If you smell onions in someone's socks over the next few weeks, do not be alarmed. That person is probably just fighting a cold.
Must-try vegan foods this winter
- Heaps of vitamin C
- Chicken soup, preferably homemade by Mom
- Natural foods, fresh colorful veggies, and supplements
- Chopping and eating a raw yellow onion (with a little salad dressing for taste) followed by a warm bath or a long shower to open the pores
- Oscillococcinum, which is a homeopathic alternative medicine
- Thieves Essential Oil
- Coating feet with Vicks Vapor Rub and wearing a pair of socks overnight
- Socks filled with peeled onion layers
- Cardio, a few sips of whiskey, and cold medicine
- Outdoor activity, hydration, and rest
In Barrett's study, cold sufferers were split into four groups-one group was given no pills, a second and third group were each given Echinacea or a placebo but were not told which pill they received, and a fourth group was given Echinacea and was told it was Echinacea. Each participant was asked to rate the effectiveness of the medicinal herb Echinacea.
The results: The illnesses of people who believed in Echinacea and received pills were considerably shorter and less severe-regardless of whether or not the pills contained Echinacea.
What does that mean for you? "A positive outlook matters," Barrett says. If someone believes a cold remedy works, it just might. No one knows for sure why. Barrett says that the manner in which the brain stimulates healing mechanisms through positive expectations is not entirely understood. But this certainly helps explain why there is a seemingly endless list of pharmaceuticals, alternative treatments, and quirky homemade solutions for treating the common cold.
As a practicing family doctor, Barrett strongly encourages the use of non-pharmaceutical cold remedies. For the record, I swear by orange juice, bananas, and vitamin C, which in the wide range of solutions turns out to be quite tame.
"I was being interviewed on 'The People's Pharmacy' (radio program) and a guy called in who melts skunk fat and gives a teaspoon of it to his kids when they start getting a cold," Barrett says. "He swore it stopped all of the colds in their tracks. That's worse than onion in the socks."
Have any skunk fat handy? No? What's your go-to cold cure? Tell us in the comments below!
Joe Donatelli is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at joedonatelli.com.
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