The common cold, and its far more hostile cousin, the flu, do not discriminate. They don’t care that one has to rise before dawn to feed a barn of impatient animals, or that it is below freezing and the water buckets have turned to ice. They emerge just as a horse friend rolls into town for a week, they postpone meetings, and they clear the aisle at the tack shop as one sneezes through the replacement of a busted halter.

Equestrians are a resilient bunch, known to persevere when faced with adversity, but our enthusiasm can be tempered by a debilitating bug. Over the past week both halves of OR have been a bit under the weather, thus inviting recommendations from fellow riders about how to short-circuit symptoms and restore the usual spring in our step. Many of the antidotes shared with us are natural bug battlers and immune-boosters meant to be deployed as a preventative measure or upon the first signs of discomfort. They were music to our ears since, when at all possible, we prefer to promote our healing with essential oils, herbal stimulants, and plant-based remedies before surrendering to OTC meds.

We felt this was important enough to share with our readers this week—especially in light of the evolving threat of coronavirus— even if only as a helpful best-practices reminder to keep you healthy, strong, and in the saddle.*


As a liquid tincture, Elderberry is probably the most palatable of  extracts in folk medicine, as well as one of the most powerful, akin to armor for your cells. The compounds in Elderberry are shown to be effective during many stages of the the influenza virus, both blocking and reducing reproduction of the infection in host cells. Elderberry is most effective in syrup form, and many brands enhance its magic with added herbs and spices.

Oregano Oil

Oregano is a potent antioxidant that contains carvacrol, an active antimicrobial that gives the plant its aromatic characteristics. Studies have shown that oregano oil, which is made from the leaves and flowers of the wild variety (Origanum vulgare), also boasts antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine benefits, making this an all-around flu-fighter. It is easiest taken orally in the form of a softgel, though it can also be diluted in water or juice for drops under the tongue, or as a gargle for sore throats. For safeguarding household surfaces, adding oregano oil to all-natural soaps and detergents will also help fight bacteria.

Garlic Water

The idea of garlic as a beverage is something for which we had an aversion until we found ourselves experimenting in the spirit of this week’s OR, and in the best interest of bouncing back. Raw garlic is a superfood that many of us take for granted outside of cooking. It is a kidney flusher, cancer fighter, blood thinner, and includes all of the anti’s—fungal, bacterial, and inflammatory. We added two crushed cloves to hot water, let it steep, and then dropped in shaved ginger and fresh lemon juice. Not too shabby.

Sick Day Smoothie

Preparing a well-rounded meal seems nearly impossible while laid up with a cold, but it’s when we need it most. We’ve only had the energy to turn on the blender, and it has been an effort well spent, providing the necessary nourishment for recovery. The recipe is as follows: toss in everything you see in your fridge and pantry (carrots, celery, spinach, turmeric, ginger, fresh lemon juice, flax or pumpkin seeds, almonds, blueberries, and banana—we try to limit fruits for their sugar content). It might taste a bit random, but what it lacks in flavor it makes up for in vital nutrients!

DIY Face Steam

Cough and congestion can be alleviated by inhaling warm, herbal vapors using tools and ingredients from the kitchen. Rather than spending money on a commercial steamer, we heat water in a tea kettle, and pour it over a bowl of fresh eucalyptus, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, and anything else left in our little indoor winter garden that helps fight bacteria and clears our lungs. Bonus: It’s great for skin, too.

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