Overheard at a whiskey bar:
“Whiskey, the favorite cure for a cold that doesn’t work.”
But does it? I know whiskey often makes me feel better, or at least one glass isn’t going to make me feel worse. I decided to find out if whiskey can actually do more than cure just a bad day. Since I'm feeling healthy, I went to the source for all medical advice today - the internet.
_ First, there are a couple of things whiskey should not be used for:
· Hangovers. People can say all they want about hair of the dog, but general consensus is drink water and lay off the whiskey – and all alcohol for that matter – until you are ready to enjoy it again.
· Babies teething. All of the publications I checked out say DO NOT rub whiskey on babies’ gums during teething. We are just going to put this in the general category of Do Not Give Babies Alcohol.
However, in the case of a cold, there might something to the hot toddy method.
An article from the Seattle PI website said although alcohol has not been shown to kill germs, “it's not difficult to see how mild inebriation might have the potential to relieve cold and flu symptoms.” And it cited a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon in 1993 that found in 391 adults studied, “resistance to colds increased with moderate drinking, except in smokers.” Whiskey was not specifically mentioned, but that’s what I picture in my head.
Livestrong.com has an entire page devoted to whiskey cold remedy recipes. According to the website, whiskey “soothes sore throats, quiets coughs, clears stuffy noses and encourages sleep.” The hot toddy recipe is broken down by whiskey according to symptoms without explanation: bourbon for congestion or a sore throat, Irish whiskey for a persistent cough. What, no Scotch? Their hot toddy recipe calls for ¼ cup whiskey, ¼ cup of honey, and ¼ cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
Livestrong.com also has a sore throat remedy that sounds just delightful. We used to suck on lemons to make us smile for long periods of time when we were cheerleaders – that makes genuine smiles, let me tell you – but I think we would have smiled a lot more with these lemons:
“Slice a lemon in half and remove all the seeds. Measure out about 1 oz. of whiskey and pour it slowly over the flesh of the lemon halves, allowing it to absorb. When the fruit will not absorb any more liquid, suck on the halves until you've consumed all of the juice and whiskey.”
WebMD has a hot toddy recipe they refer to as the “nighttime cold remedy,” similar to the one above, but with herbal tea. You add a teaspoon of honey, a small shot of whiskey of bourbon (again, no Scotch option), and a squeeze of lemon. This has a fine print to it: “Limit yourself to one hot toddy. Too much alcohol can affect the immune system.”
The oddest whiskey cure I found came in an entertaining column in The Telegraph by Rowan Pelling about whiskey’s miraculous healing powers. He heard that “Russian football supporters visiting Wales for an international have been urged ‘to drink a lot of Welsh whisky as a form of disinfection' against swine flu.” It’s worth a try, I guess.
I don’t get sick much, but I’m now kind of looking forward to my next cold. I will be trying out some of these recipes, I mean, remedies.