Of Herbs & Hairdryers – Winter Survival Guide Pt 1

Do you live in a place with no or practically non-existent heating and drafty single-glazed windows? Do you live in a squat? Do you have problems fighting colds off? Are you putting off going to bed at the thought of cold pyjamas? Here are a few suggestions from the past 10 years… feel free to add things from your experience.

Cold pyjamas: provided you have electricity, point hair-dryer at them for a few seconds before putting them on. Or put them in the oven for a bit if you haven’t got a hairdryer. A friend of mine puts them into her microwave!

Cold house: sit at desk or in the living room with your feet in a bucket full of warm water or saltwater. Wear fingerless gloves. Drink lots of tea & herbal tea. Wear thermal underwear if you have. Hot water with squash, hot lemon, hot chocolate… Get a teapot & warmer. The teapot warmer and pot will give off extra heat! Put candles on, open the oven door, invite friends. Humans radiate body heat! You could also substitute cold alcohol for mulled wine and hot fruit punch. Don’t eat big meals – eat small things in smaller intervals – this will keep up your body heat. Put hairdryer on occasionally if it gets too bad, but not for too long 😉 Hug a gigantic cuddly toy or fake fur cushion.

Cold bed: use hairdryer method or put a hot water bottle (or grain cushion) in beforehand. Friends of mine donated an electric blanket to me some years ago, which is really helping a lot! Still need to wear a hat or hoodie though!

Cracked and drafty windows: tape the cracks and get some large bubble wrap which gives a nice stained glass effect as well as insulation! Some other people seem to have done it as well and have posted some pictures!

No hot water in bathroom: go jogging before showering or use local swimming pool if it’s near and not too expensive. If it’s too dire, put the kettle on and mix water in basin.

How to get rid of a cold quickly: when you notice a cold approaching, crush some fresh garlic, put it into olive oil and drink it down with some salt and lemon juice. Alternatively, put crushed garlic in oil on a piece of bread, eat the bread and drink it down with lemon juice (or lemon, ginger and honey – try to get honey that is as little processed as possible). Get lots and lots of sleep! Another important thing when having a cold: cut out all dairy products. They worsen congestion and inflammation as far as I can tell.
Do steam inhalations with a towel over a bowl of hot salty water. Add herbs such as thyme – or oil mixtures such as Olbas to it, if it does not irritate your lungs too much. Make your own nose spray with salt water. Drink lots of water and herbal teas during the day. Take the occasional hot bath putting salt and drops of herbal oils into it.

Other suggestions: a colleague of mine used to chew bits of ginger – but that’s quite painful I find, but you might want to give it a go. Some people like pain 😉
Another colleague recommended boiling onions with water and sugar – then drink it. It was a horrid experience – the stuff was disgusting and made my eyes water from the inside and did not help at all. But might work for some people…

Throat hurts: gargle with (and drink) sage tea.

For a chesty cough: I have two different herbal teas that I mix from herbs I get at Baldwin’s, Elephant & Castle (they also sell the herbs online). The teas usually work well and are cheaper than buying cough medicine (and they last longer).

The first mixture: mix coltsfoot & lungwort (and maybe some thyme). Brew with hot water (leave for 10 mins) and drink with or without honey.

The second mixture: thyme, bitter fennel, plantain herb, cowslip flowers.
This mixture is especially powerful and will make you cough a lot, but clears everything in the process.

If things feel really bad, there is one last thing that I do before subjecting myself to my useless doctor (he never examines me and either just gives me paracetamol or some outdated antibiotic that never works), a German herbal remedy called Gelomyrtol forte. You can get it in online pharmacies and even Amazon.com (!), and it is based on myrtle. A little on the expensive side, but has got rid of everything so far!

A friend of mine also uses a ‘natural antibiotic’ called umckaloabo which seems to be based on some sort of South African geranium. Got rid of her chronic sinusitis. Unfortunately, I cannot take it as I’m allergic to alcohol.


2 responses to “Of Herbs & Hairdryers – Winter Survival Guide Pt 1

  1. I totally go for hot water bottles & tea 🙂

    _However_ since I have recently met a few people who were too stingy (or too poor) to properly heat their flats a word of warning: Beware of mould! Humans give off a lot of humidity and if your flat isn’t properly heated & ventilated (the hotter the air the more humidity it can hold), mould grows very quickly. I found lots of mould behind furniture in an unheated corridor in my 120-year-old Berlin flat when I moved out. So: watch out! Leave spaces between furniture & walls, and if you can’t or don’t want to heat, open windows frequently.

  2. I just got a cheap pair of ugg-boots-like slippers from Lidl. Haven’t had cold feet all day – hooray! So I recommend a gigantic pair of fake-furry goodness 😉

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