Category Archives: Kitchen Pharmacy

Liquid relief from the common cold

Last winter a drill rig chef made me a tea that drove away the quite bad cold I was suffering from. Close working and living conditions on a drill site means that illness needs to be knocked on the head fast – and this tea does the trick. Today I left work early with a sore throat, snuffly nose and high temperature, so I whipped up a batch of the drilling rig tea. The first cup numbed my sore throat and the second cup numbed my lips and palette. By the third cup my snuffly nose was clearing out and I generally felt a little better. This is not a gentile Sunday afternoon tea (it has a flavor that kills sensitive taste buds), but after a couple of sips you won’t be able to taste it anymore and your sore aching head will thank you.

Drilling Rig Tea – for relief from the common cold

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Juice and rind of 5 lemons
10 cm piece of ginger root
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1-2 Tbsp honey (active manuka is best)
6 C water

Slice the ginger root (leave the skin on). Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler and slice up the rind. Juice the lemons. Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and let steep for a further 5 minutes or more.

Strain the tea into a mug and  drink hot. I drink the first mug straight to make the most of the numbing properties of the cloves. Each mug thereafter I mix 1:1 with boiling water both to reheat the tea and to ensure I am consuming as much fluid as possible.

For many years I have drank a milder and more soothing than relieving version of this tea which I picked up from a flatmate who had traveled extensively in India. She said that when you get a cold in India there is always someone’s mum on hand with a cup of ginger, lemon and honey tea. Poor boiling water into a mug containing a large teaspoon of honey, a heaped teaspoon of fresh grated ginger root and the juice of one or two lemons. This tea will sooth a sore throat and, like all hot drinks, will help lift derbies off a heavy chest. It does not, however, have the strong antiseptic, numbing and expectorant properties of the drilling rig tea.

Kitchen Pharmacy: A Book of Healing Remedies for Everyone’
R. Elliot and C De Paoli (1991)

Cloves (Eugenia caryophillata)

The dried, unopened flower buds of a tropical tree, cloves have a pungent, sweet, astringent flavor and are digestive and aromatic. […] Cloves are a powerful antiseptic, capable of inhibiting viruses and fungi. This quality, combined with their warming, toning nature, makes them particularly useful for colds and flu. Used during the winter months, cloves can be a good preventive, they are helpful in the initial, ‘shivery’ stages of a cold or cough, good for clearing phlegm and blocked sinuses. Cloves are also and effective expectorant, helpful for bronchitis and coughs, and for clearing mucus from the respiratory system. Throughout the ages cloves have been known as a good remedy for gum and tooth infections where a powerful antiseptic action is required.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is a bulbous root with an aromatic, hot, slightly sweet flavor, and, when fresh, a definite citrus note which is lacking in the dried variety. […] Ginger is hot, it warms the stomach, […] improves the circulation of the blood, clears the lungs, and cures colds and flu. […] It is extremely effective for colds and flu where there is shivering and a feeling of chilliness, it warms the body and promotes sweating. […] Note: laboratory research in China has shown that ginger can increase blood pressure, so it should not be used where there is hypertension or where their is excessive heat, inflammation and dryness of the system. Like aniseed, ginger should always be taken in moderation.

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