This advertisement in the New York Times during the 1918 influenza pandemic caught my attention, and I wondered if the advice on Spanish flu cures would apply to our 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
“Avoid crowds, coughs and cowards, but fear neither germs nor Germans!”
Given that World War I was raging across the world, it makes sense that people feared the Germans as well as germs, though in my research of the 1918 influenza pandemic, I found much information about the flu was censored. No one wanted their enemy to know the truth of the spread and its impact on the soldiers and war efforts.
“Keep the system in good order… remember a clean mouth, clean skin, and clean bowels are a protecting armor against disease.”
While medical advances have given us improved public health departments, antivirals, antibiotics, and better protocols for vaccine development, one of the best Spanish flu cures—or any virus, for that matter—continues to be good ole cleanliness practices. Wash your hands and avoid touching your face!
“If there is a sudden onset of what appears like a hard cold, one should go to bed, wrap warm, take a hot mustard foot-bath and drink copiously of hot lemonade.”
I can’t speak to the effectiveness of a hot mustard foot-bath, but I imagine hot lemonade 100 years ago was hot water with lemon, which is actually my drink of choice when I’m sick. I like to add honey, too, to help loosen chest congestion.
“In recovering from a bad attack of influenza or pneumonia, the system should be built up with a herbal tonic, such as Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery, made from the roots and barks of American forest trees.”
I was curious about Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery as a Spanish flu cure. An internet search shows it was “for the cure of all severe, chronic or lingering coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis, weak lungs, bleeding from lungs, public speaker’s sore throat, hoarseness and suppression or loss of voice.” Its ingredients were listed as, “pure water, borate of soda, golden seal root, queen’s root, stone root, blackcherry bark, bloodroot, mandrake root, and glycerine.”
I am a big believer in our ability to boost our immune systems with certain anti-viral herbs, such as raw garlic, oregano oil, and elderberry. And one of my favorite cough medicines, Wishgarden Serious Cough, contains similar ingredients as Dr. Pierce’s: wild cherry bark, pleurisy root, grindelia herb, coltsfoot leaf, licorice root, mullein leaf, whole goldenseal root extract, marshmallow root, and lobelia aerials. I know there are few studies proving the effectiveness of these natural remedies, but I swear by many of them and figure some extra garlic and oregano oil aren’t going to hurt (though there can be an odd after-taste reminiscent of pizza.) Scientifically speaking, the best ways to boost your immune system are to lower your stress, eat healthy, exercise, and improve your sleep.
Our current 2020 coronavirus pandemic is surreal for many reasons but especially for me given how immersed I have been in the 1918 influenza pandemic for the past 10 years. I see many disturbing parallels (panic due to lack of leadership and little or conflicting information) and many improvements (advanced public health and research systems and the understanding of how important quarantines and social distancing are.)
The best way to fight this current pandemic is to self-quarantine at home. I wish my historical novel about the 1918 influenza pandemic was available for you to read, but until then, enjoy another good book!