Page last updated at 07:04 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Study finds hot drinks help colds

Prof Ron Eccles
Prof Ron Eccles said cold viruses thrived during this time of year

Granny's advice about taking a hot drink to fight the effects of a cold was correct all along, say experts.

Researchers at Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre found a hot mug of fruit cordial could help ease the coughs and splutters of a cold or flu.

They believe the research, published in the latest edition of clinical journal Rhinology, is the first of its kind.

The effect of an apple and blackcurrant drink served at room temperature or hot was monitored on 30 volunteers.

Centre director Professor Ron Eccles urged anyone suffering from a cold or flu to have a hot drink to help reduce their symptoms.


Find out why hot drinks 'help cure your cold'

"It is surprising that this is the first scientific research on the benefit of a hot drink for treating cold and flu symptoms," he said.

"With temperatures falling and Christmas just round the corner, cold viruses love this time of year.

"Having a bottle of fruit cordial in the cupboard and making a hot drink could help fight off the symptoms of festive cold and flu."

Man with a cold
Scientists used a popular brand of diluted apple and blackcurrant, at temperatures of 70C and 20C
The study involved 21 women and nine men, aged 18 to 36
It found immediate effects on cough, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness, and relief after 15 minutes from running nose and sneezing
Runny nose, cough and sneezing was still helped by the fruit drink at room temperature
The taste, smell and temperature of the drink may also have a psychological effect
The drink involved was low sugar and low calorie but sweeter, more traditional cold remedies may have a greater effect
From study by A Sanu and R Eccles, Cardiff University

He said the big advantage of this type of treatment was that it was cheap as well as safe and effective.

The research found a hot drink provided "immediate and sustained relief" from symptoms of a runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness.

Symptoms of a runny nose, cough and sneezing were also helped by the drink served at room temperature and researchers admit there was probably a psychological effect, based on the old tale, from the taste, smell and temperature of the hot drink.

"In conclusion, the results support the folklore that a hot tasty drink is a beneficial treatment for relief of most symptoms of common cold and flu," said the study.

The Common Cold Centre, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is the world's only centre dedicated to researching and testing new medicines for treatment of the symptoms of flu and the common cold.

The centre has led the world in answering some of the most commonly asked questions about the common cold.

These include whether being cold can make you catch a cold and why one nostril gets blocked when we have a cold.

But as yet, a cure remains elusive because the common cold is not just one virus.

"In fact it is caused by over 200 different viruses that change and mutate constantly, making it almost impossible to find a "catch-all" cure," said Prof Eccles.

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