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Fact vs. Myth? Doctors explain secrets behind home remedies for flu

By: Stacy Ellison Email
By: Stacy Ellison Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In recent weeks this this year's flu outbreak has reached epidemic levels. While most people recognize the symptoms, when it comes to getting rid of them quick fixes and home remedies are a dime a dozen.

From unpeeled onions left out around the house, to loading up on Zinc and Vitamin C, or drinking an old fashioned toddy, which remedies actually work and which should you throw out? Dr. Scott Black at UK Chandler Medical Center weighed in on the facts verses the myths behind some common flu remedies.

On loading up on vitamins, like Zinc and Vitamin C, Dr. Black says "there is some evidence that if you start early on, it might shorten the course of the cold a bit." But Dr. Black says it will do nothing to actually fight or shorten the flu.

What about honey and cinnamon combos? And tumeric?

"There are a whole lot of spices that are said to improve the immune system," says Dr. Black, adding that no definite studies back up claims the mixture will ward off the flu virus.

As for the onions, peeled, cut, and left around the house, Dr. Black says, "onions are rich in something called Kursetin, known to enhance the immune system, but you have to eat them."

Dr. Black says the medical term for the many of these home remedies is called the "placebo effect," as in the more people have faith and believe the remedy will work, and sure enough they will.

And if a toddy is the way you like to soothe your sickness, Dr. Black has a word of caution.

"That could make you feel better," he explains, "but that depends on how much you take in, it could make your headache worse."

So what do doctors recommend? Flu shots! Dr. Black says the symptoms you sometimes experience after getting a flu shot are a sign your immune system is working to develop resistance. He also says you can avoid getting the flu by washing your hands often and avoiding crowds.


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