Heal Thyself

It took sixteen days but I’ve finally beaten down this pesky cold! The symptoms had evolved over time and in its last days it’d moved from my throat and chest into my ears and sinuses. “The horror!” Anyhow, I thought I would share some of the remedies that (usually) help me avoid and recover from yucky colds. I have two main approaches and then a few extra suggestions. There is no cure for the common cold, but you can help alleviate the symptoms and speed up the healing process if you take proper care of yourself!


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have come across this term for a decoction I’ve been relying on for years and that many of my friends swear by as well. I originally published the recipe over on the Nightwood website (it’s also printed in our tour zine in the ‘health’ section) and I share it here with you now:

…Adapted from a couple of different recipes, including a good one in the book “Raw Vegetable Flesh” . This is good for curing a cold in a coupla days or for preventing an on-coming cold.
Put all of this in a pot:

  • Fill a pot with six cups of cold water (filtered wouldn’t hurt).
  • Grab 1 washed lemon, cut it into quarters, then squeeze the juice into the pot. Throw in the rinds/squeezed out bits in after it.
  • Slice up two peeled garlic cloves and toss ‘em in.
  • Cut up some fresh ginger for good measure. Two healthy slices should do’er. Or cut up a whole finger for extra spicy healing.
  • Add cayenne pepper if you’d like. Like three good shakes.

Boil together for 5 minutes and then strain. Serve with honey to taste, or none at all. Drink 2 to 3 cups a day. It’s good to heat the stuff up before drinking it.


This approach to defeating an on-coming cold is particularly suited to road trips and touring- no need for a stove! Ingest both of these according to package instructions and follow up with copious amounts of water.

Other cold remedies:

  • Ingesting whole, raw garlic gloves (like a couple) a day.
  • Taking zinc. OK, I’ve never done this but many of my peeps have.
  • Get a bunch of rest. Seriously, anytime you have a free moment and you feel the slightest bit tired, take a nap, allow yourself to sleep in, go to bed early…you get the idea.
  • Drink water and herbal tea like they’re going out of style, but not coffee and caffinated tea and alcohol, which can dehydrate you. The exception to this, in my books, are hot toddies, as the whiskey seems to help open up the sinuses and I personally like to imagine it disinfecting my insides…plus there’s all the warmness and vitamin C filled lemons in there too.
  • Soup is good idea, I especially like kimchi soup for it’s pickled, spicy goodness. I would avoid creamy or dairy-based soups as they can thicken mucous or something.
  • 90s films like Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Reading gardening books and thinking about seed starting

Note: I am not a medical professional and only seek to share some of my personal experiences. For medical information, give your local CLSC (in Quebec) a call by dialing 8-1-1 and nurse will help answer your questions.


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