Autumn is here and winter is just around the corner, which means that cold and flu viruses are already in the air. To be even better prepared for the cold season, we’ve made a list of traditional home remedies that are quite popular among Romanians.
Have you ever felt like you don’t need to see a doctor for a common cold? There are plenty of alternative remedies for cold symptoms such as fever or sore throat, but the Romanians also have their favorite all-natural home remedies, most of them passed from generation to generation. Still frequently used in rural areas (but also still common among city inhabitants as well), these remedies involve the use of various ingredients, among them potatoes, onion, garlic or vinegar.
The onion and garlic play an important role in Romanian cuisine, but they are also used for beating the cold. Most Romanians believe that, if eaten, the garlic and onion can keep you safe from the cold virus and boost your immune system. But they can also be used in other forms to calm cold symptoms such as cough.
For example, the onion tea is considered an efficient folk remedy for cough or sore throat. Take a large onion and cut it in two or four and boil it in water. Once the onion softens, the tea is ready, but let it cool for a few minutes. Some also add nutshells to the tea, letting them boil together with the onion. Most like to sweeten the taste with a bit of honey but others prefer to drink it simple. The taste is rather strange and unpleasant but grandmothers say it works!
Garlic, in addition to being a top ingredient for boosting immunity, it also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and that is why some Romanians use it when they experience earaches (often caused by ear infections). And it’s quite simple: you just have to stick a clove of garlic in each ear and that should ease the pain.
Of course, the lemons, which are well-known sources of Vitamin C, are also common ingredients for natural cold remedies, and lemon tea (made only of water, lemon and sugar/honey) can be a good idea to help boost your immunity and get rid of that annoying cold faster. For sore throat, taking a spoon of lemon juice mixed with honey a few times a day can make you feel a lot better.
Another home remedy for sore throats is a mix of raw egg, sugar, and milk. Much tastier than other traditional remedies, this drink is also easy to make: put the yolk into a bowl and beat it with sugar, and then add some hot milk and whisk well. It’s one of the Romanian children’s favorite homemade medicines for a cold.
For fever, the socks soaked in vinegar are believed to make miracles. This is also simple: take a pair of wool socks, soak them in warm vinegar and put them on your feet. Keep them on for a few hours, preferably at night when you’re in bed, and you should feel much better the next morning. In some parts of rural Romania, people replace vinegar with tuica, a Romanian spirit made mainly from plums. Putting sliced potatoes or onion in your socks at night may also help.
In addition to hot teas with lemon, when they catch a cold, the Romanians also drink mulled tuica or wine. Some put sugar in the glass of hot tuica (a small glass) while for mulled wine they prefer cinnamon. Moreover, some believe that rubbing vinegar or tuica on your chest can help fight that annoying cough.
Some younger Romanians also kept from their grandparents the secret of potatoes used for common cold symptoms such as cough or sore throat. Some just cut thin slices of fresh potatoes, lay them inside a cotton towel and put it on their chest (for cough) or around their neck (for sore throat). Others boil the potatoes before using them this way, or mix grated potatoes with rubbing alcohol. Some Romanians believe that these potato wraps also work when you have a headache.
Hot polenta (mamaliga) in a towel is also believed to help with the cough or sore throat.
There are also a lot of herbs with calming effects that Romanians use to make infusions. Some of these infusions also help with the cold and have a hydrating effect on the body. The most common are Linden flowers, Camomile, Pine buds and Plantain herb.
Unrelated to cold remedies but quite common among Romanians, the cabbage is used to relieve swelling and pain. More precisely, cabbage leaves wrapped around swollen or painful joints can make things better.
Important: Although these natural remedies should work, as they stood the test of time, being passed from generation to generation for many years, seeing a doctor is highly recommended. Also, these remedies can cause allergic responses so pay much attention to the ingredients.