Sick MrsDarwin posted her hot toddy recipe a few days ago in between coughs:
[MrsDarwin's] Hot Toddy
In a large cup, combine 1 spoonful honey, juice of ¼ lemon, 1 cinnamon stick, small dash tabasco (optional but recommended) and the tea bag of your choice. Stick 3 cloves into 1 small lemon wedge and add to the cup. Pour in a slug of bourbon, as much or as little as you like. Fill cup with boiling water, stir well and let steep 5 minutes. Savor slowly; repeat as necessary.
I confess I'm bemused by the combination of caffeine and booze, Irish coffee notwithstanding. But hundreds of miles away, I have been coughing and sniffling and sipping my own concoction, the one I always go for when I have the latest creeping crud.
I leave out the tea, because I want to sleep, and I leave out the alcohol, because it rarely makes me feel healthier. The rest of it is borne out of a mix of vague theoretical herbalism (I heard that the allium family is supposed to have anti-viral properties, and isn't honey a natural cough suppressant?) and desire, after several days of my nose not working, to sip something -- anything -- that I can taste.
I give you Erin's Spicy Placebo:
Into a mug place:
- 2 slices lemon
- 1 slice orange
- Several thin slices of fresh ginger
- 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife
- 1-4 thin slices of fresh jalapeño chile
Pour boiling water over and steep for several minutes. Stir in a generous dollop of honey and sip slowly, breathing in the pungent steam.
People generally look at my drink with alarm. I have no idea whether the contents of the cup are, in fact, therapeutic. I only know that they make me feel better, as the tingle of the chile penetrates my sinuses and the pleasant ginger-scented vapor settles my stomach. This is good enough to keep me coming back to it time and time again.
When I run out of lemons and oranges, I substitute a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to keep the mixture tangy; I can't smell the citrus anyway, so one acid is probably as good as another. If I close my eyes and picture lemons and oranges, I can almost fool myself.
If you happen to know for a fact that garlic's antiviral properties are exaggerated and that honey is no better than plain hot water at suppressing coughs, I only ask you to keep it to yourself. This stuff is working for me, better than anything else this nursing mother wishes to take, and I would hate for anything to happen to the web of belief that keeps it that way.
Last night my father-in-law offered me a slug of brandy for my mug and I tipped just a little in. It wasn't bad. I haven't decided if I want to modify my recipe or not, but I do want to note something Mark told me he read once: the more expensive that people believe a "medicine" to be, the more likely they are to experience the treatment as successful. I suppose I might be willing to add some booze to my brew, but if so, I'd better be prepared to stick to the top shelf.