Sliced onions to prevent the flu, really? Not so long ago, we were bleeding the sick and using whiskey to ease the pain …
1) The color red
Traditional medicine experienced a major revival during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. It must be said that the flu posed a deadly danger against which there was no treatment or vaccine. The good woman’s remedies offered at least the terrified North Americans a semblance of control over the plague.
In Chicago, whole families slammed walls, windows and doors closed, and boiled ripe red peppers to kill the virus. In Louisiana, a hospital superintendent recommended the manufacture of a quilt of mugwort sewn between layers of flannel and dipped in hot vinegar.
But perhaps the most far-fetched preventative measure was that of wearing red clothes, a color that “the flu did not like”, according to some records of traditional medicine at the time. According to a book on the pandemic, an American even wrote a letter to the Public Health Service suggesting that his employees wear a red ribbon around the chest, because “the flu is the devil and the red scares the devil ”
2) Sliced onions
When someone had the flu, other members of the household could expect to be infected. In an attempt to prevent the spread, some families used to slice onions and place them throughout the house. It was thought that onions would “absorb” the virus and prevent others from catching it.
We now know that, alas, that does not stop the flu. According to the National Onion Association, this habit probably dates back to a medieval plague health measure. Which, by the way, was not more effective.
For more than 2000 years, bloodletting has been used to treat all kinds of ailments, from the flu and angina to bad energy and demonic possession. In the case of the flu, the theory was simple: by draining the blood out of the body, it also flushed out toxins and disease, so doctors could cure their patients of any harm.
Not only did the remedy not work, but it killed many people, including Georges Washington, the first president of the United States.
However, bleeding remained a fairly common practice for a long time, still used as recently as the 1920s.
If the bloodletting cleansed the body of toxins and disease, we suspect that laxatives were the second-best choice, for their easier use and their purifying effect – in different ways. “A small sip of Pluto Water in the morning when you get up guarantees excellent regularity and protects you against colds and flu,” proclaimed an advertisement from the 1930s.
Unfortunately, many laxatives of the time contained toxic ingredients, such as phenolphthalein (a carcinogen) and mercury (a poison).
In May 1941, Time magazine published an article suggesting that “whiskey is the most effective and cheapest pain reliever known. The reporter noted that despite its effectiveness, doctors had stopped prescribing it for “moral and ethical reasons”.
According to a study at the time, two ounces of 95% cereal alcohol in a glass of ginger ale was enough to raise the pain threshold by 45% for two hours. But before testing this treatment on yourself, remember that a glass of whiskey is sure to disrupt your sleep and that your body needs more rest when you get sick.
6) chicken soup
The most amazing thing about this old-fashioned remedy is that it works! In 1978, pulmonologists asked healthy volunteers to choose to drink hot water, cold water, or chicken soup, and then they measured the differences in congestion.
Doctors have found that if hot water helps reduce congestion, chicken soup works even better. Today, it is still not known exactly why the remedy works, but since the 1970s, the experiment has been repeated several times, with the same result.