Need to remedy recent omissions - Press-Republican: Columns

Need to remedy recent omissions

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 3:26 am

In my last column I shared my thoughts on old-time remedies for colds and the “bug.”

When I got into the newsroom the next day, Editor Lois Clermont said to me, “You forgot ginger ale!”

How could I forget ginger ale, one of the staples of our household when we were sick as kids and the first beverage I reach for when I’m sick now.

And, little did I know that I would soon be wishing I had ginger ale in the house because I got hit with a nasty “bug” and was in bed four days.

My dear, sweet husband, Toby, sympathized with my plight and went to the store at midnight to get me ginger ale and Pepto-Bismol, another sick cabinet necessity. Needless to say, he earned “brownie” points that night.

And how could I have forgotten chicken soup?

We always took it for granted that grandmother’s chicken soup was good for us, sick or well, but now technology has proven that it really helps when we are abed.

ABC News did a story on the results of an in-depth laboratory test on the science of the broth’s reputation to make us better. It found that the soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent side effects when we have a cold. Sometimes called Jewish penicillin, it has medicinal effects dating back to ancient times, and clears nasal passages with its steam.

Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary specialist at University of Nebraska at Omaha, tested his wife’s Lithuanian grandmother’s recipe that contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnip, turnip, carrots, celery, parsley, salt and pepper. The recipe affected white blood cells, although he isn’t biologically sure why. He still declared the recipe his favorite.

On they recommend making one or all of eight natural cold and flu remedies at home. They testify that hot, steamy water poured into a bowl, mixed with shaved ginger, then inhaled with a towel over your head, will have the same effect as Vicks Vaporub in the bowl, my favorite.

Chicken soup is next, then humidity, which discourages a viral germs from lingering in the dry air, then honey. Mixing a tablespoon of honey with fresh squeezed lemon juice and half a cup of hot water will help a dry cough and a sore throat. (Disclaimer: let the mix cool enough so you don’t scald your mouth … remember McDonald’s and the hot coffee lawsuit.)

The sixth is garlic, and the more the better, if you can stand it. Personally, I can’t eat garlic. It gives me a stomach ache, plus I can’t stand the smell. My daughter, Tracey, would eat garlic like an apple, if she didn’t want to live with the rest of her family.

It is reported that garlic has strong antiseptic and antispasmodic properties, and natural antibiotics, and is good for stopping a cough, opening respiratory passages and lowering a fever.

The more water and pure juices a sick person drinks the better, according to this report. The last recommended remedy is mustard, which they admit is kind of Medieval sounding. The Discovery Channel reports it works, loaded with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory components. How about that. Television shows situated before the 1950s have numerous references to making a mustard plaster.

Just in case you want to try it, here’s the recipe: 1 tablespoon of mustard with 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour, one egg and enough water to form a paste. On a clean handkerchief or cloth (large enough to cover the chest), spread paste like making a sandwich, and place another clean cloth on top. Rub olive oil on the patient’s chest before placing mustard plaster as mustard can burn the skin. Leave on for a few minutes, then remove and wipe the skin with a clean cloth.

Be clear: I’m not opposed to modern medicine. I just find it interesting that grandmothers, since ancient times, were right. I’ll have to remember that the next time a grandchild laughs at my “old lady” suggestions.

As for me, I’m done with cold weather, snow and winter illnesses and yearning for spring flowers and green grass.

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at



Click on photo to view gallery with latest photos