It’s that time of the year, and waiting rooms at the doctor’s office is jam-packed with sick patients. One of my patients just told me she spent a few hours in the waiting room with her sick child. And while everyone was waiting, several parents were discussing reasons why everyone is sick, and swapping at-home remedies to help. She asked me the following day, are these “old wives’ tales” even true?
Here’s a list of the most popular “old wives’ tales” and the real TRUTH behind them:
Going outside with wet hair can make you sick
Most would say this old wives’ tale is false. However, there’s some truth here. Going outside with wet hair can lower your body temperature which could impair your immune system and you could get sick
You got sick because of the change in the weather
Also can be true! I see many people inappropriately dressed for cool weather. So, like #1, your lower body temperature can impair your immune system and you can get sick.
You should take Tylenol or Motrin to break the fever.
A fever is your body’s attempt to eradicate the viral infection. You don’t need to be scared or stressed about breaking a fever.
You should eat spicy food to break a fever.
See above for breaking a fever. Eating spicy food could raise your body temperature, but this would not necessarily be the cause to “break a fever”. However, if your temperature rises enough, this could possibly help your immune system and hence “break the fever”.
You should add layers or blankets to break a fever.
Again see above for breaking a fever and raising the body temperature.
I’m sick, I need to immediately take antibiotics to feel better.
Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. It is possible, however, that certain antibodies have metabolic effects that could help through a different mechanism.
“Starve a cold, feed a fever” is just nonsense.
Fasting increases autophagy- the degradation or recycling process of our cells that removes unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Autophagy can eradicate various noxious substances.
A spoonful of honey or cough drops gets rid of your cough.
The wives’ tale should be changed to ” a spoonful of honey makes the medicine go down”. Sometimes a cough can be caused by irritated airways and therefore cough medicine can allow your airways to heal.
Vitamin C will cure a cold, so drink plenty of orange juice.
Whether vitamin C helps a cold is debatable. However, OJ is not a good way of delivering vitamin C because it contains too much sugar.
Eating dairy increases mucus in the nose or throat
Some people have a dairy intolerance and should avoid dairy whether they are sick or not. But if you are not intolerant, then I doubt this is significant.
When it comes to illnesses, mother knows best! “Old wives’ tales” are information handed down from generation to generation. My mom, may she rest in peace, would always emphasize eating well, getting enough sleep, fresh air, sunlight, and being nice to my brother and sister. All great advice!
Are you interested in my holistic approach to wellness? Come in for a consultation with Dr. Rothman by calling, 732-268-7663 and establish a better plan guaranteed to help you improve your overall health.