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Home Remedies

By - February 28, 2007 (Updated: November 28, 2014)


While we all know there’s no real cure for the common cold, it seems that everyone has a tried and true recipe for a speedy recovery. Even if our cures are only psychosomatic, there are definitely things we turn to, to make us feel better. Often these are the same remedies that our mothers gave us.

Yesterday, while curled on the sofa, surrounded by tissues, with a bright red nose and bloodshot eyes, all I could think of is Neo-Citran.

Neo-Citran is a lemon flavoured powder that you poor into hot water to make a soothing, hot drink. Its medicinal value is questionable but it does seem to be the only thing that will knock me out for a good night’s sleep when I am sick.

In desperation I asked Andrew to search for Neo or a suitable substitute while he was in London. He returned last night bearing Lemsip. While it was a lemony power for a hot drink, it was definitely not Neo-Citran. I choked down the foul mixture anyway and it did eventually help me sleep.

I turned to the web, to see if my cold cure was available anywhere in Belgium, and was dismayed to find posts from Canadian expats living around the world who were as Neo-less as me. No one had found a suitable substitute abroad and many people talked about how they stock piled it every time they went home for a visit. If you aren’t Canadian, you’ve probably never heard of Neo, or so I learned today. Even my American friend had never heard of my lemony brew.

My experience made me wonder about the cold remedies we turn to and how it varies depending on our childhood experiences.

My American friend suggested Vicks Vapo Rub, which I also remember from home – a menthol paste that my mother smeared on my chest as a child to help clear my stuffy sinuses.

My Kiwi friend fondly remembered the Lemsip I had choked down the previous evening (Note to self – pawn the Lemsip off on the Kiwi).

Back on the forums, somebody mentioned Buckley’s Cough Syrup. Any Canadian readers are now grimacing with painful childhood memories. This purely Canadian concoction tastes so horrible; I’m convinced that Canadian mothers give it to their children as a form of revenge for childbirth. In fact (and I promise I’m not making this up) their slogan is ‘Buckley’s It tastes awful. And it works.’

Without any of my tried and true Canadian remedies, I will have to make the best of what I can buy here in Belgium, until my next trip home (when I will definitely join the hordes of Neo stockpiling expats). For now, Neo-Citranless, I will fight off my cold the only way I can – with rest and plenty of liquids. Unfortunately for me and my fellow Canadian expats around the globe, none of those liquids will be hot, lemony Neo-Citran.

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