the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Thank you, Dr. Internet

Last week’s virus that sealed my throat shut luckily lasted only a few days. Normally, a sickness like that would have knocked me out for at least a good week because I am descended from a Hamilton. Our white blood cells were acne-ridden nerds who were picked on mercilessly in middle school, so now they avoid conflict. An Illness shows up and they’re like HERE’S MY LUNCH MONEY. Oh! And let me show you where I keep my panties so that you can soak them in water and stick them in the freezer.

I never did end up going to the doctor, so I read up on some home remedies. Now, stop it right there. Do not shake your head at me. I’m not talking about voodoo dolls or shaman or spitting moonshine at imaginary spirits while I hop on one leg, although remind me to tell you about that one time we hired an exorcist to rid the house of the bad juju that we could feel clinging to the walls in every room, and OH MY GOD I JUST USED THE WORD JUJU ON PURPOSE.

(I’ve only grown one dreadlock. So it’s okay. I’m going to listen to Britney Spears to cleanse myself.)

She determined that there were two vortexes in the basement sucking in negative energy from surrounding neighborhoods: diseases and house fires and car crashes and long held disputes between fathers and sons. ALL LIVING IN MY BASEMENT. And none of them were paying rent THOSE ASSHOLES.

Anyway, by home remedies I mean, short of burning a giant bushel of salvia and chanting Native American prayers while spinning in circles, was there anything I could do to make living through my symptoms any easier? Thankfully my google searches returned only a few stories of death and gore and a Yahoo! answers page where someone didn’t go to the doctor and next thing you know their nose had fallen off. Whatever, you noseless drama queen! This is THE INTERNET. Lose a few more limbs and have a house fall on your dog. How else can we take you seriously?

So, yeah. I took a ton of ibuprofen, but that wasn’t really doing anything for my throat. And you guys, every swallow was a knife sliding down the back of my mouth. Most medical websites suggested I try a homemade drink of hot water, lemon juice, and honey:

That sprig of mint is lying there only for styling purposes. It has no medicinal value in this scenario whatsoever. But see how it ties together the label on the bottle of honey and the color of the lemons? Yeah? Hey, design blogs: YOU’RE WORKING!

And, wow. No, wait a minute. Not empathic enough. WOW. WOW. WAHHH-CHICKA-OW-OW.

Best home remedy ever. After one glass I wasn’t screaming anymore. After two glasses I was able to consume food. After three glasses I was shitting newborn kittens. It was amazing. From now on this is exactly how I will treat a sore throat.

DISCLAIMER: I am no medical expert. If you try this drink and then die, I take no responsibility whatsoever. (Kittens could possibly rupture your lower intestine.)

  • HDC

    2012/05/29 at 1:30 pm

    Good idea.

    However, I would have not let that mint go to waste. Life gives you mint, make Mojitos.

  • cantgracefullyagree

    2012/05/29 at 1:33 pm

    I have been suffering from that horrible sore throat since last week, too. I also found this recipe, only I put mine in hot tea. It made it taste a bit better and it seemed a little healthier. Sore throat was gone, now just trying to get the damn cough to go away.

  • hanniy

    2012/05/29 at 1:44 pm

    I LOVE, Love, love hot water with lemon juice when I have a sore throat. I’m going to have to try it with honey! I’ve read that honey is naturally soothing, so it makes sense that it works so well. But I really hope I don’t have to try it for a year or two…

    Glad you’re feeling better! 🙂

  • annalitchka

    2012/05/29 at 1:52 pm

    This stuff works quite well, I must agree!

    But I do prefer my old recipe for hot buttered rum: Shuffle to the sink, moaning softly. Turn on the hot water. Get out a mug. Put a couple lumps of brown sugar in it. Add a pat of butter, then a couple glugs of rum. Now that the hot water is HOT, fill up your mug with that.
    Now shuffle back to bed, careful not to spill your hot buttered rum. It will help, I promise. And if it doesn’t, you won’t care as much.

  • Steph at UM

    2012/05/29 at 1:53 pm

    I would add a shot of vodka for good measure.

  • kristanhoffman

    2012/05/29 at 2:19 pm

    Oh dude, you didn’t need Google. I coulda told you that! (As could my mom, since she’s the one who told me.)

    Hot honey water w/ lemon is my remedy for pretty much any minor “I’m not feeling well” incidents.

    Also, I know Airborne has been debunked, but it’s still basically a super-vitamin, and I take it anytime my boyfriend gets sick and I don’t want to, or anytime I suspect I may be getting sick, and I truly believe it helps me to prevent sickness and/or recover more quickly. (Half an Airborne daily, to be specific. Coupled with sleeping as much as possible each night.) FWIW, I haven’t been stay-home-from-work/school sick in years. (Of course now I’ve just jinxed that…)

    Anyhoot, I’m glad you’re feeling better!

  • wahine429

    2012/05/29 at 2:26 pm

    Good stuff. I also suggest a cup of hot water with a tbsp of honey and a tbsp of apple cider vinegar…works wonders as well (and ACV is awesome for your digestion too).

  • Annie007

    2012/05/29 at 2:33 pm

    You found the magic cure. I once had a wicked bad sore throat and was about to get on an airplane. I got a big hot tea from the coffee shop and put in lots of lemon and honey. I sipped on it the whole 3 hour flight and was delighted when my throat was totally soothed.

    Good to hear you’re feeling better.

  • waitimaprincess

    2012/05/29 at 2:36 pm

    You know what makes this even betterer? Whiskey. Mmmmm warm. Warmer. Good. Better. Betterer. No more fire throat and tipsiness to boot.

  • lizgwiz

    2012/05/29 at 2:52 pm

    Here’s an “even better”: cut up the lemon, and boil it with a few peeled cloves of garlic, strain the resulting liquid and mix with honey. Powerful germ-fighting.

  • i.delia

    2012/05/29 at 2:55 pm

    was given a similar recipe by my friend Kris, except with the addition of apple cider vinegar and a crushed clove of garlic.

    Who knows, maybe it doesn’t even work, but it smells so badly that no one wants to be around you so at least you can recuperate in peace!

  • katalia

    2012/05/29 at 3:10 pm

    I do hot water with lemon, honey and ginger … it cures everything.

  • eco

    2012/05/29 at 3:28 pm

    My dad made these with the whiskey added when we were kids. I’m not sure if it totally worked or if we just didn’t care anymore and quit bugging him. Either way, win.

    He did draw the line on us having seconds, thirds, and fourths, no matter how much we fake-coughed. Dammit.

  • tokenblogger

    2012/05/29 at 3:42 pm

    “shitting newborn kittens”


  • nordcq

    2012/05/29 at 4:14 pm

    My mom used to give me honey & lemon in hot water when I was sick as a kid, and it still makes me feel all loved & cared for. If I was *really* sick (ie, I had been keeping her up at night), she would throw in a splash of brandy to help me sleep. And when I said it tasted funny, she would deny there was anything different about it!

  • Regency Romantic

    2012/05/29 at 4:15 pm

    Add bourbon and all will be well 🙂

  • alanmill

    2012/05/29 at 5:33 pm

    Add burboun, and you basically have Nyquill. I agree, hot tea makes it easier to get down.

  • Larkspur

    2012/05/29 at 6:08 pm

    I am sold on the honey lemon deal. Every morning I drink a big glass of water (hot), with the juice of one lemon, a spoonful of local honey, and here’s the ingredient for everyday use: a spoonful of ground flaxseed. It is good for one’s spirit and soul, but mostly I use it because I wish to have a perfectly balanced, exquisitely efficient digestive system. That remains a goal rather than an accomplishment, but I have noticed benefits.

    The local honey is supposed to have a beneficial effect on diminishing the intensity of allergies to local flora. (There are no claims as to its effects on local fauna.) And this comment has been interrupted by multiple sneezes. But supposedly it takes time. And it’s more expensive than regular SueBee honey. But it’s good, and supports local businesses, and shut up I like it, I’m gonna buy it, and anyone who tries to stop me, I’ll take ’em down with me.

    Glad you are feeling better.

  • tigerlamb

    2012/05/29 at 6:40 pm

    Mint IS medicinal. It’s wonderful as tea — iced mint tea. Yummy. And sooo healthy!

    But, over to your cold fix; why not go the whole mile Dooce?

    Lemon + honey + shot of whiskey (heated – not boiled and not nuked!).
    Gently heat whiskey > add honey and fresh lemon > drink > sleep peacefully.

    Got a bad cough that won’t shut up and let you sleep?
    Slather the soles of feet in Vicks Vapo-Rub > cover with socks > go to bed and sleep.
    This work best if you soak in a hot bath first — as it opens up the pores. The menthol/camphor pulls toxins out through the soles of your feet and for some strange reason totally shuts the cough up.

    Glad you feel better though :).

  • pingersgal

    2012/05/29 at 7:45 pm

    I grew up drinking lemon and honey whenever we were sick. Sore throats, colds, general ickiness…and I drink it every morning when I am well as it is a GREAT cleanser for your system (I don’t mean a clean out the poop cleanser, just a general good for your blood cleanser). My kids love lemon and honey..and my picky, I’d rather lay on the couch and moan husband also is a lemon and honey convert! Glad it helped you out!

  • tinacolada97

    2012/05/29 at 9:18 pm

    Lemon tea with honey is the professional singer’s go-to remedy.

    But if you ask any opera singer or voice teacher, they are also usually a walking pharmacy for all sorts of voice-related meds (allergy pills, decongestants, nasal sprays….you name it….)

  • marbenais

    2012/05/29 at 10:16 pm

    That’s my immune system, too. It hears a whisper of a virus or bacteria and it says I SURRENDER! Funny, my insurance company won’t cover a sealed bubble for me to live in, which would’ve made this allergy season bearable.

  • Jalima

    2012/05/29 at 11:06 pm

    Glad you are feeling more human and must try that remedy (with a big glug of rum) next time I feel similar.

  • Babydoll

    2012/05/30 at 12:01 am

    I love the nerdy white-blood cells. Brilliant! Glad to hear you’re feeling better, too.

    I try to work in the phrase ‘good’ or ‘bad’ juju into my dialogue each day, depending on what’s going down. Ask anyone.

    And when you do, they’ll tell you how hilarious I think I am.

  • sheas

    2012/05/30 at 12:51 am

    I went through the exact same things two weeks ago. I found gargling with hydrogen peroxide helped immensely with the sore throat, and then the hot water with honey and lemon came in handy when my cold morphed into a cough that wouldn’t quit. Seriously, even codeine cough syrup couldn’t make a dent in this cough. Hot water with lemon and honey was the only thing that provided any relief so I could sleep. And, I get the added nostalgia bonus of memories of my mom making it for me when I was a little girl. 🙂

  • filmlady11

    2012/05/30 at 5:54 am

    I hope you used your Hug Mug while you drank it! 😉
    Glad you’re feeling better.

  • filmlady

    2012/05/30 at 6:00 am

    BTW, “filmlady11” is the same as plain ole “filmlady” (computer screwup, one of many!)

  • Scott-5x5

    2012/05/30 at 7:21 am

    Woke up this morning with a wicked sore throat so the timing on this is perfect. Thanks!

  • adi82

    2012/05/30 at 9:08 am

    Ok, Heather, I know you are a very busy woman and you get LOTS of comments that you don’t have time to reply to. But I beg, please answer me this: How did you take those pictures?! I like to think I am an aspiring photographer and I’m dying to know what you used to get that white background, no shadows, etc. Please help!

  • adi82

    2012/05/30 at 9:11 am

    Oh, and P.S. I’m glad you’re feeling better! I will keep that in mind next time I get a sore throat. I’ve heard it many times, but didn’t think it would actually work! Sorry I went straight to the nerdy photography question, how very rude of me.

  • JuliaA

    2012/05/30 at 9:17 am

    “I do hot water with lemon, honey and ginger … it cures everything.”

    doesn’t cure imo but tastes AWESOME and helps. i boil the water w/ginger so it gets super-gingery, then squeeze in lemon and honey and mix. so good.

    (also good for upset stomachs/nausea/etc)(ginger is, i mean)

  • beattiestudios

    2012/05/30 at 10:19 am

    Thank you so much! I woke up this morning with a sore throat and immediately thought of your post, which I read yesterday. 🙂 and I recently read that hot water with fresh lemon juice is very good and cleansing for your liver. Double points!

    Love me some natural home remedies and

    Warmly, Elizabeth

  • MadelaK

    2012/05/30 at 11:37 am

    Add some whiskey to that and you have a badass hot toddy. Makes you feel better in more ways than one!

  • luv and kiwi

    2012/05/30 at 12:25 pm

    I just swooned a bit over your food styling. EYEGASMS!

  • dooce

    2012/05/30 at 12:38 pm

    @adi82 I have a white table in a really bright corner of the living room. It’s all natural light, and the color of the table makes the shadows less stark.

  • newoldfashioned

    2012/05/30 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve always used warm saltwater gargles, which works wonders…but I bet your remedy tastes a LOT better.

  • zchamu

    2012/05/30 at 7:50 pm

    Ratios? Or just mix til it tastes like you think it should taste? So imprecise, this voodoo.

  • Becky Cochrane

    2012/05/31 at 1:01 am

    Glad you’re feeling better. Unrelated: The bowl in your 5/30 post reminds me of one belonging to my husband. If it’s okay to post a link here, he shared the story of it on this site:

  • iliadawry

    2012/05/31 at 2:50 am

    Swap the water for whiskey (or just add some whiskey) and that’s the only thing I’ve been able to take for coughs since I was a tiny girl. I am glad my Southern mama had the sense to give it to me when I threw up any and every cough medicine about as soon as I got it swallowed. Also, there’s something kind of fun about calling your super reserved mother from work and demanding she buy you whiskey and IT’S ALL HER FAULT.

    I’m a Jack Daniels girl, but I hear other varieties exist.

  • AshesVonDust

    2012/05/31 at 5:11 am

    Those same ingredients are also amazing for taking care of your skin:

    Wet a cotton round with lemon juice and dip into sugar for an amazing exfoliant that will get rid of zits, blackhead, mystery bumps, discoloration, etc. Use it on your face, elbows, even your armpits if you get discoloration there.

    Washing your face with straight up honey is amazing, it’s naturally antibacterial/antimicrobial, so awesome for people who get zits, also leaves your skin ridonkadonk soft.

    Kinda weird that bee vomit is so good for your skin. Like, hey, puke on my face to clean it, makes total sense!

  • gvnyc

    2012/05/31 at 5:42 am

    I’m totally being rude when I say this, but I kind of just want to say, “Duh.” Isn’t this like THE most classic treatment for a sore throat? That, and gargling with salt water. My mom always made me gargle and I hated it and gagged, but it really does work. Lemon and honey, however, is a far more gentle and tastier solution.

  • Curiosity

    2012/06/06 at 11:06 am

    I’m descendant from Hamiltons as well, and I’ve never heard a better description of our immune systems. Maybe somewhere long ago our great great great relatives threw up on each other.

  • antifuse

    2012/06/12 at 9:28 am

    My wife does a similar drink, except she does lemons, sugar and cloves. Swears by it. The smell makes me want to barf, but she loves it. 🙂

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more