I rarely get ill, but when I do, it’s more often than not in the summertime. I put this down to the constant temperature swings of modern life–going from a scorching 100+ degrees outside to the frigid air conditioned interiors of the car, work, home or store.  

I try to be proactive about this.  If I’m going to, say, the supermarket to do some shopping, I always bring along a pullover to mitigate the temperature drop.  Sometimes that’s not enough, though.

So I’ve been battling a summer cold for going on 2 weeks now, the kind that just sets up camp in your skull and refuses to budge. It’s basically a stuffy head, sinus pain type, with a little, but not too much, coughing. This morning I decided to delve into Amish wisdom to see if there was anything that could rescue me.

Summer Cold RemediesSo I took a glance at Plain and Happy Living: Amish Recipes & Remedies, a book we’ve looked at here before, written by Geauga County Amish grandma Emma Byler (now deceased). There are a number of cold fixes recommended by Emma that sound like they might fit my situation.

The first is a “tobacco salve”, which is “also commonly used for pneumonia” (pp. 100-101):

1 pack cheap pipe tobacco
1/2 to 1 lb. raisins
2 lbs. lard

Cook and simmer all together slowly for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Cool and strain.  Put in jar and use as a chest rub or poultice for pneumonia and tightness of a chest cold.

Home remedies in general fascinate me for their ingredients and methodology…for instance, who came up with this combination?  Was it a lot of trial-and-error, or is there something intuitive about lard, raisins, and tobacco being good for colds?  Why not 2 hours or 4 hours of simmering?  Must it be strained?  Anyway, this one seems hard to do (I don’t keep a lot of lard at hand, nor cheap pipe tobacco), but it’s challenging enough to make that it seems like it would work.

Here’s another (p. 113):

Anything that will make you sweat is good for colds and flu.  Boneset tea is one of these.  Crumble the dry herb fine and keep in a tightly closed jar out of direct light.  This will keep several years and stay nice and green.  Brew tsp. of herb in 3 cups boiling hot water and drink boneset tea as hot as you can stand it at the first sign of illness.

No idea what boneset tea is…and the “first sign” of illness came and went long ago…but I can get behind the “make you sweat” idea.  I’ve been jogging in the current intense heat, which at least clears the airways out, a bit.

How about this one (p. 113):

Mix well the juice of 3 lemons, 1 pt. honey, 3 tbsp. maple syrup, and a pea-sized chunk of baking soda.  Take as needed.

This one sounds the most doable of the lot…but also the least exotic.  I know I’ve tried some variation of this before.  It sounds the best tasting, at least.

Anyone have a good “remedy” for the supposedly incurable summertime cold?


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