Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Frugal Mennonite Cold Remedies

I have written on this before, but since I woke up yesterday morning with a killer cold I thought I would readdress the subject.  You know:  Stuffy, sore throat, congestion, cough and sore stiff neck.  Just a warning; if a sore, stiff neck is accompanied by a headache call your doctor asap.  These are the symptoms of meningitis.

There are some basic remedies that have been my family for generations, going back to our country roots.  Country people didn't have doctors available to them and, often, couldn't afford one.  So, we cooked up remedies in our kitchens out of ingredients that were always on hand.

Onions, onions, onions.   Onions are a cure all.  Some people roast them, wrap in flannel and apply as a poultice to the chest.  Eating a raw onion each day was thought to keep illness away (and everyone else).  Onions are mixed with other healing ingredients to make onion syrups.

Always In The Kitchen

Honey is another basic for colds and coughs.  You can just swallow a spoonful to calm a cough (for children under two use another type of sugar syrup).  My favorite honey remedy is to finely dice one onion and several garlic cloves.  Mix these with honey in a sealable container.  Leave out on the counter and take a teaspoonful several times a day.

Local Honey Is Best

My grandfather would have added whiskey to the above honey mixture.  Many remedies rely on whiskey.  I don't know how it works, but I do know that we kids sure slept well when we took it.  Maybe that was the plan.

My great grand aunt would smear goose grease on my dad's chest and cover it with a red flannel cloth.  He said that it smelled awful.  I do think that Vicks smeared on a congested chest and covered with flannel provides relief.  If you don't want the mess just place a small amount under your nose.  You can also take a small amount orally; allow it to melt slowly at the back of your throat.

Sauerkraut juice has been used as a healthful drink.  It is believed that if you drink sauerkraut juice you will benefit from the vitamins and it will make you drink more water.  Save yourself from drinking the juice and just make sure you drink lots of water.

Warm salt water gargles are effective for fighting sore throats.  I like to use a neti pot for head congestion.  Basically, with a neti pot you are irrigating your sinuses with salt water.  It is very effective to use during allergy season to wash pollen out of your sinuses.

Neti Pot

I am going to rely on my honey, onion, garlic cough medicine, lots of water and my neti pot.  Oh, and rest, so after posting this I am going to relax in bed with a good book.

God bless,


  1. Just wondering how long the honey, garlic, and onion mixture is good for? What is the shelf-life? Can it stay out unrefrigerated?
    Thank you for your post.

  2. Jen,

    Honey is a natural antibiotic and will prevent spoilage. I keep my mixture on the kitchen counter in a sealed container. I do recommend making a new batch after five days, but you shouldn't need it longer than that.

    God bless,

  3. Here is a traditional Mexican remedy for colds: Boil five cloves of minced garlic in two cups of water. Allow to cool until warm. Add one teaspoon of honey and a slice of lemon or lime. Drink two times daily for three days.