(All articles but the last one on the remarkable benefits of Sauerkraut were originally featured in Arizona City Independent Edition, January 3 & 17, 2001)

For well over 20 years I have used my "sure for a cold" to fight the congestion that marks the onset of one of the most common human maladies. When I do it right, 99 times out of 100, it works. Cold's gone.

The recipe was handed down to me by an old family doctor. Actually, he wasn't in my family and he wasn't my doctor. In fact, he worked with my husband--not as a doctor, but as a truck driver.

I've found that former doctors often practice holistic remedies. All the ex-doctors I've met became physicians to please someone besides themselves and left the profession because they couldn't stand hypocrisy and greed. Without exception, their leaving medicine meant leaving spouses as well. By the time I met these ex-doctors, they'd grown into fun-loving, down-to-earth people, probably because they were finally living their own dreams instead of someone else's.

Anyway, this wise ex-doctor-turned-truck-driver gave me the recipe for a sure cure for a cold in 1975, but I didn't start using it for at least a couple of years after that. Even then, it took me a while longer to get into the habit of remembering to use it as soon as a cold threatened. Now it's my first reaction to any serious case of sniffles.

Over the years I've given this recipe to numerous people. Most scoff, and few actually try it. Only one ever came back to tell me it works, but based on other, negative, reports I've received, I know it's not the fault of the recipe. Everyone wants to change the recipe--either consciously or subconsciously. Few actually believe it will work, and therein lies the problem.

One person substituted salt for the sugar. No way.

Another wanted to use honey. Won't work.

Someone tried hot tea instead of hot water. Uh, uh.

Hot coffee? No dice.

How about soda pop? Come on!

The vitamin C tablets? Two hundred fifty milligrams is what I've preferred to use, which works just fine for me. One hundred seems too small, and more than 250 is probably too much, especially if you have to take it for more than 24 hours. Anyway, why argue with success?

(Note added in 2005: Have you noticed how it's suddenly impossible to get 250 mg. vitamin C tablets, no doubt due to pressure from the vitamin "megadose" craze? I admit, I now have to use three 500 mg. tablets instead of five 250 mg., and they seem to work fine.  I'm certainly not going to take chances by overdosing on C as too many people are wont to do these days!)

Dosing every four hours, day and night, presents the real challenge. Between work and sleep, most people don't want to bother with that schedule, even though the cold steals far more time from both activities. But set your alarm clock to take this "medicine," and you won't regret it. If you do, your viral battle might not last more than 24 hours. Isn't that better than the week to 10 days that colds usually run?

What if you're fighting one of those vicious flu bugs? A virus is a virus, at least as far as the breathing tubes are concerned, and for over two decades I've had few such bouts that last more than a day or two. I used to spend every winter with bronchitis for at least three months, including a couple of weeks of laryngitis, and they all started with a "head cold." I still get a seriously runny nose at the drop of a hat--or the whirl of a fan, since I'm allergic to air conditioning too--but now if I can't get rid of the problem by enclosing myself in the warmest wraps, I can usually fight off the incipient infection immediately. In fact, it usually only takes one dose of vitamin C now, which shows how much this regimen has finally helped me to build up my resistance to respiratory infection--after sixty years of nothing but.

Okay, you're probably wondering by now, what the devil is she talking about? And when is she going to shut up? In just a few paragraphs, I promise. Right after I give you the complete recipe for the "sure cure for the common cold."

And here goes:

At the first sign of serious sniffles, gather a cup, a teaspoon, sugar (yes, sugar!), and five vitamin C tablets (remember, 250 milligrams is probably best, but as I acknowledge above, if you have to use 500 mg., it's probably better to limit it to three tablets). Pour two heaping teaspoons of sugar into the cup. Make them spilling-over-the-edge-of-the-spoon heaping. Pour water into the cup, stirring to completely dissolve the sugar. Then pop the cup of sugar water into the microwave for just over a minute to maybe a minute and a half, depending on how strong your microwave is, until the water's just a bit too hot for the baby bottle, by the old wives' wrist test. Experience will teach you exactly how much "zapping" your water needs--and what temperature your lips can take.

When the water's hot enough, down the vitamins with the hot sugar-water. Drain the whole cup quickly so the water doesn't have a chance to cool off. Feel that steam hit your congested nasal passages? You'll get a sudden burst of clarity in the nose, which, I admit, is short lived. It will probably take several doses to chase the sickness completely away. That's the most important part of the recipe. You must dose yourself this way every four hours, day and night, until your respiratory tract is completely cleared of congestion. That's the real secret. If you do it correctly and consistently, your longest cold or flu bout probably won't last more than 72 hours.

Why does it work? I'm not sure, but I've collected several bits of information that fit together into a plausible explanation. The ex-doctor/truck-driver who gave me the recipe told me that the hot sugar water acts as a fermenter, moving the vitamin C through the body's system faster than normal. Another (practicing) physician explained that vitamin C helps the body manufacture interferon, the body's natural immune factor, which fights a virus directly, instead of just covering up symptoms--which is all a cold medicine will do.

Since I've used the recipe steadily for well over twenty years, I believe it's helped me build up a general resistance to the most common viral infections. For a dozen years in the 1980s and 1990s, I also had weekly allergy shots, but that doesn't explain my almost complete resistance to normal colds and flu, even when people around me feel like they're practically "dying" from these maladies. After a single dose of this recipe, my sniffles usually disappear completely in little more than an hour. Compare that to about three days when I first started using this protocol regularly. I may be wrong, but I'm not about to test it myself by letting one of those infections go ahead and run the regular course in my body.

This recipe can even help ease a viral infection you've had for a while, but it doesn't work as fast and thoroughly on a deeply ingrained respiratory infection as it does on the budding cold or incipient case of the flu.

If you're brave enough to try this recipe, do it exactly by the book or not at all. If you do it right, you may be surprised to find your cold gone within 24 to 72 hours. It works for me, and that's all I need to know.

Now, if you need more treatment, or want to really zap all that congestion, try the next recipe for root veggie broth.  It especially helps when the vitamin C regimen isn't quite enough for the occasional "super" virus. Meanwhile, I wish you good health!


Debbie Jordan