Taking a Sick Day: Home Remedies

My son and I are both home from school and work today with the common viruses running around this time of year. Patrick is coughing his head off. He’s been to the doctor and has received appropriate treatment, but that cough is still alive and kicking.

My friend Linda just knocked on the door. Her father is our son’s pediatrician yet she didn’t come by with a written prescription from the good doctor. She came by with a home remedy from her mother-in-law – freshly-brewed lemongrass tea and stalks of fresh lemongrass.

She said lemongrass tea is a natural antibiotic and cough suppressant and gave me more stalks so I could brew more as needed. “It’s best to drink it throughout the day,” she said.

We would try anything at this point. I poured Patrick a cup; he drank it and reported, “Mom! I stopped coughing.” I then treated myself to a cup of the delicious brew.

I had never seen lemongrass before and Linda brought me a fresh stalks from the Grand Mart which is known for carrying items you can’t get elsewhere. I’m brewing some now and the lemony smell is wafting through the house. Linda said to simply boil water, clean the stalks, discard the green upper part, slice like celery and add to the boiling water for about 15 minutes. Guess what?…she’s bringing by homemade chicken soup later. Now that’s hospitality on the move.

The Spice Cake

Never underestimate the power of home remedies, there are many out there and they work. When I was little I often had bronchitis, sometimes it lasted all winter. My mom would rub my little bony back and chest with camphorated oil. I have no idea if it worked but the smell cleared my sinuses and the massage from mom was comforting.

One day I was so sick and she said she was baking me a “spice cake.” Oh! My little mouth watered in anticipation of the sweet confection. I had never eaten a spice cake before! What would it taste like? I stayed in my bed waiting for it to be done baking.

My mother came to my room with something in a pan that looked nothing like a cake. It was two pieces of flannel filled with vaporous smells. It was a spice poultice! She made me a spice poultice, warmed it in the oven and pinned it to the inside of my jammies next to my t-shirt. Those are really fond memories of her typical nurturing and care. How many of you still want your mothers when you’re sick? I’ve since made the poultice for my own son.

How to Make a Spice Poultice

Take two pieces of soft cloth, maybe flannel from a worn-out nightie, and cut into a 12” x 12” square. Spread one piece of flannel with Vicks VapoRub®. On top of the rub, sprinkle generous helpings of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and dry mustard. Take a needle and thread and rudely stitch the two pieces of cloth together. Heat in a low oven until warm. Do not place the warm poultice next to the skin but rather on top of a tee shirt with another shirt (preferably jammies) over that.

Please write to me and tell me about your home remedies – I’ll share them in this blog. Email me at bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

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