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October 18, 2004


i think what i would recommend is rest, which is the one thing you're least likely to do. It also seems 1/2 of NY has what you do.

Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid coffee and alcohol. (Though my great-aunt's favored cold remedy was a hot cup of tea with a dash of whisky. I'm not sure it worked, but it was nice.) Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables - especially garlic! Echinea is good for boosting your immune system. Rest a lot. Sleep well.

A friend of mine once met a practitioner of some sort of Tibetan medicine when she (friend) had a bad cold, and was given a recipe which she claims worked, but which I have never had the guts to try. It involved mixing up equal portions of hot chili peppers, ginger (I think, or was it cloves?), and wasabi, the idea being that if you then ate the resulting mush in sufficient quantities, fluid would start fleeing your body from every imaginable orifice, and if you didn't explode, you would improve. As I said, I've never dared.

For the faint of heart, zinc pills, rest, orange juice, and endless quantities of water.

I don't know if there's super-solid clinical evidence, but from what I've read there's no apparent link between getting wet/chilly and getting a cold. There was an experiment which involved a bunch of sailors and a winter river and some infected people...

As much orange juice as you can stand, hot bath and, shoot, chicken soup works fine. Avoid dairy products and save the bottle-of-whiskey cure for when you're getting better; judicious amounts of Coca-Cola will make you feel better, but I've heard that it can have bad health effects, so maybe avoid that one.

Oh, yeah: this is a perfect time to watch daytime TV: bright colors and no thinking will be required, or particularly desired, on your part. Alternatively, sleep a lot.

Steam. Lots of steam. Gargling warm salt water works wonders for a sore throat (the salt is antiseptic, y'see, and helps kill the nasty little bugs down there). Another thing that works wonders is my mom's garlic-and-ginger anti-flu drink: Crush four cloves of garlic, slice a thumb of ginger, and boil together with a pinch of salt for about twenty minutes, until both the garlic and ginger are translucent and limp. Strain and drink.

[I usually add some honey and the juice of half a lemon to make it more palatable, but neither's strictly necessary. You can also add a pinch of hot pepper flakes if you want to cauterize the back of your throat.]

One other thing: I'd definitely limit my intake of water to about two or three liters, tops; you'll lose too many electrolytes if you go straight up on the water. [YMMV, of course, but I've found it's bad for me.] Doping the water with something else -- whether it's as another liquid entirely, e.g. OJ, or just a little trace element, like weak tea or Gatorade -- should do the trick nicely.

Excellent list of options. Thanks for all...seems to be a consensus on garlic, ginger and internal heat.

My partner's old country solution has me running back and forth between a really hot shower and then under a moutain of duvet and blankets...sweating as much as I can stand it before I go shower again. It's more uncomfortable than my symptoms.

What I feel I need the most is a sinuses want to burst through the front of my face...perhaps the red-hot chilli idea.

There does seem to be a difference of opinion on how much water is good for you though. Gatorade might be the ticket.

Thanks again, I appreciate the advice.

I don't know if there's super-solid clinical evidence, but from what I've read there's no apparent link between getting wet/chilly and getting a cold.

Yeah, I've heard that too...just seems odd that on the heels of my getting cold and wet I also get sick...I mean if those Victorian novels are any indication, get caught in the rain does something bad to you...

For the cold -- chicken soup boiled with lots of ginger root. Its best if you make the chicken soup from real chickens (with the bone, though take off the skin and fat so it's not too greasy). Even better if you throw some asian sour soup mix (Thai thom yang or Filipino sinigang) in.
If that seems like too much trouble just drink boiled ginger root water (er, 'tea") with the sweetener of your choice.
For stuffed sinuses - some people swear by nasal irrigation. Basically make a sterile saline solution and shoot it up your nose with an ear syringe (those little blue bulbs). I just like getting into a hot steamy shower.
Other people swear by "whiteflower" -- which is like chinese turbo-charged vicks vapor rub. Comes in little bottles in the asian store.
Hope you feel better.

Try all of the above and get better.

Other people swear by "whiteflower" -- which is like chinese turbo-charged vicks vapor rub. Comes in little bottles in the asian store.


Pak Fa Yeow, or white flower oil, should NOT be used like Vicks vapor rub. No way do you want to ingest the stuff or get it into your eyes, mouth, or nostrils. It is used, instead, as a liniment for aches or, more commonly, as a balm for insect bites.

Better Chinese remedies include the various ginger/gingerroot extracts and teas. Additionally, there are various chinese mushroom and garlic sprout soups.

I think I have the same thing.

Spicy food is a decent decongestant, though it can be rather temporary. Caffeine free Coca Cola is good for a sore throat (diet will not cut it obviously; it's the syrup that makes it soothing). Herb tea--I like peppermint--and clear soup work for both. If you want something a little more appetizing than Campbell's a lot of Vietnamese restaurants make a good chicken or beef noodle soup; mint, basil, lemongrass and cilantro do not seem to interfere with the healing properties, and according to this thread ginger and garlic might help.

Afrin decongestant nasal spray is good too, but can be irritating and you really shouldn't use it for more than 3-4 days. Saline nasal spray is less dramatically effective but there are no side effects.

And yeah, stay hydrated--and not just with water. That's especially key for clearing the sinuses. If you don't like those sports drinks just alternate water and something else.

For stuffed sinuses - some people swear by nasal irrigation.

Yeah, I can't do that...I can't do eye drops either...reflexes won't let me. Once when at the doctors for a serious sinus infection, the doctor literally inserted this very long wire up my nostril to get a sample...I nearly shoved her across the room, unvoluntarily...she later told me very few patients ever let her do that twice. Sick twisted masochistic beast...I've stopped going to her, if that wasn't clear.

It's more uncomfortable than my symptoms.

Which, I suspect, is the intention.

I've got bupkus, outside of what's already been mentioned (I've combined the chicken soup and hot pepper remedies with some satisfactory outcome; habaneros complement ordinary chicken soup quite well). I once lived with a woman who swore by nasal lavage, but I could never bring myself to try it. As a former swimmer, inviting water up the nose goes against my grain.

Hope you feel better soon, Edward.

Folk remedies should be used with caution.

Don't let anyone talk you into "bonkes."

Don't let anyone talk you into "bonkes."

OK...I've gotta ask...what's a bonke?


Yeah, I've heard that too...just seems odd that on the heels of my getting cold and wet I also get sick...I mean if those Victorian novels are any indication, get caught in the rain does something bad to you...

The Victorians also believed that handling frogs gave you warts.

From the Wikipedia entry on the common cold:

The term "cold" is misleading, as the temperature does not appear to play a role, nor are any other factors known which affect the probability of infection. Colds are somewhat more common in winter since during that time of the year people spend more time indoors in close proximity of others and ventilation is less, increasing the infection risk. Some factors influence the severity of symptoms, for instance psychological stress and position in the menstrual cycle. Also, weak health in general, or other pre-existing conditions such as allergies can be aggravated due to infection.

I commute by bicycle the whole year round (12 miles/day) , including through Vancouver's autumn, winter, and spring rains, and I don't catch any more colds than anyone else I know, and believe me, I get drenched.

But whatever the cause, get well soon. And my get-well remedy is a big steaming cup of NeoCitran every six to eight hours. Wonderful stuff.

Apropos of my last comment, Edward, I'm going to state further that a good, brisk swim is probably just the thing, because getting at least some water up your nose while doing so is nearly unavoidable. And then you've got to blow it all back out.

I know, gross. But it all ends up in the filter, trust me. It's just possible that the chlorine has some detrimental effect on the virus, too.

OK...I've gotta ask...what's a bonke?

This! (bonkes Edward on the head with a mallet).

Okay, I've been watching too many cartoons over the weekend. What are they? Are they those little heated cups that get put all over your body? Or some wierd candling thing?

These are variations on themes developed above, but maybe some will seem more accessible.

For the blocked sinus: Karvol if you can get your hands on it. It may be a UK thing. Bowl of boiling water, squeeze capsule in it, head over covered with a towel. Breathe deeply. Allow mucus to run freely :-) Maybe you could experiment with Vicks in the water instead for a US solution.

For sore throat: Similar to the above, but more palatable. Find some apple cider add fresh grated ginger root, heat in saucepan or microwave.

Supplements: Garlic, Ecinacea, Zinc Losenges, Vitimin C.

If you have a Pho restaurant nearby, off you go. Lots of chili sauce.

Whatever you do don't watch Springer. It tends to worsen symptoms...

Feel better.

Hah. Knew someone would ask.

D-P-U has it right. Take a small glass, the size of a shot glass maybe, and light a match, or small candle, inside. Quickly put the heated glass on the patient's back, while there's still a "partial vacuum" in the glass, and the suction holds it there, creating a nice circle, with a lump of flesh pulled up inside it. Place glasses all over the patient's back.

Supposed to draw out the poisons or something. Don't do it. It doesn't work.

cupping? yikes. are we really going back to the dark ages for remedies?

over-the-counter decongestants work fine and should make you more comfortable. aspirin for aches. soup to keep the fluids up.

i make a really good chicken soup, using a lot of parsnip and anise to sweeten it a little. but you don't live anywhere near Long Beach, CA, so you'll have to talk your partner into it.



cupping? yikes. are we really going back to the dark ages for remedies?

Hey. Unfair. I said it didn't work and should be avoided.

My mother didn't think it worked either, but it made a useful threat when she thought I was malingering.

Chickensoup, steaming (Sauna is nicest way to administrate that, especially combined with swimming pool and steam bath) and nice HOT grog with lots of whiskey. The latter mainly to sleep well ;-)


...and nice HOT grog with lots of whiskey.

Grog is made with rum.

Taking advantage of open thread to point out:


Sinclair is getting roshambo'd

d-p-u: my grogs are made with lots of your favorite alcohol... and mine is whiskey ;-)

Ginger tea. Smash up ginger root, add some brown sugar, pour boiling water over, steep a few minutes. Adjust quantities as desired; it shouldn't be too sweet and it should have enough ginger that it feels like you're swallowing a cat.

Whisky Mac. Half Scotch whisky and half Stone's green ginger wine. Note -- it's gotta be Stone's. Accept no substitutes. (PS -- if anybody knows of a source for Stone's in the DC area, please drop me a line. I'm almost out.)

Orange juice. Lots of orange juice. Perhaps with just a bit of bourbon. "Medicinal" is not a synonym for "getting smashed". Cold + hangover = don't go there.

Anything with lots of hot peppers. Anything with lots of garlic. Anything with lots of ginger.

Jewish penicillin (chicken soup). Of course.

Congee. Rice, grossly overcooked in broth. Should be the consistancy of thin oatmeal. Greatest thing there is for sore throat.

Pan of hot water, towel to make a tent, fill with water just off the boil and stick your head under the towel for a little sauna for your lungs. Keep the kettle on so you (or someone who should be patiently ministering to you) can keep the water nice and hot. Do this for 15-20 minute intervals when you can't sleep and you are sick of lying around.

Here in Japan, hot amazake is supposed to do the trick, and I always vow I'm going to try it, but I never get out to buy it before I get sick.

Brandy. If that doesn't work, more brandy. If that doesn't work, brandy in tea. At that point, you will sleep very soundly and that's key to recovery. But I'm from Wisconsin. Brandy is the choice for everything, including cold days at Lambeau Field (Lambeau, not Lambert, you dunce).

Terry, as I've said elsewhere, Kerry was just trying to inoculate himself from charges of sounding French.

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