Wednesday, 7 December 2011

How to cure a cold: or how I made my cold better the old fashioned way

This week Betty Towers has been the house of illness. I have been full of the most stinking cold and have felt quite terrible to be honest.
I put out a request for some good old fashioned remedies on twitter and also had  a look in some of my housewife manuals from the 40's and 50's for some cures for the common cold. Here's a few I tried out.

A Hot Tottie
This was by far the most popular suggestion amongst my friends and it also features in the 1949 addition of "The complete housewife"
Sufferer's are advised to "Take a hot bath, go to bed (plenty of blankets) have hot drink (rum or whiskey with lemon, sugar and hot water) and two aspirins. 
Result-I slightly amended the drink recipe on my cousin Moira's suggestion and used hot buttered rum (Black Rum mind not Bacardi) but duly threw back a few aspirin and got under the covers after a steaming bath. I did feel much better and had a fairly goods nights sleep.

My Hot Buttered Rum Recipe

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 cup dark rum

  • A Tincture Of Quinine

    My 1949 copy of "10 Things for the housewife to do" suggests the following for getting rid of a cold "Ammoniated tincture of quinine or tincture of quinine and cinnamon are useful remedies. Keep the patient on a light diet and use eucalyptus on a handkerchief"
    Result. The only thing I had in the house which contained quinine was some slightly flat tonic water. I mixed in some powdered cinnamon and drank it down in one. It didn't make me feel any better but gave me terrific hiccups which given that I already have a hacking cough wasn't welcome.I haven't had a huge appetite anyway so stuck to soups and small meals as suggested so difficult t gauge whether this has made a difference. There's definitely something in the eucalyptus on a handkerchief though and whilst I did use balsam infused tissues instead they definitely helped my breathing.

    Chicken Soup and Garlic

    The nourishing qualities of chicken soup are probably irrefutable so many people swear by it. Garlic is also supposed to be very good for curing colds as its an antioxidant,also, Allicin, an ingredient found in garlic, is a decongestant that will apparently help clear your blocked nose and sinuses.As I'm a vegetarian I omitted the chicken from the classic chicken soup recipe so it was more of  a vegetable broth. I made sure there was plenty of garlic in it as well.
    Result. I definitely felt nourished and my throat felt less sore so there may well be something in this.

    A Bowl of steaming water

    This remedy was always used in my house as a child and as Ive been feeling so grotty I decided to revisit it. I put a few drop of Vick's in the water and sat with my head under a towel.
    Result. I feel a little bit like a steamed vegetable and my pores have never been so open. My congestion is a lot better as well. This one definitely works.

    Smearing Goose Fat On Your Chest
    One old wives tale to kill a cold is to smear goose fat onto brown paper and then wrap it around your chest. I refuse to use goose fat so instead smeared Vick's on my pyjama top before bed.
    Result. I smell like a car air freshener and my leopard print PJ's may never recover but I can definitely breathe easier.
    Well I'm off now to nurse my cold. Hopefully full service will be revived in a few days. Stay warm and if you have any more suggestions for how I can kick this lurgy I would be very grateful.

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