It’s that time of year--cold season.
As I sat in bed last week, a mountain of tissues slowly building beside me, I bemoaned my fate. My body ached, my head pounded, and I produced enough goo to power the slime machine at the next Kids’ Choice Awards.
An impatient person, I wondered how to speed my recovery. Is resting really necessary or is it an excuse? Should I eat chicken soup or am I supposed to “starve a fever?” Should I load up on vitamin C? Or is all this nonsense and regardless of what I do, the cold will go away whenever it runs its course?
Confused about which cold remedies were truly helpful, I scoured the internet for answers. Here’s what I found.
Rest really does help
You’re lethargic, achy and tired, but you drag yourself to work anyway soldiering through the sniffles and stuffy head. Good idea?
Nope. Your body needs rest so it can focus on fighting the infection. Help it along by resting as much as possible.
Bottom line—Don’t be a hero. Hit the bed, snuggle under some blankets and catch up on Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters and Modern Family.
"Feed a cold, starve a fever" is just a myth
There’s no science behind this old wives tale. You should never starve yourself, but don’t force yourself to eat if you don’t feel like it. If you’re hungry doctors recommend clear broth, hot drinks and other fluids. Hot beverages help relieve nasal decongestion and fluids keep you hydrated.
Bottom line—Drink plenty of fluids and eat if you feel like it.
Chicken soup really is good for a cold
Mom was right. According to WebMD, “There’s some scientific evidence that chicken soup may help with healing and have mild anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have found that hot chicken soup can improve the ability of cilia, the tiny hair-like parts of the nasal passages, to protect the body from bacteria and viruses.”
Bottom line—Slurp away.
Mega-doses of vitamin C don't do a thing
In 2007 The Cochrane Library published a report stating that “high doses of vitamin C … starting after the onset of symptoms, showed no consistent effect on either duration or severity of common cold symptoms.”
What the? Yup, after analyzing several studies involving over 11,000 individuals the researchers concluded that vitamin C doesn’t help. It’s not harmful, but it’s not helpful either.
Bottom line—Drink orange juice if you like it, but it’s not helping you with the cold.
Unbelievably, drinking a hot toddy (hot tea, bourbon and honey) relieves nasal congestion
This was my mom’s favorite cold remedy. For her, not us.
I always assumed this was a bunch of crap. With four kids running around I figured mom just wanted to go on a bender for a couple of days, you know, to escape from us and watch The Sound of Music a couple dozen times.
But according to WebMD, “If you're so congested you can't sleep at night, try a hot toddy, an age-old remedy. Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add one teaspoon of honey and one small shot (about 1 ounce) of whiskey or bourbon. Limit yourself to one. Too much alcohol inflames those membranes and is counterproductive.”
Bottom line—Sorry for doubting you mom, but I’ll stick with the virgin drink anyway.
One final note, a recent study showed that individuals who exercised regularly were less likely to catch a cold. So your excuse about not going to the gym because you don't want to catch a cold from all the sickies there—yeah, that's not really valid. Use the hand sanitizer and keep working out. It’s your best defense.