Wheezing, sneezing, sniffling, snorting, hacking, coughing; the not-so-cheery sounds of winter. The cold and flu season is here and if you haven’t been sick yet, but have stood in any line, handled money, grabbed a grocery cart or a doorknob or just glanced at a germ factory (aka a child), then run—don’t walk—to your nearest pharmacy…or pantry.
Many people swear by flu shots. I am not one of them. In fact, when a doctor asks if I am allergic to any medications, I tell him “only the injectable ones.” (Really, I do and he always pauses for a moment before he gets it and smiles)
Before taking all those truly expensive—and questionably effective—OTC meds, why not dig out your grandmother’s journal and look at some good ole home remedies. I’ll bet you have some of the ingredients on hand already. If nothing else, you’ll have a good laugh, which certainly will do you much good. Here are some “proven” cures.
- Place a mustard plaster (dry mustard, flour and water paste in a cloth) on a congested chest
- Tying a big red onion to the bedpost keeps the ones in the bed from having colds
- Simmer a clove of garlic in a cup of milk and add a pat of butter before drinking
- Eat a chocolate bar for a tickly throat (Yes!)
- Rub Vicks on your chest and feet
- Suck on a clove of garlic
- Tie a dirty sock around your neck when you go to bed if you have a sore throat
- Mix a drink of lemon, honey and fresh onion juice
- Stuff a moist wad of tobacco in an infected ear or blow tobacco smoke in it
If these don’t appeal to you, you can pore over some other remedies in The Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine, The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies or Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels. Please note: Homemade chicken soup is in a category all by itself and is not only delicious and effective but has the added benefit of showing that someone loved you enough to make it.
When all else fails, the hot toddy is a tried and true remedy. Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add a teaspoon of honey, a small (!!!) shot of whiskey or bourbon, and a squeeze of lemon. Then bundle up and sweat it out. Whatever you choose to do, I was told colds and flu are ”three days coming, three days with you and three days going.” You do the math. If your home remedy can reduce that time, then please, please, please share it. A-a-a-choo!