DIY Cough & Cold Syrup
The common cold
- More than 200 viruses that affect the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, airways). 50% of the time it's due to a virus called "rhinovirus".
- When we contract the rhinovirus or other cold viruses, we develop a localized immune response called "inflammation" in the infected area. With colds, we'll see sneezing, a runny nose, congestion, cough and throat pain. You may also experience headaches, watery eyes, ear pain and general symptoms like loss of appetite, low energy and irritability.
- You typically won't see a high grade fever with common colds.
- The common cold is usually self-limiting, meaning that it will resolve within 7-11 days.
- Most medical doctors will recommend rest, hydration and decongestants to help relieve symptoms as the infection runs it's course.
Allium cepa - Common Onion bulb
Chances are that if your child is sick, you're feeling under the weather too. It can be hard to make a run to the store to get medicine when you're caring for a child and feeling run down and sleep deprived yourself. This is why I love practicing "kitchen medicine". Kitchen medicine utilizes ingredients that we often find in our kitchen to help support our immune systems in fighting common non-lifethreatening illnesses.
Onions have been used traditionally to treat all sorts of ailments ranging from cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal conditions, and especially for common colds. (Sidenote: How cool is it that many herbal recipes such as the one below have been used since medieval times?!)
Onions contain "constituents" aka active ingredients such as tannins, terpenoids, alkaloids and flavinoids including quercitin that have immune boosting and anti-inflammatory effects. By boosting our immune system we are helping our white blood cells combat and develop immunity against viruses we are exposed to. By reducing inflammation, we are helping to ameliorate the symptoms of the infection, including the throat pain, runny nose, headache etc.
Onions contain sulfur compounds including cysteine that are considered "mucolytic" meaning that they break down mucus in our bodies. This is especially helpful for when you or your babies nose is stuffed up making it hard for them to eat or sleep. This is also helpful for when you're noticing post nasal drip throat pain, or your ears and sinuses are congested leading to pain.
Onions contain vitamin C and folic acid. When our body is fighting an infection, our white blood cells create "free radicals" when they use antimicrobial substances like hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals and reduce the damage to our bodies tissues as our immune system fight the infection. This means that the more free radicals we quench, the less tired and uncomfortable we will feel. Folic acid is needed to make new white blood cells, which our bodies must do anytime we are fighting an infection. Some of the white blood cells go towards helping to destroy the current infection, while other white blood cells help to create memory against the infection - providing us with long term immunity.
I love this recipe because it utilizes the medicinal properties of onions while being palatable and easy to give little ones. This is especially helpful when babies are under a year and you cant use honey to make herbal medicines more palatable.
CAUTION: Do not take if you're on blood thinning medications, have a bleeding disorder or for high fevers. If your child is under 2 months or displaying symptoms of a high fever or severe discomfort seek medical care immediately. This blog is purely for educational purposes and not meant to replace diagnostic evaluation or treatments by qualified health professionals.`
DIY Onion Syrup
- Chop up an onion
Place one slice at the bottom of the jar, layer with a small amount of sugar
- Add another slide on top, layer with a small amount of sugar
- Continue until the entire onion is inside the jar and covered in a thin layer of sugar
- Cover and let sit for 1-2 hours, the onion should begin to "sweat"
- After sitting for 3-4 hours you can refrigerate and use within 1-2 days.
- You can take 1/4-1/2 a teaspoon and every 2-3 hours
- For infants you can use a syringe to make it easier to dispense (see picture)