Mom always had her favorite home remedies – did anyone’s mom not believe in the power of chicken soup over a cold? – and scientists have actually proven that some of mom’s favorite home remedies are as helpful as she believed. These traditional remedies, passed from mom to mom for generations, have held up to scientific scrutiny:
• Honey for coughs. Not only has honey been proven a good cough suppressant, a 2007 study indicated that honey worked better than over-the-counter cough medicines at relieving the coughs of children with upper respiratory infections.
• Cranberries for urinary problems. American Indians first discovered the ability of cranberries to fight infections and passed the remedy along to early settlers. Modern scientists have found that cranberries are unique in their ability to keep bacteria from sticking to bladder walls. A daily glass of cranberry juice or cranberry capsules reduces bladder infections, especially in women who have them often.
• Saltwater for the nose. Nasal saline irrigation, in which salt water is used to rinse the nasal passages, has long been a remedy to relieve the misery of a stuffy nose. Twenty-first century medicine has scientifically proven it to be a cheap, safe and effective remedy for clogged noses caused by sinusitis, allergies and other maladies.
• Staying warm to ward off colds. Mom always told us to bundle up in winter, but scientists always chuckled. They’ve stopped laughing since a 2005 study indicated that being cold might actually lead to developing a cold. Researchers believe that when a person’s extremities are chilled, the blood vessels in the nose narrow, limiting the amount of disease-fighting white blood cells in the nose, the body’s first defense against viruses.
• Chicken soup for colds. Mom was right on target; chicken soup really does fight the common cold. Studies show that mom’s favorite home remedy may be slightly anti-inflammatory, helping fight the worst of a cold’s symptoms. Steam from the hot soup also helps drain sinuses, prevent dehydration and calm sore throats.