When you’re sick, you’ll do just about anything to feel better. And when you’re sick with a cough, it’s not hard to find yourself drowning in cough drops, tea, cough syrup, anything that’ll hopefully quell that awful hacking itch-slash-pain in your throat. Unfortunately, cough syrup isn’t exactly the most research-proven remedy. Fortunately, something even better might just be: booze.
The science team behind YouTube channel Reactions produced a super-informative video on all of this, which states that 15 out of 19 systematic reviews found that cough syrup is either completely non-beneficial or its results were conflicting. Clinical trials have even came to the conclusion that cough syrups “are no better than a placebo.” Woof.
Some cough syrup contains an active ingredient called an antitussive (like dextromethorphan) that blocks your cough reflex and makes you drowsy so you get that extra rest you’ve been avoiding. Other formulations contain expectorants (like guaifenesin) that loosen and thin mucus in order to make your cough more “productive.” Then, you’ve got your decongestants and antihistamines … Blah blah.
What might be more effective is actually downing some whiskey—with honey, which the Reactions team notes has been found to help relieve coughs by soothing the back of the throat—and lemon. The honey/lemon combo has been shown to have “some potential benefit over…not doing anything.” And if you mix the power pair with whiskey, you’ll get a sweet, healing hot toddy, notes Delish.com. They note that not only will the honey soothe your sore throat, but the steam from the drink will open up your sinuses and the booze will help you get that much needed rest.
Bottom line: If you can’t stop hacking away, it’s hot toddies FTW.