Sore throats and coughs are often mentioned in one (labouring) breath. Usually, the one follows the other like night does day. For the sake of clarity, here we look at them separately.
- The usual cause of a sore throat is a virus or bacterium. But throat irritation from smoking, dry heat, postnasal drip (where a runny nose drips down the back of your throat, especially when asleep), or an allergic reaction can also cause soreness. A more unusual cause is acid reflux, when strong stomach acids rise back up into your throat while you're asleep. To prevent this, raise the bedhead on wooden blocks or put a couple of phone books under the top feet of the bed.
- Soreness brought on by viruses (like those causing colds or flu) usually develops gradually, with little or no fever. On the other hand, a bacterial infection such as strep throat (from streptococcus) often comes on suddenly, accompanied by swollen glands and fever.
- In general, it's best to let nature run its course and not suppress a cough, which is only doing the job of clearing lungs and airways of foreign substances. A wet cough during a respiratory infection gets rid of mucus. And the mucus is there to fight pathogens and keep tissues from drying out. Only in case of a dry cough, caused by throat irritation, can it be beneficial to suppress this.
- To build up your immune system, eat the following.
Protein: seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, unsalted nuts, seeds.
Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects you from infections by keeping skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. From liver, kale, spinach, colourful veg (carrots!), apricots, pumpkin, paprika powder, butter, full milk.
Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies and boosts immunity. From fresh fruit, veg, and potatoes.
Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, and neutralizes free radicals. From whole grains, nuts, unrefined vegetable oils, leafy greens.
Zinc: from liver, red meat, poultry, (shell!)fish, milk, whole grains, beans, nuts.
Other nutrients are also involved, so try, ideally, to get these vitamins and minerals in the combinations in which they occur naturally: from whole, mostly fresh, foods.
And don't forget to add mushrooms, (proper organic) yoghurt, ginger, honey, black pepper and spices, which all in different ways will keep you safe from invasion. 
- During the cold-and-flu season, wash your hands often and make an effort to keep them away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Place a bowl of water on your radiator each night. Adding moisture to the air will help keep it from drying out and prevent the lining of your throat from becoming too dry.
- If you smoke, quit. Cigarette smoke is extremely irritating to the lining of the throat.
- Breathe through your nose rather than your mouth. It's a natural way to humidify the air you breathe.
ONCE YOU HAVE IT
Otherwise you can choose from all sorts of home remedies. For instance:
- To relieve a sore throat, gargle with a 1% seasalt solution. This moistens, disinfects and regenerates the mucous membrane, loosens bacteria and viruses. Repeat several times each day. 
- Garlic contains many healing properties, including antiviral and antibacterial agents. If you cook with garlic, it's best to wait five minutes after cutting or squeezing it, and then putting it in the soup, stew or whatever you use it in. After that, don't heat for longer than 15 minutes. 
Eating it raw is even better, for instance in a spoonful of honey. Best not eat it on an empty stomach though.
- Honey has long been used as a sore-throat remedy. It has antibacterial properties and reduces swelling and discomfort. Add 2–3 tsp to a cup of hot water or herbtea.
- Hot lemon with honey can relieve pain. Combine the juice of half a lemon with hot water and add 2 teaspoons of honey. You can add a tablespoon of brandy or whisky, too.
- Cut an onion, put in a cup, soak with honey, cover the cup and leave for one hour. Swallow 1 spoon of the honey every few hours.
- Mix 1 tsp of cider vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, juice of 1/4 lemon, and 1 tsp of honey. Add 1 cup of hot water, stir. Drink up to 4 cups a day. Or for a slightly different recipe, see http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/11/23/natural-sore-throat-cough-remedy/.
- According to folk tradition, you can cure a sore throat by taking 3 tblsp each of honey, lemon juice and red/white vinegar, 3 x daily for 3 days.
- Steam inhalation
- Drink more
- Spicy chicken soup;
- Liquorice - especially the wholefood-shop type - helps. And is nice!
1) the common cold. To guard against this, our immune system increases mucous secretion, which gives you a runny nose: the excess fluid and mucus cause coughing.
3) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Unexplained coughs in the mornings; night-time coughs; or a cough which is aggravated after eating a heavy meal, can all be caused by GERD. 
4) chronic cough - a cough lasting more than 8 weeks - is usually caused by 'post nasal drip'. which comes from inflammation in the nasal passage (rhinitis) and/or sinusitis. See 
5) whooping cough (pertussis) is a serious upper respiratory infection which can even be fatal. Initial symptoms are the same as those of a common cold – runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, low-grade fever. See 
Fast and effective: saltwater gargle. Salt acts as a mild antiseptic and also draws water out of mucous membranes in the throat, which helps to clear phlegm. Dissolve 1/2 tsp of (pref sea-) salt in a glass of warm water: use the warmest you can safely tolerate. Gargle, spit out. Repeat every hour.
You can use onions to make a cough syrup: chop onions into small pieces and extract the juice. Mix one tsp of juice with one tsp of honey and leave for about five hours. Take twice daily. 
For a spicier gargle, add chillies so it works like capsaicin and also has antiviral properties. Don't swallow, as it may irritate your stomach.
A warm gargle made from sage tea will temporarily relieve the pain. Sage is astringent: it soothes irritated tissues and reduces swelling.
See also www.blissplan.com/wellness/natural-remedies-for-cough-relief/. And every whole food shops will have plenty of herbal remedies which don't have the side effects of 'normal' medicine.
Plenty of rest, I'm afraid, is always indicated for any of this stuff. Good luck!
Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (and stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane, cavolo nero.
Fish: megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see www.gametoeat.co.uk/
And don't forget to pick up those lovely chestnuts.
Sow broad beans and peas. You can still try sow American landcress, Chinese leaves, winter lettuce and corn salad. Plant rhubarb sets, autumn onion sets, spring cabbage. And garlic: it likes sun, and woodash.
Give brassica's attention before the winter. Firm soil around stems, mulch with rotted manure, maybe support with canes. Pick off yellowing leaves.
As ground becomes vacant, dig it over and spread manure. Leave roughly dug in large clumps and the worms will break them up.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken), both for protection and to get them out more easily.
SIMPLE SICKBED CHICKEN SOUP
Put everything into the pot with about 3-4l water. Simmer until done. Debone the chicken, put into the fridge!
Cook brussels sprouts with some crumbled chestnuts, and then mix with butter, crispy bacon, some garlic, nutmeg, finely chopped rosemary and pepper.
WEST COUNTRY CIDER MUSSELS, 4 as a starter, 2 as a feast
1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded, 1-2 finely shredded leeks, or 1 finely sliced onion, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 50g butter, 1 tsp thyme, (1½ tsp cider vinegar), 280ml real cider (medium is best; or use dry plus a splash of apple juice), (2 tblsp double cream), sea salt, pepper.
Saute leek/onion and garlic in butter. Cover and sweat for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until soft but not coloured. Raise heat, throw in thyme. When its scent hits you, add (vinegar and) cider, then mussels, salt and pepper. Give quick stir and a shake, then cook, covered, for 3–4 mins, shaking pan a few times. When all the mussels are open (discard any that remain closed), finish with cream and serve with good bread and more cider (in a glass, this time).
SPICY MARROW with MUSHROOMS
1 small marrow, 250g chopped mushrooms, 80ml butter, 1 chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 80ml plain yoghurt, 2 chopped tomatoes, salt, 1tsp curry powder, 1tblsp chopped coriander leaves or some ground coriander seeds.Grind into paste: 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1" fresh ginger.
Peel marrow, take out pips. Cook in some salted boiling water for 5 mins. Drain, chop in 2cm pieces. Heat butter, fry onion, mushrooms and bay until golden. Add cumin and paste and fry for 10 more mins. Add yoghurt, tomato, salt and marrow, stir well. Cover tightly and cook on low heat for 15 mins. Serve hot, sprinkled with coriander.
APPLE-ROASTED CHICKEN for 6.
1 chicken cut into pieces, 120ml apple cider, 3 cooking apples, rosemary, sage, 1 1/2 tsp sea salt, 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
Cut the apples up, cook in the cider till soft. Preheat oven to 185°C. Arrange chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary and sage. Place in the oven and roast for 15 mins. Baste the chicken with cider mix. Roast for another 15 mins. Baste again with the cooking juices and roast for 15 more mins. Let rest for 5 mins before serving. Very good with oven-roasted squash and onions.
500g fresh spinach or 600g frozen, 200g cream cheese, 120ml melted butter, 240ml seasoned bread crumbs, (paprika).
(Thaw spinach and) press to remove water. Combine spinach, cream cheese, and half the melted butter. Spoon into dish. Sprinkle with crumbs (and paprika), drizzle with remaining butter. Bake at 180°C for 25 mins. Very nice with potatoes and squash which are just cooked together.
LAMB NECK STEW
2 lamb necks sliced into 4 (your butcher will do this), plain flour, salt and pepper, 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks leaves included, rosemary.
Roughly chop all the veg. Coat necks in seasoned flour. Heat oil and butter. When it starts to sizzle, add a few lamb slices - don't overcrowd the pan! Once both sides are brown, remove and do the same with the rest of the slices. Set the meat aside. Add onions, carrots, celery and rosemary to the pan. Let soften but not colour before putting the lamb back in. Cover with water and stew, on very low fire, for an hour or until it falls from bone. If you can let it cool overnight, this will enrich the flavour. Reheat. Put meat into serving bowls along with veg and broth. Serve with steamed potatoes.
SPICED APPLE and BEETROOT CAKE
300g grated cooked beet, 300g diced cooking apples, 100g cream cheese, 185g self-raising flour; 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 200g brown sugar; 185g melted and cooled butter, 3 eggs, honey, softened butter.
Sift flour, spices, sugar. Whisk eggs and butter, add grated beet. Add to dry ingredients, stir in gently. Add apple, stir again. Grease cake tin, pour in the mix. Bake at 180° for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool. Mix cream cheese, softened butter, honey and vanilla extract or something like that. Smear on, decorate with apple slices if you like.
NEXT MONTH: DRINK - DRANK .... DRUNK?
See also: http://www.karenhurd.com/pages/healthtopics/specifichealthconcerns/ht-shc-coldsandupperrespiratoryflu.html
 From http://www.readersdigest.co.uk/health/winter-health/sore-throats/how-prevent-sore-throa
 More at www.quantumbalancing.com/news/sea_salt.htmhttp://gerd.net/natural-cures-for-gerd
 From www.naturalremediescenter.com/3352/natural-remedies-onion-for-common-cold-flu-and-cough/