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Possumhaw: Home remedy for the common cold


Shannon Bardwell



The Bardwells were cooped up on the weekend with colds. Since Sam and I were both sick we scratched around the house looking for something we could do. We wrote Christmas cards, wrapped presents, watched football games and a Christmas movie while passing the Kleenex box back and forth. 


Sam decided to go ahead and open his Christmas present, a new camera lens. Now I know why the salesman asked me if Sam shot sports or wildlife; wildlife, I said. The lens is the size of a bazooka. So Sam stood at the window taking pictures of cardinals doused in raindrops and looking for deer across the field. I watched the ducks preen in the rain; then we blew our noses in unison.  


We pride ourselves on taking precautions to avoid colds. We take vitamins, wash our hands frequently, use Germ-X, stay away from sick people and refuse to use community ballpoint pens, especially during the cold and flu season. My brother pointed out that sick people cough over community pens and then hand them to you so we stopped using them. Even so, we got colds. 


Sharing the last drop of Nyquil, I realized too late I had not prepared for colds because I didn't think we would get one. Therefore, I turned to another source -- anything not to leave the house.  


On my bookshelf sat "The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing," so I looked up "colds." I guess the good news was, "here is the very model of the disease which runs its brief course and goes away, almost regardless of what you do or don't do." 


The book then gave studies that encouraged one 500mg of vitamin C a week, then three tablets on the first day of any illness, and two tablets on days two through five. The study suggested that the earlier the vitamin C is taken the better the results and that taking more vitamin C later in the course of the cold rarely seems to help. We took all the C we had and drank all the orange juice in the fridge, but we were too late. 


Another remedy suggested a brew of one-eighth teaspoon of cayenne pepper, the juice of one lemon, one minced clove of garlic, and one gram of vitamin C. Mix with hot water and sip slowly. Sam said he didn't want to drink cayenne pepper or garlic and wasn't wild about me doing it either, being we were in such close proximity.  


A Polish remedy urged scalding a cup of milk and adding one tablespoon of honey, a teaspoon of butter, and stir. That was sounding better until it said, "toss in a half teaspoon of grated fresh garlic. Sip slowly an hour before retiring."  


As the alternative, Sam decided he'd eat some Snickers bars and finish reading "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." I found two Anne Tyler novels next to the natural healing book and polished off a tube of Pringles.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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