As I approached my neighborhood (downtown Copenhagen), all I could think of was a nice, warm shower and a thick, dry sweater. I got closer to home, and started hearing sirens. I biked on, and started seeing police cars. As I reached the street I was supposed to turn on, I was stopped by a young officer, who told me the whole area had been blocked because of some bomb threat, and that no one could enter. By that time, water was dripping from my hair, my jacket and jeans were soaking wet, and I was so cold I was almost shaking. I chatted with the police guy for a while, watching as more police kept entering the area and curious people gathered behind the blocking fences like sheep, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on. Finally, the young man consulted some senior officer, who thankfully knew a detour I could take to get home.
By that time, I probably looked (and felt!) like this dog, whom I met on my way:
I got home, jumped in the warm shower, and changed into dry clothes and thick, warm socks. I made a big cup of tea, and felt good again. The next morning, I woke up with a sore throat. I shook it off, and went on with my things. The sore throat kept bugging me all weekend, but I ignored it, went biking in the rain again (though with a raincoat this time!), and didn't slow down. Come Monday morning, and my nose started running. I have suffered from some allergy during the last few days (probably due to some dust from a renovation project in an apartment one floor below ours - somehow I'm very sensitive to that kind of stuff), so I still ignored the warning signs. I took an antihistamine, and expected the symptoms to disappear. Nothing happened - on the contrary, my throat started aching even more. I realized I was dealing with a real cold.
I know getting wet or cold doesn't make you ill in itself; but it certainly seems to make you more prone to catching a cold. Ignoring the symptoms and moving on with your busy schedule may only make it easier for the virus to spread in your body. I had ignored all the warning sings, and was now left with a rapidly developing cold. Since it was too late to slow down and relax to fight off the first symptoms, I brought out my most powerful anti-cold weapons:
1. Echinacea - the purple coneflower. Echinacea was first used by the American Indians, and research has shown that it can prevent or shorten the common cold. I tend to be a little sceptical towards any claims like this: but this really seems to work, specially if taken before the first "real" symtoms begin. I usually take this for some days before a long flight, and every few hours if I feel like I'm getting a cold. It doesn't seem to have any effect on the flu (real influenza), although it probably won't do any harm, either!
2. Black currant juice. Often called superfruit number one, black currants are high in antioxidants and have more vitamin C than any other fruit. My parents have several currant bushes in their garden, and my dad is a real expert at making steamed juice, using just berries and no added sugar. Drinking warm black currant juice has been a known cold remedy in Northern and Central Europe for generations; and although I'm not sure how much scientific proof there is of its cold-fighting properties, at least it really seems to soothe sore throat, coughing, and the general misery of having a cold. Not least, it tastes amazing and brings back so many childhood memories. Today I opened my last bottle: I'll really have to try and bring some more with me, the next time I go home!
3. Tea with honey and lemon. I'm not sure if either tea or honey have been proven to have any real effect on the cold, but drinking hot chamomile tea is very comforting. Honey has been proven to help with cough just as much as over the counter cough medicine - and at least, it tastes a lot better. Lemon is acidic and high in vitamin C, and I love the taste of it in my tea. Under normal circumstances, I never sweeten my tea; but when I suffer from a sore throat, I love to add a teaspoon or so of honey into my tea - or just mix it in a cup of warm water. Sugar is actually said to worsen the condition - but I still think it feels good. This 'cocktail' (acidic lemon and sweet honey) is real poison to your teeth, however, so I don't sip it slowly, like I would plain tea - and as soon as I finish my cup, I try to chew on some xylitol to neutralize the damage. ;) I still haven't found a satisfactory vegan alternative to honey, which is why I don't call myself 'vegan'. I eat honey very, very rarely - but sometimes I really want a spoonful of it.
After doing all this, I put on my woolen socks, took my study books, and buried myself under several blankets on the couch. More napping than studying might have ensued...
This morning, I woke up feeling absolutely miserable; but after more tea and a warm shower, I feel much better. I'm just going to take it easy today, and hopefully by tomorrow, the only thing reminding me of the cold is a voice like a crow's (for some reason, this happens to me whenever I catch a cold - it takes forever to get my normal voice back). Previously, I also used to take some vitamin C pills whenever a cold struck; but honestly, I didn't notice much difference, so these days I just stick to vitamin C in the natural form of black currant juice and other berries. :) Now I just wish someone made me some warm, spicy vegetable soup...
What are your favorite remedies to prevent or treat a cold?