Five Simple Things # 5 : A Cold in Germany

Hi friends and happy Wednesday to you! We’ve made it half-way again and it’s almost the weekend. Sigh.

It’s time to reflect again and express my gratitude for the wonderful things or moments from the prior week. As you may know from reading last week, a cold ripped through our house like a tornado. It has left us here, one week later, still with a bit of a cough and stuffy nose; however, we are all feeling much better. Last week got me thinking about some of the differences between having a cold in the states and the medicine you would buy (and where) versus here in Germany. So I decided my five things would also be included as a part of My German Experience as this was definitely a little different.

First off, the pharmacies here (Apotheke) is similar to our Walgreens/CVS etc but they are a bit smaller and the pharmacists generally help you find anything you need; whether you have a script from the doctor or just need what Americans would call OTC medicines. Generally, I have found that the typical items on the shelves are things like special lotions and soaps for sensitive skin and vitamins. The majority of everything else I have had to ask the pharmacist to get for me which has included items such as these: Paracetamol (acetaminophen), Nurofen (ibuprofen) >>both of these for a feverish monster; GeloMyrtol (see below) and MediNait (see below). Now, when you ask for this, don’t expect to see it right then. When I requested these items, the pharmacist would explain if he did or didn’t have it, ask a few questions as to whether it was for me or the boy and then once he had my whole order he would give me the total price. I would then pay for it and once he tendered my payment you could hear the medicine drop from within a lock box (similar to tube system for my fellow hospital colleagues).  I thought this process was pretty genius and helpful to both myself and the pharmacist as it saves time and prevents error. He was able to put in the system exactly what I needed. Now that I have explained a little about the process, let me show you the medicine this family used to get better last week.

1. Ricola - this one is pretty obvious as we have the same thing in the states. However, if I’m honest, these taste different and better….more herbal…and it seemed like they helped more.

2. GeloMyrtol forte: These are capsules that help clear your sinus passages and we take them to help fight off a cold as well. They are easy to swallow and don;t seem to be hard on the stomach. They are not for children (or at least small ones as the pharmacist told me “nix für Kinder!”). The active ingredients for each 300mg capsule is a standardized mixture of essential oils of eucalyptus, sweet orange, myrtle and lemon (66:32:1:1)

3. Bronchicum Elixir: This particular one was given to us specifically for our son so it is already mixed into a very sweet syrup, but you can buy it in a small concentrated bottle of just the medicine without the syrup. If you buy that kind, you can either just put the required amount of drops into a spoon and swallow, but beware as it is strong and a little bitter. M actually takes a spoon of sugar and puts the drops into the sugar. Me? I just take it the bitter way. I’d rather get it over with! For this one, we obviously had to use twice as much as well since it was already mixed. The package also includes a small plastic dosage spoon but I found it was easier to just use a regular spoon since this stuff is so sticky! Bronchicum consists of Anise Oil, Burnet Saxifrage Root, Eucalyptus Oil, Grindelia, Menthol, Primula Root, Saponin, Thyme.

4. Erkältungs-Balsam Mild N - This is pretty much the same as the Vicks chest rub you would buy in the states and is the first time I have ever used a rub. It smells so good and it does seem to help me breathe (and less snoring!) at night. Medically active ingredients: 100 g Cold Balsam N contains: 10.0 g eucalyptus oil, 10.0 g racemic camphor and 5.0 g purified turpentine oil.

5. Wick MediNait - So as soon as I heard of this, I asked M to bring some home from work because I just couldn’t sleep with this cold and I missed NyQuil. Oh how I missed it!! Well, let me tell you, this stuff works great! But if you get it, notice you can only take it once a day! This is definitely different from our Vicks brand in the states (Vicks…Wick I can’t help but giggle with that). I didn’t feel knocked out with it like I would with NyQuil, but it helped me sleep and I felt better the next day. Also, from my searching on the internet, it looks like NyQuil has 25% alcohol content with this only having 18%. Wick Medinait consists of Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide, Doxylamine Succinate, Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride. According to a few more internet searches NyQuil has the same with the exception of the pseudoephedrine. 

So, there you have it; the products that helped us survive the week last week. I made it a point to list the ingredients of the medicines both for myself and for you. Do you notice a theme? The majority of all ingredients are all natural made from herbs, plants and their essential oils. This is just one more thing I love about this country. They aren’t so quick to give you medicine that has so many side effects and made completely of chemicals. I’m sure they have those things here as a last resort when very necessary, but the first round of treatment you get appears to be one with a natural focus. Along that same line of thinking, when our landlady heard our son was sick, she brought up hot, fresh-from-the-garden “Gemüse für Kinder”. It looked like steamed, chopped spinach mixed with other herbs and maybe some onion. I regretfully forgot to take a picture to show you! The thought was very kind and surprisingly the monster ate some of it.

What do you think about these cold remedies? What’s your one “must have” for a cold, like NyQuil is for me?

As always, thanks for reading and would love to hear about your cold remedies and anything you were thankful for last week!

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31 thoughts on “Five Simple Things # 5 : A Cold in Germany

  1. Expat Eye

    I love the list of side effects they do in American commercials - really fast after saying how amazing it is for 29 seconds. ;) With a cold, I tend to just power through. Lots of tea and maybe a couple of hot whiskies!

  2. Riayn

    The one thing you love about medication in Germany is the thing I hate the most. When I am sick I want medication that has been scientifically proven to work and not some herbal remedy that has not been shown to be more effective than the placebo effect. My local pharmacist tried to give me a homoeopathic remedy for my cold. Seriously, if I wanted sugar I would just buy a chocolate bar and not a €12 box of ‘medication’.

    1. From Casinos to Castles Post author

      Oh that sounds similar to TheraFlu in the states (there are a few other names but it’s all the same). I don’t particularly like to drink anything when I’m sick which is probably not the best thing to do!

  3. The Vanilla Housewife

    We use Vicks at home. I heard once that You can also use Vicks to stop coughing at night. Spread the Vicks ointment on your feet, and put your socks on. I did not believe her at first but when my daughter had 2 straight nights of coughing I tried it and it worked! :)

  4. beerandbratwurst

    Since I was sick for a MONTH here in DE, I consider myself an expert. Weleda Schnupfen Creme (you stick in in your nose) works wonders to ummm clean it out? Particularly good to use before you need to go out (and have less access to tissues), or before bed. To avoid or minimise a red/sore nose, use the Kleenex tissues with Balsam. Not as good as Puffs Plus with Aloe, but, okay.

  5. Amy Lynne Hayes

    I’m not familiar with the medicines in Germany, in fact I was lucky and rarely needed anything while overseas. Usually I used the stash of Nyquil/Dayquil I had brought with me from the States for such moments of need. I do love how efficient they run their pharmacies! I wouldn’t have expected anything less from them. lol :)

  6. estherjulee

    I always like the vick’s vapor that goes in a humidifier. Whenever I get a cold, I also get bronchitis.. so mucinex also helps a lot. Yeah, I noticed in Germany, certain things they just do better and more efficiently. The trash system was always confusing for me though.. took some time to get used to. Hope you guys have a speedy recovery!

  7. Rachel (@PostcardsRachel)

    Ugh, colds are the worst… and so hard to get rid of. I think I’d rather have a 24 hour stomach bug.

    I usually rely on cough drops and a lot of tissues! I try not to take a lot of medication. Awesome that most things are all-natural there! Feel better soon!

  8. TinainGermany

    I’m with Riayn, I’m totally against all the homeopathic nonsense and find the system patronizing-I know exactly what I need, why should I have to publicly describe my ailment for a total stranger to get ibuprofen? Solution: buy a giant bag of OTC medication from CVS every time I go back to the States. And/or get my mom to send me things. I know it makes me really, really American, but on principle, I just can’t do the Apotheken!

    1. From Casinos to Castles Post author

      Oh I don’t think it makes you American in the way I think you mean. You just know what you like and what you want. :-) I’ve just been on so e serious medication in my life and suffered the consequences. Since then I’m more of a natural proponent so it works for me. I’m sure there will be a day that it frustrates me as well. Thanks for stooping by!


  9. Gypsy

    I miss Neo Citran! Our bags are usually chock full of Tim Horton’s coffee and Neo Citran on return trips from Canada. It’s been a month of colds here in Qatar, so the meagre stocks we’d brought back with us in July have unfortunately been depleted. Sigh …

  10. MontgomeryFest

    You found a Euro Nyquil equivalent!! That’s the one medicine that we hoard when we go to the American military grocery store (thank you NATO friends!). But THIS…a more natural version, I’m in! Thanks for the list!

  11. Josh

    “Zu Risiken und Nebenwirkungen lesen Sie die Packungsbeilage und fragen Sie Ihren Arzt oder Apotheker” Haha, this is all I can ever hear in my mind when I think about medicine in Germany. I totally agree with you about the Ricola and the GeloMyrtol, we have them in stock here all the time. Glad to hear you guys are feeling better and seeing as how I am a bit late to read this post here, you guys are probably by now “wieder fit!” :)

      1. Josh

        Yep, they definitely help. Isn’t it funny though how you get used to going to Meijer or CVS or Walgreen’s for our stuff and then having to get used to your local Apotheke with their selections. That is one thing I told my mom is that when you move to a new country you have to figure out what is “good” quality and what is not for everything - food, medicine, products, etc. My grandma asked me on the phone the other night if we have Tide over here, “no Grandma, we use Persil” - “Oh, well it’s probably just the same” (in that typical old Granny voice) haha gotta love Grandmas

  12. Jean

    Peppermint (oil or tea) is my first go-to remedy but I usually progress quickly to a doctor’s visit. Name brands really do bring people trust and comfort. I was looking at the photos of the medicine and thinking “I would take the one’s I’m familiar with.” it makes no sense logically but there is all that built in familiarity. I imagine that’s a huge factor in learning to live in a foreign country.

    1. From Casinos to Castles Post author

      I definitely agree. Most of the time, I just trust my husband since this is his home and has the things he is used to. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t work because I need different things and he has no idea. It’s all trial and error until we find the ones we are familiar with here. I was very excited about the MediNait though! ha!


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