If you have a dry cold, drink peppermint tea and it will almost immediately ease your symptoms. And if your friends are scared of catching it from you, or you wish to keep your family free from infection, tell them to rub a little peppermint oil under the nose and round the throat, and to take a small dose as well, it is an antiseptic and a strong preventative of disease.
If you have access to an elderberry tree, its berries and flowers will quickly help to dispel your discomfort. Store elderflowers after drying them out in the sun, and you can make a healing beverage at any time by pouring boiling water over them and adding a little sugar. The Romanies claim that it puts paid to a head cold if taken immediately the first signs are noticed. This infusion is also soothing and will help to give a good night`s sleep. It will also calm the nerves.
If you stew barberry berries with a little water until they are soft, then squeeze them through a strainer, pressing out all the juice with a wooden spoon and add three pints of water to one of juice, you will have an excellent drink which, if taken hot at night, will induce the perspiration that drives out a cold
If you are not sure whether it`s a cold or flu coming on, don`t hesitate, infuse 1 oz of fresh or dried balm with a pint of boiling water and take it very hot, last thing at night. It will drive out a cold and arrest an attack of influenza – but you should take it in good time when you feel the first symptoms coming.
Note: as to exactly which balm plant this refers to is unclear to me, so I am sharing this definition of balm from Britannica.com. Be sure to research any herb before you use it.
Balm, any of several aromatic herbs of the mint family, grown for their fragrant leaves. The best-known balm plant is Melissa officinalis, also called balm gentle or lemon balm, which is cultivated in temperate climates and used as a scent in perfumery, as a flavouring in such foods as salads, soups, sauces, and stuffings, and as a flavouring in liqueurs, wine, and fruit drinks. Other common mint balms include bastard balm (Melittis melissophyllum); bee balm, or bergamot (Monarda didyma); richweed, or horse balm (Collinsonia canadensis); field balm, or creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea); lesser calamint, or field balm (Clinopodium nepeta); and Molucca balm, or bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis). The use of balm in wine drinks and as a diaphoretic (induces heavy sweating) in medicinal teas can be traced back to ancient Greek and Asian cultures.
If you have a hard cough, beat the white of an egg to a froth, then add a tablespoonful each of vinegar and sugar. Drink this at bedtime, and the cough will not trouble you during the night.
Another old Romany recipe to soothe any cough is made with licorice root, coltsfoot and lemon. Simmer 1 oz of licorice root in 3 pints of water till it is reduced to 1 pint. Put 1 oz of coltsfoot and a sliced lemon into a jug and add the decoction. Stir well, sweeten with honey, allow to get cold, then drink as required.
If you have the hacking cough of a heavy smoker this remedy will disguise your weakness. Put two ounces of sunflower seeds into a saucepan with a quart of water, and an inch or so of whole ginger. Simmer until reduced to a pint and a half. Add sugar or honey to taste. When cold, strain. A tablespoon of whisky will help the drink to stay fresh; if it is not added, it should be made fresh every two or three days. This is an excellent decoction to relieve bronchitis or a hacking cough.