Five cheap cold and flu remedies in your pantry

flu season
No need to resort to this, when you have things that will make you feel better just hanging out in your pantry. via Flickr user Edgar Antonio Villaseñor González

Well it’s that time of the year again. The first round of fall colds has already claimed victims as Brooklyn gears up for flu season. It won’t be long before you have to choose between standing on the subway or sitting next to that sniffling person who you know will manage to cough all over you. Now you can always go the preventative route with affordable flu shots at Rite Aide or Duane Reade, but you’ll inevitably wake up with a tickle in the back of your throat before Spring.  Instead of turning to overpriced meds (they only manage symptoms anyway), try these five home remedies.

Cayenne for body aches and congestion.

Cayenne won’t make you immortal, but it can take care of everything else. Capsicum (the spicy kick in peppers) can alleviate body pain and congestion. If the flu’s signature aches and pains have you down, mix one part cayenne with five parts warmed Vaseline and rub it in. If you can’t breathe, heat hot water with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and a spoonful of honey for a spicy tea. Your stuffy nose won’t stand a chance.

Ginger for nausea.

Nothing like a rolling stomach to top off the flu. Ginger has been proven to ease the symptoms of nausea, motion sickness, and even heartburn. Gingerol and shogaol are chemicals found in both fresh and dried ginger that sooth intestinal inflammation. You can drink ginger tea, nibble on a fresh slice, or suck on candied ginger. Plus it’s great to cook with.

Garlic to boost your immune system.

Eating raw garlic is not the most pleasant experience, but at least you’ll be able to taste something through all the snot. It might also help you get over your cold a little faster. There is evidence that allicin in garlic can both prevent and lessen the effects of colds. You can buy allicin tablets at health stores if you can’t get over the taste, but chewing on a raw clove works too and it might just make your nose run.

Warm saltwater for a sore throat.

Gargling with warm saltwater for a sore throat or a canker sore is hardly anything new. Salt has been used as an antibacterial since antiquity, and considering that it’s found in every kitchen, it’s an easy go-to when you feel sick. Gargle half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water to balance the pH in your mouth to ward off bacteria. It also draws out excess moisture clearing drainage and calming inflammation.

Hot toddy to keep up morale.

The hot toddy has a cult following who swear by its medicinal properties. The hot water, honey, and lemon ease sore throats, but what about the whiskey? Moderate drinking strengthens the immune system in the long run, and sipping a hot toddy when you’re already run down can have indirect benefits. The nightcap boosts your spirits and helps you fall asleep – good enough for us. Everyone has a different favorite way to make them, but my favorite goes: Mix together 1 cup hot water, a spoonful of honey, a lemon wedge, and 1 1/2 ounces of whiskey. You can also substitute hot water for tea.

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