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I am a lightweight when it comes to cold medicines. Over-the-counter decongestants make me feel as though someone slipped me a Mickey. A Mickey the size of a Frisbee.
There was one memorable day when I was at my first job, eager to impress and reluctant to call in sick. I went to work loaded up on cold meds. As I bumbled down the hallway I suddenly panicked, unable to remember if I was wearing pants. That's when a concerned coworker took my arm and said, "You're OK, your pants are on. But I'm giving you a ride home." Whew. Gnarly stuff.
So when I got my first cold of the season a few weeks ago, I heeded the advice of a nurse in my doctor's office: "Put cayenne pepper in everything," she said. Pepper, the thinking goes, gets your nose running -- and that helps clear up your congested sinuses. Get that bad juju out of your system! I sprinkled cayenne pepper in soup and in tea and into anything else I thought I could tolerate. It worked! The cayenne pepper got my motor going, so to speak, and the more I blew my nose, the faster that "blockhead" feeling went away.
A friend says she relieves her cold and flu symptoms by soaking in a hot bath with a few drops of eucalyptus oil added. (Sounds like a heavenly way to start breathing easy again, but I'm like a cat to water when I have a bad cold and I don't want to get my hair wet. The upshot of that is after three days of not washing my hair, the natural oils give it a glossy sheen not found in any bottle of conditioner.)
For many other friends, a nice, hot cup of tea with honey soothes a scratchy throat. Another friend pours boiling water into a bowl, drapes a dish towel over her head, and inhales the steam. To combat the dry skin that can crop up from excessive nose blowing, one friend dabs vitamin E oil on the outside her proboscis.
On a side note: This was the first cold I've had where I didn't blow through an entire box of tissues. Thinking green (while green around the gills), I dug into my collection of vintage handkerchiefs. Oh yes, they're cute – I have a '50s set of hankies with little poodles prancing about. But, dang it, those handkerchiefs were meant to be used, and I felt a lot better presoaking a batch of used hankies than I would have taking out trashcans full of crumbled-up tissues. (If you don't want to use hankies, use tissues made from 100% recycled paper.)
So as we breeze into sneezin' season, give some natural remedies a try. Do you have any natural cold remedies you'd like to share with the Nation?