Booze: cure for the common cold


We’ve already definitively determined that booze is good for you. Numerous studies have shown that drinkers live longer, have stronger hearts and are generally just healthier than non-drinkers. (My personal favorite is the finding that people who drink moderately but don’t exercise are actually more often healthier than people who exercise regularly and don’t drink at all. Take THAT, everyone that said drinking and not working out was bad for me!) But in the throes of cold and flu season, and with a burgeoning sore throat, the familiar question arose in my mind of whether or not drinking actually helps to A) prevent one from getting sick and B) remedy minor illness after its onset.

A little research quickly revealed that the finding that moderate alcohol consumption helps promote “general health” extends to helping keep the common cold at bay. In fact, people who drink 2-3 alcoholic beverages a day have an 85% great resistance to the virus as compared to abstainers. One to two drinks results in 65% greater resistance and people that drink at all are 30% less likely to catch a cold than teetotalers. And this was reported in the American Journal of Public Health. So clearly whatever bug I caught was of a particularly strong variety because by all accounts I should be healthy as a horse.

Which brings us to point B. Does boozing actually help once a cold has set it? Now, as an underage drinker, my philosophy was that all a cough or sore throat needed was to be shown who is boss. And what better way to achieve this than to pour whiskey down one’s throat until any trace of tickle or pain is alleviated? Believe it or not, this seemed to work at least 75% of the time. Given the evidence favoring alcohol as a preventative measure, it seems logical that it could also be used as medication—I mean, it’s a main ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicine—you just need to increase the dosage, right?

Through a little more research I found that this concept, while not completely foreign to the denizens of the Internet, has had little traction. But I did find that alcohol as a chemical has the ability to kill viruses. And the common cold is nothing more than a virus—implying that raising one’s BAC could result in the death of whatever is currently infesting your bloodstream. I mean, it’s Science! So last Saturday I headed out for the night with a swollen uvula, a slight dry cough and flask full of whiskey.

Come midnight the flask was long empty and all traces of illness had been washed away by the warm caress of Knob Creek and a subsequent fog of Anchor Steam. But as we all know from the sage wisdom of Homer Simpson, alcohol is not just the solution to all of life’s problems—the real test would come the morning after.

Here I have to give a nod to our buddies at drinkwel and their incredible compound of vitamins and whatnot, because I awoke on Sunday in the absence of a hangover—and without a trace of the sore throat that had plagued me the day before. Success!

Conclusion (and you heard it here first): booze cures colds. So next time you’re feeling a little under the weather, rather than falling prey to the influence of Big Chicken Noodle, pick up a bottle of grandpa’s cough medicine and take the term “drinking to your health” as excessively as possible. Cheers!

Cough medicine photo courtesy of Happy Squid, flickr.
Flask photo courtesy of rick, flickr.