A hot cup of lemon, honey and ginger
This one tends to divide people. For some, the appeal is exclusively the honey, for others it’s all about pumping up the ginger and squeezing out every drop of lemon juice. The idea is that the honey, ginger and hot liquid provide temporary relief for an inflamed throat, while the lemon packs a punch of vitamin C.
But how does it really stand up? “Ginger and honey are known to have some efficacy and, equally, honey is known to be a slight cough suppressant, so that one actually can be effective,” Julian says.
“However, it is advised to never give honey to a child younger than age one… Also remember, coughing isn’t all bad. It helps clear mucus from your airway. If you or your child is otherwise healthy, there’s usually no reason to suppress a cough.”
How about when you add in some whisky?
“Alcohol can act as a weak anaesthetic, so it can help soothe an inflamed throat,” Julian says. “[Although] we generally wouldn’t advise you consume much alcohol when you’re sick.”
Maybe keep it to just the one hot toddy, then.
Another classic suggestion. Soothing for the soul (supposedly), there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of chicken soup to rehydrate and warm you up when a fever comes a-knocking. It’s such a common cold remedy, there’s even a book series about it. So, is it time to whip out grandma’s recipe book?
“There may be some truth to this one,” Julian says. “Chicken soup contains a broth made of several vegetables and chicken bones cooked for hours, releasing zinc, calcium and magnesium into the liquid.
“Theories as to why it helps relieve cold symptoms include hot soup clearing blocked noses, zinc helping shorten a cold, the hot water keeping you hydrated, and that there are several anti-inflammatory substances to alleviate colds.”