Old Wives’ Tales: Fact or Fiction?

Old Wives' Tales: Fact or FictionThe English language is filled with sayings and beliefs that have continued to be repeated long after their original meanings were lost.

Don’t go out in the cold with your hair wet or you’ll get sick.

If a pregnant woman craves sweet foods, she’ll have a girl. If she craves salty or sour foods, it’s a boy.

Watched water doesn’t boil!

These quips can be fun to say and quick to come to mind, but they often aren’t true. Does anyone really believe that swallowed chewing gum will stay in your stomach for seven years?

When it comes to dealing with and preventing sickness, it is easy to fall back on common adages, such as “feeding a cold and starving a fever” or only eating chicken soup, when you’re sick. To help sort through the truths and tales in popular sayings and practices, we’ve debunked of some these old wives’ tales for you.

1. Colds and flus are most contagious before symptoms appear

Your sick germs can be passed on at any point during your sickness. Viruses are the culprit when dealing with a cold or flu. This virus runs through your body while your immune system fights it and the virus can be passed through contact between a sick person and a well person. When you have a cold or flu and you sneeze, rub your nose, or get mucus or saliva on anything other than your body, you pass the virus along with it. As long as you have an abundance of mucus because of your sickness, you can pass the virus to others.

2. Feed a cold, starve a fever

This saying originated in the Middle Ages and was made popular by Mark Twain. As often as it’s repeated, it doesn’t actually work. When sick, your body is working overtime to help you get well and needs a lot of nutrients and liquids to help it fight. Eat whatever nutritious foods sound best and drink a lot of water, Gatorade, or broth.

3. Going out in the cold with wet hair will make you sick

Cold weather can make your nose run, but it doesn’t make you sick. As Rachel Vreeman, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and the author of the myth-busting book Don’t Swallow Your Gum, said, “Scientists have studied this really well. They’ve put cold viruses in the noses of two groups of people. One group was then exposed to cold/wet conditions, and people who were chilled were no more likely to get sick than those who weren’t.”

4. Avoid dairy when you’re sick

Some believe that eating dairy when you’re sick creates an excess of mucus and will lead to increased congestion, however, there is no scientific evidence to support this. So, if you need a smoothie while you’re sick, have at it!

5. Chicken soup will help you feel better

Surprisingly, this one is true. Studies have found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory effects when eaten while sick. It can also keep you hydrated and free of congestion. You don’t have to limit your diet to soup, but an occasional bowl will definitely help.

What old wives’ tales do you follow? Do you think they work?


Why Cayenne?

Why Cayenne?

Photo Credit: Maja Dumat

For most people, cayenne pepper wouldn’t be the first cold remedy to come to mind. In fact, it would likely not come to mind at all. Cayenne is great in food, but as a sore throat reliever?

If this is you, don’t fret. We were in the same boat. But, as we began to learn more about this little pepper, we discovered that it has been used for hundreds of years to treat a wide variety of health issues.

We focused our efforts on treating sore throats, but cayenne pepper can do so much more. Read on to see why this pepper is so good at healing and what it can do.

The secret to cayenne pepper’s healing powers is a high concentration of capsaicin. Capsaicin is an alkaloid compound, which are naturally occurring chemical compounds, often found in plants, and used to create common drugs and stimulants, such as morphine, caffeine, and oxycodone. When consumed, capsaicin induces an endorphin rush that provides the pain relief and health remedies cayenne is used for.

Additionally, cayenne peppers contain minerals, vitamins, and some phyto-nutrients, which enhance its healing and health-benefitting features.

Interested in the other benefits of using cayenne pepper? See the list below for more information, shared from the Global Healing Center.

1. Anti-Irritant Properties: Cayenne has the ability to ease upset stomach, ulcers, sore throats, spasmodic and irritating coughs, and diarrhea.

2. Anti-Cold and Flu Agent: Cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus. Once mucus begins to leave the body, relief from flu symptoms generally follows.

3. Migraine Headache Prevention: This may be related to the pepper’s ability to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus reverting the brain’s attention to the new site. Following this initial pain reaction, the nerve fibers have a depleted substance P (the nerve’s pain chemical), and the perception of pain is lessened.

4. Digestive Aid: Cayenne is a well-known digestive aid. It stimulates the digestive tract, increasing the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices. This aids the body’s ability to metabolize food (and toxins). Cayenne pepper is also helpful for relieving intestinal gas. It stimulates intestinal peristaltic motion, aiding in both assimilation and elimination. Cayenne also stimulates the production of saliva, an important key to excellent digestion and maintaining optimal oral health.

5. Useful for Blood Clots: Cayenne pepper also helps reduce atherosclerosis, encourages fibrinolytic activity and prevents factors that lead to the formation of blood clots, all of which can help reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke.

6. Joint-Pain Reliever: Extremely high in a substance called capsaicin, cayenne pepper acts to cause temporary pain on the skin, which sends chemical messengers from the skin into the joint, offering relief for joint pain.

7. Promotes Heart-Health: Cayenne helps to keep blood pressure levels normalized. It also balances the body of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

8. Remedy for Toothache: Cayenne is an excellent agent against tooth and gum diseases.

9. Topical Remedy: As a poultice, cayenne has been used to treat snake bites, rheumatism, sores, wounds and lumbago.

For the full list of health benefits, see 17 Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper.

Have you used cayenne pepper to treat a health problem? Let us know below!