Monday, March 4, 2024

Abuelas’ recommended natural cold and flu remedies: 4 tried and tested solutions

My mom was a hippy, of sorts. The moment I felt a tinge of flu, out came the echinacea. I would beg for something I considered “normal,” like Benadryl or Triaminic, because it worked fast and that’s what my friends too and once in a while, she caved and begrudgingly gave me a small cup of the sugary red syrup. While it usually suppressed the symptoms, it mostly left me drowsy and unhealed. 

The echinacea, much to my childhood chagrin, didn’t.

Decades later, I am now officially a clone of my mother, offering concoctions of boiled ginger or crushed herbs to friends who would much rather down a Tylenol for their ailments. In Mexico, however, I’ve met more of “my own kind” than ever before, and am now comfortably surrounded by new friends who opt for traditional remedies over pharmacy visits at the first sign of illness. 

This prompted me to investigate. What alternative remedies are most popular in Mexico? After interviewing four locals (and one nutritionist), I’ve compiled a list of the most common traditional cures recommended by Mexico’s top medicinal expert — the all-knowing abuela. If you’re feeling sniffly and you want to combat that incoming cold the natural way, this article is for you. 

All the essentials can be found in your local market. Whenever possible, buy organic to avoid unnecessary pesticides that could counteract the desired health benefits. 

So grab your shopping bag and some pesos and embark on your journey toward natural healing, the Mexican way!

What ingredients do I need? Ginger, honey, garlic, lime.

What does it do? Clears a cold.

How do I take it? As a tea, bring chopped ginger and a few garlic cloves to a boil. Leave the flame on high until the flavor starts to seep out. Turn off the stove, allow the water to settle, and add generous amounts of honey and fresh-squeezed lime. Drink the mixture several times a day.

What are the traditional health benefits? Ginger eases nausea, boosts the immune system, and works as an anti-inflammatory. Garlic, especially in raw form, is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Honey, also an antibacterial, is considered a cough reliever and an excellent source of antioxidants.

Recipe courtesy of Pao’s mother and Michell’s abuela, Mexico City born-and-raised 

What ingredients do I need? Tequila.

What does it do? Sweats illness out.

How do I take it? Heat the tequila in the microwave until it’s hot but still drinkable and, well, drink it!

What are the traditional health benefits? Tequila, or more specifically, agave, is said to kill bad bacteria.

Recipe courtesy of Lu’s abuela, Mexico City born-and-raised

What ingredients do I need? Filtered water, salt, baking soda.

What does it do? Clears a runny nose.

How do I take it? As a nasal rinse. Dissolve salt and baking soda in hot water. Avoid tap water, as it may be home to various bacteria. Allow water to cool to room temperature and snort it up your nose. If that feels intense, invest in a nasal rinse bottle.

What are the traditional health benefits? This mixture will flush out extra mucus and allergens in the nasal cavity. Baking soda has antifungal properties and reduces inflammation. Salt thins the mucus and moisturizes nasal passages.

Recipe courtesy of Lu’s mother, Mexico City born-and-raised

What ingredients do I need? Honey and lime.

What does it do? Heals a sore throat.

How do I take it? Swallow a spoonful of honey with several drops of lime juice.

What are the traditional health benefits? Honey’s antibacterial and nutritional perks are enhanced by immune-boosting Vitamin C levels and inflammation-reducing antioxidants found in fresh lime juice.

Recipe courtesy of Melina’s abuela, Veracruz born-and-raised

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or medical advice. The writer and Mexico News Daily assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content on this site. Individuals should always consult with qualified professionals regarding the use or any other substance for medical purposes, as well as consider their jurisdiction’s applicable laws and regulations.

Bethany Platanella is a travel planner and lifestyle writer based in Mexico City. She lives for the dopamine hit that comes directly after booking a plane ticket, exploring local markets, practicing yoga and munching on fresh tortillas. Sign up to receive her Sunday Love Letters to your inbox, peruse her blog, or follow her on Instagram.


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