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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Ted sniffs out a remedy


… The Doll has a cold and she is not the best of patients, in fact I might go so far as to say that she’s an “impatient”. So ... I thought I’d hunt down some remedies for the so called “common” cold, and in doing so I discovered that it really is “common” with each of us expected to suffer between 2 and 4 attacks every year by one or more of the 200 plus viruses that can cause it. 

The common cold has been with us since human beings started gathering in communities, at least as far back as the iron age, around the 11th century BC, and since that time we have searched for a cure. Now a gazillion centuries later we may have walked on the moon but we still don’t have a cure for the common cold.  The UK Common Cold Research Unit operated in Salisbury from 1946 until 1989 on this very remit, and while it clearly wasn't successful, the scientists there did manage to isolate a couple of the baddie head honcho cold viruses, which then led to the production of the great bulk of today’s pharmaceutical remedies, so they did ok really.

In ancient times the theories about what caused colds were complete twaddle, mainly because they didn’t know about viruses. Some of the remedies inflicted on sufferers meant it’s a wonder anyone survived a cold at all. Even as late as Victorian times people were still being subjected to "remedies" that included bleeding with leeches, drinking hot toddies made with rather unpalatable and even downright poisonous stuff like white bryony, a range of herbal "treatments", again including poisonous compounds, like sticking your head over burning herbs and various tree barks, thus you inhaled toxic smoke when you already had a bad cough!!

Some of the odder remedies included greasing your throat with chicken fat or lard and then wrapping your dirty socks around it, wearing wet socks covered with dry socks, soup made from that everyday kitchen pantry staple - dried lizards, and putting your hat on the end of the bed and drinking alcohol until you could see 2 hats.

On the more palatable side the Chinese favour ginseng and mandarin peel, the Iranians swear by turnips, the Russians and Ukrainians add egg yolk, sugar and unsalted butter to warm milk, and the Belgians recommend a hot chocolate drink.

Most of us do believe (quite reasonably) in the recuperative powers of real chicken soup with onions, garlic and lots of vegetables, and a hot drink containing honey, lemon juice, ginger, and aspirin. 

Can you avoid getting a cold – nope. You can however improve your chances of getting fewer colds and potentially even lessen your symptoms by getting at least 7 hours sleep a night (this helps keep your immune system in good shape), taking moderate exercise each day, drinking lots of non-alcoholic fluids, developing an OCD hand washing habit, and oh yeah my favourite - eating oysters for their zinc ... funnily enough the Doll seems to hiding out now that I am armed with all this helpful remedy knowledge.

What's your "swear by it as it never fails to make me feel better" remedy then?

5 comments:

Adullamite said...

Hot toddies!

Sharon Anck said...

It sounds like the Belgians were the only civilized group when it came to cold remedies. My remedy is lots of vitamin C and zinc taken through miracle drugs called Airborne and Zicam. I just had to do that two weeks ago and it worked again sending that cold for a hike.

William Kendall said...

Tea at least soothes the throat, I find. But exercise and a good night's sleep can minimize its impact. I tend to go through maybe twenty four hours when I have a cold that it's rough on me, then I'm improving.

Geoff Wilkinson said...

That chicken soup looks fantastic, almost worth catching a cold for...

Jack said...

Chicken soup, warmth and rest. Give yourself a treat and stay in bed with a good book or watch some junky television shows.

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