The 10 cold and flu myths busted as ‘worst cold ever’ sweeps UK

BRITS are battling the "worst cold ever", which seems to have swept the country in a matter of weeks.

Thanks to social distancing keeping the germ spread low for the past year, the bug feels worse than the colds we remember.

Our immunity is low and our tolerance for being sick has plummeted.

It's not clear if it really is worse than usual, or if we have just forgotten how to be ill and our bodies can't shake it as quickly.

There are a number of tried and tested remedies we turn to when we feel unwell.

But Potter’s Herbals adviser Roz Kadir has debunked some of the myths to cure a cold…

1. Drinking a shot of oregano oil to treat a cold

Oregano oil contains some antioxidants – carvacrol, thymol and terpinine.

There have been some studies showing these can help beat viruses.

Always remember to stick to the recommended doses and don’t use it if you are allergic to mint, sage, basil or lavender or pregnant or breastfeeding.

Don't use it for more than three weeks without a break.  

2. Apple cider vinegar  

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples.

It's said that good quality batches have a “mother” – a mixture of yeasts and bacteria that act like a probiotic.

Probiotics are good for immunity as they help keep the infection fighting population in the gut healthy.

But do not have more than the recommended dose or if you have trouble with acid reflux.

3. Herbal products such as Echinacea

Echinacea is recognised as one of the most powerful medicinal plants.

Research shows it increases the number of white blood cells, which fight infections.

There has been some suggestion that taking it for more than 8 weeks is not advisable, and always read the label before use.

4. Drinking a hot toddy (honey, lemon, whisky)

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for a common cold and keeping hydrated is the most important thing you can do.

Alcohol can be dehydrating so, while the dram of whisky might be soothing, it has no impact on a cold.

But lemon has Vitamin C, and honey has long been known to have anti-bacterial properties – so the drink could make you feel better but make sure to keep hydrated.

 5. Leaving the house with wet hair increases the risk of you getting a cold

Colds are caused by viruses, so you can't necessarily catch a cold from going outside with wet hair.

But it is possible that getting chilly can activate the virus if you have already been exposed to it.

So it's best to stay warm and don't go out with wet hair, incase you end up kickstarting an illness.

6. Taking antibiotics to cure a cold

Taking antibiotics won’t help with the common cold as it is a virus and not bacteria.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria, and taking them when they aren’t needed can reduce immunity by killing bacteria in the gut.

7. Eating a clove of garlic

Compounds in garlic help the body absorb Zinc, a mineral that is very useful for immunity.

To get the best out of it, crush it and let it stand in hot water for 10 minutes to get the best from it.

Garlic feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut which support immunity.  

8. Chicken soup

Chicken soup is an old Jewish remedy and has been used for many years as a remedy for illness.

Whole chicken was used in original recipes, including the feet, so it was highly nutritious.

The aromas may help clear the upper respiratory tract and be soothing to the digestion if you're not feeling well.

Many think it has anti-inflammatory properties, but no studies have proved this.  

9. Taking vitamin C supplements or drinking lots of orange juice  

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many fruits and taking it regularly may protect against the worst effects of a cold.

Our bodies cannot store it so we need to consume it regularly to prevent deficiencies such as scurvy.

On the other hand, while it won't be bad for you, drinking lots of orange juice is a worse choice.

As due to the distance they travel to get to the UK, much of this vitamin is lost.

But if using supplements, take care with the dosage, as over 2000mgs can cause loose bowels.  

10. Exercising to sweat out a cold

Exercising when you have a cold may lead to dehydration so it’s possible to make the cold worse.

But if your cold is quite mild, then gentle exercise might make you feel a little better.

Moving around, if you are able to is useful, as the lymph system helps your immune system to beat bugs and functions best when muscles are moving.

Giulia Bacchio, Global Medical Manager at Potter’s Herbals, said: “There are so many myths and remedies around how to cure the common cold however, this research shows that it’s only the symptoms that can be treated.

"The popularity of natural remedies in particular right now is really exciting, with more people looking to try products such as Echinacea to relieve their symptoms.”

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