Fall officially kicked off September 22 and wouldn’t you know it: I woke up with a sore throat and the sniffles. Thanks, autumn!
Everybody has a favorite folk remedy, right? At the first sign of a cold, my mom swears by drinking a glass of orange juice and eating one green onion. So random, right? But she never, ever gets sick.
Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I attack it by dosing myself with echinacea and tons of water and I’m telling you, I haven’t had a cold since before Jake deployed more than a year and a half ago. I buy all my echinacea tinctures from local apothecary Soothing Herbals.
I’m aware of that 2010 study showing that echinacea is no more effective than a placebo at curing colds, but study shmudy! If it is the placebo effect at work, rather than the herb (or OJ and green onions!), that’s even more intriguing since it suggests the extent to which attitudes, expectations and beliefs play a role in combatting ailments and illnesses. A fascinating article in The New Yorker last year explored how the placebo effect might be on its way to becoming its own branch of medicine (I couldn’t find the entire article online, but you can check out the abstract here).
My favorite cold combatting concoction: Combine 1-2 droppers of echinacea to a glass. Add 1/4 cup fresh juice and top with seltzer from my beloved Sodastream (greatest invention ever, these things). Drink 3-4 glasses a day until symptoms go away, which usually happens in a day or so.
The trick, I’ve found, is to dose myself at the first inkling of a cold. If I wait until the cold takes hold, it’s too late; I’m sick and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
What about you? What are your favorite folk remedies for curing the common cold? And do you think it’s the remedy itself or the placebo effect?