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Locals pitch flu remedies, from whiskey cough syrup to raw garlic

Time again to work out the fastest route between your bed and the bathroom: It’s flu season in Hall County.

You got your shot, you’ve stayed in shape all year and you’ve guzzled all the yogurt in Kroger — gotta get that good bacteria — to perfect your immune system.

But it’s not enough. Maybe your kindergartner brought it home with him or you caught it from that jerk co-worker who comes to the office half-dead to sit in on your 4-hour, closed-door staff meeting.

So now you’re sick, but don’t despair — the Good People of Gainesville (and Hall County) have some recommendations to cure what ails you.

Or at least make it less terrible.

We’ve got a few of their ideas listed along with some feedback from Dr. James Kruer, an internal medicine doc with the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group in Gainesville.

Barbara von Eppinger, who works in circulation at the Hall County Library System, swears by her family’s old Sicilian remedy for the flu (or the cold): garlic. Lots of garlic.

Von Eppinger, who was born Barbara Giambrone, said she uses “a spoonful (or more, if you love it) of minced raw garlic, or one clove cut in two and swallowed.” It’s a tried-and-true method for her, though the taste might be a little strong if you’re trying it for the first time.

Funny thing is, garlic does actually provide some relief for colds and the flu -- or for their symptoms, Kruer said. Garlic has a calming effect on the digestive system.

Apple cider vinegar also showed up a few times in recommendations provided to The Times.

Sue Foster, also a library system employee, said she gargles the stuff when she’s under the weather — but it has to be Bragg’s brand.

Kruer said that gargling apple cider vinegar, saltwater or plain water will help relieve throat and nasal symptoms caused by cold and flu viruses.

Cindy Wright, a mother of four from Clermont, recommended a daily regimen of apple cider vinegar, raw honey and cinnamon — swallowed, not gargled.

“We do apple cider vinegar with raw honey and cinnamon,” Wright said. “I have yet to have the flu ever, and I’m 47 years old.”

Her kids have never had it either, and just like Foster, Wright recommends unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar.

“That keeps us pretty healthy — I do it every day,” Wright said, noting she takes that tonic throughout the year.

During flu season, she ups her dose from once a day to twice. She also complements apple cider vinegar with elderberry syrup during the season.

“I’ve heard of people taking apple cider for cholesterol, I think, but that’s not studied or evidence-based,” Kruer said of vinegar giving lasting health benefits.

Now, the weird stuff.

Cheryl Diaz wrote to pass along her grandmother’s old cough syrup recipe: water, whiskey, peppermint and honey.

“I don’t know the exact measurements, but I remember sitting at her kitchen table and her pouring a tea cup about half full of whiskey and then filling it with water, then putting a crushed peppermint stick in it and sit it in the window for a while,” Diaz said. “She would pour that in a mason jar and fill the rest of the way with honey.”

Cough syrup or no, it at least sounds like a recipe for a good time.

Others passed along a couple of extra odd flu remedies: One person said they’ve heard that a sliced raw onion left on the counter will absorb germs that cause illness, and a boiled raw potato will draw infections out of the body.

Shock of all shocks, these didn’t pass muster with Kruer.

But even doctors grow up with their own home remedies. When he was a boy in Indiana, Kruer’s mother had her own method of curing the flu.

“My mom used to put Vicks salve on your chest and on your neck and wrap it with a sock,” Kruer said, chuckling. “It was an old sock — one of my dad’s socks.”

Doctor’s orders: Next time you’re congested, grab some Vicks and head for the sock drawer.

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