My Cold Cocktail


I didn’t think much about it for most of the day.

I sneeze often and have sinus issues and at my age, regulating my body temperature is a regular struggle.

By afternoon on Halloween, though, I felt that familiar tickle in the back of my throat;  that one that signals impending fever, chills, runny nose and a few days on the sofa.

Not long afterward, a chill ran through my body, the kind that comes with fever.

My one pet peeve in life: Being sick. I don’t like being miserable and I don’t like wasting precious time when I could be living.

I practically ran from The Belle Writer’s Studio back to Our Little House and started my “cold cocktail,” the one that has guaranteed me 99 percent of the time, if I start it right away, I can kick a cold before it ever takes hold.

In the past four years since we moved here, I’ve been sick once and that was due to Dale bringing home a bronchial infection of some sort that was going around town last year. By the time he acknowledged he was sick, nearly 10 days later, he had walking pneumonia. One more day and the doctor told me he would have put him in the hospital.

When I felt those symptoms start last year, I knew my cold cocktail wouldn’t be enough to knock it out and I did go to the doctor right away for antibiotics. Still, I was only sick a couple of days, compared to his nearly 3 weeks.

This is a major turn around from my child into young adulthood. I’m familiar with that tickle as I spent about 6 weeks each year down with a cold that later typically turned into bronchitis.

For years before I was diagnosed, I had allergies, one of the main ones being to cigarette smoke and my family was literally unknowingly contributing to a chronic bronchial condition.

Before that diagnosis, though, I developed the cold cocktail before Dale and I married. We had plans one weekend, but by Friday, I was feeling very sick. My mother, I believe, told me that she had just read that massive amounts of Vitamin C would sometimes knock a cold on its butt so I decided to give it a try.

After work, I drove to the local pharmacy and bought a big bottle of Cranapple juice and Vitamin C, took it back to my apartment, wrapped myself in a quilt and drank the whole bottle and downed quite a bit of the Vitamin C.

By the next morning, I was fine and Dale and I were on our way with whatever we had planned.

I perfected and modified my cocktail throughout the years. For example, I no longer drink cranapple juice due to the high sugar content and I’ve added the daily-recommended doses of Echinacea and Zinc. I also take an herbal mix from the health food store that boosts the immune system. I eat the chewable Vitamin C to help coat my throat.

I also learned I have to start the cocktail immediately upon the first symptoms or it will not work. Even just a few hours delay and I could be down anyway.

I caught it in time on Monday, though. By the time I went home that evening to bake the corn bread that would accompany the chili, I was sweating, a sure sign that the small fever I had developed was breaking.

Here’s my cold cocktail:

2,500 mgs. Chewable (pure) Vitamin C

recommended daily dose of Echinacea and Zinc

Two hours later, 1,000 mgs. of Vitamin C, repeating about every 4 hours, or 2,000 mgs. before bed. Don’t swallow anything else after chewing the vitamins, allowing them to coat the throat all night.

We also take the flu shot annually and an herbal immune system booster each day in the winter. Other precautions include trying not to touch our faces when we’re in public, especially the nose, eyes or mouth. I don’t use antibacterial gel at home, but we do use it when we’re going to be out on errands all day, especially if we eat while out.

Do you have a sure remedy for the common cold?

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38 Responses

  1. Aw, and here I thought there’d be vodka involved. 😉 I’m a big fan of C, too, though it sounds like you’ve got it down to a science.

  2. Sheryl says:

    I’m keeping this handy, since I’m fighting a cold now and my usual methods are not working!

  3. I hate colds. My remedy is a steam shower and lots of rest. Definitely easier said than done sometimes.

  4. I’ve bookmarked this … just in case. My classic “tell” is that the right side of my upper lip starts to itch. Weird, I know, but that’s a sign I’m getting sick and that whatever else I feel isn’t allergies.

    • Kerri says:

      Just make sure you have the stuff on hand, Roxanne. I know you live in a remote area and by the time you feel your twitch and are able to get to town and back, it may be too late. It only works for me if I start it immediately.

  5. Jane Boursaw says:

    I use cranberry juice, too! But you’re right, the sugar causes other problems. Lately I’ve found that alternating Emergen-C and AirBorne does the trick at staving off colds.

    • Kerri says:

      I haven’t used them, but I hear those are good commercially made products that have the same results. I always travel with Emergency, but I’ve never had to use it.

  6. Merr says:

    Vitamin C and lots of fluids. I go for the unsweetened powder C with water.

  7. Ember says:

    I rarely get sick but lately I’ve been trying to be really careful because of my co-workers getting colds at work. If I feel a tickle in my throat I’m definitely going to try this out, what a great idea. I think it’s brilliant that you added the Zinc as well! It’s quite dry where I live so there’s always dust in the air as well and colds catch much faster because of this it seems. This cold-cocktail really sounds like it will help! Such great ideas are found here on this blog. 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      My husband has the same problem with co-workers coming to work sick, Ember! Let us know how this works for you. Just remember not to take anymore than the recommended daily amount of zinc. You can overdose on most vitamins.

  8. Margo says:

    Great post Kerri! I’m allergic to most antibiotics so, to help stay well, I take 1,000 units of vitamin C, 3 times a day year round. I use the brands with “Ester C” or “AlphaSorb” in the name (as opposed to ascorbic acid) to prevent stomach upset or my skin breaking out. However, when I start to feel the ickies coming on, I grab the chewables just like you suggest. It’s amazing what that does to ease throat tickles.

    After my daughter had a recurrent problem with strep throat when she was little, I learned to replace our toothbrushes after a bout with illness. I’ve also been known to boil them every few days when one of us is sick just to make sure the germs don’t have any chance of survival.

    The one other thing I do during the winter months that I think helps is to change out the filter in our heating/air conditioning units every two weeks (instead of once a month). It just makes sense to me that is a place that germs might collect and grow. . .and I’m sure it helps with the efficiency of the furnace!

    • Kerri says:

      I have the same problems, Margo. I can only take certain antibiotics because I am allergic to penicillin and I have stomach issues with some as well. Good suggestions. We always replace the toothbrushes if we get sick too. Replacing the furnace filter is a great idea.

  9. i gave up “refined” sugar 3 years ago, and i have not had a cold or been sick since. and my allergies and arthritis are completely gone! and i lost 20 pounds the first month! and i agree with kathleen, that eating healthy is also very important. i just wanted to share my story after reading all the others. and, yes, elderberry is great!

    • Kerri says:

      That’s excellent, Esther! Thank you for sharing that.

      • welcome! i just wish i could convince the rest of the world how evil refined sugar is. and the horrible things it does to your body. it has been proven that 1/4 teaspoon of sugar knocks out the immune system for 4 hours. when you consider how much people consume every day, you can understand why so many people get sick! sorry to get so far off your original subject, i just wanted to share. have a great day! 🙂

  10. sarah henry says:

    Yeah, I do the vitamin hit when I feel a cold coming on too. And hot lemon juice with honey and fresh ginger.

  11. Good timing, Kerri. I’ve had allergy-type sniffles all fall, but am worried they’re going to blossom into something worse. I better stock up on more zinc.

    • Kerri says:

      Just be careful with the zinc, Casey. While you cannot take too much VC, you can take too much zinc. Just make sure to not take more than the recommended daily dose of that.

      • Sheryl M says:

        Kerri- What is the negative of too much zinc?

        • Kerri says:

          You can overdose on many vitamins and minerals and zinc is one of them. If you OD on vitamins, I’ve read that absorbing others that you need becomes more difficult. The symptoms of zinc overdose also includes headaches, fatigue and vomiting, so you definitely want to follow only the daily recommended doses.

  12. Becky King says:

    I just came down with my husband’s coodies.. I hate coodies.. Because of coodies I missing out on going to the beach with family this weekend.. grrrrrrrrrrrrr… this posting couldn’t have come at a better time.. thanks for all the advise everyone..

  13. Alexandra says:

    Interesting that you specify to let the Vit. C coat your throat. I used to live in France where there was a spray for the throat that always beat a cold if I sprayed as soon as I felt it coming on. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  14. I very rarely catch a cold even though I do suffer from allergies. With the exception of a nasty flu that my husband and I both came down with a few years ago, I have been “cold free” for quite a few years. In fact, I honestly don’t remember the last time I had a cold. I don’t know what to attribute that to, except maybe a naturally good immune system and of course I try to maintain a healthy diet and get lots of exercise. I also work at home so am not exposed to a lot of the germs that other people come in contact with. I’m not a big vitamin and supplement advocate though I take a multi-vitamin and calcium. I have always felt like a well balanced diet is a better way to get my nutrition than pills, so I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It’s great that you’ve found a way to nip a cold in the bud, Kerri! I hate being sick too! I hope the coming winter months don’t bring any cold and flu germs to my household or yours!

    • Kerri says:

      I eat a well-balanced diet as well, Kathleen, but when we come into contact with cold causing germs, I do believe it doesn’t hurt to give our immune systems a boost. Another friend just told me all about her healthy diet, right before a cold smacked her. I would rather pack in the extra vitamins and herbs than be sick even one day.

      • I know how conscientious you are about diet, Kerri. I’m sure you eat every bit as healthy as I do if not more so. Evidently, your home remedy is working for you, so there must be something in it that your body responds to. Here’s to a healthy, cold-free winter for all of us!

  15. Olivia says:

    I don’t have a sure remedy for anything – wish I did.

    My “go-to” dish for any sort of cold/flu is hot chicken broth combined with V8 juice – I crave it.
    That and as much water as I can drink during the day.

    I got the pneumonia vaccine this year, in addition to the flu shot, because almost any cold or flu I get goes straight into my lungs and causes bronchitis. This happened last spring wgile I was visiting my pregnant daughter and, since I am about to go up to help her with her new baby, I wanted to take all the precautions I can.

    • Olivia says:

      I forgot to mention elderberry extract – a thick syrup that I also use for flu, although it is hard to find.You just need a dropperful.

  16. Beth Meigse says:

    I just recently got over a cold, and, as always, as soon as I feel the symptoms coming on, I start using a saline nasal spray and Listerine as often as I can, to kill the virus germs. I take medication for an irregular heartbeat that does not allow me to take cold medications, but I’ve found that if you attack the germs at their source, it cuts a cold down to a couple of days and the symptoms are usually very mild. I also slug down the cranberry juice and chicken soup, as well, and try to get extra rest if I can!