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Does Korean traditional cold remedy work?
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2018.11.05 15:25
  • Updated 2018.11.05 15:25
  • comments 0

With the temperature dropping down, the number of Koreans coming down with a cold is on the rise.

Major pharmaceutical companies have started its distribution of influenza vaccines, but every country has its own “home remedies” passed down from ancestors that could cure a cold without such pharmaceuticals.

In Russia, there is the gogol mogul, which is a hot drink that contains an egg yolk and a teaspoon of honey or sugar, while in Hong Kong people eat lizard soup, which includes dried lizards, yams, and Chinese dates simmered in water.

Similarly, many homemade cold remedies still are popular in Korea.

One of the most famous Korean cold remedies is the red pepper-powdered soju (a cheap distilled liquor), a recipe that combines Korea’s favorite alcoholic drink and a smidge of red pepper powder.

However, the remedy might not be as effective as many Koreans believe.

Experts agree that one or two glasses of this concocted home remedy affected relieving cold symptoms. Ten years ago, a Korean television show experimented to determine the effect of the myth.

As a result, the experiment found that this was only a temporary effect of alcohol and had no effect on removing the root cause. Also, alcohol causes the gastrointestinal and liver function to deteriorate and aggravate the patient’s conditions.

The research concluded that patient should have plenty of rest, hydration, and balanced nutrition rather than drinking soju with red pepper powder.

Another popular Korean cold remedy is to sweat the cold out. However, this myth also proved to be false as a cold typically involves an infection of more than 200 viruses and merely sweating it out is not enough to cure all colds.

Experts argued that if a patient experienced relief after going under the covers, it is probably because the individual’s immune system had recovered after a period of rest.

Hospitals also busted the myth on taking a sufficient amount of Vitamin C to cure a common cold. The anti-cold effect of vitamin C has been an issue discussed for years after chemistry Nobel Prize winner Professor Linus Pauling argued that vitamin C could prevent the flu.

The claim led to 29 studies in 2004 to prove the relationship between vitamin C and the common cold. The experiments showed that vitamin C has a 50 percent chance of preventing colds in athletes. However, the effect was minimal when it came to stopping the flu in the general population.

“In general, you can naturally cure cold with plenty of rest, water and balanced nutrients,” said Professor Kim Yang-hyun of the Department of Family Medicine at the Korea University Guro Hospital (KUGH). “It is better to consult doctors rather than putting blind trust into various myths because the illness could only worsen.”


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