Fighting flu the traditional way

By now everyone with a functioning immune system is aware that there’s a flu epidemic out there, the worst one in years. This year’s flu vaccine “missed” the main strain, and that means that even people who got the shots are getting the flu. (And this, by the way, is NOT a reason not to get a shot. Shots can lessen the severity of any strain.)

Anyway, since most of you are homebound and miserable, the Research Department decided to make everyone feel better by practicing medicine without a license. Under the pseudonym “Dr. Scnhozz,” our very own R.D. answers your most pressing flu questions right here, with no waiting and also no medical content whatsoever.

Dear Dr. Schnozz: My granny tells me that my flu symptoms would be better if I used a “poultice.” What’s a poultice, and where can I get one?

Dear Reader: The bad news is that a poultice is something that smells horrible and is smeared on cloth and applied to your chest with some kind of animal fat. The good news is that you can make your own. Take any historically accurate poultice material (chopped garlic, chicken poo, wormwood leaves, etc.) and mix it with lard. Slather a piece of cheesecloth with it and then slap that bad boy onto your congested chest. You may not notice the benefits right away, except that people no longer bother you by coming in the room to ask how you’re doing. Under no circumstances should you wear a poultice to church or even Walmart. If you are a complete wimp, you can make one with Vicks VapoRub, but it’s less effective than chicken poo in most cases.

Dear Dr. Schnozz: I am spending my retirement savings on Kleenex. Isn’t there something homemade I can do for my drippy nose?

Dear Reader: It’s obvious that your bodily humors are out of balance. You have too much phlegm, which is what you get during a cold, wet season. (If it’s cold and dry, you have black bile, which is treated differently.) What you need is bloodletting, which can be a DIY project if you just obtain some medical-quality leeches and apply them to your ribcage (front or back). We recommend letting the leeches stay on for two to four days while you have a case of the heebie-jeebies. If they fall off naturally, get some more leeches. If this didn’t work in the Middle Ages, we wouldn’t be here, so tell that to the skeptics.

Dear Dr. Schnozz: My throat is killing me. What does traditional folk medicine recommend?

Dear Reader: The best cure for a sore throat is a bandage of dirty socks. In medieval times, people would take their stockings, which were truly filthy since no one ever, ever bathed, and wind those around their throats. Not only did it help cure the soreness, but it kept people away, since the sight of someone wearing a sock around his or her neck had the same effect that people wearing those paper flu masks has now. No one knows how the sock cure works. It’s best not to ask, since it’s probably magic, and asking would mess everything up.

Dear Dr. Schnozz: My throat is STILL killing me.

Dear Reader: Hmmmm. Must be a recalcitrant case, but don’t worry, we’ll bring out the big guns of DIY medicine. Go to the nearest traditional Chinese doctor’s office and get some powdered lizard. It’s important to get this from a certified Chinese doctor rather than trying to make your own, because the kind of lizard is important. Steep the powdered lizard in water and drink four ounces twice a day. Alternatively, you can put some of the lizard powder in your socks and tie those around your throat again.

Dear Dr. Schnozz: <Croak>

Dear Reader: Even we can’t win them all. We hope everyone else in your family has plenty of chicken soup, Kleenex and Tamiflu. Oh, and that they all stay home for a while.

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