As we enter a new season, now is the perfect time to boost and support our immune system and give our bodies the best chance at defending itself against some of those troublesome change-of-season bugs, and dare I mention, the dreaded cold and flu season that is fast approaching?

While prevention is the best defence, what do we do when symptoms such as a sore throat, cough or that tickly feeling at the back of the throat gets us?

Over-the-counter medications are often what people turn to as a quick fix, but they simply suppress the symptoms. What if you could take something natural, without the negative side effects, like drowsiness, that could actually aid your body in naturally fighting the bacteria or virus, shorten the duration, ease the symptoms whilst supporting and boosting your immune system?

Taking quick action against any cold symptoms can really help to reduce the severity of your cold or even completely eliminate the virus or bacteria. 

When you feel the first signs of a cold, try these 5 Essential Pantry Ingredients to Support Your Health This Change Of Season.

No. 1 – SAGE

Sage (Salvia officinalis), a plant in the mint family is an excellent herb to make a tea with and is an old-age herbal remedy for sore throats.

Sage has antibacterial, antiseptic, carminative and astringent properties, making this soothing brew an excellent choice for when any coughs, colds, sore throats or nasal congestion arrive uninvited. In fact, sage is often referred to as the mouth and throat plant, so that’s pretty self-explanatory hey?

Simply use the fresh leaves, or buy sage tea in loose or tea bag form. To make the tea, steep 2 tsp dried sage (or 1 tbsp fresh), or 1 teabag in a cup of just boiled water for roughly 10-15 minutes. Inhale the steam, gargle the tea a little if you like before swallowing, and enjoy your herbal infusion.


No. 2 – THYME

Thyme is also part of the mint family and has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Thyme is great for respiratory infections and coughs.

Thyme Tea: Infuse dried/fresh or teabags as stated above.

Both Thyme and Sage tea are lung strengtheners and help to treat respiratory tract problems. You can use both thyme and sage alone or they can be used together
Both thyme and sage work well when taken as a tea, herbal tincture, steam inhalation or infused honey. Another option is to add thyme tea to a small spray bottle and mist the back of your throat.

Optional: Add a squeeze of lemon and/or honey to your brew for additional benefits. Lemon juice squeezed into your sage tea may also help remove the bitterness.

No. 3 – SALT

Salt has been used for treating sore throats and stuffed noses for hundreds of years, and for good reason – it works!

If you’re suffering from a sore throat, try a salt gargle. Gargling salt can help to cleanse the bacteria from the throat, reduce inflammation and moisten a sore throat.

Simply dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm water and repeat this roughly four times throughout the day. Another option is to dissolve 2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan pink salt in half a cup of warm water and gargle several times, spitting out the water in between each gargle until there is none remaining. Do not drink the salt water.

For further relief, especially if you’re experiencing a tickle in your throat, try adding an astringent to your salt-gargle mixture. Raspberry leaves and sage tea work really well, as does a tea that contains tannins which helps to tighten the membranes.

For stuffed noses, try using a simple nasal spray like Otosan Nasal Spray which contains sea water from Brittany, essential oils from organically grown plants and is enriched with plant extracts. Alternatively, you could try using a Neti pot. These are nasal irrigation devices that use saltwater or saline solution to moisten nasal passages and clean out mucus. Ask in store for details on ordering one.

No. 4 – HONEY OR HERBAL SYRUP

Honey has powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal, antibiotic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and antiviral properties, making it especially effective at treating colds, throat infections, sore throats, flu and of course, acting as a prevention against all of those listed. Local, raw or manuka honey is your best bet and please note that it should not be given to children under age 1.
See my previous blog on manuka honey here.

Herbal syrups are also fantastic as a preventative and treatment forcolds/coughs/sore throats and flu. Plus they make herbs taste so much better!

You can make them using ingredients from your own pantry, such as this lemon, honey and thyme syrup, this elderberry syrup, or pop into nourish or on our online store and purchase ready-made ones.

Pukka Elderberry syrupComvita Mullein Syrup or Comvita Manuka honey syrup are great options. The latter contains manuka honey combined with propolis and soothing expectorant herbs, including thyme, liquorice, wild cherry and peppermint to support the immune system and assist with the symptoms flu, cough, cold and/or respiratory conditions.

No. 5 – FIRE CIDER

Fire Cider is a popular herbal folk remedy made from a combination of apple cider vinegar that has been infused with herbs such as garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, horseradish, and hot peppers; but there are heaps of other herbs that can be thrown in for added benefits or flavour.
Because this is a folk preparation, the ingredients can change from year to year depending on when you make it. I wrote a blog on Fire Cider here, so check it out to find out the how and why’s you should make it.

Ingredients I recommend to include are:

Ginger – Excellent for treating symptoms associated with colds/flu. Has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. (Ginger also works amazingly as a tea: add 2- 3 slices of ginger per cup of hot water).

Garlic – anti-viral, antibiotic, and antiseptic.

Onion – Excellent for the respiratory system and great for coughs.

Cayenne powder – Cayenne works both as a preventative and treatment against a cold or flu. Cayenne may even help shorten the duration of a cold or flu – yes please!
Cayenne pepper boasts anti-microbial, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, and expectorant properties.

Lemon – another traditional remedy against colds and flu’s, and one that we all know about. Lemons are notoriously high in vitamin C, and are excellent to help build resistance to colds and flu, as well as speeding up the healing/recovery process should you be sick.

And of course, don’t forget to up your intake of immune supporting foods when you’re battling a cold or flu. Think vitamin C rich berries, bell peppers, kiwi fruits, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts; beta-carotene loaded carrots, squashes and sweet potatoes; sinus opening chilli peppers, mustard and horseradish and cold and flu warriors like onion, garlic and ginger. Drink plenty of water and rest up.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me via our Facebook page!

– Emily
Instagram – @nourishireland

*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any med

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