather than gulp for maximum benefit.

Caveat: Don’t give this preparation to children under one year of age, as unfiltered honey can, in rare instances, contain pathogens that could harm an infant whose immune system is still developing.

Ditto for raw vinegar, which babies probably wouldn’t like anyway.

Echinacea Tincture

Echinacea can be very effective in preventing a cold if taken in moderation at the very start of a cold.

The minute you feel a cold coming on is the right time to use it. Don’t bother if you’re already sick—it won’t help and might make things worse if you’re immune system is already down.

Nature’s Answer Echinacea Tincture

Dosage varies so always read the recommended dosage on the bottle. I use about a half to 3/4 of a dropper of tincture in warm water, 2 to 3 times a day for the first two days only.

If I’m still feeling sick, I stop using echinacea and move on to the sage tea described below.

Caveats: Echinacea should never be taken for more than a few days as it is an immune stimulant, not a tonic, and is not effective over long periods of time.

It can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or chronic ailments, and can even cause allergic reactions in some people.

Herb Tea for Cold Sufferers

Stephen Buhner, author of the invaluable manual Herbal Antibiotics (Storey Books), recommends this recipe as the best herbal tea for curing the common cold.

Having tried it, I can vouch for its effectiveness. I’ve taken the liberty of adding fresh ginger to the recipe, for its taste and antibiotic qualities.

Relief is fast and the tea tastes very medicinal, but good and soothing.

A vertical picture of a glass pot and three glasses of herbal tea made from ginger, honey, and sage, set on a white wooden surface.

  • 2 tsp. sage leaves, chopped
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp. wildflower honey
  • dash of cayenne (to induce sweating — may be omitted if fever is not present)

Place the sage and ginger in a mug and add 10 ounces of boiling water. Cover with a dish for 10 – 15 minutes, before adding honey and lemon juice.

The dash of cayenne can be stirred in at the end. Enjoy hot, and if you’re using the cayenne, stay bundled to avoid a chill.

Cayenne will make you sweat and a chill is the last thing you need. Drink several cups a day during the duration of the acute phase, when you feel really lousy.

Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health

To read more about Dr. Javis’s nature remedies check out his classic book, Folk Medicine.

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. and Ask the Experts, LLC assumes no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

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