I stood under a street lamp. High above me, the first stars were winking out playfully. Nothing sounded, nothing stirred, nothing sang. Snowflakes swirled down in a joyful dance glinting like diamond dust. I took a deep breath.

And then – I sneezed.

Along with the beauty of snow-glistened trees and heart warming festivities, winter also brings the onset of colds and flu. The sneeze confirmed what I had been suspecting for a few days – I wasn’t going to be spared. So I went back home, dug out a pair of woollen socks and a piece of paper with some herbal medicine recipes. Read on to learn more about tried-and-true herbal medicines for common winter ailments.

Four Thieves Vinegar

As many other herbal medicines, this one has a story. Long time ago, in medieval France, four men found a way to protect themselves from the Black Death. For a long time they robbed afflicted households and went unharmed. The vinegar might have protected them from the disease but it didn’t quite save their lives; they died at the hands of authority giving away this recipe.

The basis of Four Thieves Vinegar is always apple cider vinegar and raw garlic. The vinegar has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Garlic stimulates the immune system and increases white blood cell activity.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre cider vinegar
  • 8 Garlic cloves – crushed
  • 1 tbsp of each of these herbs – mint, lavender flowers

Method

Mix all of the ingredients and place in an earthenware container. Cover and leave for 8-10 days. Pour into a glass bottle and store in a dark cupboard.

This is a preventative medicine: drink a teaspoon of vinegar with hot water every day during winter period to protect yourself from colds and flu.

Grandma’s throat syrup

It’s yellowish. It has a strange consistency. And it smells. I still remember the pain of being tortured with this remedy throughout my childhood. When I was fifteen years old I promised myself never to take this ever again. But I overlooked one important thing – it actually helps.

Onions contain phytochemicals and vitamin C which help improve immunity. For centuries, they have been used to reduce inflammation and heal infections. Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients

  • Large chunk of Ginger – peeled and chopped
  • Sugar – enough to cover other ingredients
  • 2 medium-sized Onions – peeled and chopped

Method

Fill a glass jar by layering onion and ginger, cover with sugar. Leave to sit for a few hours until the sugar has absorbed enough to form a liquid – add more sugar after a couple of hours if required. Strain and retain the liquid. Store in a sealed, glass container.

The syrup helps to ease sore throat: take a tablespoon three times a day.

Tea tree oil

The story goes that tea tree oil is a gift from gods to an Aboriginal princess, Eelemani. She was travelling through the dangerous bushland of coastal New South Wales to her loved one. Alone and scared Eelemani called the gods and they answered giving her special seeds that were to be sown along the trails. The seeds shoot into beautiful trees that protected the princess on her journey. With time people came to learn of their magical properties – just as the trees had protected Eelemani from harm, the leaves were found to protect people against infection.

The tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s the most universal essential oil and has over 50 medicinal uses.

Among them are colds, flu and chest infections. Runny nose, cough and sore throat – it can help with all of these. Add a few drops of oil to a pan of hot water. When cooling breath in for a few minutes.

Do not take it internally!

Winter is a magical time of the year: time to reflect on the past and to dream about the future. Time for contemplation, for making plans and for hot chocolate. Beautiful time. And it’s easier to enjoy it without the annoyance of a runny nose and chesty cough. Take care yogis.

What keeps you unsneezy this time of year, yogis? Share in the comments!

pbr