Keep your hair dry outside. Eat chicken soup. Button up your coat. You’ve heard of every common remedy for the common cold, but which ones actually work?
If you come down with the cold, one of the first recommendations you’ll get from a concerned party is to have a nice hot bowl of chicken soup.
Now we know that advice comes from the heart, but may be ill-advised nonetheless. There isn’t much evidence that chicken soup combats the common cold, besides maybe relieving some inflammation.
That’s not the only misinformation being passed around like the common cold. We’ll highlight a few more fables that won’t help you get over your sickness.
Feeding a cold
When you’re sick, it often kills your appetite. People will tell you, ‘eat, you need your strength!’, though force-feeding won’t do your body any favours.
Instead, focus on staying hydrated and consuming calories to keep your energy up. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that mice with the flu took longer to recover, and were at higher risk of other ill effects, when their calorie count was low.
So if you’re planning on dieting this year, wait till after flu season!
Related: 5 Superfoods for a Cold Winter’s Day
You’ll get sick if don’t wear a coat
George Bailey infamously got punched in the nose in It’s A Wonderful Life over buttoning up a coat, though Zuzu probably wouldn’t have stayed healthy anyhow.
Colds and the flu are by-products of viruses. While they do circulate more in the colder months of the year, you’re still more likely to catch a cold inside than outside. Actually, going out into the cold and getting physical activity (even outside cold & flu season) can help curb sickness.
Vicks VapoRub in your socks cures coughs
In 2007, a chain email suggested putting Vicks VapoRub on adolescent’s feet at nighttime and covering them with socks would miraculously cure a cough. It was a viral sensation, and with the email saying the source was the ‘Canada Research Council’, everyone took it at face value.
That prompted the National Research Council of Canada to investigate, who unsurprisingly stated they had nothing to do with the email or its advice. Considering VapoRub is designed to be applied to the chest or throat to relieve cough symptoms when inhaled, putting them on the part of the body furthest from the mouth makes little sense. Having said that, some still swear by this ‘cure’.
A wet head can get you sick
If you have long hair, you’ve likely been reamed out a few times by your parents for going outside before letting it dry post-shower. ‘It’s a sure-fire way to catch a cold!’, they’d say.
But besides feeling a chill on your noggin when you step outside, you aren’t at risk of much else. Like we mentioned, colds are caused by viruses. So unless your wet hair gets you so cold that it induces hypothermia, that wetness won’t make you vulnerable to anything harmful.
Wearing garlic curbs colds
The only way garlic could possibly prevent a cold is from the strong smell keeping germ-covered friends and coworkers at bay.
To get the benefits of garlic, it has to (surprisingly) be ingested. Garlic is packed with immunity-boosting and inflammation-scrapping antioxidants. Experts recommend taking in one or two cloves a day, an amount perfect to enjoy the benefits of the garnish, and avoid gas or acid reflux.