This year, Mother Nature has been a little tough on us – switching to what we could call a freezing weather simply overnight, without notice or any kind of warning. Unfortunately for many of us, that lead to a few complications, mainly being having hard times to sleep (because of the quick transition), wake up, and for others, suffering from early signs of colds and flus. What we usually like to do when getting ill actually is to rush to drug store and buy anything that could cure us quickly and efficiently, whereas what we should all do first is trying natural and inexpensive cures, that are much better for our health, longevity and planet!
What I would like to share with you all today are my tips and tricks for a better health in winter, not only to get through a cold, sore throat or flu, but to minimise the chances of me getting them. All the things I’ll propose today is 100% natural, very easy to find and simply delicious, not like all those miraculously disgusting cold treatments we can find in our pharmacies nowadays! Welcome into my little cocooning world, where I love taking good care of myself naturally; if you need a little help to be dragged in, put a little relaxing air on, cuddle up in a blanket and enjoy that reading…
Healthy Food & Ingredients
This little orange coloured root, which is unbelievably hard to find and usually leaves big stains if handled badly, actually is full of medicinal properties. Turmeric contains three different curcuminoids (Curcumin for example), which serve as anti-inflammatory agents and give it its antibacterial and anti-viral actions. Widely used in the traditional Chinese medicine and the Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric will cure your cold and cough naturally. How to use?
- Turmeric, Black Pepper & Ginger Remedy or Golden Milk
- Mix 2 grams of turmeric with a tablespoon of honey and eat that spoonful twice a day
- Add turmeric powder to boiling water (placed into a big bowl), place your head over and cover it with a kitchen towel/blanket (to help the inhaling!) – inhale the vapours to relieve your throat and sinus. Bonus: It will detoxify your skin and clean eat from dirt and pollution!
Hello to you, you Mother Nature’s beautiful natural ingredient! Originating from Southeast Asia, this bright yellow root has a whole lot of benefits, one of them being to treat common colds. The part that is commonly used in kitchens is the rhizome (“ginger root”), and it contains gingerol, which is the bioactive compound responsible for much of its properties. It helps fighting against colds, cough and flu in the way that it is a natural antiviral, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. How to use?
- Ginger, Lemon & Honey Tea
- Ginger essential oil
- Add ginger to your breakfasts, smoothies, curries, salads, etc.
This is liquid gold – something to worship, cultivate and stock up on! It has been known for its hidden nutritional and medicinal values since the early Egyptian days, and is still widely known as a sweet popular kitchen staple. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and soothing effects, one easily acknowledges honey’s superpowers in contributing to the whole body’s health. The golden liquid’s thickness helps coat the throat and calm the inflammation, while the sweet taste is believed to trigger a nervous reaction, which is to stop incessant coughing. I guess there would be a thousand more things to say about honey. Therefore, let me simply add one more thing – how to use it?
- Eat spoonfuls of it (preferably raw, local and organic) and add it in whichever drink/meal you’d like – there’s no limit to its powers!
Known as a medicinal herb, being used since the early Greek and Roman empires, it is a safe, inexpensive and very simple to grow plant, that naturally fortifies the body against winter ailments and flavour all your meals with a scrumptious taste. It is often used to help offset colds, sore throats and oral infections – and is one of the best antifungal remedies! Studies have shown that thyme has a beneficial effect on the entire glandular system, especially the thymus gland (how odd?!) which is located right above the heart and is responsible for setting up children’s immune systems and the maturation of T Lymphocytes! How to use:
- Thyme Infusions (Place three springs of thyme in a large cup and pour some boiling water over – let it infuse for about 5 to 10 minutes. Drink it when hot and add a little honey for a cantatrice throat!)
- Thyme essential oil
Recent studies have suggested that Vitamin C may not be that beneficial when suffering from a cold, or put another way, it might not help fighting against it. However, other studies did show that a good intake of vitamin at the very beginning of the illness does help shortening its duration. And eating lots of oranges, grapefruits and lemons will indeed provide lots of this powerhouse nutrient. If you’re willing to eat the white part of those fruits, you might even benefit from many flavoïdes, which are essential in strengthening the immune system! Afraid of a vitamin C overdose? Well, that’s way too hard to do – and all the things your body does not use, it simply flushes it out! How to use?
- Freshly squeezed juices
- Cut in halves and eaten as a breakfast or snack
- Peeled and infused in water, teas or honey (add a few lemon or orange zest to your raw runny honey jar…achingly delicious!)
These tiny blue immunity boosters are powerhouses of antioxidants, and actually contain the most active antioxidants of any fresh fruit (according to Cornell University’s studies). It’s never been easier to treat a cold than parachuting those little balls of power on your overnight oats, porridges or granola bowls, or simply eating a large bowl of them as a dessert or a snack. Low in calories, full of vitamins and minerals, rich in natural sugars, deliciously healthy…heaven in a bowl! How to use?
- Parachute over whatever you fancy
- Blueberry essential oil
What we usually use as a spice and medicine is actually the fruit of the black pepper plant, and it is the chemical piperine that gives pepper its spiciness. Pepper has many antibacterial properties, and is a rich source of potassium, manganese, iron, Vitamin K and C and dietary fibre. In Ayurvedic practices, pepper is used for its invigorating benefits, and is known for its action on sinusitis and nasal congestion. It also is efficient in breaking up the mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract – which will be expelled out of the system through sneezing or coughing, both heightened by pepper’s irritant qualities. How to use?
- Add to your hot beverages, hot chocolate, warm maca, golden milk
- Add to your meals, a good spoonful so that you can feel its spiciness inside your throat(!)
That might be the best news of the year – treating a cold with dark chocolate…I feel like a whole lot people are suddenly going to get ill round me! Pure cacao powder, meaning unsweetened and unrefined, contains more disease-fighting antioxidants (aka. polyphenols) than most berries – even blueberries – and is also loaded with magnesium and zinc, to strengthen the immune system. You’ll have to go on the dark side however – very dark side – to get all those unbelievable benefits, meaning 70% or higher. Try to find chocolate that contains very few sugar or saturated fat (the green organic 70% chocolate bar of our Swiss shop “Coop” is a genuine treasure – cacao powder, cacao butter, vanilla, raw unrefined sugar and no fats added…genius!) but still eat it with care, because too much of it might actually be counterproductive…
Hot Concoction & Drinks
Aren’t we made out of 70% of water? Indeed we are; therefore, this element must be your to-go drink whenever feeling sick or starting to get cold. Drinking water, at least 2 litres a day, will help you flushing all the toxins and wastes out of your body, while keeping you hydrated. It is also recommended to drink lots of water when suffering from a fever, because it will eventually lower your temperature down by enhancing the sweating process. In a nutshell, stay hydrated no matter the place or weather, just to help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration.
I personally find it easier to drink when having a meal; I usually drink a glass while eating, which enables me to eat much slower as well, and a glass afterwards. I also drink two glasses of water on an empty stomach before breakfast (– try it and you’ll understand why!).
Hot Cups of Tea and Infusions
Turmeric, Black Pepper & Ginger Remedy
These three ingredients together will put you back on track overnight and you’ll be tiptoeing all over in no time at all. If you’d like to know the reasons for choosing these precise spices, you might want to see the various descriptions above. What is really interesting to note is that turmeric alone does not have the same benefits as when combined with black pepper. Indeed, curcumin has a low level of bioavailability, which means that it gets metabolised before being absorbed; piperine actually helps curcumin being more bioavailable! Piperine helps inhibiting certain intestinal digestive enzymes and improve the bioavailability, serum levels and levels of absorption of curcumin all at once. This is a match made in heaven!
Ingredients (makes one serving)
- 5 balls of black pepper, coaserly grounded
- 1 tsp of turmeric root, peeled and grated
- 1 tsp of ginger root, peeled and grated
- 1 heaped tsp of green tea or one green tea bag
- A regular cup of boiling water
- 1 tsp of honey (optional)
(1) Grind the black pepper in a mortar or with the back of a spoon. Place all the ingredients in a empty cotton tea bag or tea ball, pour boiling water over and let infuse for 5 fives minutes. Add the tea bag after those first minutes and let infuse for 3 additional minutes
(2) Add a teaspoon of honey if desired and drink it still hot!
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is used to relieve swelling, reduce headaches pain or heal wounds by aiding with blood clotting and preventing infections. It’s been used for many centuries across all Asia, and is even called “natural aspirin” by Ayurveda practitioners. There are many healthy reasons to use golden milk; one of the main ones actually is to counteract cough and colds. Thanks to their anti-oxidants properties as well as their detoxifying and blood purification properties, there’s not a thing this gold beverage can’t cure! When getting ill, we may sometimes feel that our skin is greasy and a little dull – well, turmeric’s antioxidants are here to make it smooth and glowing again!
Ingredients (makes one serving)
- 250ml of plantbased milk (oat, spelt or almond)
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp of ground black pepper
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 tbsp of water
- 1 – 2 tsp of honey
(1) Add all the spices in a small saucepan, pour two tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Heat until a thick paste forms. Then add the plantbased milk and heat to the desired temperature (usually quite hot).
(2) Once the milk is on the verge of boiling, take it away from the heat, add the honey and stir in completely. Pour in a large cup and it is ready to drink!
Maca Ayurveda Latte
I am one of this cold people. My teeth are chattering at the earliest signs of autumn, I am always wearing big comfy jumpers and I take kind of showers that leave you steaming at the end. Even though my winter breakfast fancies may just be about porridges, I usually like kicking things off with a warm beverage. The superfood Maca grows in the indigenous regions of the Peruvian Andes, a barren, fiercely windy and temperature fluctuating land, where nothing can thrive but maca. It is harvested for its nutrient and mineral richness, and since it adapts to the most extreme conditions on earth, it also has amazingly powerful effect on the body. It is considered am adaptogen food – a plant that our bodies to balance themselves and harmonise naturally; it also acts directly on the adrenal glands, regulating hormones, preventing vitamin and mineral deficiency and enhancing energy without down effects. Perfect when the only thing we feel like doing is blowing our noses or scratching our throats!
Ingredients (makes one serving)
- 250ml of plantbased milk (oat, spelt or almond)
- 50ml of water
- 1 tsp of maca powder
- ½ tsp of cinnamon
- 1 tsp of coconut palm sugar, honey or maple syrup
(1) Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Pour in a small saucepan and heat over a low stove until very warm.
(2) Pour in a large cup and enjoy directly, nestled in a warm blanket!
Natural Tips & Rituals
Essential Oils Steams
When I was a child and was coming back home sniffing and coughing, I remember my mother preparing myself a fumigation – a machine that creates healing steam when pouring water and essential oils in. At that time, I reckon hating those moments, simply because I had to stay for hours, inhaling and exhaling, over that bloody warm and annoying machine, wasting my time doing something I thought to be useless. But I am now grateful for my mother forcing me, for not only my colds were brief but I now love doing it! If you do not have that fancy steaming machine at home, a very large bowl (about the size of your head), some boiling water, a cloth or kitchen towel and some essential oils will do the trick. Here are the three essential oils I am going for when ill:
- Thyme – It has great antiviral, antibacterial and immunostimulant properties; its use is recommended to fight the early cold symptoms and winter’s wave of fatigue, and also to empty the sniffy noses once and for all.
- Rosemary – The very same effects as thyme and usually used at the same time, to combine all their beautifully incredible benefits.
- Tee Tree – It has powerful immunostimulant and anti-infectious properties and is usually used to back up the powers of other essential oils like thyme of niaouli; its use is recommended to clear one’s skin from pollution, bacteria and imperfections and is widely used to fight the early cold symptoms. May be used on the skin directly, but a few drops only.
- Niaouli – It has great anti-infectious, immunostimulant, invogorating and purifying properties; its use is recommended to prevent colds and flu-like conditions, soothe the throat, free the sinuses and treat chest congestion.
Apart from fumigation, which is one of the best things I know to fight the cold, there are two other ways to use these essential oils:
- Mix a few drops of these with a tablespoon of olive oil and apply on your wrists, ankles, temples, throat and chest as a cream or ointment before going to sleep.
- Add one drop of essential oil on a teaspoon of honey and devour – do that twice a day and you’ll be quickly relieved.
I called it like so just to grab your attention my delightful reader. Everyone knows that a steaming cup of tea may be very handy whenever having a sore throat or a chest congestion. However, there’s another secret, hidden inside those cotton tea bags you relentlessly throw in your cup in the morning. Tea – whether it is black, red, blue, green, yellow or white – contains specific antioxidants called catechins, which might have cold-fighting properties; in recent studies, it has been shown that people of people taking catechin had 75% lower odds of getting a cold than other ones. If it still feels hard to be drinking tea, think about all the other benefits of catechins, such as boosting overall immunity, protecting against cancer and revitalizing the metabolism. And isn’t it just perfect to curl up in a soft blanket, with a deliciously attractive book and a warm cup of tea, in the afternoons or after a long and busy day at work?
That might probably sound familiar to you but as soon as I used to get a cold, it was making the best of all excuses not to practice – even yoga at the beginning. Well, this should ring a bell – it is totally wrong! Dropping out of a sport class just because one had hard times to breathe or is a little tired is a simple excuse; moving and sweating will actually help the organism flush the toxins out as well as getting the illness out of the body, with the heat, activity and oxygenation of all the cells. What is even better to do when starting to get cold is…yoga! Yoga is a great way to revitalise the body, as well as work all the deepest parts of it, massaging and moving our inner vital organs in a rejuvenating and curing dance. Even though it might feel a little hard to breathe correctly with a stuffed nose, breathing will come naturally and actually help enhancing all the proper functions of the organism and produce a deep oxygenation of the body. I could communicate my love for yoga for ages, but I’ll end up saying this – if you live next to a yoga studio, or even better, a hot yoga studio, by all means kick some butts off and make your way to one of the classes, standing at the top of the room, watching your glow coming back again in your reflection!
Sleeping Beauty’s Sleep
When we get sick or are on the verge of getting sick, we usually rush to the drug store to find something to stock up on. Here is the best and cheapest option for taking care of yourself – get plenty of rest! We’ve got to give our bodies time to fight off the virus, since many studies showed that sleep deprivation actually results in poorer a immune system. It is essential to sleep when sick, but equally important when being healthy as well.
Arrange your bed correctly, light on a few candles, spray some essential oils on your cushions, take your favourite books on your bedside table, and most importantly, if you feel like you’re going to choke on all the phlegm that is stuck in your throat, try to lift your head as high as it feels comfortable, at least so that your throat is orientated downwards. These are the things I usually do to enjoy that “me” and restorative time and to make the most out of it.