Summer is almost over (so you should definitely make the most of it with this awesome foodie checklist, here) and September is coming, bringing with it a brand new academic year. You know what that means? New stationary, new people, new experiences… Oh, and freshers flu. Yep. That horrible plague-like affliction that descends upon college campuses across the world (Although according to savethestudent.org, it might be just a UK thing?) wiping out entire student bodies in a wave of fevers, colds and sniffley noses.
Fresher’s flu is one of those weird semi-psychological, semi-physical, all-sucky illnesses that is technically just a really crappy cold borne of too much mingling, stress and junk food.
The bad news? Unless you plan to stay in your room and be a hermit during the first month of university, there’s pretty much no way you’re going to escape it. Trust me, I tried. But don’t panic! As a gift, from a fresh-graduate to a fresh-faced fresher (or anybody else who may need it. Fresher’s flu doesn’t discriminate), I have scoured the internet to find you these 9 home remedies from around the world that have been tried and tested by generations of mothers and grandmothers.
In a pinch and can’t find a cutie to vapo-rub your chest? These suggestions might just do the trick.
1. Umeboshi (pickled plum) – Japan
That sore throat that you’re having? All you need is some burnt pickled plum and green tea. This traditional Japanese home remedy is supposed to warm you up, soothe your throat and it’ll even help you sweat out your fever to boot. Read more about this “samurai superfood” here.
2. Hot Rum and Peppermint – Scotland
People have been using strong alcohol to fight off a cold for ages. After doing a little digging, I found out that a combination of hot rum and peppermint (which was called a “hot rum and pep“) was a cold remedy that used to be taken by Scottish seamen when they were feeling out of it. Nothing like a warm mojito (and let’s face it, that’s basically what this is) to perk you up when you’re sick.
3. Pak Fah Yeow (White Flower Oil) – China
A medicated oil that is China’s answer to VapoRub, this clear substance is made up of wintergreen, camphor, menthol, eucalyptus and peppermint oils. This decongestant is widely used throughout South East Asia, and was actually first developed in my home country of Malaysia. Just like VapoRub, you apply it to your chest and back to free up those airways and unblock that stuffed nose.
4. Mustard Bath – England
You know how you feel all achy and kind of sore when you’re ill? Well, this traditional English home remedy might be able to help with that. Soaking in a hot mustard bath is supposed to draw toxins out through your pores and improve your circulation. At the very least…you wouldn’t have to go too far to garnish your bath-time hot dog. Learn hot to make a mustard bath soak, here.
5. Murunggakai leaves – India
You might know this better as the Moringa plant, a recent superfood that has hit the health food scene being hailed as “the new kale“. We have a plant back home, and my grandmother picks the fresh leaves and cooks them down into this totally yummy, coconut based soup called thanni saaru. Originating from India, and now commercially grown in Africa and parts of the USA, it’s chock full of vitamin A, C, D, and E that could give our immune system a good boost to stop a flu in it’s tracks. You’ll find it in health stores in dried or powdered form.
6. Tumeric – India
Growing up in an Indian household, turmeric played a big part in my life. We used it for cooking, for religious ceremonies and even for skin care (it’s got potent anti-bacterial properties that make it a great way to deal with acne). It’s a key ingredient in a drink I know as haldi doodh but you may recognize as “golden milk.” It’ll take care of your cold in no time and totally rival your favourite chai latte. You can read more about and learn to make it here.
7. Ginseng – China
Ginseng has been used for ages in traditional Chinese medicine, and has tonnes of health benefits. As of 2005, there’s been strong evidence that taking ginseng could reduce the number of colds you get a year. The root, commonly boiled and drunk as a tea can also be found in capsule form.
8. Ginger – Asia
Playing a huge part in Asian cooking, to me ginger is one of the most underappreciated foods out there. It’s amazing for upset stomachs and hangovers, and hosts a whole host of antiviral, antihistamic and decongesting properties that’ll take your Fresher’s flu OUT. Just put it in anything. Add it to a rice porridge, boil it into a tea, put it in any of your stir fries…just get it into your diet as many ways as possible and you’ll feel amazing in no time.
9. Garlic – Russia
Turns out downing freshly minced, raw garlic is how the Russians treat their colds. This treatment goes all the way back to World War II, where garlic was actually called Russian penicillin due to its use as a replacement for treating sick soldiers after the Russian government had run out of antibiotics. Louis Pasteur (you know, the guy who just woke up one morning and casually invented penicillin) was the first to describe the antibacterial effects of garlic. Your garlic breathe might not make you the most popular freshers hook-up option, but while the rest of them are hacking up a lung you’ll be ready, strong, and flu free.
So now you’ve got all these home remedies in the bag, you’re ready to take on the dreaded freshers flu of 2016. All that time you gain, not being sick?
Now you’re free to use it making some of the best memories of your adult life. No need to thank me. Just remember that I graduated with Biology and not Medicine, so don’t come hunting me down if you’re stuck with pickled plum, garlic breath and no relief.