Clearing the Pathways: An Egyptian Solution to the Flu


As you know from my last post, I have been sick. Worse, I have the flu. And I have it good. It has been five days and I still have a very heavy chest and congestion in my head. I am also coughing like there is no tomorrow and my throat was raw. So when my landlord told me:

“I have theengs for you to do. It is Egyptian remedee.” (I added the accent).

I said, “Why not?” She told me the thing to do was loosen the congestion in my chest. She was not concerned with the sneezing or runny nose. She said that was a good thing, that a runny nose and sneezing was sending things out of my body. But the liquid in my lungs is harder to get out and coughing was not able to get it out. The goal was going to loosen the congestion in my lungs so I could cough it out.


She told me to continue what I was doing. Cough drops and Nyquil for the discomfort. Lots of water for the dehydration. And a lot of vitamin C (oranges, tea with lemon and grapefruit). But she added a few more steps. So here is what she taught me.

Something for the Throat

In order to clear my lungs, I need to cough. In order to cough with confidence, I need to get rid of the sore throat. Nagda (my landlady) had an answer for this.


Add four ounces of warm water to a cup. Add one tablespoon of honey (real honey, not that artificial stuff) and squeeze in the juice of one lemon (the more lemon juice, the better). Mix it together. You want to water warm, not hot. Hot water will eliminate the vitamin C you get from the lemon. The honey will make the drink sweet and counter the sour of the lemon. The lemon will kill the bad bacteria in the throat and add a little vitamin C as a bonus.

When drinking, do not swallow right away. Let the liquid sit in the back of your throat for a few seconds then swallow.

Loosening Chest Congestion

Just before bed, take whatever cough medicine you take. Nagda likes Nyquil (and so do I). Then take a hot shower for about fifteen minutes (or longer. But California is in a drought and long showers cost big money). The steam will loosen the congestion in the chest and just make you feel better.


Now, for the weird part. Get rubbing alcohol. Rub the alcohol all over your chest. Grab a few sheets of newspaper and crumple them up. Put a shirt on and put the newspaper underneath your shirt and over the chest where you applied the alcohol. This will prevent the alcohol from evaporating quickly and will insulate heat to the chest (a trick that homeless people use to keep warm on cold nights).

Finally, try to sleep with your chest higher than your head. This will allow gravity to pull the congestion away from the lungs so coughing may expel the phlegm easier. I found this difficult to do but pillows under my hips and legs raised my chest above my head and was pretty comfortable (though I am no fan of sleeping on my back).

The Results

I have been doing this for the last two days and have found the results quite satisfying. On both nights, I was able to sleep well with minimal coughing. When I did, I felt the liquid in me chest come up, forcing me to spit (that is the bad stuff going away). Throughout the first day, I actually felt good. I coughed frequently, but the congestion in my chest loosened and was coming out when coughing. I had strong coughing fits throughout the day and evening.


Today is the second day and I feel a lot better. I am still coughing but far less frequently. My chest feels far clearer and I feel more come up every time I cough. I think the Egyptian remedy works really well. I am very happy about it and will do it again.

The bad news: two co-workers just called in sick. I think part of this remedy should have been calling in sick to work. Oops.


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