Feed a Cold, Starve a Flu

Actually, I find feeding a most excellent remedy for both cold AND flu. None of this starving nonsense, thankyouverymuch. Ice cream, chocolate, lemony drizzled cakes and bourbon biscuits… all most helpful in making a poor, sick gal feel better – cold OR flu.

But that’s not all. Oh, no. The food is just the beginning. When illness hits, I like to think of myself as a most ready and willing patient. I keep a stash of pills at my bedside: paracetemol, ibruprofen, sudafed, actifed… (the list goes on but these are my favourites). I like the round, sugar-coated capsules over the powdery oblongs and I’m still more than a little partial to the sugary, sickly sweetness of Panadol. The pink one, preferably.

In addition to official medicines, I’m now developing rather a fondness for the massively placebic (yes, I think I have just invented that word), yet gloriously addictive BERROCCA. Because what better way to make oneself feel A-OK than to drown out the resident bug with gallons of luminous, fizzy orange liquid? Expensive, luminous fizzy orange liquid at that. Yes, Berrocca is my new thing. Its funny taste lets you know that it’s good for you and the sense of triumph that one feels upon managing to stomach an entire glass of the stuff is up there with the best senses of triumph. Thank heavens for Boots and their 2for1 offers or Berrocca would have me quite out of pocket.

Needless to say, when I woke up this morning with a tight throat, I didn’t hesitate to pack my bag with all of the aforementioned cold-essentials.

How on earth would I have coped back in the vintage-day you might ask? Well, the exact same thought ran through my head as I peddled my way to work, my pannier weighed down with pots of Berrocca tablets, packets of pills and lots of sugary comfort food. All that extra weight really slowed up my commute and I can ill afford even an extra minute or two in my morning rush across the park to work. Aside from this, a lady should really never be seen carrying more than can fit into a neat alligator handbag.

So how did they make do back in the 30s and 40s? Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one to presume that treatments for colds were of a more natural ilk back then – and that we stuck to just one or two treatments. Most certainly, classics like the good old honey and lemon formula would have been high on the list of cures for the sore of throat.

I’ve also come across several recipes for the horribly pungent sounding Onion Syrup which was apparently a common treatment for a cough. Pretty nasty sounding stuff if you ask me.

Goose fat, too, seemed to be a handy thing to have around. When pasted into one’s chest and back with brown paper, it was thought to cure a cold (although why brown paper, exactly, I’m not sure…). In addition, swallowing a spoonful of goose-grease was thought to be a most excellent cure for a sore throat. So, depending on your ailment, you could be rendered a greasy, slippery, health and safety hazard (mostly to yourself) or spend the day with your throat clogged with fat.

As for the latter option, let’s just be sensible now, shall we? There is a reason why we’re not supposed to put fat down the kitchen-sink drain. It gets clogged. We should therefore really take a moment to consider our actions before we attempt the same act to our body’s equivalent of the kitchen-sink drain: the throat. What on earth made people think the results will be any different?

And then there was that warm alcohol, toddy-hot, yummy-sounding spiced thing….yes, something like that… Always keen to try new and exciting remedies I thought I’d have a bash at this one last year. For some reason I was sure the main ingredients were rum and milk and proceeded to concoct my ‘medicine’ from a mixture of the two.


Yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk YUK.

Ooh, it was far from naughty treat I was expecting! Turns out I’d got the recipe all wrong. My cold addled brain had somehow jumbled a hot-toddy (who’s main ingredient is whiskey or brandy, not rum, I might add…) with the warm milk children are given to help them sleep. Quite the mistake, it turns out – for the result made me feel positively worse.

Alongside the natural remedies for colds from the 30s and 40s I’ve discovered that there was also a surprising amount of pills and potions already pouring into the market.

Some have stood the test of time and have recognisable equivalents today:

Then and now….

And also these:

Now and then….

Other medicines offered at the time seem altogether more homespun, often laughable and, on occasion, slightly worrying.

For example, I find the stated colour (black) of these pills makes me a little nervous. Isn’t back the colour of doom? Such a colour will, in the very least, leave its unpleasant trace really quite noticeably on ones pearly whites. The Smith’s Brother’s obviously didn’t think about that.

I’m also pretty sure that 666 is the sign of the devil…….

Then there was the strange claim by the Pine Bros that ‘Dry Throat Breeds Germs of Coughs and Colds’. Not only does this statement distress me grammatically but it’s also rather odd and, might I add, *ahem* scientifically incorrect.

A throat in peak physical condition is not dry and a dry throat is most certainly uncomfortable. But to infer that a ‘Dry throat’ is the very condition that will accelerate the reproductive rate of germs (as the Pine Bros do here) is quite, quite wrong! As any 14 year-old worth their salt could tell you, bacteria (of which germs often consist) like warm, damp conditions. Consequently (and in contrast to the advert across the way to these words) I’d say a dry throat would be a most excellent deterrent to the breeding of germs and that it should be positively encouraged at times when colds are rife in the community. It’s the wet throat that we should be wary of…

And there you have it. I’m off to make a hot toddy – and I’ll be following a recipe this time…

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