How many times have you heard from uncle / grandmother / friend when you started complaining about illness: Shoot yourself with vodka and pepper and tomorrow you will feel like new born! Some people reject this perspective at the mere thought, others rub their hands on such a perfect excuse to get drunk. Can alcohol help a cold?
It helps …
The argument for drinking alcohol during a cold is its warming power. When we serve beer or wine mulled wine and add cloves, cinnamon, orange and several other ingredients – we get an aromatic drink that will lead our body to the desired feeling of warmth. All because alcohol dilates blood vessels. However, this is a short-lived and superficial effect that will not hurt us only if after drinking the drink we wrap ourselves in a cocoon from a blanket or quilt and go to sleep. Otherwise, after some time, our body will feel even more severe the effects of hypothermia, and this will be all from our “treatment”.
Alcohol warms up the body, but when used for an infection, it can make it worse. It causes the expansion of blood vessels, which helps the body cool down quickly. It interacts with many drugs and may increase the effects of some of them, which may result in overdose or insufficient action.
Such combinations burden the liver and may cause malaise, drowsiness and dizziness. Alcohol also dehydrates, disturbs the balance of the intestinal microflora and, above all, weakens immunity in many different ways. It not only reduces the level of internal body antioxidants in the lungs, but also causes changes in the epithelium and alveoli, disrupts the production and functioning of lymphocytes, as well as the operation of many mechanisms associated with the immune response. Therefore, it is best to give up the percentage drinks and warm up with warm drinks for a cold.
When it comes to quick remedies for the common cold, many people say that a glass of brandy or hot toddy – whiskey with hot water and lemon juice – is just what the doctor ordered.
It’s not difficult to see how mild intoxication can alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu, but so far no studies have shown that alcohol has the ability to kill germs in the bloodstream or stop a cold. And while alcohol can provide temporary relief, it can prolong symptoms by increasing dehydration.
Nevertheless, two large studies have shown that while moderate drinking does not cure colds, it can help keep them at bay. One of them, researchers from Carnegie Mellon in 1993, looked at 391 adults and found that resistance to colds increases with moderate drinking, except for smokers.
Then in 2002, researchers in Spain followed 4,300 healthy adults, studying their habits and susceptibility to colds. A study in The American Journal of Epidemiology found no association between the occurrence of the common cold and the consumption of beer, spirits, vitamin C or zinc. But drinking 8 to 14 glasses of wine a week, especially red, was associated with up to a 60% reduction in the risk of colds. Scientists suspected that this has something to do with the antioxidant properties of wine.
Alcohol will not help cure colds, although moderate consumption can reduce susceptibility.