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Cures for the Common Cold

[This is one in a series of blog posts written by Charlotte the Intern.  Tune in daily to find out about what she’s been up to, what she has been learning about, and all of the crazy things she does as part of the Manna from Devon team.]

You guys, I’m feeling under the weather today.  Maybe it’s because winter seems to suddenly be upon us, or maybe it’s because of that whole day I spent out on cold and windy Dartmoor, but either way, I’ve found myself with a little case of the sniffles.

I’ve never been one for taking too much medicine, preferring to rely on fluids and sleep and lots of warm clothing, but at dinner tonight the conversation turned briefly to old-fashioned cold remedies: warm brandy and honey, simple hot toddies, or a biting, astringent glass of straight vodka to kill any lingering germs.  Indeed, it seems that tasty tipples were used to fight the common cold long before we could easily pop over to the pharmacy.  In fact, the more you look into it, the more you will realize that food-related remedies are still widely used today (whether successful or not is harder to discern), in recipes from the almost logical to those bordering on witches’ potions.

So, in that spirit, I decided to do a bit of research on some of the most allegedly potent cold remedies you can get without looking any further than your pantry:

1.  Garlic.  Lots of it.  Preferably raw.  Health experts apparently advise that eating 4-8 cloves of raw garlic per day while ill will make you feel better in no time.  This strategy must also assume that the patient doesn’t need to spend any time in close quarters with other human beings for at least a week.

2.  Hot water, lemon, cayenne, and ginger.  This strategy follows the basic principle common in much Eastern medicine that each person’s body has its individual temperature tendencies, and that foods have “temperatures” as well that can raise or lower that of the body.  For example, ginger is a “hot” food, theoretically raising the internal temperature of anyone suffering from a touch of the cold.

3.  Onions, in your socks.  Apparently cutting up half an onion and putting it in your socks (making sure that your toes are touching the onions) will draw a fever from the body.  I’m not sure how commonly this is prescribed today but it would seem to fall into the garlic category of “not to be used by those with regular social contact.”

4.  Cinnamon.  Also a heating food, cinnamon tastes great and allegedly kills germs, completely flushing the system of all that ails you.

and, what is certainly the strangest one I came across…

5.  Goose fat.  Smear a sheet of brown paper in goose fat and stick it to your chest before bed. This is supposed to open up a congested chest and make sleep more comfortable.  Perhaps a pre-cursor to Vick’s Vaporub?

So there you are!  In honor of the onset of winter, here is my wellness guide for those that are rich of pantry and short of time for running out to buy medicine.  If you, like me, find yourself feeling a bit of chill, cut up some onions, throw back some garlic, and get out the goose fat.  Oh, and prepare to scare off men, women, children, and dogs for at least a week afterward.