sniffle bugg brought his friend whoopie along, so now i have a house full of people with the whooping cough. everyone has it, except (thankfully) yours truly . . . i had it as a child, so perhaps am immune due to the experience or else all the herbs i take to keep my friendly little lymey spirochete friends in check have made me incredibly resilient. either way, the whoopies have struck and they’re a bizzarre phenomenon.
first everyone seemed to be going through a cold. sneezing. runny nose. sore throat. i began feeding them a paste of equal parts slippery elm bark, licorice root, and echinacea root powders with a big pinch of goldenseal root powder and enough honey to make it sticky. along with this i gave them the elderberry syrup we had made over the summer. easy to do. we went on a walk down our driveway with a basket, a stick, and some snippers. there are three elders along the way. at the time they were heavily laden with dark bluey/purple berries. so we used the stick to bend the branches toward us, the snippers to cut the clusters with, and the basket to carry them back home in.
once in the kitchen, the berries were removed from the stems and placed into a pot. the pot was filled with just enough water to cover the berries. the lid was put on and set to bubble and boil for an hour. then the berries were mashed and stirred and simmered for another hour. now they were strained. there was approximately 1 gallon, to which i added between a quart and half-gallon of honey, and then simmered and stirred it for a few minutes. when it cooled, half of it was funnelled into 32 oz. brown bottles and put in the fridge and the remainder is still in the freezer. if you have no access to fresh berries, dry ones will suffice. i’ve used 4 cups dry berries submerged in 10 cups water and brought to a boil, then simmered for 1-2 hours. strain and add 2 cups honey, resimmer for 10 minutes. cool, bottle, and store in the same way. (oh and the cooked berries can be used too . . . . 1/2 of them smashed with honey and cinnamon to taste, tossed with 3 tbsp. flour, then laid to rest in an unbaked pie shell and topped with a latticed pie dough, then baked makes a delicious pie. save the other half of the cooked berries for a second pie or add to pancakes and muffins). anyway, the syrup is great stuff in every way and has always sent a cold on its way in about 3 days. not this time. this time the cold lasted a week.
after a week, everyone seemed absolutely fine for a few days. then began these odd bouts of coughing. it began at night. lots of coughing and coughing and coughing and gasping and vomitting. each person went through this on successive nights until they’d all gone through the cough- till- you- gag- and- throw- up phase. then they moved into coughing upon waking up with lots of nose blowing, coughing at bedtime, and waking up at night to whoop away.
i was flummoxed. made up a wild cherry bark cough syrup, which has always helped. to make it i put 2 parts fennel, 2 parts licorice root, 1 part wild cherry bark, 1/4 part ginger root, and 1/8 part orange peel into a pot. sometimes i add cinammon. when i do it’s about 1/4 part. i cover everything with cold water, then add another 1 cup of water. the lid goes on, it all comes to a boil, then i lower the heat and simmer for about an hour. then i strain it and add a cup of honey for each quart of liquid, and simmer for another 5 minutes before funnelling into jars to put in the fridge when cool.
at any rate, this time the syrup did not work. looked in their throats. nothing to see. yet there they were, all coughing at different times, really hard. till red in the face. and i was soooo glad that i didn’t have this probably contagious cough, which got me wondering, “how come??” from this i concluded it must be something one can be immune to. but what? well with enough ponderings and matching of symptoms i came to whooping cough, and given the fact that there is an outbreak of it in california right now and the fact that my cousin, who seemed to have a cold, visited us from california five days before they all got colds, it can’t be a coincidence can it??
once i had this realization, i quit the cough syrup. we ran out of elderberry syrup and i left the rest in the freezer for another time when it may be more effective. though i’m sure it has done something, because all my searchings have led me to believe that they have a very mild case of the whoopies, which must be due to their own sweet resliences :0) as for now, they finished up the slipery elm paste and are on a round of minced garlic on a tablespoon of a mixture of equal parts honey and raw apple cider vinegar with 1/8 part turmeric. and did i mention they’ve not eaten any dairy, bread, or cookie type goodies for a month now? we’ve been eating miso broth, chicken broth, rice, daal, carrots, broccoli, chard, clementines, and brown rice with amino acids all this time. fox’s cough has finally gone. the wee ones coughing sprees are decreasing in frequency and have been less intense for a week now. for all intents and purposes, they’ve seemed totally fine when they’ve not been in a coughing fit. it’s apparently bacterial and must run its course to containment. they each chew on a piece of big cardamom, “bari illaichi” obtainable at indian groceries, at bedtime. this seems to alleviate the intensity and duration of each fit. can’t wait to see how long till we all tell it adieu.