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.