Calgary’s most recent cold snap (remarkably, the first truly painful chill of this winter season) has unleashed upon our city a fresh batch of sore throats, stuffed noses and painful coughs. Whether you’re nearly over the weather again or still trying to halt the sickness from achieving its full wrath, sometimes Robitussin and positive thought just isn’t enough. Consider adding one these lesser-known treatments to your health redemption regimen.
Elder Flower Tea
One of the oldest recorded herbs cultivated by humans, the elder flower and elder berry have been used for nearly 4,000 years by cultures in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America to treat a wide array of illnesses. More than just an ancient remedy, Sambucus nigra (the plant’s raw extract) has been shown in several recent studies to relieve test subjects’ influenza A and B symptoms an average of four days earlier than subjects taking a placebo. Available at Tea Trader, 1228a 9 Ave. S.E., 403-264-0728
Boasting a rich composition that contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and phosphate, raw honey has been called “nature’s multivitamin” by health experts for its antioxidant powderkeg. Unlike the processed version, raw honey isn’t heated or pasteurized, leaving intact all the natural elements and enzymes (responsible for activating vitamins and minerals in the body’s system). When mixed with lemon juice or ginger, raw honey can be used to treat nausea and boost energy. Available at Sunnyside Market, 338 10 St. N.W., 403-270-7477
It’s mostly seen in the West as a non-surgical or non-pharmaceutical pain treatment, but traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also tout acupuncture as an effective immune-boosting procedure. Depending on which of the “six channels of sickness” the acupuncturist determines you are experiencing, specific areas are poked with hair-thin needles. Scientific studies have shown acupuncture speeds up the body’s production of natural killer cells, responsible for defending against the microorganisms that make us sick. Available at Kensington Physiotherapy & Acupuncture Clinic, 318 1167 Kensington Cres. N.W., 403-270-0053
Sitting in a steam room will temporarily slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and, of course, help your body attempt to sweat out its impurities by inducing a sort of mini-fever. Ancient Roman and Turkish civilizations made this ritual/practice an important part of their healthcare systems, and the stress-busting warmth of steam has remained a popular method for alleviating congestion, detoxify lymph glands and improving circulation. Available at Talisman Centre, 2225 MacLeod Tr. S., 403-233-8393
If you’re going to be hacking a cloud of toxic debris into the air surrounding your bed for the next few days, it may be a good idea to place around your quarantine a few plants with geranium flowers. These common “cranesbill” plants will help rid the air of dust and bacteria, and can serve as an endearing reminder of life’s beauty when the sickness has us seeing nothing but ugliness in the world. Available at Sunnyside Home & Garden, 3439 69 St. N.W., 403-288-3006
Image courtesy of sunnyUK.