Lemon and ginger are strong cold remedies in themselves; together they form a powerful one-two punch. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which helps support the immune system. Lemon juice's anti-inflammatory qualities soothe sore throats and irritated membranes; it also has an antiseptic action that helps directly fight off the cold virus. Ginger helps stimulate perspiration, which cleanses the system and brings down the body temperature. Like lemon, ginger also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger also acts as a cough suppressant.
To make a cold-fighting ginger-lemon infusion, follow this recipe from the home remedy section of Midnight Snacks. Coarsely chop one 3-in. piece of fresh ginger, peel and all. Combine in a bowl or cup with 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 2 tbsp. honey, and 2 cups of boiling water. Stir to combine, then cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Strain. You may drink this infusion hot or cold.
Variation with Cinnamon
A tasty variation of this cold remedy adds cinnamon to the mix. Cinnamon acts as an antiseptic to help kill off the cold virus in your body. It also helps soothe sore throats and, like ginger, promotes sweating. Add 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon to the recipe above.
Variation with Garlic
This version is not as tasty, but it's just as effective. Add a crushed or chopped clove of garlic to the mix just before covering with water; strain after steeping for 20 minutes. The garlic provides a general immune system boost and also has a possible antiviral action against the cold bug itself.
Variation with Cayenne
Another variation to try: Add a pinch of cayenne to the mix before steeping, either alone or in combination with cinnamon as above. Or, if you prefer, add a couple drops of Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce after steeping and just before drinking. Cayenne relieves the pain of sore throats and also helps thin mucus and thus reduce congestion; it's also a good all-around immune system booster.
- "Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine"; Andrew Chevalier; 2000
- "Midnight Snacks"; Michael J. Rosen and Sharon Reiss; 2002
- Mayo Clinic: Cold Remedies
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.