First of all, in Japan the usual thing is to stay shut up indoors and take cold medicine, but in Germany, if you go to the doctors when you have a slight cold, they usually recommend that you take herbal tea and rest. (Although it’s not OK to self-diagnose and neglect a cold, because a cold can lead to all sorts of disease…)
The doctors also say that breathing fresh air is important, so they recommend fully opening the windows to refresh the air, and taking an easy walk to boost your base metabolism, if you are going to do some exercise.
The prevailing approach in Europe is to recover by resting and promoting natural healing, not suppressing the cold with drugs.
For a cold, take herbal tea.
Erkältungstee (herbal tea for colds) alleviates inflammation in the throat and organs with its mixture of herbs like elder flowers (Holunderblüte), thyme (Thymian), and sage (Salbei), good for throat soreness. You add some honey, which is nice for your throat, and top it up with plenty of water several times a day.
For a cough, take onion extract (Zwiebelsalf).
Onion extract is an old traditional recipe.
You finely chop an onion, add some honey or rock candy, and gently heat it. After letting it stand a little while, you strain it, and you’re done. With the antibacterial action of onion, this extract is effective for the throat and for coughing, so you can take a teaspoon of it, or dilute it and take it as onion tea. In Japan you put honey with giant white radish or lemon, but in Germany you put it with onion. This gives me a sense of the different cultures.
For blocked nose, use Inhalieren (inhaling) and nasal spray.
You put salt and oil, like mint or eucalyptus, with really hot water in a washbowl, drape a towel over your head, and inhale the vapors. They also have flasks that only let the vapors out through a special opening. Gently inhaling the vapors through your nose eases your breathing and blocked nose.
People also cleanse with a nasal spray containing saline solution. Apparently, it can develop into a habit, so caution is required. This is recommended during the hay fever season and so on.
To warm up, use a footbath, hot water bottle, or Warmekissen.
Footbaths and hot water bottles are mainstream in Japan, but a German Warmekissen has cherry pips in it. When you warm them up in a microwave, they keep the heat for longer and warm up your body.
Taking a bath (Erkältungsbad).
In Japan you avoid taking a bath as much as possible until your condition improves, but in Germany, they say that using a bathwater additive called Erkältungsbad, which contains essential oils including eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol, warms your body and has an inhalation effect, so taking a bath relieves your cold, as long as you don’t get a chill.
German herbal spirit Klosterfrau Melissengeist
Here now is a recommended natural medicine made from 13 herbs and spices. It’s a lemon balm spirit containing 79 proof alcohol with “lemon balm, angelica, ginger, gentian, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom”, etc.
The oral dosage for adults is five to 10 ml diluted in at least 10 to 20 ml water three times a day (up to a maximum intake of 25 ml per day). They also recommend adding cube sugar and diluting it with hot water when you have a cold.
It also alleviates headache and pain in the stomach, heart, and nerves due to the stresses of daily life, not just colds, so when you use it externally and gently massage in a small amount where you have pain, like headache, stiff shoulders, low back pain, menstrual pain, and so on, the refreshing cool sensation on your skin and the sweet scent thoroughly relax your muscles.
So, I do hope that rather than going straight to the drugs to get over your colds this cold season, you try as much as possible to rely on your own natural healing power, and take honey with lemon, vitamin C, and so on.