Friday, November 30, 2007

Home Remedies

"I'm getting better...I'm nearly well!" Which is what I THOUGHT the "dead man" says in Scene 2 of The Holy Grail...

Turns out he didn't say the "nearly well" part and I'm just remembering that least according to the online scripts I could find. Oh well. This is what comes of having a whole herd of male relatives who quote from Monty Python all the gets jumbled up in one's head. Maybe "nearly well" is from the Parrot Sketch?

But I AM getting better, and so is Colin. And, even better, Tom and Natalie have not fallen prey to the cold yet. I think they are waiting for Sunday, so that Colin and I will have to go to church all by ourselves.

Mandolinartist (whose real name is easier to type!) mentioned in a comment that when she was sick as child her aunt would bring her Coke in little glass bottles. That got me thinking about home remedies and how they differ from family to family...and how they change as people marry and have children of their own. Here are the ones I could remember from my childhood and then the ones we use in our house now.

Growing up:

1. Chicken soup. This was for colds, bronchitis, flu, anything respiratory basically. Mom made her soup from a whole chicken with celery, carrots, garlic, and onion and LOTS of water. The healing properties were in the broth and we'd get it in a bowl with a smattering of veggies and a bit of chicken floating on it. I think sometimes she put rice in it, too, but not always.

2. Orange juice. Also for respiratory issues, but sometimes for post-stomach virus convalescence as well. Not so good for the latter, too much acid.

3. Cola syrup over crushed ice. THIS is what was good for the stomach. We'd get little sips of this when Mom thought we close to being done with the...uh...oral output...part of the production. I remember feeling there was hope that I would live when I'd see that little bottle of cola syrup. :) I don't know why we didn't have regular Coke or Pepsi; maybe because Mom never bought that kind of wicked thing!

4. Kaopectate. This was for the other output issues of the stomach variety. Nasty stuff that tastes like watered down clay with mint in it. I don't remember it working very well, either. Blechhh...

5. Vitamins. Of course. Especially chewable vitamin-C tablets, which when sucked on actually do make you feel you're doing something for a sore throat.

6. "Pep Up". This was more by way of a daily tonic than a remedy, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention it and make my parents look cruel. :) Mom read a bunch of books by Adele Davis, who was some sort of granola-filled organic guru in the 60s and 70s. Dear Adele recommended "Pep Up" which was a nasty, foul, from the pit of hell, drink made with milk and yogurt as its base. Not bad, eh? Except for the dolomite powder, nutritional yeast powder, other powdered vitamins, wheat germ and I-don't-know-what-all-else that were added to it. It was nasty, it was horrid, it was SO BAD I can still taste it if I think about it for long. Mom claimed it kept us healthier and made our hair shiny. I did have thicker hair back wasn't worth it.

7. A&D Ointment. This was our magic potion for owies. Other families had Mecurchrome , that stinging red stuff with iodine in it. But we had nice, soft A&D ointment. If you got a bad scrape Mom would clean it up, put A&D on it, and bandage you up. Worked wonders without the screaming pain of the red stuff.

In my house now:

1. WATER!! My kids will tell you that if they complain of any ailment, large or small, any ache or pain...the first thing I will say is "Are you drinking enough water? Go drink some more water!" Now, I live with three people and I'm not going to name any names on these ailments, but 2 people in this house pass out when they get dehydrated, 2 people get constipated from not drinking enough, and 2 people get never-ending coughs and won't drink to help lubricate their throats. Water is cheap and low in side-effects.

2. Chicken soup! Natalie even made some for us this week, what a wonderful daughter! Ours is made with very rich chicken broth (I freeze chicken broth from baked chicken and save it for soup), lots of garlic, white wine, lots of chicken, rice, parsley, celery, carrots, crushed red peppers...and I think Natalie put fresh thyme in hers. I like chicken soup with a lot of flavor to it, and Tom will consider it a meal if it has enough chicken and rice in it to be thick. We eat ours with LOTS of Town House crackers.

3. Hot tea. Wonderful stuff for sore throats, or just to warm up a chilled sickly person. Something in the tea (tannins?) seems to help heal up the throat, too.

4. Sudafed. Now we get into the realm of remedies completely missing in my childhood, the pharmaceuticals. Better living through chemistry. :) Sudafed, the GOOD kind, the kind you have to get by standing in line at the pharmacy like a criminal and showing your papers...Sudafed is the only thing that helps my sinus headaches. (Oh, I also make sure to DRINK MORE WATER!) I take it when I have a cold to help me breathe freely at night; I've been giving Colin a child-sized dose of it throughout this cold.

5. Robitussin DM. Oh wait, we had this as children. My favorite cough remedy. Tom prefers Delsym but it makes me dizzy. I'd rather just get up every 4 hours and take more Robitussin.

6. Neosporin triple-antibiotic cream. This is my version of the "magic owie healer". Clean the owie, spread on the Neosporin, pop a fluorescent bandaid on're good to go. Natalie might remember that her owie cream was fancy-schmancy organic Calendula Blossom cream from the natural foods coop. Natalie probably remembers eating more whole wheat bread than Colin does, too. I've lapsed in my old age...

I don't think we have any particular "sicky" foods in our family, other than the chicken soup. I've heard of families where they eat scrambled eggs only when sick, or milk toast, or cinnamon toast with tea. I guess I do follow my mother's plan on this...basically, if you're well enough to keep anything down you eat what everyone else is eating.

So, long post today...must be getting my brain cells back!


Uncle Jim said...

Btw, I asked Mom recently about "pep-up" - the yeast component is "Torula yeast." Google it to complete the picture of abject horror... although this link is probably the most appropriate for a comment on your blog.

I'm a big fan of the triple antibiotic ointment with a dab o' topical painkiller in it. Kills the sting immediately, which allows you to kind of shove it into the wound a bit more forcefully. :)

andrea said...

Ouch...Dad, your ointment stings!

mandolinartist said...

Well.... I kind of went through this "don't-put-my-name-on-the-internet" thing, and I used mandolinartist as a screen name when in college to talk to all my friends. While the internet can be a strange place, like the real world, I still prefer MANDOLINARTIST because... I like it, but on some ocassions, I have to put my whole name, email address, phone, schedule, and other information that could tell anyone and everyone where I am most days M-F. GOOD OLE' SCHOOL! GOTTA LOVE CRAZY MANDOLINARTISTTEACHERS!

Martha said...


Now I'm totally reading YOUR blog :)

By the way? We had that cola syrup when I was a kid, too. It was the best! I wonder if that's still around?

Thanks for stopping by!


paru's_circle said...

yes.. water is the best, over here it would have to be the bottled one or put through the kenwood purifier..otherwise the high limestone content gives gallstones;-)

Anonymous said...

your blog is delightful! I love it!

(not anonymous .. just not a blogger member!)


mandolinartist said...

Wow... I'm shocked that home remedies draws so much attention! My great aunt and grandmother would be delighted!

Laura said...

I'm a big fan of Matzoh ball soup or miso soup when I feel sick. Dumpling soup is pretty good....and the best thing about these soups is that I can ask my husband to pick them up on the way home.

I'm also a big fan of gatorade when I'm sick--cold, flu, stomach bug, etc. gatorade helps a lot (just remember to choose a clear flavor if you have a vomiting stomach bug)

Saline nasal spray is great too--saline nasal irrigation is even better

And of couse gargling with salt water is great.

Oh, and if you have a sty or think you might be getting pink eye, wet a tea bag (regular old lipton, salada, etc), squeeze the water out, and place it over your eye for about 10 minutes. The tannic acid helps!

I'm with you on the town house crackers, I love those!

mandolinartist said...

Oh know.... a typo! The teacher put draws instead of the grammatically correct "draw."