Tag Archives: sore throat cure

Vodka Cure

Form of Folklore:  Folk Belief (Medicine)

Informant Bio:  The informant was born in Yerevan, Armenia, where she attended a Russian school.  At the age of fourteen she and her family moved to America, where she was formally introduce to the English language and had to continue going to a school where the primary language was English.  She has had exposure to both Armenian (from her youth and family) and American folklore (by living and studying in America).

Context:  The interview was conducted in the living room of informant’s house.

Item:    When you’re throat hurts, you take a wet towel… actually you take a dry towel and you wet it in vodka (you put a lot of vodka in it to make it wet).  And you wrap it around your throat.  And first you get a cold feeling and then it kinda warms up; as long as you feel the warmth, you keep it on.  And apparently, that has the healing ability.  Preferably, besides the towel, you put a plastic bag over the towel to keep it even warmer.  And you could also do this for a stomach ache; you just put the towel on your stomach instead of your throat.

Informant Comments:  The informant learned this folk medicine from her mother (of Armenian decent); when she was ill, her mother told her to do this and her throat stopped hurting.  She believes it works and is mostly because of the heat that is causes by the vodka.  She has tried other types of alcohol, but they did not work, so the informant believe there is something specifically essential in using vodka.

Analysis:  It is no surprise that the heat from vodka can make a sore throat feel better.  Whether, making it feel better is truly a sign that the vodka has a healing ability is another matter; perhaps it only soothes the aching that comes from having a sore throat without actually curing the sore throat itself.  Since vodka is a common drink amongst Armenians and Russians, it seems that vodka is mainly used because it was the most available.  Nevertheless, using this remedy to get rid of (at the very least) the pain of a sore throat (or stomach) seems to be successful and will most likely be passed down from the informant to her family members.


A Natural Cold Remedy – Ecuador

My informant was born and raised in Ibarra, Ecuador until she left to live in the U.S. when she was sixteen years old.  Whenever she and her brothers had a cold or a sore throat, her mother made a drink for them made from lemon juice, a little bit of orange juice and honey.  Her mother would then heat it up on the stove, which my informant says helped a lot since the steam would reduce congestion and the warmth would relieve sore throats.  She also says that you have to drink it with a straw or it will ruin your tooth enamel.  The remedy has a long tradition in her family: her grandmother prepared it for her mother, her great-grandmother prepared it for her grandmother, her great-great grandmother prepared it for her great-grandmother, etc.  She says, “Everyone in Ecuador does it… I think [laughs]… Or a lot of people I knew did it.”  It provides a lot of Vitamin C as well so it offers a cheaper and more natural alternative to medications.  The honey not only cuts the acidity of the lemon juice, but also adds anti-bacterial elements into the “cocktail.” “Unless we were really sick, we didn’t go to the doctor… Especially not for simple colds.”  To this day, she still prepares the remedy when she is feeling under the weather.  When I asked if she would do the same for her children, she replied: “Of course, it’s a family tradition!”