Prescriptions against Flu (Rezepte gegen Grippe)


At the first approach of the flu, which is recognizable by a slight itch in the nose, contractions in the feet, a bit of a cough, shortage of funds, and an unwillingness to go to work in the morning, gurgle with a little pounded cocaine and half a drop of iodine. The flu will then take hold.

The flu – also known as Spanish flu, influenza, a cold (latin: the sniffles) is spread by nervous bacteria, who also have a cold: the infectious organisms. Flu is sometimes accompanied by a fever, which starts at 128° Fahrenheit; a little lower when the stock market is high, a little higher when it is weak, so usually a little higher. The best way to get flu is, if you are a male flu sufferer, to kiss a woman, or, if you are a female flu sufferer, to kiss a man. If you are unsure of your gender, consult your family doctor. Infection is also possible by visiting a coughing house, or theatre. It is important not to cover your mouth when you cough, this is not good for the germs. You don’t catch the flu, it is an infectious illness.

Cold compresses were always very effective for my husband. We boil a semolina pudding, wrap it in linen cloths, eat it, and give the patient cognac. Within two hours he is tipsy, an hour later, dead drunk. Furniture polish can be used instead of cognac. Avoid meat, vegetables, soup, butter, bread, fruit, preserves and deserts while you have the flu. Homeopaths should lick a five pfennig stamp three times a day. If the fever is high, a ten pfennig one.

You must stay in bed when you have the flu: it needn’t be your own bed. If you get the shivers, wear woollen socks, preferably around your neck. To then keep your legs covered, wrap one detachable shirt collar around each. The main treatment is warmth, so what you need is a Roman (Concordat) Bath. Travel home on the open platform of the bus, but close the mouths of the other passengers, to avoid draughts.

Conventional medicine is helpless against flu, so it is a good idea to hang a pendulum above your belly: if it swings from right to left, it is a case of the flu, but if it swings from left to right, you’re catching a cold. In that case, get undressed and let yourself be treated by Weißenberg. You must smear the white cheese he prescribes, directly on the flu. Sticking it under the bed indicates ignorance of medicine, and heartlessness.

Under no circumstances entrust this mysterious complaint to a so-called doctor. If you have the flu, ask Frau Meyer. Frau Meyer always has a cure for this illness. If a group of friends catch the flu, only one of them needs to be treated. The others then also do what the doctor orders. The main remedies are: camomile tea, elderberry tea, magnolia tea, gum tree tea and cactus tea. These are, however, grandmother’s remedies, and are not very effective. These days, we have other ways of helping the pharmaceutical industry. For flu, for example: Aspirol. Pyramidin. Bysopeptan. Ohrolax. Primadonna. Bellapholisiin. Aethyl-Phenil-Lekaryl-Parapherinan-Dynamit-Acethylen-Koollomban-Piporol. In the last case, just say the name quickly, several times in succession. Take all these remedies immediately, as long as they help, in alphabetical order, regarding ch as one letter. Bicarbonate of soda is also healthy.

Prophylactic, or preventative, injections have been shown to be of particular value after treatment (lac, from the Greek for milk, or lake). These injections are most effective against cases of flu which are already over, and in such cases, always.

Americans tend to make hot compresses against flu; Italians stretch their right arm in the air for a long time; the French ignore flu like they ignore Winter, and the Viennese write a feature article about each occurrence. We Germans treat it methodically: first we go to bed, then we get the flu, and don’t get up until we have a really high fever. Then we really have to go to town, because we have something important to do. A telephone by the bed of female patients makes the illness last longer.

Grippe[1] was invented in the year 1725 by the English vicar Jonathan Grips[2]. It has been scientifically curable since 1724.

Successful cure is indicated by pains in the back, coughing, contractions in the feet and a slight itch in the nose. These are the symptoms of a new, different flu, not, as the layman may think, remaining symptoms of the old one. Normal, domestic flu lasts for three weeks if it is treated, and 21 days otherwise. Men have the additional symptom of the quantity of self-pity which would be justified roughly by the pain of childbirth.

Ceasar‘s household remedy for flu was laurel leaf soup; the Vanderbilts‘ palace remedy is platinum bouillon with soft-boiled pearls.

I conclude my remarks on the subject with the words of the well-known expert on influenza, Professor Dr. Dr. Dr. Ovaritius: Flu is not an illness, it’s a condition!

[1] The German name for flu

[2] Untranslatable pun: grips means gumption, nous or savvy

Author: Kurt Tucholsky

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