Tag Archives: cold remedy

Cold Remedies – Whiskey & Honey Milk

--Informant Info--
Nationality: French American
Age: 54
Occupation: Relocation Consultant
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):


This piece is collected in a casual interview setting around a cup of coffee. My informant (BA) was born in Lille, France, and moved to California in 2002 with her husband for their jobs at Caltech. She has a Master in Human Resources and Detection of High Potentials, is a mother of two teenage girls, loves to garden and go on hikes, and is overall a very energetic and happy woman. 

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant (BA) and interviewer.

Interviewer: How do you treat a sore throat?

BA: So, there are two ways. There’s the version a little more aggressive.  You take a chug of whiskey, you gurgle it around, you remove all the bacteria, and its supposed to leave [the bacteria and sore throat]. And the grandma remedy, which I love, and can’t do any har, is that you take a, a, a bowl of hot milk, actually more warm, you put two teaspoons of honey, you turn, you mix, and you drink it. That’ll take care of your sore throat.

Interviewer: Where did you learn these remedies? 

BA: My grandmother would make me drink the milk and my dad, who used the more aggressive method, made me drink whiskey. I liked the grandma version better *laughs* but I made my girls try both when they were little! 


Growing up, the whiskey method was not my favorite either, but my parents and neighbors, who we are very close to, insisted I try it if medicine or hot milk and honey didn’t do the trick. The hot milk and honey is a remedy I use all the time, but I also use it to destress when I’m feeling anxious, not only for sore throats. Although I don’t think it cures a cold, it does help with the symptoms. 

Garlic and milk to cure a cold

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Ethiopian
Age: 47
Occupation: Student
Residence: Washington, D.C.
Date of Performance/Collection: 03/11/19
Primary Language: Amharic
Other Language(s): English

The informant is my mother, who is originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she grew up with her eight sisters. When she was visiting from Washington, D.C. where we currently live, I asked her and my aunts how they used to cure colds when they lived in Ethiopia. She shared this interesting anecdote with me.

Note: The initials NG denote the informant, while A refers to me, the interviewer.


NG: When I was younger, some people used netch shinkourt ena whetet [garlic and milk].

A: woah, really? why? isn’t milk bad for you when you have a cold?

NG: I don’t know. Maybe, actually.

A: Did it ever actually work?

NG: [laughs] I don’t think so.

A: So why do you think people do it?

NG: I don’t know! It’s, you know, it’s nice to feel like you’re doing something to help. [laughs]


I thought this was a funny example of the fact that some beliefs are unfounded, but are performed simply because they are tradition, or because the belief that the remedy will work is enough for those who perform it. Science has actually proven that there is no actual way to cure a cold, which means that in this way, every cold remedy will work, because the cold will go away by itself in a few days and you can attribute this to whatever remedy you used. I also thought it related to the fact that we like to feel some amount of control when we’re in a situation in which nothing can be done, because although we know there is no way to cure a cold, we all have cold remedies and things we do to try and “cure” ourselves.

Remedy For Sickness

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American/Romanian
Age: 80
Residence: LA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/30/18
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): German

I asked my grandmother if she had any remedies that she does when she is sick or wanting to prevent a sickness. She told me that “When I get sick I home-make matzah ball soup as a something to make me feel better. It’s something that my mother always did for me and it helps your throat and body feel much better. I still use the recipe that my mother gave me. I also drink a water with lemon squeezes inside”


Background Info: My grandmother is Jewish, and matzah ball soup is a traditional Jewish deli dish. The recipe that she speaks of was created by her mother in Romania, and she would have this while she was little as well.


Context: My grandmother told me about this remedy at our family Passover dinner


Analysis: This is my favorite soup that my grandmother makes for me, and whenever I get sick or feel under the weather, I too will have some of this soup if I have access to it. She said that before even using medicine she will try this remedy first and it usually works for her, and I have had a similar experience.

Family remedy

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Arizona
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/10/18
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

I asked a fellow classmate in my Marketing class if he had any home remedies that he has picked up on for when he is sick, or wants to prevent getting sick.


Tommy said that his grandmother taught him that when he is sick he should, “Take a shot of apple cider vinegar mixed with lemon and honey, this usually helps your throat and helps prevent, I also take 1-2 wellness and vitamin C pills”


Background Info: Tommy is from Arizona, but his grandparents are from Sicily, Italy. He says that this remedy is something that his grandmother would always give him when he was little if he was showing any signs of being sick, even very minimal ones. It usually helps prevent his sickness and also provides health benefits.


Context: Tommy told me about this home remedy while on the way into our classroom when I asked him if he had anything to share.


Analysis: A personal remedy that my mom taught me is lemon water and honey which is kind of similar to Tommy’s, but not the apple cider vinegar. I am interested in trying this remedy now next time I feel that I am getting sick.


I decided to look up the benefits of apple cider vinegar because I had never heard about using this as a remedy before. For another version of the benefits of this product see:



Cold Remedy

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Seattle, Washington
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/15
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, French

Context: My informant first told me this remedy when I was sick with bronchitis. For collection purposes, I asked her about the remedy again and recorded the interview.

Interview Transcript:

Informant: When I was little and I got sick, and I had a runny nose, my grandpa would give me a bowl of brown stuff with ginger in it, and he goes, “Drink this. It’s boiled cola with ginger, and it’ll make you feel better.” And I’d drink it, and he’d tell me to eat all the ginger, and I do, it’s really spicy, and then a couple days later my nose isn’t runny anymore.

Me: Do you think that the remedy helps you?

Informant: Sure. It also tastes pretty good.

Me: It does. How old were you when your grandpa told you about it?

Informant: Three or five?

Me: And was this something that, um, runs in the family? Or did he learn it as a cultural thing?

Informant: Most Chinese people know it.

Me: What type of person would you normally share this with? Anybody, family members, friends?

Informant: People who don’t think I’m crazy.

Me: Do people usually react badly when you tell them about it?

Informant: Hmm… See, I haven’t tried it with anyone who might think I’m crazy.

Me: I see. So it’s more of a self selecting type thing?

Informant: Sure.

Me: How do you think it compares to other cold remedies?

Informant: It tastes better. And I don’t have to swallow any pills.


This remedy is meant to be both enjoyable and healing. Ginger flavored cola is more pleasant to drink than cough syrup, and my informant commented on its good taste. Hot liquids, such as tea and soup, are also commonly consumed by people with sore throats and coughs. This recipe also makes use of the spiciness of ginger to open one’s sinuses. According to the informant, the recipe is most often known by those of Chinese heritage and is commonly used by people within that demographic. My informant commented that she does not share this remedy with those she believes would react skeptically to it. The remedy has not yet gained prominence within Western medicine.