Chicken Soup for the Angeleno’s Cold

What’s Your Can’t-Miss Home Remedy to Fight Flu Season?

So it’s too late in the season for you to get an effective flu shot. You’re fed up with the hollow claims of Emergen-C and Airborne. You don’t like how you feel in the morning after you take Nyquil. But how do you keep that stuffy nose and tickle in your throat from becoming a full-fledged attack? Luckily, we’re in L.A., awash in a sea of home remedies imported from around the world. So we asked around: What is your family/secret/grandmother’s/
fool-proof/works-every-time remedy for colds and flu?

Laurie Sasson

Tradition with a side of California pseudo-homeopathy

When someone in my family is sick, I reach into my Jewish-Syrian heritage and make what my mother used to make for me, and her mother made for her: shoo-weh.

Here are the ingredients: chicken, water, salt, rice. That’s it. Let it cook down until it’s thick but not gelled. For the right flavor and texture, use chicken on the bone—and make sure there’s a piece of skin on there, too. It tastes like a cream soup—a little salty, a little savory, very comforting.

As a born-and-raised Angeleno, I usually combine the soup with a California, pseudo-homeopathic, non-medical-establishment remedy. I combine a shot of orange juice with tinctures of Echinacea, goldenseal, and chlor-oxygen along with a drop of bee pollen. Because that concoction tastes like dirt, I drink it down, then eat the soup.

I don’t know which works best, so I take them both, as does my daughter. And I wonder what she will make for her kids someday when they’re sick. Even if she adds her own remedy, I hope she gives them both of mine, too.

Laurie Sasson is a property manager and developer in West Los Angeles.

Urbashi Mitra

Turmeric’s the cure for the common curry (and cold)

Turmeric: distinctively orange-yellow and able to leave indelible stains on unsuspecting clothing, this spice is synonymous with Indian cuisine. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in India as both a dye and a spice. But for my mother, it is a cure-all for everything from allergies to the common cold. She suggests one-seventh of a teaspoon in warm water or milk. Drink it on an empty stomach, twice a day, and she promises you will feel better, no matter what ails you. To me, the flavor is somehow both specific and wholly indefinable; it simply tastes like “home.”

Western medicine has recently begun to investigate the restorative effects of turmeric. Studies have shown that it is an antiseptic as well as an anti-inflammatory. I must confess I enjoy modern medicine; however I try to take turmeric regularly when I remember. And my mother’s shrimp curry would not be the same without it.


Urbashi Mitra is a professor of electrical engineering at USC.

Sherry Pejhan

Nothing beats hot lemonade—except hot lemonade with ginger

Drinking hot lemonade throughout the cold and flu season is an old Persian home remedy. But about three years ago, a friend of mine recommended adding ginger to the mix. I had always known about great qualities of ginger but had not given them much credence until I observed the effects of this miracle brew on my husband and brother. A healthy cocktail of hot ginger lemonade has almost completely rid them of their colds and coughs.

As soon as cold and flu season begins, I take a daily dose of 8 ounces of hot water, one teaspoon fresh ground ginger, one teaspoon of honey, and 2 teaspoon of lime or lemon juice. The drink immediately opens my sinuses and soothes my throat and chest, giving me a sense of warmth and vitality. We’ve also tried adding a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, especially at the onset of cold or flu symptoms, with incredible results.

Sherry Pejhan lives in Los Angeles and works at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Bianca Lizarraga

Grandma’s home brews

When it comes to curing the cold and flu, my grandmother has the perfect remedy: gordolobo tea, made from the small yellow mullein flower. This tea has been passed down through several generations in my family, and again and again it has proven its ability to alleviate coughs, fever, headache, and muscle aches for a restful night’s sleep.

Gordolobo is readily available in rural Southern Mexico—where our family resided up until recently—and is simply prepared by boiling a small handful of mullein flowers and stalks in water. The tea has a distinct mild taste, like chamomile, and a pleasant floral aroma.

At the first signs of cold and flu symptoms, my grandmother also brews eucalipto tea from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. Eucalipto is made by boiling three to four leaves in water and has a very minty aroma and a slightly bitter taste that I like to mask in spoonfuls of honey. But I have to admit that it’s very good at alleviating even a severe cough.

When I prepare my tea here in L.A., I feel as though I am traveling back in time to my grandmother’s pueblo in Mexico. Everyone in my family has benefited from the curative powers of a cup of gordolobo or eucalipto tea—and from a recipe that has remained unchanged for centuries.

Bianca Lizarraga is a recent graduate from UCLA and is currently applying to medical school.

Primary Editor: Kathryn Bowers. Secondary Editor: Sarah Rothbard.
*Photo courtesy of moofbong.
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