For the past five days I have had the pleasure of hosting a common cold. I am a bit saddened, though by the realization that my new friend's visit is almost half over already. As they say ~ "Time flies, when you're having fun!"
In my previous posts, I have tried to include a photo of some object that I own. So when I got ready to write this, I looked for a common cold molecule that I could photograph and post. Unfortunately, they were all hiding up in my sinus cavities, and I did not have any from any previous visits, so I had to create an image. It looks pretty much like an actual rhinovirus molecule. So please use your imagination and pretend it is a photo of the real thing.
Anyways, the reason for creating this post was to note the history of the name: common cold.
The State Papers of Henry VIII notes, in the year 1537, that: If I take any cold, incontinent the lax commythe agayne. In 1679 it was reported: His Majesty... has been indisposed for some days by a Cold he took. The word cold, combined with the word common, meaning "shared between two or more", became popular in the 1500s, apparently the result of a comparison of its symptoms with those of exposure to cold weather. Prior to an understanding of the science behind things, and when the cause of this disease was a mystery to all, it was noticed that it became more prevalent during cold weather.
While we today have many medicines that purport to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold, there exists not any one single cure for the common cold. During the Colonial Period of the United States of America, certain herbs were known to help relieve the irritating symptoms of the common cold. Hyssop, a member of the mint family, was known to ease respiratory irritations if taken as a tissane (what most people call tea). Horehound and Marshmallow, being high in mucilage worked similarly to hyssop. Infusions (in which the water-soluble substances are extracted from plants by soaking in water) of yarrow, elder and peppermint; of bayberry and ginger; and of boneset, elder, yarrow and ginger were old 'cures' for colds. Coughs might be relieved by a decoction (where the essential oils of a plant are obtained by boiling the plant) of elecampane, white horehound, coltsfoot and fennel. Sore throats were soothed by an infusion of Goldenseal, Thyme, Sage and Myrrh.
The 'herbal' treatment that I plan to use this evening is that concoction used by my Scottish ancestors ~ a hot toddy (one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of honey, a shot of delicious Scotch whisky and boiled water).