10 Old Wives' Tales About Your Health


1
Vitamin C Cures the Common Cold
Oranges and their juice are still healthy treats, but zinc (found in supplements or foods like sesame and pumpkin seeds, oysters and beef) has a better chance of helping you fight your cold.
Oranges and their juice are still healthy treats, but zinc (found in supplements or foods like sesame and pumpkin seeds, oysters and beef) has a better chance of helping you fight your cold.
iStockphoto.com/RedHelga

This "old" tale goes back only to 1970 and a book, "Vitamin C and the Common Cold," by Linus Pauling. Pauling was a brilliant chemist, a two-time Nobel Prize winner. In his book, he claimed that megadoses of vitamin C cured the common cold. This was a promising theory that Pauling had been investigating for several years. But he had no solid research to support it. The medical establishment loudly denounced him. The controversy proved to be great publicity, and many people bought into Pauling's claim -- and still do, despite the continued lack of evidence.

Don't write off the theory completely, however. In 2007, a sweeping review of 60 years of studies found that taking 200 milligrams of vitamin C every day (two to three times the recommended amount, but still a safe dose) reduced the time spent sick from a cold from about 12 to 11 days per year. It also seemed to cut the incidence of colds in people who were under extreme stress by 50 percent.

Marginal benefits, we agree. Yet in many ways, Pauling was ahead of his time. He believed that good health consisted of supplying the body with the proper balance of molecules needed for vital biochemical reactions. He named this approach orthomolecular medicine. Today researchers are excited about vitamin C because it's an antioxidant, a substance that repairs cells by rebuilding molecules that are damaged during everyday activities. The similarities between old wisdom and new research are enough to give us pause on this one.

Related Articles

Sources

  • Amos, Jonathan. "Ancient Phallus Unearthed in Cave." July 25, 2005. (Aug. 11, 2011) BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4713323.stm
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Feeding Your Adult Cat." (March 30, 2012) http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/nutrition-tips-adult-cat.aspx
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Urine Marking in Cats." (March 30, 2012) http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/103/Urine-Marking-in-Cats-.aspx
  • Anderson, J. and Young, L. "Sugar and Sweeteners." May 2010. (April 1, 2012) http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09301.html
  • Arthritis Foundation. "What Is Osteoarthritis?" (April 1, 2012) http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/osteoarthritis/all-about-oa/what-is-oa.php
  • Associated Press. "Egyptian Cat Deity's 2,200-Year-Old Temple Unearthed in Alexandria." Jan. 19, 2010. The Guardian. (March 30, 2012) http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jan/19/egypt-cat-god-temple-bastet
  • Berkowitz, Lara. "Cats Kill Babies? Bunk, Experts Say." Houston Chronicle, Feb. 3, 2009. (March 30, 2012) http://www.chron.com/life/pets-cats/article/Cats-kill-babies-Bunk-experts-say-1610306.php
  • Bernstein, Lisa. "Can You 'Sweat Out' a Cold by Putting on Lots of Clothes and Covering Yourself in Blankets?" Sept. 25, 2008. (April 3, 2012) http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdandFluQuestions/story?id=5678177#.T3s8htkpC-p
  • Beverage Industry. "Coffee Sales Heat Up." July 12, 2011. (April 4, 2012). http://www.bevindustry.com/articles/84830-coffee-sales-heat-up
  • Callaghan, Greg. "Bigger, Taller, Wider." The Australian, April 5, 2008. (April 4, 2012) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/bigger-taller-wider/story-e6frg8h6-1111115975557
  • Cornell University. "Chocolate: Food of the Gods." (April 2, 2012) http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/chocolate/theobromacacao.php
  • Crowe, Tim. "Monday's Medical Myth: Sugar Makes Kids Hyperactive." May 16, 2011. (April 2, 2012) http://theconversation.edu.au/mondays-medical-myth-sugar-makes-kids-hyperactive-1009
  • Freeman, David. "Masturbation: 5 Things You Didn't Know." Aug. 29, 2011. (March 30, 2012) http://men.webmd.com/features/masturbation-5-things-you-didnt-know
  • Greismann, Kate. "Myth or Fact: Eating Chocolate Causes Acne." June 1, 2011. (April 2, 2012) http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/health_articles/myth-or-fact-eating-chocolate-causes-acne
  • Hager, Thomas. "Linus Pauling: Genius or Crank?" Oct. 1, 2010. (April 4, 2012) http://thomashager.net/linus-pauling-genius-or-crackpot
  • Hecht, Mendy. "What Is the Jewish View on Masturbation?" (March 30, 2012) http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/121,53/What-is-the-Jewish-view-on-masturbation.html
  • Humphries, Courtney. "Does Caffeine Really Stunt Adolescents' Growth?" Boston Globe, Oct. 11, 2010. (April 4, 2012) http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/health/articles/2010/10/11/does_caffeine_really_stunt_adolescents_growth/
  • Iams. "Why Do They? Heat-Seeking Kitties." (March 30, 2012) http://www.iams.com/pet-health/cat-article/why-do-they-heat-seeking-kitties
  • Mayo Clinic. "Beta-carotene." Oct. 1, 2011. (April 3, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/beta-carotene/NS_patient-betacarotene
  • Mayo Clinic. "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Causes." Oct. 1, 2010. (March 30, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sudden-infant-death-syndrome/DS00145/DSECTION=causes
  • Melone, Linda. "Do You Feed a Fever and Starve a Cold?" Nov. 28, 2011. (April 3, 2012) http://www.everydayhealth.com/cold-and-flu/colds-and-fevers.aspx
  • Mikkelson, Barbara. "Murderous Moggies." June 29, 2007. (March 30, 2012) http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/catsuck.asp
  • Ogden, Cynthia, et al. "Mean Body Weight,Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960-2002." P. 2. Oct. 27, 2004. (April 4, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad347.pdf
  • Oz, Mehmet. "How Can I Increase My Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Naturally?" Sharecare. (April 4, 2012) http://www.sharecare.com/question/how-increase-hgh-naturally?utm_medium=sharecare
  • Pappas, Dimitrios. "Knuckle Cracking Q and A." (April 1, 2012) http://www.hopkins-arthritis.org/arthritis-news/2007/knuckle-cracking-and-arthritis.html
  • QSR. "Increase in Energy Drink Sales, But No Newbies." Aug. 11, 2010. (April 4, 2012) http://www.qsrmagazine.com/news/increase-energy-drink-sales-no-newbies
  • Sharecare. "Is Most of My Body Heat Lost Through My Head?" (April 3, 2012) http://www.sharecare.com/question/is-body-heat-lost-head
  • Soble, Alan. "Philosophy of Sexuality." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. May 10, 2009. (April 1, 2012) http://www.iep.utm.edu/sexualit/
  • Tannenbaum, Rebecca J. The Healer's Calling: Women and Medicine in Early New England. Cornell University Press, 2002. P. 7-8.
  • The Science Museum. "Humours." (April 3, 2012) http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughtto life/themes/traditions/humours.aspx
  • The Science Museum. "Pewter Bleeding Bowl, Europe, 1701-1900." (April 3, 2012) http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?-d=92776
  • Web MD. "Acne: Topic Overview." Feb. 3, 2011. (April 2, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-vulgaris-topic-overview
  • Web MD. "Quiz: Myths and Facts About Teen Acne." May 16, 2011. (April 2, 2012) http://teens.webmd.com/rm-quiz-teen-acne
  • WebMD. "Vitamin C for the Common Cold." Feb. 21, 2010. (April 4, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/vitamin-c-for-common-cold
  • WebMD. "Will Joint Cracking Cause Osteoarthritis?" Oct. 15, 2011. (April 1, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/joint-cracking-osteoarthritis
  • WebMD. "Your Guide to Masturbation." March 4, 2010. (March 31, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/masturbation-guide
  • Weisinger, Harrison. "Monday's Medical Myth: Eating Carrots Will Improve Your Eyesight." Dec. 19, 2011. (April 3, 2012) http://theconversation.edu.au/mondays-medical-myth-eating-carrots-will-improve-your-eyesight-3458
  • Wilderness Medicine Newsletter. "Heat Loss Through the Head and Hypothermia." Feb. 14, 2007. (April 3, 20112) http://wildernessmedicinenewsletter.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/heat-loss-through-the-head-and-hypothermia/
  • World Carrot Museum. "Carrot History -- Carrots in World War Two." (April 3, 2012) http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/history4.html

UP NEXT

9 Hangover Cures From Around the World

9 Hangover Cures From Around the World

Almost every nation has its own special alcoholic beverage — and hangover cure. Learn about 9 hangover cures from around the world at HowStuffWorks.


More to Explore