I'm going to try to hold my dislike of this time of year and focus on the good things that can come out of it. I'm talking about remedies for the onslaught of colds, coughs and sore throats that it brings.


If you're like me when you get a cold, you probably want to make it go away in the fastest, easiest - and the most natural way possible (using natural medicine). But the fact is, the cold does not usually say to itself, "You know, I think I'll just pack my things and let this person alone," even if you're trying to "persuade" it with the best natural medicine. As far as I know, there is no magic bullet (yet!) for the common cold. But there are some excellent natural remedies out there that might help convince it to leave you faster or at least not be so painful to you.


This comes up every year when the days become longer and the sun barely sheds its rays on our vitamin D depleted bodies, which is why our Moms and Grandmas (and Dads now) make us swallow cod liver oil and other forms of vitamin D. Taking vitamin D in cod liver oil or supplements has been reported by many of my acquaintances to stave off all colds during the winter months - as well as a few other foods and supplements I have been told also work. But none of that will get rid of a cold when its already unpacked its bags and chosen which room it wants to sleep in.


So after feeling the first helplessness and discomfort of succumbing to yet another cold, here are some of the best remedies that I know have worked for me or for someone I love. Not all of them will work for everyone all the time - or even for the same person twice. But its comforting to know that there exist other options to taking side-effect heavy, over-cooked drugs.



Because we recently came through the worst episode of coughing in our family that I can ever remember, I'm going to start with this.


I still like to check what's available for different health problems on the internet. However, more often than not, I find the best remedy by going down to our local health food store and asking the staff. I do this knowing they serve a well-informed customer base in our area and are heavily invested in maintaining a reputation for carrying the best natural health products. So I wasn't surprised when they pointed me to one of their most popular products for the relief of a cough: Clef Des Champs's Plantain Syrup.

THIS STUFF WORKS! I've been awakened late at night with a nasty cough - you know the kind, that comes upon you and grabs your chest and body in a fit of convulsions - come to my senses long enough to reach for an adult dose of Plantain syrup, and watch the cough go away within literally minutes. What more could you want?


DISCLAIMER: I can't emphasize enough that what works for one person might not work as well for another. My wife, for example, insists that the above cough syrup did not work for her a few months ago for a different coughing episode. It may have helped get rid of her this most recent cough. But we never got the chance because the store that that normally carries the stuff had run out of it. Which just further confirms to me that it works for a lot of people.


Due to its unavailability and earlier lack of success in helping my wife, I was forced to look for alternatives to the Plantain Syrup. That's when another natural health store recommended a Chinese herbal product called Pei Pa Koa from Nim Jiom.

Pei Pa Koa Cough Syrup - from Nin Jiom

The bottle pictured was emptied by my wife, which should let you know how much she came to like it. And in fact, her coughing episodes did lighten and finally go away - although not apparently as immediately as I had experienced with the Plantain Syrup. It's also a honey based syrup which makes it easier to take for the more taste sensitive. (The Plantain Syrup on the other hand, I forgot to mention, tastes more or less like Christmas trees - believe it or not.)


Now there is one more product I should mention to round out this overview of experience with cough syrup remedies. This one is also a sweeter honey based product which also makes it taste good enough that my daughter did not complain about taking it. And while the Pei Pa Koa is a "Chinese herbal" cough syrup, this one is a combination homeopathic syrup, which I appreciate having had a lot of success with certain other homeopathic remedies in the past:



Sore Throat

The answer to a sore throat was found in almost the same way. I asked the people at the health store and they handed me a couple of products. One is a throat spray and the other is a lozenge. They both taste horrible, but isn't that how medicine is supposed to taste?


The taste poses a challenge for parents trying to get their kids to take this medicine. At least the lozenge is coated in sugar to help make it taste OK initially. And that does seem to be enough to convince my child to keep sucking on it until the medicine does its thing. The product is Olbas Pastilles (which is apparently french for lozenge?) This one is made to do double duty, relieving congestion and soothing a sore throat. But if all you're dealing with is a nasty sore throat, it does not sacrifice in effectiveness for the added benefit.


And my daughter did not mind taking it and sucking on it as I mentioned. She later told me she didn't like the taste. But she also did not object too loudly to having that sore throat go away.



It might be that comedy is the highest form of culture simply because for it to work on any audience or culture, it has to find a commonly shared experience or pain.  I know that, personally, I laugh the hardest at things that have exposed me to pain in the past - like wintertime delivering the kids to school and discovering the school is closed.  Like Derek says, the deal is, 'I get the kids to school.  You have to take them in'.







Again, comedy is proven to be the product of some shared cultural experience of pain.  And what could be more painful than buying a bag of celery with hopes of eating it all only to discover weeks later a pile of green slime at the bottom of the fridge crisper.





I often find the simplest ideas are the most inspiring.  It's true in practical everyday life, so it should also be true where children are concerned as well. 


A perfect example happened with us while walking home from school one day last week.  My son likes to stop by the creek that passes right next to the path home and "fish" as he calls it.  That means finding a dried reed lying around and pretending to cast a line into the shallow waterway.  Afraid that my daughter and her friend would quickly become bored and demand to leave before my son could satisfy his fishing craving, I cast about for ideas to occupy their interest. 


Being moving water, the idea of having "boat" races came to mind.  But what was there to use as "boats" in this otherwise sparse landscape?  Falling back on my eternal optimism when it comes to situations like this, I kept telling myself that there had to be something that would make for a suitable boat.  At first all I saw were weedy plants of various kinds - both alive and dead.  Other than that, there didn't appear to be much in the way of boat-making material lying about. 


But if the ancients could construct boats out of trees and bulrushes that were capable of carrying full sized adults, what's the problem in finding a stick - anything at all - capable of floating itself without cargo down this little creek?  Our ancestors used whatever they had on hand that was also abundant.  So, what is most abundant this time of year around the creek?  How about the dried out or drying milkweed seed pods that my daughter's friend would often pick just so she could let the fluffy seed copters fly.


When you get ideas like this, it's best to give it a chance before you dismiss it too quickly.  In this case, when I picked a seed pod, it didn't at first look like it would work.  But that would have been wrong.  Even after I'd constructed the milkweed pod "boat" with it's rigging and sail, I still wasn't sure if it would float and stay upright. 


Well, it turns out that those seed pods make great little boats.  They split apart easily on one side of the pod so that the opposite side forms the hull of the boat.  And the relatively tough husk of the pod lets small twigs be poked through to attach a paper sail.  That's basically how we constructed the first boats out of milkweed seed pods - with little index card sails attached by dried out weed stalks. 


I thought it would be a good idea to add the power of wind to the little craft and attach the sail.  Later, we discovered that the seed pods alone without doing anything other than split them open and set them down in the water work beautifully as well.  But if you want the best odds for winning a milkweed seed pod "boat" race, you might want to attach the sail - wind permitting.

Evidence will keep piling up inexorably against SSRI drugs and other psychiatric snake oils until that wonderful third stage of truth - the self-evident one - is finally reached.  Meanwhile, these dark drugs will continue being prescribed by braindead physicians who can't even drag themselves to do a simple Google search for examples of the damage they've caused.  And individuals like Eric Harris, James Holmes and now Aaron Alexis will continue to have their finest and best behavioural inhibitions destroyed. 


Naturally, we want to blame something or someone for the tragic shootings of innocent civilians that happened in Virginia on Monday.  I'm no exception.  And I can even tell you exactly who and what is to blame.  But I'm not as interested in that as I am in convincing enough people that these devilish drugs are finally recognized as failed science and we all get to the third stage of truth I already mentioned - as bloodletting and leaching came to be recognized.


But that's easier said than done as this short animated movie so annoyingly - to drug believers - illustrates:



And a final word to anyone using SSRIs: Get off the drugs before you're moral inhibitions are totally gone.



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