Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Home Made Medicines

Because of my cold, I've been thinking about medicines: What kind should I take to stop my sinuses from feeling as if they are going to explode?  What could I take to stop my throat from aching?  What medicines and vitamins are available to make this cold less severe and shorter in length?

Well, while I still don't have the answers to those questions, thinking of those questions made me think of when I would get sick as a kid - and all the medicines the older generations insisted worked.

I remember my first experience with what I would later call the "Harney Medicinal Experience".  I was only eight years old, having just moved to Washington state with my mom a couple of months before, and I had come down with a horrible cold.  It wasn't long before all of my great aunts (all of whom have the maiden name of Harney) were rushing to our house, offering odd fixes to my cold.

My Auntie Dode gave me some homemade cough syrup that was "sweetened" with blackberries and honey (trust me, it was FAR from sweet).  She even gave my mom a case full of this cough syrup in jars.  Then, my Auntie Babe gave me a concoction of water, lemon, garlic, red pepper flakes, and orange juice.  I remember begging my mom not to force me to take it - but there was no way out.  So, with no way out, I took the tiniest sip possible and nearly gagged.  But my woes weren't over yet - my Auntie Bub took a neti pot filled with garlic, lemon, and hot water and forced me to breathe that in.  Then, my blind Auntie Shirley insisted that my mother stuff a small peice of paper towel with a multitude of dried herbs, wrap it up like a burrito, and then shove it into my nose.  or the rest of the day I was poked with therometers, forced to drink different potions of sorts, and a hot rag placed over my face.  At the time, I felt like I was in some sort of prison.

Once they had left the house for a night (but they didn't leave without giving my a long list of what to do and when so that I would get better), I begged my mom not to force me to ever drink anything like I had drank that day again.

Then, the next day I woke up and I honestly felt better.  I remember my mom thinking that I was faking it at first in an attempt to avoid reliving the day before, but I wasn't.  I actually felt great.

While I am not sure what exactly made me better the next day, I know that they did something riht.  And every time I've been sick since that day - I get the "Harney Medicinal Experience", either in person or over the phone.  In fact, I am currently waiting for the call from my Auntie Shirley as to what exact herbs I am required to stick up my nose today.


Professor Dru said...


This is too funny! I can just picture all of your aunts giving their homemade remedies.

Have you heard of kerosene oil and sugar as a remedy for colds? I've never taken it, but my father said his mother gave him that.

Elyse said...

Hey Professor,
I've never heard of kerosene oil and sugar as a remedy.
It was never fun to have all of my aunts over when I was sick. While I know they were only doing what they thought was best - but that stuff was horrible. It used to taste disgusting and if I even made a face, they would tell me to toughen up and give me examples of how tough they were: "I had a baby without any pain drugs", "I have take two spoonfuls of fish oil a day".

Greta Koehl said...

I actually loved the cold remedy my Aunt Joy would brew up for me when I lived with her - a hot toddy! It made me feel warm and comforted. Well, I'm grateful for that now that I've read about the brews your aunts cooked up!

Elyse said...

Greta, my dad drinks those instead of taking cold medicine. He says that even if it doesn't fix the cold, it certainly does make you drunk enough to deal with it

Terry Thornton said...

Elyse, Great minds and the flu season work together. My newspaper column (written yesterday) for next week is about folk remedies from my childhood. Professor Dru's mention of kerosene and sugar is mentioned in my column but the primary "cures" were Vick's salve used in a variety of ways and the ever present castor oil to finish the season! Sounds like the Harney Medicinal Experience was a more enlighted one than the treatment I endured! LOL!
Enjoyed your post.
Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi