Do hot toddies actually cure colds?

When the common cold strikes, friends and family are quick to offer remedy recommendations, from R&R to NyQuil to that old standby vitamin C. And then, of course, there are hot toddies.

Dating back to at least the 17th century, traditional toddies were concocted with booze, water and either sugar or honey to act as a sweetening agent. It’s unclear where exactly toddies originated, and many cultures have variations on the traditional drink using local spirits or other ingredients. 

Historically consumed as a warming mechanism on cold nights, hot toddies developed a reputation as a remedy for cold and flu. Although many people are quick to tout the beverage’s medicinal properties, its actual health benefits are slightly more abstract.

Inhaling the steam of any hot beverage can soothe nasal passages and temporarily relieve congestion, so the hot toddy proves its worth on that front. Additionally, drinking alcohol helps us relax, which in turn can distract us from obnoxious cold and flu symptoms like coughing and sneezing. Oh, and if you squeeze a lemon into a toddy, you can get a tiny bit of vitamin C into your system.

And that’s where hot toddies’ medicinal benefits end. Alcohol dehydrates the human body, resulting in dryer and more painful mucous membranes. To top it off, too much alcohol can also weaken the immune system, which can cause a cold or flu to last longer. 

So if you’re sickly and yearning for the liquor cabinet, take it easy on the hot toddies. While toddies can provide some temporary relief from a cold, they cannot actually cure or prevent illness. Have a toddy or two and stop there — anything more is just likely to make you sicker.



Submitted by Ben on

I prefer a virgin toddy of citrus fruits bay leaf whole cloves cinnon stick and a bit of sugr to taste. Maybe sounds more like a tea but I like the term toddy. If I'm starting to feel a cold coming on I like to drink about a quart of this with a couple of aspirin for aches before going to bed. Often wake up and have beaten the cold. Even if the cold has started, I've found this remedy useful in lessening intensity and duration.

Mostly this is a force fluids trick in a comfort food format .

Submitted by Betty on

I learned this from my Dad because he wasn't able to use any Over The Counter Meds And this is what his Heart Doctor told him to do :D Works Like A Charm Feeling better in just a couple days

Submitted by Gus on

Before I had to give up alcohol for good, we had a drink in this area called "Boilo." It was whiskey (carefully) boiled with different spices in it. I don't know that it was medicinal, but a small glass made me forget my cold for a while, anyway.

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