It's that time of year again when coughs and colds are a continuous theme, particularly with the little ones. I always find it a frustrating time given that children aren't really able to take much in the way of medicine. Cough syrups for young children are simply glycerol and sucrose (sugared water) and I personally haven't found an over the counter cure for a cold that is any more effective that than a good old fashioned natural remedy.
I've always believed in the power of nature to alleviate illnesses. Our first port of call in the event of a cough or cold is lots of vitamin packed fruit and veg. More often than not, the best medicine for winter bugs is sleep and plenty of fluids, but we also swear by the following remedies to make us feel better:
A 2010 study found that pineapple was highly effective at dissolving mucus in the lungs of tuberculous sufferers. www.derpharmachemica.com/pharma-chemica/use-of-secondary-metabolite-in-tuberculosis-a-review.pdf. Although this one study alone cannot prove that pineapple is effective at relieving coughs, it is interesting research. There is a wealth of information about pineapple and coughs online. Pineapple is high in vitamin C as well as bromelain, which is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory - particularly in relation to noses and sinuses!
Medically proven or not, freshly blended pineapple juice with a teaspoon of honey (or agave nectar or maple syrup for vegans) always seems to make a positive difference when coughs are rife in our household.
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, eucalyptus oil is effective at reducing the amount of viruses and bacteria in the air. https://naha.org/index.php/naha-blog/staying-healthy-using-essential-oils-rich-in-cineole. We use eucalyptus oil regularly in the winter months by adding a few drops to a bowl of steaming hot water. If left for around half an hour in the bedroom before lights out with the door closed, it is a brilliant natural alternative to a plastic plug in.
Honey and Lemon
There is something lovely about hot honey and lemon, which is probably why most cold and flu remedies are flavoured with these ingredients. There is not much evidence to support that honey and lemon can actually cure a cold, but there's no doubt that honey and lemon infused warm water is soothing and comforting. The placebo effect is a powerful thing! If nothing else, a teaspoon of honey (vegans could opt for agave nectar or maple syrup) coats the throat in the event of a tickly cough and for me is much more preferable than an over the counter sugar-infused cough syrup. (Note: honey is not suitable for under ones due to the risk of botulism.)
These three remedies are my top 3 go to solutions to help tackle coughs and colds during flu season. They are natural, easy to source and best of all, mostly plastic-free! They are also affordable and suitable for the whole family (except for honey is not to be given to under ones) and almost always help us to feel better when combined with rest, sleep and a healthy injection of vegetables.