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Can Alcohol Really Help You Beat a Cold?

alcohol, cold, brandyBrandy, whiskey and other alcoholic beverages have long been recommended as “just the thing” to treat a cold. But do they really work?

It turns out that alcohol may help to temporarily relieve cold and flu symptoms, but it will not “cure” the cold or kill any germs in your bloodstream. A cocktail may also be counterproductive because the alcohol may dehydrate you and ultimately lengthen your symptoms.
However, while alcohol will not heal a cold, it may make you less likely to get one.

A 1993 study by Carnegie Mellon researchers found that moderate drinkers had increased resistance to colds. A second study conducted in 2002 and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology also found protective effects of alcohol.

In the study of 4,300 adults, those who drank eight to 14 glasses of wine per week (and red wine in particular) had up to a 60 percent reduced risk of developing a cold. The researchers suggested that the wine’s antioxidant content may have been responsible for the beneficial effect.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I personally do not advocate drinking any amount of alcohol for any reason, including relieving the symptoms of a cold. Though there may be some temporary relief, alcohol will not help your body defeat the underlying cold virus.

Alcohol is, in fact, a neurotoxin that can poison your brain. It can also cause serious disruptions to your delicate hormone balance.

In addition to that, excessive drinking may be the cause of several types of cancer, including cancer of the:
  • Mouth, larynx and esophagus
  • Liver
  • Colon
  • Breast
  • Pancreas
  • Lungs
On top of that (as some of you New Years revelers may know all too well today!), if you drink too much you’ll have to deal with hangover symptoms, which are caused by acetaldehyde, a chemical that alcohol breaks down into. This chemical has toxic effects on many tissues and organs in your body, and it can also cause mental and emotional disturbances.

Just about the only good thing I can say about alcohol is that it positively impacts your absorption of resveratrol. This powerful antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine belongs to a family of compounds known as polyphenols, which combat damaging free radicals in your body.

Resveratrol lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol while raising "good" HDL cholesterol and decreases the production of a protein that plays a major role in your development of heart disease.

Even more exciting is the fact that resveratrol was also found to extend the lifespan of yeast cells by up to 80 percent, and researchers are hoping to prove that the molecules will have similar effects on worms, fruit flies and even humans.

Now, because this antioxidant is soluble in alcohol you will get far more absorption if you consume it in an alcohol base as opposed to swallowing it from a pill. So while there are clearly distinct and negative consequences to consuming alcohol, these are partially compensated for by its ability to increase the absorption of resveratrol into your blood where it performs its magic.

Please recognize, though, that this is really only applicable for red wine, as the amount of resveratrol in white wine and other liquors is minimal or non-existent.

What REALLY Works For Your Cold?

If you do come down with a cold, an over-the-counter medication is not the answer, and neither are antibiotics, which will do absolutely nothing to treat the underlying viral infection.

What IS the answer is what you already intrinsically feel like doing: taking care of yourself.

At this time of the year there are four primary reasons why you get a cold. The first is unresolved stress.

If you feel under the weather, you must rest, eat good food, drink plenty of water and do some light exercise, if you feel up to it. And you must certainly keep your stress to a minimum and be sure you are releasing past emotional challenges you are holding onto with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

Second is eating too much sugar during the holiday celebrations. There is simply no question that eating sugar will suppress your immune system. So if you have a cold the FIRST thing you should do is stop ALL sweets and sugars. Avoid them completely until you recover.

Thirdly you may not be getting enough sleep. Read my recommendations on how to address this if this is one of your problems.

Fourth would be low vitamin D levels due to insufficient sun exposure (remember if you live in the northern hemisphere this is the LOWEST sunshine period of the year -- and even if it were out, it typically is too cold to have enough skin exposed to generate sufficient vitamin D levels).

So ideally get real sun exposure to remedy this, or get access to a safe tanning bed or use something like cod liver oil very carefully.

Amazing Remedy For Colds

One of the most amazing (and inexpensive) therapies I have ever seen for colds, which works especially well if you catch the cold early, is to use a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ears.

I have no idea why or how this works, but I can guarantee you three things:

1. It is incredibly effective for relieving cold (and flu) symptoms
2. It won't hurt you
3. It only costs a few cents so there is nothing to lose

How to Keep the Common Cold Away

Most Americans get two colds every year. But if you follow the advice below, you won’t have to worry about getting any colds at all. Virtually all of the patients who come to my clinic and follow this regimen report back that they simply stopped getting colds, flus and coughs.