Mami’s Remedias for Cold and Flu

Posted: Apr 22 2014

-By Barbara Alvarez

Ayyy, you and your kids are coughing, sniffling and sneezing. It seems one of your young ones is getting a fever. What do you do? Do you take all of theniños to the doctor’s office – risking making everyone there sick? Or do you use the old remedias your abuelita told you about before you had your first baby? Let’s take a look, because some of these are pretty good!

Vicks VapoRub
Ah, si “vaporu” is one of the best remedias in your medicine cabinet. This little blue bottle of mentholatum rub can be found in most, if not all, Latino medicine cabinets. When someone in your family is sick with a cold, rubbing some of this on their chest and right under their nose is sure to help break up the mocos. Just one word of caution: Be careful if a very young baby has a cold or the flu. The mentholatum could burn her tender skin.

Honey-Lemon Drink
Heat a whole lemon on the placa. Carefully turn the lemon so as many areas cook, until the skin begins to turn dark-brown. When it’s cooked all the way around, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a cup. Remove the seeds and add a spoonful of honey. Add a little warm water and mix it with a spoon. While it’s still warm, give it to the sick niño.

The adult version directs you to add a shot glass of alcohol, such as whiskey, tequila or rum. The sick person should drink this down fast. For both, the honey calms the cough and the lemon adds vitamin C. The warmth of both drinks, plus the alcohol heat up the sick person, making them sweat the cold out. (I like both of these.)

Cayenne Pepper
Las yerbas work wonderfully when someone in your family has a cold or the flu. Take a spoonful of honey and mix some cayenne pepper into that. Add boiling water to the honey-pepper mixture and have the sick person drink it as a tea. The cayenne pepper helps to relieve nasal stuffiness and sinus problems.

Caldo de Pollo
Chicken soup – caldo de pollo, especially when homemade with mami’s love, can help anyone who’s got a cold or the flu, to feel better. Cook the chicken and put in your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, celery, tomatoes, onions and potatoes. Some families add corn on the cob and cilantro. Spanish rice can be served on the side.

Agua de Florida
This is a cologne. South American Latino mamis sprinkle a few drops over the sick person’s head when they are feverish from a cold or the flu. The cologne tends to cool the person down, making them feel refreshed and just a little bit better.

You won’t be cooking and feeding the eggs to the sick person. Instead, pass the egg, still in its shell, over the sick person’s body. Say a prayer of healing for him. Once you finish passing the egg over her body, crack the egg into a glass or bowl of water. Let abuelita read it to look for el ojo or susto. This is the “evil eye” that made your family member sick. You can watch the egg/water mixture to see if it curdles. If so, your family member is cured. You can also dispose of the egg at a certain time. (Hmmm. This one is interesting. I’ve heard of it, though.)

Save this one for sick family members older than 21. Give him a small drink of pisco, tequila or rum and tell him to sip it. The burning of the alcohol soothes his irritated throat and makes him hot. He’ll sleep pretty good, too. (This one works. I know.)

Garlic (Ajo)
Garlic has antibiotic properties. When it’s eaten raw or added to caldo (soup), it can help to cure colds and sinus infections. Some abuelitas add some garlic to nearly everything to protect frio al estomago (cold stomach).

So, there you have the remedias. I can say that I’ve tried several of these and they do work to help me or my grown sons feel better. I’ll be making myself a toddy later on tonight.


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