By Sue Rodgers
DESPITE the glorious weather of recent weeks, few of us get through winter without a cold or sniffle of some kind.
The good news is that there are a huge variety of herbal antibiotics that can help you nip any cold in the bud.
The king of anti-cold remedies is garlic, which originated in Asia and has been used by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians alike.
One of the most medically scrutinised plants, garlic has been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
At the same time, its close cousin in the plant world, the onion is also a powerful remedy against flu (see remedy below) and although not native to the Mediterranean, one of the best immunity boosting herbs is echinacea, which is considered one of the most effective herbs in Western medicine.
Its complex chemistry has immune-stimulating effects, that inhibit viruses. Nowadays, echinacea can be found in most chemists and even supermarkets. A course of tablets should be taken to gain the most benefit.
If you are unlucky and succumb to bronchitis (always see a doctor for serious complaints) a useful herb that is found alongside many tracks here in Andalucia is horehound.
Horehound when mixed with marshmallow leaves in a mug of boiling water and left to infuse , will help soothe an irritating cough.
Here are two other flu remedies you can make from your garden or the nearby hills:
Chop an onion and a clove of garlic, put in a pan with the juice of one lemon, a dessert spoon of honey and a mug of water and simmer gently in a covered pan for 45 mins. Drink the mixture as hot as you can, add some cayenne pepper if you are feeling particularly chilly and you will feel toasty to your toes!
Wise old sage
A winter favourite of mine and one that can be found in most herb racks, if not in the garden, is a tea made from sage, rosemary and thyme. Put a teaspoon each of the dried herb or a small handful each of fresh herbs into a teapot, pour over boiling water and infuse for 10 minutes, strain and drink hot. Honey can be added for taste as well as extra anti-bacterial protection.
Here’s another, for sore, tickly throats. Fifty percent honey (any) and fifty percent cider vinegar. Shake together and gargle with it. Not a lovely taste but really effective and really cheap.