Natural cold remedies that REALLY work

The Good Life Letter

Sunday 13th November  2011

  • Even cavemen used their grannies natural cold remedies
  • Some bizarre remedies - only for the brave!
  • Can you do better?

This week I have been researching natural cold remedies and told you on Friday about the six ways to avoid those sniffles naturally.

When I set to work on these tasks, I'm usually surprised by some interesting and unexpected results, and that's without risking Wikipedia!

So, I thought I would share with you some of the more obscure remedies.

There are some absolute corkers out there, some involving an element of science. Try them for yourself, you'll be amazed!

It's worth remembering that cough and cold cures have been around since the dawn of time, in fact some of the cave paintings are thought to show ancient remedies.

Every granny has a favourite which she's intent on passing down through the generations. Here are a few bizarre ones I found from my research:

- Mustard Poultice Wrap. Children were smeared over their chests with goose fat (or in more modern times petroleum jelly) and then a mixture of mustard powder and flour was made into a paste with water and spread over the fat. A bandage of clean muslin was wrapped around the child, followed by a tight covering of an old sheet or towel. A tent like structure was rigged over the bed to keep in the mustard fumes which was thought to help clear the sinuses.

I wonder whether any of the poor mites had burnt skin from the mustard mix? In principle this method uses the power of the mustard powder to create local heating, and increase in blood flow and a loosening of phlegm.

- Cinder Cough Water. Back in the days when every home had an open fire, cinders were easy to come by, a hot one was dropped into a cup of water and stirred around.

A spoonful of cooled water was then taken as a medicine, which provided the recipient with sulphur which acts to control bacteria and viruses - the downside is that if you take too much sulphur it is a poison which may cure your cough... permanently!

- Treat your feet. There are various versions of this one but the more common ones were to rub your feet over withy Vicks Vapo-rub, put a pair of socks on and go to bed. Alternatively, put on a pair of wet, cold, thin socks (straight from the fridge) then a pair of thick woollen socks over the top and turn in for the night.

The concept here is that by stimulating an increase in blood flow to the feet you will get an improvement in circulation which will help mobilise anti bodies and allow you to fight the virus quicker.

- Heroin. Yep seriously! The now global pharmaceutical giant Bayer actually sold heroin in the 19th century as a cold cure... not sure whether it was injected or sniffed but can't help thinking the patients became regular users...

- Ground mummified human remains. Maybe not the granny cure you were looking for, but it was a fairly common practice in Europe in the last century to use powdered mummified flesh to cure things as diverse as common coughs & colds, baldness and wounds.

- Bacon or liver bandage. The meat was placed inside a muslin bag and laid over the throat to cure soreness and coughs. I would prefer to fry it up and eat it to cure rumbling tummies!

- Hot suet milk. Into a hot cup of milk a teaspoon of suet is added and drunk straight down, very popular in the North-East of England where it proved popular with seafarers.

I'm really not endorsing any of the above, but I think it is really interesting that few other conditions attract such an original range of home cures.

The fact that all of them have persisted to the modern day, at least in folklore, must mean that they have some validity. I'll try anything once!

If nothing else it goes to prove how diverse the causes of coughs and colds are, and therefore the need for any remedy to cover as many bases as possible. I can't help thinking that this will only come from a natural product with a wide ranging action

A challenge to Good Life Readers

Can you do better than the weird selection of remedies I have covered above? Did your Nan hold a secret remedy above all others, maybe involving earthworms or strained beetroot juice... or maybe something even more unbelievable?

Mail me and let me know, if there are any better ones out there I'll include them in a later letter so that we can all enjoy them.

I hope you are all enjoying good health as the weather changes, keep active, stay happy and eat healthily to make it harder for the winter nasties to take hold.

Yours, as always







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