CoughingI thought that I knew everything there was to know about coughs. But after a little research, it seems that I had a lot to learn and some of what I found is just plain bizarre!

We are so accustomed to running to the drugstore for a bottle of cough syrup, but what about when there wasn’t a drugstore handy, or perhaps it was just too far away? What did people do then? Yes, they made their own. And believe it or not, I even dug up some coughing superstitions.

* I had heard of the highly addictive drug … laudanum being used for sleeping purposes in romance novels set in the 19th century, but apparently it was also used to stop coughing. On the other hand, it was used for just about any ailment imaginable, sometimes with horrific results.

* We all like our trivia and apparently so does Snapple bottled juices. One piece of trivia found on the bottle cap was the fact that fish can cough! Who knew.

* Apparently Boots (the British drugstore) also produced a children’s cough medicine that obviously included an ingredient that would help to the children relax. But it was the label that caught the attention of parents. It made a point of stating that one should not drive a car or operate machinery after taking the medication!

* You probably thought that cough drops have been around for some time, but did you know that the first cough drop can be traced back to around 1000 B.C.E. by the Egyptians. Ingredients included honey, herbs, spices and citrus fruits. Clever bunch!

* The next time you cough, you might want to know that you are sending air through your windpipe faster than the speed of sound!

* Alligators apparently practice coughing as this is part of their courtship ritual!

* The next time you have to cough, try the following position. Sit with your head slightly foreward and your feet flat on the floor. Makes no sense to me, but apparently it is supposed to help!

* And then there are some of the superstitions that are connected with coughing.  I don’t think your dog will be very pleased, but here goes. Take one hair from the head of a person who is coughing and put it between two slices of buttered bread. Now feed it to the dog. Somehow, that is supposed to cure you from coughing.

* Someone who obviously grew cranberries came up with this idea. If you cook a cup of cranberries in two cups of water,  add a little cornstarch to thicken and some honey to sweeten, you have a soup that is not only good for you, but should get rid of your cough at the same time.

* Now here is something a bit morbid… a dry, hoarse cough was often referred to as the “churchyard cough”!

* It had to be a man who loved beer to come up with this one. It’s a really simple recipe … take beer, add honey and drink! That’s it. It was supposed to cure loss of voice, hoarseness and any cough that you might have picked up.

* Lemons were often used to cure ailments and coughs in particular. Actually, it sounds pretty good. You roast the lemon slowly until the skin splits. Squeeze the juice and then add to about a half a teaspoon of honey. This is to be repeated hourly until the cough is gone.

* Now I don’t think that I could manage this one, but here goes. Cut an onion in half and then sprinkle with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar. Sit the onion in a glass bowl and place plastic wrap over the top. In the morning you should find onion juice in the bowl. This juice is supposed to knock the cough out of you.

* There is a commercial on TV that talks about how bad a particular cough mixture tastes, but it works! Here is something along the same line. Unfortunately, just thinking about it is triggering the gag reflexes. You take lard and mix it with sugar. That is it. I’m thinking that the lard would coat the throat preventing the annoying cough. Not sure which would be worse though!

* In the late 1800s, apparently people were doing their own fair share of coughing and something called Terpin hydrate was a popular cough medicine. The Food and Drug Administration stepped in and banned it however. They decided that the mixture had not been proven effective. But I’m wondering if it had anything to do with the ingredient. Terpin Hydrate wouldn’t have something to do with turpentine would it?

I’m sure that there are zillions of recipes floating around than enables you to make your own cough syrup. I found one such recipe that boiled Father John’s leaves, elder bush and cedar berries. It didn’t go into any more details than that, but I would be a little nervous of making your own medicines. Natural does not always mean safe.

So here’s to a cough free winter!