Wash you hands. Cover your mouth when you cough. Don’t share a glass. Eat your vegetables. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of liquids. Take your vitamins. Get some fresh air. Keep your hands away from your face.
The list goes on and on. These were the entreaties of my mom and Nana growing up. We would roll our eyes. Their wisdom is now bantered about with abandon by television newscasters, near and far. As if these were earth-shattering discoveries on how to avoid getting a cold or the flu.
More from Zester Daily:
The words came along with a long list of home remedies. Did you ever have a bathroom sink filled with hot, steaming water, to be told to hang your head over it? Once you were in position, a towel was tented over your head so you could breathe in all the steam to break up your congestion. What about that Vicks? My mom would take a finger full, put it in a tissue, fold up the tissue, and stick it under my pajama top.
Or, if while having a bout of the croup, you sat on the edge of the tub while steaming hot water poured out of the shower head to help open your airways. When I suffered from the croup, I was given a “cocktail,” most nights before bed. It was either a teaspoon of rye, 1 teaspoon of sugar and some water, or a 7 and 7, in child proportions, of course. Who knew that that nightly “cocktail” would prevent bouts of the croup? I think the “cocktails” relaxed me enough to sleep through the night. To this day, when I smell rye or whiskey, I think of that nightly cocktail.
Mom knows best. Through the ages, our ancestors understood how to avoid ailments or cure them with homemade concoctions. Many are similar across cultures, but I have learned there are some very interesting cures for what ails you.
Take Gogol-Mogol. It is an eastern European cure for a sore throat and laryngitis. There are many “stories” as to where the catchy name derived. I was told the name may have become popular from a famous Soviet children’s book written in the 1960s, Dr. Aybolit, which means Dr. Oh Hurts! I have also read that there was once a Russian singer named Gogol who lost his voice and the remedy restored his voice. Others say it was invented after World War I as a cheap, nutritious meal. Whatever the case, Gogol-Mogol is a go to remedy for many.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3 to 4 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
2 eggs yolks
2 tablespoons of sugar or 2 to 3 tablespoons of honey
1 cup milk
1. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar.
2. Heat the milk almost to a boil and remove from heat.
3. Slowly add the yolk and sugar mixture into the hot milk while vigorously whisking to prevent the eggs from cooking.
4. Serve in a mug and drink up.
I stumbled upon fire cider at a fall festival several years ago. A young couple was giving away samples, suggesting a daily dose would keep you healthy. One swig of it cleared my sinuses, and I felt like I was breathing fire. They sell it under the name Shire City Herbals. I have used it effectively to ward off a sore throat by taking a swig every few hours until the symptoms go away. Feel free to check out their offerings. I, of course, knew I could find the recipe and have found it in a few reliable places, most notably in one of Rosemary Gladstar’s book, “Herbs for Common Ailments.” Here’s Gladstar’s recipe:
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 to 4 minutes
Total time: 3 to 4 weeks
Yield: 1 pint
1/4 cup grated horseradish
1 onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 quart mason jar
1 quart apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey
1. Combine horseradish, onion, garlic and turmeric in a one-quart mason jar.
2. Heat the apple cider vinegar until it is warm, not hot. Pour into the mason jar and cover. Warming the cider hastens the process of drawing out the nutrients from the herbs.
3. Let stand for 3 to 4 weeks in a warm place. A sunny window would be perfect.
4. Strain and then add honey and a pinch or two of cayenne.
Sore Throat Elixir
And lest I forget my nana’s sore throat elixir! I don’t know what it is about old wives’ tales and concoctions, but many of them are useful and actually work. I, for one, will always go for a natural remedy as I think we are an over-prescribed, over-medicated society. I’ll stick to aspirin, chicken soup, and hot lemon and honey over NyQuil any day. For me, just one sip of hot lemon and honey starts the healing process and reminds me of my nana’s love. Perhaps it’s that combo that does the trick.
Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
1 to 2 cups of water
1. Place the lemon on a counter and roll it under the palm of your hand for 30 seconds to loosen the juice.
2. Cut the lemon into quarters, squeeze the juice into a small pan; add the quarters.
3. Add a cup or two of water, and bring to a boil.
4. Put a tablespoon or any amount of honey you like (to taste) in a mug.
5. Pour hot lemon juice through a strainer into mug, stir and let the soothing begin!
One last remedy was shared by a dear friend last winter. He swears by oregano oil. When he feels the first twinge of a sore throat coming on, he puts 2 drops under his tongue. It’s strong and actually quite vile. I can again attest to its effectiveness. I have used it twice and it warded off the flu or cold. But be warned it is a tall order to stomach, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Hold your nose, pray to your higher power and hope for the best!
Main photo: Fire Cider is sure to remedy what ails you. Credit: Carole Murko