It’s no sneezing matter Dos and don’ts

Runny nose? Try ginger extract or lemon juice mixed with honey and warm water or chicken soup

Runny nose? Try ginger extract or lemon juice mixed with honey and warm water or chicken soup  

The common cold has the maximum number of home remedies. Geeta Padmanabhanlists a few of them here

To have a cold is to bond. A week-long cold promotes connectivity, makes you life member of the Society of Seasonal Sneezers. Walk into the office watery-eyed, holding wads of tissues (are you still on hankeys?) to your nose. A couple of quick, richsneezes, and you discover 99.99 per cent of the staff — the 0.01 is you — is in the wrong profession. Medicos, they all are, each with a can’t-fail cure for the common cold. Compassionate ones, going by their readiness to dispense free advice.

This upper respiratory tract infection elicits the maximum number of home-based remedies, and that’s no sneezing matter. Some are revered family recipes centuries old. Some came across the border during Partition. Some were concocted by harassed moms, clever cousins, resourceful aunts. Even the local Naattu Marundu (herb) seller has his own fiery brew to battle the virus. They all work. People are willing to swear by it.

Vitamin-C rich foods

But first, the general practitioner’s prescription. “500-mg of Vitamin C,” he says, from a safe distance. “The risk of contracting colds decreases by 66 per cent with a daily intake of the miracle C,” he informs. Not a lot of use for one with a cascading nose, but better luck next time. Eat Vitamin-C rich foods and if you are susceptible, consider the supplement. Keep thinking of the placebo effect!

There is a pill for every sniffle — painkiller, head de-congester, cough-stopper, nose de-blocker — all at a price. Local aspirins, Coldarins and formula-44s are as good (or bad) as Airborne, Echinacea (herbal supplement), Cold-Eeze (zinc lozenge) and Oscillococcinum (homeopathy). But we’re here to open family chests for those very special concoctions.

Chicken soup

The first is the chicken soup. Blow your nose, and an unwary bird becomes the victim of flu. “Hot fluids in general help keep nasal passages moist, thin out your mucus, prevent dehydration and soothe a sore throat,” is the Rx. What, no chicken soup for your veggie soul? Squeeze a lemon into a glass of warm water and honey, you’ve shrunk the virus. Lemon juice reduces the duration of the illness. For variety, boil four crushed cloves of garlic (onion optional) in a cup of water. Drink warm. The oil in this vegetable helps open up respiratory passages. Reach out for a rhizome of ginger. With jaggery, honey or tea, hot ginger water is a balm for sinuses. A broth with cloves and green chillies blows the cold out.

From common to garden remedies. Lady’s fingers can treat itchy throats and persistent dry coughs. Boil finger pieces for a drink. Yucky? Just inhale the steam. Bitter gourd root paste mixed with tulsi juice and honey taken before bedtime should help. Strep germs have a sweet tooth.

Patented or not, turmeric has long been our protector. As infants we inhaled smoke from a burning turmeric bulb. As adults we smoke the powder in a hot ladle and mix it with warm milk for a nightcap. We boil turmeric and salt in water and drip the solution into clogged nostrils. Inhaling apple cider vinegar vapour is an option. For more exotica, drink a spoon of olive oil morning and night. Grape seed extract in orange juice for drinking, pineapple or lemon juice for gargling. Waste of fruit? Eat the pineapple and the lemons. And gargle with salt water.

Surround yourself with the scents of lavender, pine, peppermint and eucalyptus oils. That’s aromatherapy! For hydrotherapy, fill a tub with hot water, pour a bottle of 3 per cent Hydrogen Peroxide. Add salt. Soak for an hour or so, and you’ll be marinated well to fry in the office. When the virus raises its head, dribble a few drops of HP in each ear. Seems to work!

Pepper water

If chemicals scare you, settle for the good old milagu thanni. Make rasam with diluted tamarind water and pepper and curry leaf powders fried in ghee. Take direct or with rice. If you’re nursing a chest cold, go for the good old vapour rub. Dab vicks on the chest, cover with newspaper and a thick sheet. You may smell a bit, but you’ll breathe easy in the morning. For cold comfort, apply an ice-packed towel to the chest and head. The viruses might be shocked into leaving. How about a mild sunbath, fresh air, deep breathing, brisk walk and sound sleep?

But sleep only after this happy hour treatment. When the germs are within coughing distance, pick a couple of feel-good movies. Stretch on the sofa. A large mug of hot mint tea in hand, drown in the music, story and cinematography. No toxin is strong enough to resist the magic of the silver screen.



Live on vitamin C-rich food.

Make seeds and nuts side dishes.

Drink water.


Solid food if you’re running temperature.

Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and starchy foods.

Other people, therefore office.

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