5 Old Wives' Tales That Really Work

“Put on a hat–you’ll catch a cold!” and “Turkey makes you sleepy” are just some of the old wives’ tales you’ve likely heard growing up. Or, perhaps you had a mother or father who was particularly insistent upon herbal remedies like consuming raw garlic for colds and flus. While some old wives’ tales are just that–tales–we’ve gathered the ones that seem to have actual merit and thus a place in your kitchen, too.

1. Raw Honey for Colds, Flus, and Nausea

Raw honey has a myriad of benefits–but the trick is that it needs to be raw honey, and not the plastic packets you might find at coffee shops. Why? Commercial honey has been pasteurized, eliminating the potential for contamination but also reducing, and in some cases completely eliminating, the nutritional value. Raw honey, in conjunction with fresh lemon juice and grated ginger, can stop nausea, while raw honey with raw garlic is a potent anti-microbial for boosting your immune system. Having a hard time shaking a cough? Take a spoonful of raw honey before bed. The honey, which is a demulcent, will coat your throat better than any off-the-shelf cough medicine can. 

2. Chicken Soup to Cure a Cold

Everyone’s favorite cold comfort is chicken (or vegetable) soup, but vegetarians and vegans are at a disadvantage here; while vegetables like celery, carrots, onions, and parsley have nutritional merit and likely aid in creating an anti-inflammatory effect on your body upon consumption, the gelatin in homemade, bone broth style chicken soup may have the best effects. This study suggests that chicken soup can actually help cure a cold. Bonus points for the gelatin present in the chicken stock–gelatin contains high amounts of glycine, which generally results in a better, more restful sleep. 

3. Drink Lemon Water in the Morning to Start Your Day Right

Scan through a healthy living website or search #morningrituals and you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a picture of a glass of water with lemon juice. A glass of water with a slice or squeeze of organic lemon is refreshing after the effects of a night’s stale breath, but lemon water is more than just revitalizing. This study concludes that a glass of water with lemon may help lower blood pressure while also setting the stage for living a more active lifestyle. While lemon water isn’t a cure-all, nor will it make you healthier on its own, several important nutrients in the water itself can have healthful effects. Lemons contain high levels of vitamin C, which is critical for the absorption of iron; drinking a glass of water with lemon in the morning may, in fact, help you absorb the bioavailable iron in your breakfast. Another possible reason for this growing trend can be related to the smell alone. Lemons have an uplifting scent, and may help set the tone for your day, simply by slicing a lemon into two halves in preparation for squeezing.

4. Olive Oil for Constipation

A teaspoon of olive oil can help cure constipation, thanks to the high fat content found in olives. Take on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning to help moisturize hard stools and smooth the intestinal tract. This study suggests that olive oil (or flaxseed oil) works as well as mineral oil when used as a mild laxative. 

5. Take Charcoal for Food Poisoning

Traveling with activated charcoal tablets might seem overly foolish to those who haven’t had food poisoning–after all, who worries about getting sick on vacation? Bringing along a small bottle of activated charcoal tablets, however, can make or break your trip if you’ve been accidentally contaminated with bacteria or toxins following a meal. Charcoal works by neutralizing toxins within the body, which is why it is often recommended for food poisoning. While this natural alternative works well, be sure not to take it often as it can also neutralize the vitamins and nutrients in one’s food when taken as a precautionary.