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Have a common cold? Crack open the whiskey

Image source: Epicurious

Good news from science: all Southern grandmas were right — whiskey helps relieve cold symptoms.

The hot toddy, a mixture of hot water, lemon juice, honey and whiskey, has been a staple of homespun cold remedies in Southeastern U.S. since the Scots-Irish settled the Appalachian region and brought their recipes for hot whiskey with them. Southern grannies have been mixing the brew to ease a sore throat or loosen congestion ever since — although there are certainly versions in other parts of the U.S., and even up into Canada.

Now a writer for Mic.com has examined the evidence and deconstructed the health benefits of each ingredient in a hot toddy and come away with a veritable recommendation that a hot toddy is preferable over traditional cold medicine to treat symptoms associated with the common cold.

From the pain-reducing qualities of whiskey — "It's why many over the counter medications contain small amounts of booze." — and the mucus-reducing miracle of lemon juice and hot water, to the throat soothing tendencies of honey, the hot toddy has it all:

It's not just an old wives' tale that a jigger of alcohol can help people suffering from sniffles — science confirms that the ingredients in hot toddies really can help to alleviate sore throats and stuffy noses.

Of course it's a good idea to remember that, as with anything involving alcohol, moderation is key. But the cost of the common cold, according to WedMD is about $40 billion a year, and the hot toddy home remedy does give the popular over-the-counter cold helpers a run for their money:

For decades people have used the hot toddy as a natural remedy for easing all those aches and pains that are associated with the common cold, and for the most part, it was just assumed that it was one of those natural remedies, like chicken soup, that works because your brain thinks it works, not because there is actual science behind it. But as it turns out, a hot toddy is actually pretty great, from a scientific perspective, at soothing your cold.

The evidence also suggests that perhaps the best cure for the common cold is plenty of rest. The alcohol in a hot toddy likely helps facilitate that, too.

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