Merit in kitchen remedies

FROM good old chicken soup to rubbing garlic on your feet, there are dozens of old wives tales about treating the common cold without medication.

But how effective are they?

Remedies for the cold are almost as common as the cold itself. Chicken soup, honey and lemon tea and plenty of garlic are all things offered up by many mothers and grandmothers as remedies for cold symptoms.

Professor of Complementary Medicine at RMIT University Marc Cohen said there is actually merit in a lot of them.

“A lot of these ‘kitchen pharmacy’ remedies do have logic,” Prof. Cohen said.

“I read chicken soup helps break up phlegm better than straight water, so there is some merit to the chicken soup remedy.

“Also, the thing about chicken soup is that it’s giving you nutrients in the form of a liquid, so it’s easier to digest. Any light brothy soups will help.”

In regards to garlic, he said there were antiviral and antibacterial properties in garlic that would help with cold symptoms.

“There is logic in many of these things. Garlic does absorb through your skin and you’ll find if you rub it on your feet you’ll smell it on your breath later on,” he said.

“A great tea that I use when I have a cold is garlic, ginger, a quartered lemon including the skin and Echinacea all boiled up.

“There is method in using those things. Garlic has antiviral properties, lemon has vitamin C, ginger helps with nausea and absorption and Echinacea is immunity enhancing.

“Honey is also a great antiviral, or sage tea for a very sore throat.”

Prof. Cohen said the common cold was very different to the flu, and if people are experiencing intense symptoms or are coughing up blood, they should see their health practitioner.

Garlic has antiviral properties that will help to alleviate symptoms. Honey is also great and Manuka honey has great antibacterial and antiviral properties.

And a saltwater gargle – a quarter to half a teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water –can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.

Kitchen pharmacy

Techniques to alleviate common cold symptoms

Rest: Don’t try and work through it. Your body can fight the common cold much better of you take some time out.

Drink lots: You need to drink lots of fluid. Try herbal teas as well as water.

Humidity: Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions — another reason why colds are more common in winter.

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