Friday Five: Cold & Flu Season Edition

It’s that special time of year, when it seems like practically everyone I know is hacking and coughing and falling victim to the various bugs that are floating around, and I get that threatening tickle at the back of my throat. So I thought I’d share my top 5 home remedies and preventive measures for keeping that tickle from making good on its threat.

1. Vitamin C. This is more prevention than a cure, but I’m a big believer in Vitamin C’s immunity-boosting powers. I take 500 mgs a day (plus whatever’s in my multi-vitamin) all year long, but this time of year I usually double up on it, especially if I feel like I might be coming down with something. I can’t say I never get sick, but it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does it’s usually relatively short-lived.

2. Licorice root tea. This tea has anti-bacterial properties, and when sweetened with honey (also anti-bacterial) it’s a powerhouse at knocking out a sore throat — or keeping that scratchiness from achieving full-on soreness in the first place.

3. This Pinterest recipe. I’ve started mixing this concoction (it’s one part each cider vinegar, honey and water, with ginger and cayenne pepper mixed in) whenever my throat feels scratchy, my nose gets stuffy or I start to feel crud settling in my chest, and I can vouch for its effectiveness. It feels great on a scratchy throat and it really opens up my airways. Of course, we’ve been out of cayenne, so I’ve been substituting my husband’s superhot pepper powder, which will practically burn a new cavity in your sinuses if you’re not used to that stuff. You might just want to stick with the cayenne.

4. Hot toddies. I rarely get sick enough to justify one of these, but when I do… I don’t know how curative they actually are, but they’re definitely soothing. This is my favorite recipe, but just the water, cheap whiskey, honey and lemon will do in a pinch, or if you’re too sick to care about getting gourmet with it.

5. Salt water gargle and nasal irrigation. Okay, I know it’s gross, especially that nasal rinse part. I’ve done the salt water gargle whenever I get a sore throat ever since I tended to get strep throat about twice a year every year as a kid, but I’m a relative newcomer to the nasal rinse, and I made fun of the Neti pot commercials when they first came out just like everyone else. But coming down with a sinus infection a few years ago and not having insurance to cover antibiotics drove me to desperation, and I will tell you — doing this thing knocked out my sinus infection. I use a child’s medicine syringe instead of the Neti pot, and it takes some practice to angle your head just right, and it feels embarrassing and is kind of disgusting. But it’s worth it when you find yourself able to breathe again.

Do you have any home cold & flu remedies (or a killer hot toddy recipe) to share? If so, tell us about it in the comments!