Many people insist that common foods such as honey and garlic are an alternative to conventional medicines. Let us review the items that you probably have in your kitchen cupboard and find out if there is any truth to the old wives tales.


Tea – According to the old wives tales, tea protects against a number of ailments including cancer and weight gain.

According to science, both green and black teas are full of strong antioxidants. One of these antioxidants, catechins, works to inhibit the growth of cancer. In studies that have been done with mice, liver, skin and stomach cancer tumors have decreased in size when the mice were fed both green and black teas. Studies in people have offered mixed results, but drinking three or more cups of tea each day does offer many benefits. Studies are being done to research the role tea has in fighting cancer, heart disease, tooth decay and more. Studies are also being done to find out the role of tea in weight management and blood glucose control.

Drinking either black or green tea as part of your daily fluid intake is definitely in your favor.


Cranberry juice – According to the old wives tales, cranberry juice prevents cystitis.

According to science, after conducting several random trials, the regular consumption of cranberry juice may decrease the number of urinary tract infections (UTIs) over the period of a year. Laboratory results suggest that cranberry juice can stop the bacteria that cause UTIs from sticking to the bladder walls for about 10 hours. This seems to be more effective in women than in men but may not work with older women. While there is no evidence to support an effective dose of cranberry juice, some studies suggest a glass of juice twice a day is appropriate. The evidence suggests that although this juice may help prevent a UTI it cannot treat it once it has developed.

These studies may not be accurate due to high dropout rates. Some people find cranberry juice to be too tart while others began putting on weight from drinking it. Others had gastrointestinal reactions from the juice.

If you suffer with recurrent urinary tract infections, it might be worth trying cranberry juice. To help keep calorie consumption low, try a lighter brand of juice.


Honey – According to the old wives tales, honey relieves hay fever symptoms. It also heals wounds and stomach ulcers.

According to science, honey has been found to be antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and is an antioxidant. Active manuka honey, which features unique manuka factors (UMF) is twice as effective as other honey to fight bacteria such as E coli and Staphylococcus aureus, the most common bacteria in an infected wound. Manuka honeys that rate with a UMF of 10 or more are used to treat wounds in hospitals worldwide when other, traditional treatments have failed. It is also an effective treatment when traditional antibiotics do not work.

Laboratory studies suggest that UMF honey may be effective to treat the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers known as helicobacter pylori.

There is no evidence that honey has the qualities to fight hay fever. In fact, research that has been done at the University of Connecticut found that honey might have traces of the wind-blown pollens that cause hay fever. If you have been using honey to ward off hay fever symptoms, there is no harm in continuing to do so. Just do not give honey to infants under one year of age. It may contain botulism bacteria sores that will produce toxins in the infant’s digestive system. Babies over one year of age develop a defense against these spores.


Garlic – According to the old wives tales, garlic prevents cancer, cures colds and enhances heart health.

According to science, high intake of garlic might reduce the risk of some cancers, including breast, pancreas, esophagus, colon and stomach cancers. These protective effects might come from the antibacterial properties of the garlic or it may be its ability to block the formation of cancer causing substances, reduce cell growth, encourage cell death or enhance DNA repair. To date, how much garlic must be consumed is unknown.

Although clinical trials have not been consistent, there have been a number of studies that support the theory that garlic is good for a person’s cardiovascular health. A review of 25 random trials found that garlic was effective in treating and reducing hypertension and cholesterol, although all of these results were focused primarily on the short-term effects. More studies are required to determine if the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of garlic are actually effective as a cure-all for colds. Out of five studies, only one has shown that garlic treats a colder and makes a person suffer from fewer colds in a year.

Although large amounts of garlic can interfere with blood-thinning medications, it is a healthy addition to your diet. According to studies, it is probably beneficial to heart health, but so far studies have not shown how much should be used for medicinal purposes.


Lemon and Honey – According to old wives tales, a drink of honey and lemon can offer relief of symptoms that are associated with the common cold.

According to science, lemon juice adds vitamin C to your diet and the steam from a hot drink can help relieve congestion, although it is the honey that is actually doing all of the work. During a study in 2007 in which children and adolescents were given either two teaspoons of honey, an over the counter cough remedy or were offered no treatment. Parents of the children that received the honey reported relief of their child’s nighttime cough. Although more studies are needed, there is no evidence that honey is effective when used for a chronic cough.

Although a cough can be useful sometimes clear our airways, two teaspoons of honey can work as an economic alternative to commercially made cough medication. There is evidence that a hot drink with honey can be comforting when you are sick so go ahead and heat up the water. Just remember not to give honey to children who are under the age of one.


Vinegar – According to the old wives tales, vinegar aids in weight loss and digestion and it could help to keep diabetes under control.

According to science, there have been some interesting discoveries made from the few studies that have been conducted to date. One study using mice found that apple cider vinegar improved the cholesterol levels in mice that were diabetic. There have been small trials using adults that have shown that when a small amount of vinegar was added to a meal based on bread the adults felt fuller for longer. Their blood glucose response was also improved after the meal. These studies show that the acid that is found in vinegar will work to slow the rate of the food emptying from the stomach.

To date, there is no definitive evidence to indicate everyone should begin drinking vinegar but adding one or two teaspoons to food seems to help. To prevent damage to the tooth enamel it should be used with food, for example, in a vinaigrette salad dressing.

Before adding too much vinegar to your diet, remember that it may interfere with medications including insulin. It is best to consult with your doctor before adding too much to your diet.                  


Curry spices – According to the old wives tales, curry spices will prevent weight gain and will protect people from developing Alzheimer’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to science, there are significantly lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in India when compared to western countries. This could be due to the consumption of curry spices including turmeric. There is also substantial evidence that curcumin, made from turmeric, features anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can protect our nerve cells from degenerative diseases.

Studies done on animals have also shown positive results of curcumin decreasing the degeneration of nerve tissues associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Although promising, a lot more research is still needed to determine the therapeutic and preventative uses of curcumin.

The same can be said for the treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Although studies using turmeric extracts have been promising, more clinical trials are needed to establish the effectiveness on human beings.

It is already known that spicy foods cause a thermogenic reaction in the body. This means that the body temperature rises slightly, allowing a person to burn additional calories during digestion. This reaction only allows for a few extra calories.

Use your favorite curry spices, especially turmeric, in your rice dishes and stir-fries, but use them for their flavors, not because of the health claims. Right now, there is not enough evidence to support the claims that curry spices have a therapeutic effect or to know what levels of the spices are considered safe.

Like What You Read?
Join Grains, our urban newsletter and get news and hacks about health, kitchen tips and tricks and more info about the Mediterranean liifestyle.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

You may also like

No Comment

You can post first response comment.

Leave A Comment

Please enter your name. Please enter an valid email address. Please enter a message.