I was shoveling snow last week, and came down with a nasty cough. After trying to live with it for several days, I decided that enough was enough. So I reached into my refrigerator, grabbed a jar of mustard, and went to town. That’s right—if you think of mustard as mainly a way to zip up the taste of ballpark ‘dogs, you’re in for a surprise. It turns out that this brash yellow condiment has all sorts of healing powers, including:

Those little packets of hot mustard that accompany Chinese takeout can come in handy when you have a cough because they liquefy mucus and will stop your barking.

Stuffy nose
When your nose and head are clogged to the max, spread 1/2 teaspoon of mustard or horseradish on three or four thin slices of ginger or garlic. By the time you’re done eating, your congestion will be gone!

Chest congestion
An old-fashioned mustard poultice can ease a tight chest. Just add a few drops of water to a little dry mustard to create a thin paste, then apply it to your chest. Cover it with a layer of flannel and a heating pad set on low. Lift a corner of the cloth every 5 minutes to check for redness, and don’t use the poultice for longer than a total of 15 minutes.

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