02 June 2011

Cold Advice... for the Brave

I have a bit of a cold... just now. It's a spring-time cold, common enough here in Washington, DC. It seems to pop up every time I take off the gloves on the Metro and start grabbing up every passing germ.
If you were around these parts two winters ago, you may remember my foray into odd "home cures" for head colds. I thought I should put out a comprehensive list of every one of these homeopathic efforts, their side effects and results, starting with the most recent effort. Just in case you need it.
By the way, the picture above reminds me of a coworker at one of the places I freelance. The company is moving this coming week, and everyone has to clear out their desk for the move. Today, she discovered a roll of T-P in the back of a drawer, or as some would call it "ghetto sneeze lockers," dating back to before the company bought tissues for cold and allergy sufferers.

Glass of tomato juice with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. This was my mother's suggestion, via the neighbor's husband who lives down the way. (Yep, we're country folk!) The side effect was a little burn in the upper chest that wasn't nearly as bad as anticipated. The results seemed to be positive. The next morning, I no longer had a sore throat. Might have worked, too, if I hadn't missed out on sleep the next night. Relapsed. Drinking more. And why not? They say that the capsaicin in the peppers (the stuff that makes them fiery hot!) causes a metabolic rise and may help with digestion. I liked this thought well enough that I'm considering drinking it from now on. I've certainly had worse habits.

Five thousand milligrams of Vitamin C at first notice and 2 thousand an hour every hour thereafter for the first 24 hours. This cure came from a California friend who said that this level of Vitamin C, being ascorbic acid, would propose to "burn any germs out of the system." The side effects of this are widely believed to be a little case of stomach upset. My particular stomach holds up pretty well under this type of assault. I added this one to this week's head cold attack as I regularly do when I have a cold "just in case."

Onion tea, made by adding a thick slice of onion to an innocent and otherwise sweet smelling cup of tea. I got this one from Merle, an African American man who bumped me in the drugstore line in Southeast Washington two winters ago while I waited to pay for my Tami flu. He suggested I drink the tea, pull on the covers and "sweat it out." What did I have to lose? I went home, gave it a shot and voila! Next morning, I felt 95% better. Had another cup of the smelly stuff and went on my way. No side affects whatsoever.
The funny thing about this particular "cure," is that no matter how hard you try to get someone else to try this, they will avoid it at all costs. I mean they would rather suffer the pains of a nasty cold than drink a stinking cup of tea? And the tea smells worse than it tastes. It's actually pretty easy to drink, particularly if your nose is stuffed up and you can't smell.

Zicam, up the nose. Yes, yes, I know the government yanked the stuff of the market, but thank heavens I was already stocked up on the stuff because it knocks my colds out like nothing else ever has. You can take your zinc lozenges, but I want my zinc in my nose, where it does me good. What's that smell?

Chicken soup and orange juice in liberal doses. This is my "always effort" in making my world more hospitable during a cold. I boil a chicken, add chopped carrots, onions and celery. And then I make the result into something edible: chicken noodle soup, chicken and rice, chicken and gravy with mashed potatoes or chicken and dumplings are the top picks. I try to avoid more than one day of any particular "chicken and - - - -." I think the steam filling the apartment helps my throat and sinuses and since I'm usually a bit "carb-deprived" as a general rule, it adds a little extra energy to the recovery.

(The following cures that friends have suggested that I've never tried but you might like, if you're suffering)

Echinacea herbal tea (recent studies showed echinacea is not effective in fighting colds or influenza)

Shot of tequila (the Los Angeles contingent of friends suggesting a favorite cure, but for what??)

Jalapenos (huh?)

Whiskey and lemon, warmed and tossed down (DC friends, with a fresh spin on the booze angle)

Jalapeno peppers (Ah, apparently they are "chock full" of Vitamin C; however, by this point, so am I!)

Zinc! (Yes, that's a good idea. I think it was in the Zicam)

Vodka mixed with the tomato juice and cayenne (I'm thinking at this point that some sweet friends thought I was looking for drink recipes as opposed to head cold cures at this point, but they were determined to be helpful!)
So this is your list. Choose your poison in the future. And leave me word of any of your own home cures below, please? I'll be sitting here nursing my glass of very spicy tomato juice.