Vicks, bitters, chicken soup still best for winter ailments

Published 8:00 am Monday, November 27, 2017

Flu and cold season is the one season when the differences between generations are most noticeable.

The Traditionalist and Baby Boomers will tell you they never went to a doctor when they were kids and the most common cold medicine was soup and some tonic that usually had whiskey in it.

Generation X, my generation didn’t go to doctors as often as the younger generations do, but modern medicine had given us more options for medicine to take; however, our parents still pushed the “old fashioned” ways.

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My mom was no different. My parents were born in 1930 and I was born in 1967. My own kids were born in late 80s/early 90s and my grandkids were all born in the last seven years.

I still push the “old fashioned” cures. Oh, I’ve tried just about everything on the market over the years. As a young mother, I would try whatever the doctor told me too, or whatever new over-the-counter fad cure was if it meant my child would feel better.

My mother would shake her head.

“Just give her some Angostura bitters in a little bit of Manischewitz for that tummy ache,” she’d tell me. Wincing at the memory of the horrible bitters she made me drink as a child, I’d remind her it was 1990 and people didn’t give alcohol to their children anymore.

For colds, it was chicken soon and a tablespoon of honey and Vicks or mustard oil rubbed on the back and chest if you also had a cough. For a headache, it was Johnson’s baby aspirin and a cold compress. For cuts, you washed it, dumped some witch hazel on it or iodine and went on your way. A bad sore throat got us a whiskey or bourbon “wash.”

After a couple years, I started to learn my mother’s and grandmother’s ways were often still the best and that stands true to this day.

There’s no replacement for Vicks, however, I did learn just last year that putting it on the feet of the child, or adult, who has a bad cough works miracles. Who knew?

Angostura bitters is still a great cure for minor tummy ailments, minus the Manischewitz (unless over 21). It either makes you throw up or calms nausea. Either way, you feel better.

We can no longer give aspirin to children, which is a shame because it did work the best for fevers and other pains. However, Tylenol became a decent replacement.

I still make chicken soup and still trust my hand over a digital thermometer when determining if a child has a fever. (Since they no longer sell the mercury ones, which were the most reliable).

My own children are starting to actually listen to me and trying some of the “old fashion” ways to treat minor winter illnesses. Even some medicine companies have learned a thing or two from the old ways, using more honey in their cough syrups and less weirdly named chemicals.

Whatever cold medicines or home remedies are used, the best cure for anything is still rest, orange juice and a kiss on the forehead — also a good way to check for fever.