If you’ve grown up in anything other than an ultra-conservative household, then you probably have that one person in the family who’s a little too enthusiastic about alcohol. This may get you looking at whether whiskey is good for a cold, especially if your family member advocates the health benefits of alcohol.
Now, the relationship between alcoholic drinks and positive health isn’t something new at all. Just look up both “alcohol” and “health benefits” in any search engine and you’re bound to find plenty of studies to back up your drunk relative’s claims.
But for the most part, the “health benefits” aspect of alcohol is solely associated with wine, especially red wine. This is because red wine is just packed with antioxidants, making it the perfect poster child for advocates of alcohol.
While wine is a great preventive measure in your overall physical health, though, there are times where you’re already ill. Adding some antioxidants in your body won’t be as effective when the damage has already been done.
In these cases, wine can still help, according to research, but there are other alcoholic drinks that can do the job just as effectively. And one of these liquors is none other than good old whiskey.
Whiskey isn’t like many other spirits and alcoholic beverages – it originally was distilled as a cure to various diseases by European monks in monasteries. That’s right – monks. The monks called it “uisce beatha” in Irish and “uisge beatha” in Scottish Gaelic, which literally translates to “water of life.”
Sure, a lot of medical practices in the day weren’t really backed up by science as they were by empirical evidence. But to this day, a lot of families and households still use whiskey as a cure for almost every household disease, from the common cold to even swine flu.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to see the science behind the rationale of using perfectly good whiskey as an alternative to medicine.
Is Whiskey Good For A Cold?
Yes, But Not By Itself
To put it simply, yes, whiskey can help out with a cold. But there’s a lot more to it than just chugging your favorite bottle of Scotch whisky whenever you get a sniffle. Whiskey boasts health benefits that can help fight various diseases, but the way that people consume whiskey to cure a common cold isn’t just by drinking it straight out of the bottle.
To really combat the common cold, whiskey is warmed with warm water and then mixed with honey and lemon juice. Lemon wedges and cinnamon sticks can be added as a garnish or added flavor, but for the most part that’s it.
And, as some of you may have already guessed by now, this recipe is the recipe for hot toddies, the popular morning drink that’s more than just an excuse to drink alcohol for breakfast.
But how do hot toddies really get rid of the common cold? Do distilleries throw in vitamins and minerals during production? Is there some form of ancient magic hidden in every batch of whiskey? Is this all just a placebo?
To answer both the reasonable and stupid questions, let’s dive a little deeper into the science behind a hot toddy.
The Science Behind A Hot Toddy
Hot toddies aren’t all that complicated, to be honest. They just share common properties with other, more traditional remedies of a cold or flu, which make them great alternative options to what you’d normally consume.
Hot toddies are such a good remedy to the common cold because of two things: the hotness of the drink, and the drowsy effect of alcohol.
Hot Drinks Are The Common Colds’ Worst Enemy
There’s a reason why a large bowl of chicken soup always does the trick whenever you’ve come down with the flu or cold. The main property of a hot toddy that makes it so effective against the cold is the fact that it has a weakness of the disease – heat.
Just like how chicken soup, a hot toddy can help clear up the congestion in your nostrils, making the experience a little more bearable.
A study by the researchers at the Common Cold Center in Britain has evidence of this, with patients that consume hot beverages showing better relief from symptoms of the common cold than those who consumed beverages at room temperature.
That fact alone makes hot toddies a good enough remedy to the common cold. But there’s one thing hot toddies have that chicken soups don’t – alcohol. And the alcohol in a hot toddy also helps out with the common cold in a way that chicken soup cant.
Alcohol Helps You Go To Sleep
You know that feeling of drowsiness whenever you take your first few shots of liquor? It has other uses than helping you have a good time.
For those who can’t seem to go to bed because of nasal congestion due to the common cold, chicken soups can certainly clear up your nasal canals, but chances are that you won’t be able to sleep right after you’ve had your fill of the soup. That’s where hot toddies come in.
Because hot toddies contain a small amount of alcohol, you’ll end up feeling a little sleepy after drinking it. This may not be ideal in any given situation, but when you’re having trouble sleeping because of a cold, then this may just be what you need. Not only do hot toddies clear up your nose nicely, but they also help you ease into a nice slumber.
One very, very important note though: don’t drink more than around an ounce of hot toddies. It may taste good, and certainly feels good, but too much of the stuff can cause you to feel even worse than before, as you’re drinking too much alcohol for your body (and poor liver) to handle. Stay safe out there.
Now we know that a combination of heat and alcohol makes for a good remedy to the common cold, especially when it’s consumed in a delicious package such as hot toddies. But hot toddies, and whiskey in general, offer a lot more than just a good night’s rest and decongested noses.
Whiskey Does More Than Just Help With The Common Cold
Whiskey may be the cure of the common cold you’ve been looking for, but it does a lot more than just that. There have been plenty of studies dedicated to researching the properties of whiskey, and its effects on the human body.
What scientists have found is that whiskey offers more than what most people think and that it contains antioxidants that can help combat diseases, just like wine.
A Possible Method To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
As diabetics may know, consuming alcohol isn’t recommended at all for people who are diagnosed with diabetes. But if you haven’t contracted it (yet, at least), then drinking moderate amounts of whiskey can actually help regulate the insulin levels in your body, which in turn can lower the chances of you getting type 2 diabetes, according to a study.
Just like with hot toddies, though, don’t just start drinking large quantities of whiskey. More doesn’t necessarily mean better, especially with whiskey.
In fact, excessive doses of whiskey can end up increasing the chances of contracting type 2 diabetes instead, so keep the whiskey-drinking to a respectable level and you should be fine.
Whiskey May Lower The Risk of Heart Disease
Diabetes isn’t the only major disease that whiskey can potentially prevent. Drinking moderate amounts of whiskey, according to an article from the BBC, can help combat the risk of contracting heart disease.
The study was conducted by the Rowett Research Institute and was sponsored by the Scotch Whisky Research Institute. Now, the sponsorship may raise some red flags, but the study is backed by data and science to support the claims.
According to the study, the phenols that are present in whiskey have a positive effect on the human body. These phenols raise the levels of antioxidants in the body, thereby protecting you from coronary heart disease.
The same study compared the results with that of red wine and found that both result in a similar effect. Looks like red wine isn’t alone in that aspect, at least.
Whether it be diabetes or heart disease, whiskey has been found to offer health benefits to those who consume moderate amounts of the spirit.
Whiskey was originally created as a cure for various diseases centuries ago, and people still use it to help with the common cold, in the form of hot toddies. The hot drink clears the nose and helps people sleep tightly. Whiskey also has studies that point to other health benefits.
Remember, though – while whiskey can definitely help, it’s important to drink it in moderation, especially when you’re already sick. You don’t want to make things even worse.