Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

February 17, 2008


Here is a keeper: the best remedies for coughing ever assembled


          The truth is out: my friends are the most compassionate people in the world. Minutes after the newspaper published the report of my recent crisis with compulsive coughing, remedies came pouring in from everywhere.

          How blessed can an old man be? Dozens of people took the time to let me know I did not need to suffer next time. Having never seen a list of home remedies for coughing, I decided the time has come to publish such a list. So this column is a keeper: cut it out and store it neatly in the medicine cabinet for future reference.

          Space limitations will not allow me to publish them all but three ingredients were repeatedly recommended: lemon juice, honey and whiskey. For the rest of this winter I am stocking up on all three – for “medicinal use” only, you understand. Though I may have but a few winters left, from now on lemons, honey and whiskey will be on hand.

          I did learn that Jack Daniel’s is not the whiskey of choice to conquer a coughing fit. Harry in Tennessee prefers Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey.  Harry’s father was a preacher friend of mine and a teetotaler. Before the old man died Harry helped him discover the wonderful taste and benefit (stops coughing) of fresh-ground decaf coffee imbued with a wee shot of Frangelico, an Italian monk-distilled hazelnut-flavored liqueur.

          Harry’s memory of special “Frangelico” times with his dad touched my heart. He cherishes the memory of many evenings when they shared a warm beverage and quiet conversation at the end of the day. The booze was not memorable, Harry said, but neither was it harmful.

          Pat in south Alabama remembers her dad’s remedy for coughing was whiskey mixed with honey. No lemon juice? Pat says she is not sure the mixture stopped her coughing “but it sure tasted good.”

          Joyce remembers that her grandfather, a teetotaler and a Baptist, always had a little whiskey in the house for “medicinal” problems in the winter. She said since Granddad was a Baptist, he would send someone else in the family after his whiskey. Keeping up appearances is important to Methodists too.

          In the early years of our marriage my wife became ill with the flu and coughing. I decided to try the whiskey remedy for her. But I waited until after dark, located the state ABC store, and hurried in nervously with a cap on my head. Yes, I was praying – that no saintly Methodists would see me toting a bottle of booze in a paper sack.

          God does have a sense of humor. As soon as Dean had gulped down a swig of the whiskey, honey, and lemon juice I had heated up for her, the doorbell rang. There stood two women from our church coming to check on Dean. She and the house smelled awful but we never knew what the sweet ladies thought. They did not stay long.

          Bruce in frigid Michigan told me that his cough is so bad this winter that his doctor is running a battery of tests on him, trying to find out what is wrong. If I lived in Michigan I know I would heat up some whiskey, honey and lemon juice – even if I wasn’t sick.

          Annie out west remembers that her remedy for her children was equal parts of Jack Daniel’s, honey, and lemon juice. “Once I served them some of that, the coughing subsided so we could sleep,” she said. She recommended that I get a Roman Catholic friend to go get the whiskey for me to save my reputation. Not a bad idea.

          Brother Joe in Oklahoma did not mention whiskey or honey. What works wonderfully for him is Mytussin AC Cough Syrup. Since it is a prescription drug, it probably costs more than a bottle of whiskey. Next time I will ask my doctor if he recommends Mytussin.

          Grady, who lives on a lake, says Jack Daniel’s did not work for him. But he found a “heavenly” medicine he likes – Tussionex-Ext-Rel Sus Medeva. So far nobody has said that a doctor recommended whiskey as a remedy. But then they get a cut on the prescriptions, don’t they?

          Sister Margie, like my friend Ed, says that Creomulsion was her cough medicine of choice for years but they don’t make it anymore. So far no one has mentioned a “mustard plaster.” I seem to recall my parents using that on me and my siblings. Evidently it went out of style.

          Ellen swears by Zicam cough spray. It works every time for her. That I must remember. But I hope it tastes a little like whiskey, honey, and lemon juice.

          Pat offered a remedy that I must try with my next coughing fit. At bedtime, she says, rub the bottom of your feet with Vick’s Vapor Rub and put on a pair of socks. She has tested this plan and it works. “Your coughing will stop and you can rest.”

          Now we know what to do when the coughing demon launches another attack. And he will. Only this time I will be ready for him. One of these remedies is bound to work.  + + +