Fight the Common Cold at Home

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Fight the Common Cold at Home

Use Kitchen Ingredients Such as Garlic, Radish And Honey to Get Well

Scratchy throat, fever and constant sneezing - come winter and I resign myself to the fact that I will be hit by several bouts of the common cold before the weather turns warm. I am, in fact, currently fighting what must be my fourth cold of the season.

"Your immune system is weak, leaving you vulnerable to viral infections, such as the common cold," pronounced my doctor, who went on to prescribe an antipyretic to bring down my fever and a course of antibiotics for my tonsillitis. Before the new health care system was installed last summer, I used to receive these drugs without even needing to go to the doctor. But ever since the laws were changed, banning pharmacists from selling certain medications, I have had to endure long waits at the doctor's office along with other patients who looked as miserable as I did.

Feeling somewhat guilty that I was taking up the doctor's valuable time with what have become my routine complaints, I decided to take matters into my hands and discover what I can do at home to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold. The Mother Earth in me also reasoned that rather than popping synthetic chemicals, I could do my body a favor by treating it with natural substances. After all, commercial cold treatments do not claim to cure colds, but merely relieve the accompanying symptoms.

The first thing I tried was drinking pear with honey. After scooping out the pit from a pear, honey is poured into the pit hole and the pear steamed until soft and mushy. The whole thing is then strained and the juice consumed while hot. Well, this popular Korean remedy worked for me, as my scratchy, raw throat became noticeably less uncomfortable.

Encouraged that my newly found natural home remedies were the way to go, I went on to explore some other tried and true ways of nursing a cold. Citron tea is a perennial favorite among Koreans during the winter. Its tangy aroma and beautiful yellow color make this vitamin C-loaded tea an all around winner. The whole fruit, scrupulously cleaned under running water, is sliced very thin, about 5 mm thick, and put in a jar with generous sprinklings of sugar between layers. To make the tea, hot water is poured over the citron preserve.

Excess phlegm and coughing are common complaints of upper respiratory infections. Korean housewives rely on a radish and honey extract to fight these uncomfortable conditions. A radish is sliced thin and placed into a container with enough honey to completely cover the radish slices. After three days, the juice from the radish will have become mixed with the honey, to which hot water can then be added for consumption.

Other items from the pantry can be used in bringing down a fever - 15 grams of cinnamon stick, 5 to 10 dates and 3 grams of ginger are boiled together to make cinnamon tea, with honey added for taste.

North Koreans appear to rely on vinegar to prevent colds. North Korea's newspaper, the Rodong Shinmun, is reported to have recommended inhaling vinegar to prevent colds. "Exposing the room to the smell of vinegar in the morning and evening for 15 to 20 minutes kills the germs in the room," the Yonhap News Agency quoted the newspaper as saying. Eating 2 to 3 grams of garlic two to four times a day is also recommended for fighting a cold. Be warned, however. Although garlic's pungent active ingredient, allicin, works especially well against infections such as bronchitis and sinusitis, raw garlic can upset your stomach. On a lighter note, I think the garlic remedy could potentially prevent the spread of a cold by keeping people away from you.

In the West, chicken soup is the favorite home concoction for the common cold. For those unfortunate souls who did not have grandmothers brewing those wonderful soups to warm the soul and body, there has always been the canned kind, a staple in any kitchen. People who swear by the healing power of chicken soup have been right all along, it seems. Scientific research has found that the heat, liquid and antibiotic activity of garlic, an ingredient in chicken soup, can ease cold symptoms and boost the immune system.

Perhaps the Chinese are still thinking about the possibilities of Coca-Cola as a cold medicine. A suggestion posted on the International Home Remedies Project site calls for one can of Coca-Cola, a squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juice and some ginger to be brought to a boil in a pan and then drunk.

A recommendation from Mexico was the strangest of home remedy that I read of all. One is instructed to take a bath at night and go to bed with toasted tomatoes hung around the neck. The tomatoes should be as hot as bearable, and worn with a piece of flannel around the neck. Tomatoes should also be put on the bottom of the feet and covered with socks. The tomatoes should be taken out the next morning.

As you ponder over how this could possibly relieve your cold symptoms, we are reminded time and again that not everything on the Internet is the entire truth. Bear in mind that a good bed rest is your best weapon against the common cold.

However, if you are game for something new, how about a nose rub, another traditional Korean remedy for relieving a congested nose? Holding your breath, rub your thumbs or middle fingers together to produce heat and hold the fingers to the sides of the nose for about five minutes. Alternatively, massage the area around your nose. Done every morning, some people claim that this can prevent cold. As for me, I did it for the first time this morning and it does seem to relieve my sinus. But then, I am desperate and willing to try virtually anything.

by Kim Hoo-ran

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