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What to Do when You’re Down With the Sickness

One of the more prominent illnesses I have been prone to this past year is an ear-induced cold, accompanied with terrible post-nasal drip, occasional fever, and the rare whooping cough. I don’t think you need me to tell you that having a cold’s a terrible thing. You feel like crap the entire time, and you have a hard time sleeping, and a hard time getting up in the morning. In other words, you just can’t win with the colds.

This is a recurring thing that no amount of decongestants have helped at all (although I haven’t really tried using expectorants and mucolytics yet). But there have been remedies, both pharmaceutical and homemade, that have helped me through the months of 2013.

1. Chili Pepper

Bird's Eye Chili

Ah, the lovely chili pepper. Siling labuyo, otherwise known as the bird’s-eye chili, is a great source of vitamin C, and the capsaicin contents will decongest your nose faster than any over the counter decongestant will. Plus there’s the additional heat boost involved! Go to your fresh foods storage, find the smallest, hottest chili there is, and chomp it down. Keep a glass of milk handy, though, just in case.

2. Tea

green tea

Okay, I know that tea is going to flush out the water in your body, since it’s a diuretic and all, but it’s a toss-up between tea and coffee. I love coffee way too much, but when I’m down with the sickness, green tea or mint tea are the way to go.

I make tea the way they do in India – I fill up a kettle with water, put it on the stove, and drop the tea bag in, and let the whole mix boil. This can make enough tea for five people using an ordinary Lipton tea bag, plus all the flavors are released into the water. This is especially great for mint tea.

3. Steam

steaming kettle

Not the online game store. I didn’t think this would make its way to my list back in the day, but I tried this several times over the course of 2013, and while it isn’t a long-term solution for the colds, it’s great for unclogging your nose. Get a kettle, put it on the stove, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour it into a basin, place yourself on top of the basin, and inhale the steam.

Some folks like to drape a towel over their head to make sure all the steam goes to their face, but I find that I don’t really need to bother with that. Just a little bit of steam goes a long way, baby.

4. Chicken soup (or chicken broth)

chicken soup

I don’t really put a lot of faith on this remedy, since I still think it’s a placebo. But science(!) has gone on to show that chicken soup – or the chicken broth – actually DOES slow down mucous production. If you’ve got a head filled with something that feels like glue, then drinking some chicken broth would go a long way in lessening the snot going around the passageways of your ears, eyes, nose, and throat.

On the plus side, chicken soup is always a great home staple. Mix it with rice, vegetables, noodles, or just slurp it plain, and you’ve got one happy tummy.

5. Salabat


Ginger isn’t something I really like. It tastes way too powerful for just a simple root. But it’s great for the throat, and is a better solution to sore throat than a throat lozenge.

Salabat is ginger in tea form – so this is somewhat better than raw ginger, in my opinion. The tea has the same properties of ginger and of tea, in that the warm liquid is great for sore throats (a staple of colds), and, being a warm liquid, is comforting to hold in a cup. Wrap yourself in a blanket with a cup of salabat, and all you need is a good book for the night.


Ok, so don’t get me wrong – if a doctor gives you decongestants and other whatnot medicines, then take them as prescribed by your physician. But these home remedies are great for when you’re sick and tired of taking the meds, or if you’re too lazy to go to the doctor (like I am).


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