Kitchen Medicine

Welcome to cold and flu season!  Most of us have been in the situation where we or multiple people in our families have fallen ill, and the last thing we want to do is make a trip to the store for medicine.  Fortunately, you may have some items in your own kitchen that can help relieve your symptoms and speed up your healing time.  Of course if your symptoms are severe or prolonged, it is best to make an appointment with your doctor.  Also, most of these treatments are mild and food based but please consider individual sensitivities, allergies, and medications that may have interactions.  Always check with your doctor if you are uncertain.  These are some simple ideas that I have used for myself and my own family:

  • The best thing we can do at the first sign of illness is to try to rest as much as possible.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, but try to limit the amount of extra work you take on and allow for some extra relaxation and sleep.  Sleep is one of the most healing things we can do for ourselves.
  • Illnesses typically slows down digestion, so give your system a break and avoid heavy foods.   Also, limit your dairy intake, as dairy has a tendency to increase mucus production.  Easy to digest soups packed with immune boosting veggies are ideal.
  • Increase fluid intake as it will help flush toxins through your body faster and help thin mucus secretions.
  • Steam inhalation in the shower or with a humidifier is always helpful in reducing congestion and keeping mucous membranes moist.  I like to add a few drops of eucalyptus oil in my shower or humidifier to increase it’s effects.  Be careful doing this with very young children as the oils can be too strong.


Thyme has some great antibacterial properties that are present in it’s oils.  Most of you will have this on hand in your spice rack.  A few tablespoons can be added to a pot of almost boiling water.  Be sure that the pot is removed from the stop top before attempting this.  Cover your head with a towel creating a tent, and place your head approximately 9 inches above the bowl of steaming water.  Do this for 10 min and repeat as needed.  This can help relieve sinus pain and pressure and reduce congestion before it turns into a sinus infection.


Chop a 3-in. piece of fresh ginger into small, round pieces. Combine in a bowl or cup with 2 cups of boiling water.  Cover for 10 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 2 tbsp. honey, and a pinch of cayenne (optional for sore throat).

This tea helps warm the body and soothe a sore throat.


Eat a clove of fresh garlic.  The act of crushing garlic releases the component allicin that acts as a antiviral/antibacterial and can help shorten the course of a cold.  Try eating one raw clove every 3-4 hours.  A lot of people worry about the way garlic will make their breath smell.  Don’t worry, you’re sick so no one will be getting close to you anyway!

Honey and Lemon

Combine the juice of one lemon, 1 pinch of cayenne and 1 teaspoon honey. Gargle with the mixture to soothe a sore throat.

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts are great for relieving the aches that come with colds and flu’s.  People tend to not add enough to their baths.  I recommend 2 cups to really help the magnesium penetrate into the skin for it’s full muscle relaxing benefits.

Hope these tips help you on your way to a speedy recovery!



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