Monday, October 05, 2009

Cold Busters

Everyone has their own way of coping with colds. Copious amounts of orange juice, hot tea, water, chicken soup, over-the-counter-medications, sleep, etc.

I get bored. At least my taste buds do. I get tired of having my mouth taste like the bottom of a birdcage for days. Orange juice and birdcage taste don't really work for me as a winning combination. I like hot tea but there's the whole caffeine thing. And of course I put sugar in there. So between the sugar of the orange juice and the sugar AND caffeine in the tea, I end up feeling kind of worse. Chicken soup is good, but can be a bit dull on the tastebuds too.

I pretty much don't use any otc meds for colds unless I absolutely can't sleep at night. I've always ascribed to the theory that letting the cold run its' course is better than beating back some of the symptoms only to have them rage back worse than before. Sinus stuff is notorious for that.

I stopped using sinus stuff a couple of years ago when we got hooked on neti pots. We each have our own (mine is a special ceramic...theirs are plain white boring ones). Here is a link on WebMD about them. My Dad has used salt water to clear his sinuses for as long as I can remember. But he puts table salt in his palm, adds water, and sniffs it up. That's waaaay more painful. I like to use sea salt in my neti pot. For some reason it seems to be milder on my nasal passages. Mensa Boy adds a little baking soda to his with the salt. But I think he still uses table salt. I use the neti pot whenever I'm stuffed up or if my nose is running and I feel like I'm sniffing a lot. I could be wrong, but I feel like I'd rather rinse that junk OUT than sniff it IN. So when I start sniffing, I do another rinse.

This time I've also taken to using a sinus rejuvenation oil that came with my pot. It was there in the box and I just never seemed to think I needed it before. Last night as I got ready for bed I decided to give it a try. BETTER THAN VICKS! The oil contains green myrtle, inula graveolens, rosemary verbenone, eucalyptus dives, peppermint, spike lavender. I don't know what the second stuff is, but I don't care. You just tip the bottle on your fingertip and then touch just inside each nostril with your finger. You get a menthol-type of feeling down your nasal passages at first. I was able to get to sleep quite well with my nose clear and unclogged. Drug free, too. The bottle says you can do it 3-4 times a day so I've done it each time I've used the neti pot today. The oil is by a company called Baraka, which is the company that made my neti pot.

I've also switched up the tea drinking. Instead of just black tea, I've been drinking some Yogi tea that Yogi Liz gave me yesterday. She gave me two teabags each of the Cold Season and Throat Comfort teas. The Throat Comfort tea is very nice, but I wouldn't say that there is anything that sets it apart from the Twinings herbal teas, which are less expensive. But the Cold Season that's a different story. The blend of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and clove really give the tea a heat that helps with the bronchial and nasal discomfort. I liked that. But dang, that stuff is expensive. I seem to remember that it's about $7 a box! Another tea I like, that Yogi Liz also hooked me on, is Stash's chai green tea. This tea also has that winning combination of cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger, along with some other goodies.

So all this got me to thinking that it might be time to try the Yogi Tea recipe in the back of a Kundalini yoga book I've been reading. Here is the recipe:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 20 whole cardamon pods (split the pods first)
  • 8 fresh ginger slices (1/4" thick, no need to peel)
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular or decaf black tea leaves (approximately 1 tea bag)
  • Dairy or soy milk and honey or maple syrup to taste


Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then pull back the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, add black tea, and let cool. Strain and store in the refrigerator. Reheat when you want a cup and add milk and honey to taste.

This is great stuff! Whole cardamom can be hard to find. I buy mine from Penzey's online (because we don't have a store), but I'm thinking you could probably locate it in Indian or Asian grocery stores. Also, Yogi Liz suggests keeping the spices that you strain out. She makes another smaller batch with that as a way to stretch the bucks. I've put all but the ginger slices into an old Penzey's spice jar in the fridge.

So that's what I'm sipping as I write this. I think the black pepper really kicks this up to a whole new level of immunity-boosting. I don't add milk. I may try that. But I'll add it one cup at a time.

So. The soup. The chicken soup I've always made when someone has a cold has always been just run-of-the-mill. Simmer a bird, add onions, celery, carrots, bay, salt, pepper. Then add noodles or rice. blah blah blah. If your mouth already is bored, this soup, while good, is not really going to wake it up.

So I went back to the ginger. Mensa Boy hadn't gotten home with the ginger root for the tea yet, so I pulled out the minced, jarred ginger I have in the fridge. I whisked in a good heaping teaspoon-worth. Then I crushed up three big cloves of garlic and tossed in a pretty good-sized helping of red pepper flakes. I could actually TASTE this soup. This time we just poured it over basmati rice in our bowls. I didn't bother with the carrots and celery. I didn't hear any complaining!

So that's what I did today. Oh, and the sleeping. Lots of sleeping. And the cookies. Did I not mention the cookies? I end up munching on cookies periodically through the day when I have a cold. Birdcage-mouth, you know.