Monday, January 17, 2011

January Cold

January started well enough.  A nice quiet yet cold month where I find myself hunkered down for 4 weeks.  Christmas is over and all of the decorations are finally put away and it's time to sit back and take stock in the coming year.  It's too chilly to be out in the gardens where plants are either under a foot of snow or the wind has completely cleared the garden of any debris so the place looks fairly neat, in a "wind-swept" sort of way.  And my favorite reading material appears magically in the post-- plant and seed catalogs, galore!  So, I brew myself a nice cup of herbal tea, stoke the fireplace and prepare to wait it out contentedly until the end of the month when I do start to get a little edgy for warmer weather and begin to tally up the chores waiting outside.

However, just as I was into full hibernation mode and all tucked into my 'snuggie' with pillows surrounding me to prop up all of the catalogs while some of my favorite herb and garden books sat within an arm's reach, a little tickle seemed to creep into the back of my throat, giving way, moments later, to a drippy nose that spread to a headache over my eyes and stretched into my right ear that, all at once, seemed hot and clogged, for whatever reason.  What's this?  A winter cold decided to invade my month of rest and relaxation?  How could this have happened?  I wear a hat, gloves and scarf everywhere I go.  I rarely unzip my jacket when outside and I wash my hands regularly.  Well, I've decided when you live with the likes of "Hurricane Kevin" who came home from college for Christmas break with a pretty virulent strain of something who then passed it on to "Tsunami Pete" proud owner of probably the most wicked of sneezes I have ever been in the company of, you are destined to pick up a few bad germs along the way.

Flash forward a few more days and suddenly I found myself in my own perfect storm.  The tickle developed into a raging cough, my ear was pounding and the headache, well the headache turned from slightly nagging to "blinding" as my friend Jacque had put it while on the phone with me the other day.  Time to break out the echinacea and brew up a pot or two of wellness tea.  Drinks for everyone!  It suddenly looks as though January has its own agenda for me and it involves enjoying the great indoors together with decongestants and ibuprofen.

Left with nothing to do but really rest and stumble around the house hunting for kleenex boxes and cough drops, I came upon a book I must have bought years ago and squirreled away in the cabinet, Herbal Remedies, An Introduction to Herbs and Their Therapeutic Uses.  It's premise, is to introduce how medicinal and culinary herbs have been used throughout the ages for their gentle and natural approach to healing.  Well,  I might as well try to read it since I have too many symptoms to count.  So, I flipped through to the section labeled "Head and Chest."  After all, the Chinese and American Indians have used herbs since ancient times to cure all sorts of illnesses.  However, the Chinese ended up building the Great Wall to keep people out and the American Indian was all but wiped out from influenza and other diseases that European settlers brought with them from their homelands so I will proceed with caution.

Listed for the common cold, in this book, were elderflower, peppermint and yarrow, all aromatic and used in a hot, hot tinctures or teas every couple of hours can help clear your head and dry up a runny nose.  Sore throats can benefit from echinacea, marigold and/or red sage...we all have these things hanging around the house in January, right?  Aside from the echinacea tea, I know I don't!  I've always been a Vicks NyQuil kind of a girl, but that didn't seem to quite do the trick this time.   Anyway, the book goes on to say that these herbs are good for persistent and infected sore throats.  They can be used as a tea, tincture or a gargle.I've always known the benefits of echinacea, as I said before, but never thought there were many marigolds out there that were ingestable and I'm not a big one for sage in any form but if it works, well maybe it could be worth a try.

Coughs are not only persistent and bothersome, to me, they can also be painful so anything that can quiet a cough would be a "good thing."  Ginger, honey, lemon, thyme and wild cherry were all listed along with marshmallow, comfry and coltsfoot as being very helpful to soothe coughs and calm the spasms that go along with them.  Obviously, those Luden Brothers have read this book before and really did their homework when they decided to go into the cough drop business.

Then, I found a section on earaches...the bain of my existence since I was a little girl.  Chamomile, hyssop, garlic, lavender, olive oil and that old faithful, echinacea, were listed to help with the pain and sometimes fever that can accompany an earache.  When I was little, my mother would buy olive oil from the pharmacy, heat it up on the stove and saturate a cotton ball with it and apply it to my inflamed ear.  I do remember that being quite soothing, however, the only olive oil I have now is what I use in culinary dishes, not the kind she bought in little blue bottles at Walgreens all those years ago.  So, I think I shall fore go trying that remedy for the time being as well.

And where did the stomach ache and nausea come from?  It's a head cold with a sinus infection, for heaven's sake...give me a break!  I certainly did not see this coming on and I certainly had a hard time grinning and bearing it, if for only a day or two.

Continuing on, I turned the page to read about headaches and migraines and there were listed lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, feverfew, skull cap and meadowsweet all used as strong infusions into herbal baths that can help you relax and and ease headache pain.  Will wonders never cease?  I actually have these on hand--fresh and dried.  Of course, a good, old-fashioned hot shower can also help the congestion that seemed have me in its unrelenting grip.

In the end, I ended up at the doctor...twice...begging to be put out of my misery where they handed me multiple prescriptions and told me to go home, drink plenty of fluids and rest.  Okay...I did that, been doing that and will continue to do that...Is it February, yet?

Be well!

1 comment:

  1. Cyndie, you can always ask Ping for the Chinese remedies. She probably has them on hand, thanks to her mom! Also, I can attest that a shot of whiskey will help kill those pesky throat germs that are causing havoc (my husband used to gargle cheap vodka with the same results). Granted, sipping herbal tea is much more pleasant, but when the college boys bring home the germs, we do what we have to do. :)
    Hope you feel better soon!