No matter which part of the world you may be living in, the common cold is just as vexing for all of us. Most of us quickly consider popping a pill, or better yet, take some cough syrup. Some of us have had our parents or elders scold us for not having the patience to try out some home cold remedy like drinking a glass of boiling water or a cup of hot herbal tea brewed with cinnamon, clove and honey.
Much like a bowl of steaming chicken soup or broth, a piping homemade concoction makes for a superb cold remedy to relieve you from the body aches, sneezing, runny nose, cough and throat ache, congestion, watery eyes and general foggy feeling that comes with the common cold. However, boiling water alone may not be as curative as this secret ingredient: alcohol. That's right, I said it. Drinking alcohol may not be advisable while we are suffering from other diseases, nor should be taken with any kind of medication without a doctor's advice but generations of people have turned to a seething drink of a hot toddy, containing, of course, alcohol as a cure for a cold.
Significant research conducted in this domain has tested relations between pain and alcohol consumption, proving that moderate and situational alcohol intake is observed to have positive pain relief outcomes, that is a greater quality of life. Clearly, it's not just an old wives' tale that an alcoholic drink can help cure people from a cold, science actually confirms it. Haven't we noticed how warm we feel after a drink of rum or brandy during winter? According to studies, even though drinking alcohol does not change your body temperature, the consumption of it increases the volume of blood brought to the skin's surface, thus making you feel warmer. In fact, some medicines including popular cough syrups like NyQuil, are proven to contain up to 10% alcohol.
The minute you notice any of the cold symptoms like a terrible sore throat or nasal congestion put the cough syrup on a hold and try out this homemade concoction, which to your very benefit, contains alcohol! The ingredients added in a hot toddy recipe can really help to alleviate sore throats and blocked noses. A classic hot toddy mix contains these integral ingredients - whiskey or bourbon added to piping hot water with a hint of lemon juice that is mixed with a spoonful of honey.
A study publication states that alcohol provides analgesic effects to minimise short term pain or discomfort. It has indirect effects such as anxiety reduction, and direct effects like blocking the pain receptors in the central nervous system. Historically, alcohol was used before the invention of anaesthesia, before patients underwent surgery to distort their awareness from expected pain. During the production process of Whiskey, the tasty part is first distilled before being aged in wooden casks, and the spirit ends up with uniquely high doses of cancer-fighting antioxidants and heart-saving phenols. In fact, whiskey is known to have quite a few health benefits, according to which, a large shot of Whiskey can even help protect against heart disease. However, when it comes to the common cold, it is whiskey's alcoholic property that has the most effect.
Even though the hot toddy recipe mainly uses traditional whiskey for its alcoholic portion, many people alter the drink with their own preferences like rum, brandy, bourbon, rye whiskey or Irish Whiskey. Alcohol creates an obvious warmth in our body that is highly recommended when dealing with a phlegm congested system.
A glass of hot water every day has proven to have multifaceted positive health benefits. For the toddy, water can be simply boiled or if you would enjoy some induced flavouring, then it can be brewed with spices like a cinnamon stick, ginger, cloves. Research suggests that sipping hot liquids can significantly decrease congestion in the nose and chest.
Lemon is an excellent source for deriving vitamin C. Adding lemon juice to your hot toddy "reduces and thins mucus, which makes it easier to unclog a stuffed-up respiratory system," said Douglas Schar, a clinically trained herbalist, in an article with Prevention explaining that the acidity of lemons can also help the body fight off infection. Adding fresh lemon juice to a cup of hot tea with honey may reduce phlegm too. Drinking hot or cold lemonade may also help. While these drinks may not clear up your cold entirely, they can help you get the vitamin C that helps in rebuilding your immune system. Lemon juice happens to be a great hangover cure, clearly stating how beneficial it is to calm the body's turmoil.
Honey is a key ingredient in many potions or concoctions that help soothing down your body's system. Warm in nature, two teaspoons of honey at bedtime proves to reduce the cough frequency in children. Researchers say honey contains varying concentrations of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, making you better prepared for fighting off disease-causing inflammation. It is a healthier option for every sweet tooth to choose instead of high carb foods. It really does add to the taste of the drink, complimenting the whiskey really well!
A few benefits of the hot toddy that can be counted are:-
1. Loading up on vitamin C is a go-to cold remedy and the lemon juice in the toddy provides just that. It may not completely cure your cold or cough but it will definitely boost your immune system.
2. Honey has been praised for its throat soothing properties that are essential in this home remedy. Its anti-inflammatory properties again boost your immune system to fight off all kinds of diseases.
3. The toddy must be consumed hot as a cold remedy. Hot liquids help move mucus and germs out of your system. They "increase the mucociliary clearance rate," explains Bruce Barrett, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Wisconsin.
4. As discussed earlier, alcohol, particularly whiskey in appropriate amounts is instrumental in reducing aches and helps you relax. And of course, gives you a potential reason to enjoy a rather healthy and tasty drink!
An article by Men's Health lists the best hot toddies for people looking for a ravishing flavour to their warm whiskey cocktails. It includes recipes for the classic hot toddy, redemption (rye) chai hot toddy containing dashes of fees barrel-aged bitters, a liquid cure containing chamomile tea and ginger syrup, an apple hot toddy containing apple cranberry tea and a variety of spices, and a flannel blanket that contains earl grey and pear syrup.
So for all whiskey lovers, the hot toddy is just the perfect excuse to throw one back and take it easy as you recover from a cold. Only, make sure you don't overdo it. It's easy to get dehydrated when you've got a cold, and alcohol being a diuretic can lead to dehydration. Whiskey on the rocks or a cold toddy on the other hand is definitely not the way to go. This study found that drinking cold liquids actually increases nasal congestion, making you feel even worse.