The 'science' of sniffles: Five silly ways to help fight winter colds

From lamb vindaloo to lust, here are a few unusual ways that might keep colds at bay...

Richard Holmes
Thursday 14 November 2013 12:23

As temperatures drop, energy bills get higher forcing many students to leave the heating off and put their trust in a second jumper. This may be cost-effective, in the face of across-the-board winter fuel hikes, but can put you in serious risk of picking up a cold. So here’s a survival guide on everything sniffles as you wrap yourself in blankets and brave the winter months.


If you’re alone this winter, wrapped up in your sub-zero house, get a takeaway. Scientists believe a spicy curry can fight away common symptoms of colds. Containing ingredients such as chilli, garlic and ginger, curries are packed with anti-viral properties. Professor Eccles of Cardiff University says: “The spices in a curry promote the production of mucus, our body's defence system.”


As those winter deadlines get closer – and you leave it longer and longer - try and keep stress levels at bay by stroking a cat or taking up yoga; increased stress inhibits your body’s capability of fighting colds.

Dr Liz Marles says: "When stressed, you have high levels of natural steroids and they work by suppressing your immune system."

The Myth of Man-flu?

Every winter, the same debate tears the sexes apart as women everywhere belittle men when the words "man-flu" fall out their cynical, disbelieving mouths. But new research from the University of Queensland School of Medicine suggests that man-fu is no myth.

Young women were found to have a stronger tolerance to rhinoviruses – the most common cause of colds – than young men, due to the high levels of oestrogen and progesterone in their bloodstream.


As you stock up for medicine this winter you may want to trade your cough sweets for condoms, as regular sex can boost your immune system. Dr Carl Charnetski of the University of Wilkes, Pennsylvania tested 111 Wilkes undergraduates and found that those who had sex twice a week had higher levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antigen found in saliva, which is one of the body's most crucial defences against illness.


And for a double-dose of IgA, this natural defender against viruses and infections, why not try a bit of sax to go with the you-know-what? Naturopathic doctor Jean-Jaques Dogoua of healthy living website "Newtopia" claims that bursts of jazz at 30-minute intervals can increase levels of IgA. However, considering naturopathy rejects conventional medicine in favour of a belief in a kind of natual "life force", it might not quite be time to throw the Lemsip away...

So while your household may be cold this winter, the solution is clear: stay relaxed, turn up the jazz, order in a curry and call up an "old friend" to bring in the New Year. And when those bills come creeping through your letter box, you can keep happiness in the fact that you didn’t bow down to the Big 6 energy companies. 

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments