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Jewish Flu Remedies

February 4, 2018 | by Mark Miller

With flu season upon us, check out these tried (and some not true) Jewish flu remedies.

Raw Onion and Honey

Sometimes genuine home remedies can be just as effective if not more so than overpriced and overprescribed pharmaceutical remedies. And so, with an especially dangerous flu season upon us, I present this selective survey of time-tested Jewish home remedies for the flu: real and fictional. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: try to determine which are the real ones and which are the fake remedies. The answers appear at the bottom. Don’t cheat, because the bad karma will undoubtedly end up giving you the flu.

  1. Chicken Soup. We start, of course, with the Mother of All Jewish Cold & Flu Remedies, or rather the Grandmother of them: Chicken soup. Also known as Jewish Penicillin, passed down in recipes from generation to generation, and beloved by all except vegetarians and vegans, chicken soup is considered to have anti-inflammatory and healing properties which could possibly ease symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. And, of course, if someone is taking care of you and making you that soup, you can combine those emotional benefits which no doubt contribute to the healing.

  2. Raw Onion and Honey. If you say “yuck!” just reading those words, imagine what you’re going to say when you taste this. But first, the preparation: Cover half an onion with honey and allow the honey to leach out the water from the onion, which should take 30-60 minutes. Then, drink the onion juice. And keep repeating the process-two tablespoonsful every two hours. Yes, I’m serious. But you’ll thank me when your health returns. Just, please, use mouthwash before you thank me.

  3. Horseradish Enema. Yes, it does sound like the name of a punk rock band. And, okay, the delivery method is perhaps a tad extreme. But consider the benefits of this magical root in addition to cold and flu diminishment: cancer prevention, antioxidant, antimicrobial and antibacterial, reduces symptoms of respiratory illness, cures urinary tract infections, digestive helper, and anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. On Passover, of course, Jews eat horseradish to remember the bitterness of their ancestors' lives as slaves in ancient Egypt. Horseradish can make your flu better, too. Just please, don’t attempt this in a public place.

  4. Heated Drinking Glasses. (Bankes, or Cupping) Okay, no disgusting eating here for a change. Simply heat some glass cups and place them upside down on your chest. Hey, why are you looking at me like that? I’m not crazy; I swear! There’s a logic to this. The cups form a vacuum which pulls the phlegm out of the chest. Those of you who’ve seen the movie “Alien” will understand. It does relieve the pain and pressure. Just be careful not to burn your skin or you may end up with unintentional circular tattoos for life.

  5. Guggle-Muggle. This milk and alcohol-based drink is also known as “Jewish Echinacea”. Coming to us from Eastern Europe, this Yiddish cultural remedy consists of egg yolk, sugar, milk and alcohol, and does wonders for sore throat and the cough that accompanies a cold. Hey, Barbra Streisand and the late Ed Koch swore by it. If you’re planning on Googling it for additional information, keep in mind that it is also spelled: gogl-mogl, gogol-mogol, gogel-mogel, kogel mogel, gurgle-murgle, and uggle-muggle. One thing’s certain: it can’t be much longer before Starbucks offers a Guggle-Muggle Latte on its menu.

  6. Garlic. Eating garlic (or “The Stinking Rose”, as it is also known) has roots in the Bible and the Talmud. Even in ancient Egypt, garlic was thought to help with overall vitality and so was fed to workers to maintain their strength. The Mishnah refers to Jews as “garlic eaters”, and the Babylonian Talmud, the Baba Kamma, attested that garlic “satisfies hunger, keeps the body warm, makes the face bright, increases a person’s potency, and kills parasites in the bowels”. And, of course, garlic’s additional benefit of keeping vampires away is nothing to sneeze at.

  7. Falafel Intestinal Broom. One would not at first glance consider this a food to consume when suffering from flus or colds, and yet apparently the ground chickpeas combined in the typical recipe with cumin, coriander, parsley, scallions, and again our friend garlic, travels through your system like an intestinal broom, sweeping away any congestion and germs it its way. Need more convincing? Falafel is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin B, and folate. Falafel is also high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Why it’s practically a health spa in a pita bread!

  8. Deep Coughing/Oy Veying. People with the flu and colds can often produce large amounts of mucus. Mucus collecting in the airways can make breathing difficult and infection could occur. Deep coughing and oy veying is a traditional Jewish technique to help remove the mucus. Start by taking a deep breath. Hold the breath for 2-3 seconds. Use your stomach muscles to forcefully expel the air. As you expel the air, let out a long, sustained “Oy vey!” Repeat as needed. Ignore your any family members or friends who are laughing at you.

  9. The Wet Socks Technique. How’s this for an easy cure? Simply put on a pair of cold, wet, cotton socks, then pull on a pair of natural wool socks on top. Go to bed and let the magic happen. How? While you’re in slumber land, the vessels in your feet will constrict as your feet cool down. This sends good nutrients into your organs and tissues. Those nutrients then help fight off any infections and stimulate healing. Why are you looking at me like that? I don’t care. All forward-thinking geniuses have been scorned throughout their lifetimes.

Fake remedies: 3, 8, 9.

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