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Does your home remedy for the cold and flu actually work?

We ask a doctor to weigh in.

Cold and flu season means we're all whipping out the home remedies we swear by to either fight those germs off, or feel more comfortable once they grab a hold of us. But which ones actually work? We asked Dr. Elizabeth Meade, pediatrician with Seattle's Swedish Medical Center, to weigh in:

These are all remedies viewers shared with us in our Take 5 - 5 Hive, our Facebook group - you can join by clicking here.

- A lot of you say your fix is drinking lots of OJ and taking zinc; Sabrina also says she uses a cold mist humidifier.

Dr. Meade says: 

There has been lots of debate about whether taking vitamin C prevents or helps cure colds - unfortunately the data doesn’t support that! Many studies have looked at this and found no significant difference in number of colds per year or duration of symptoms in those people who took vitamin C versus placebo. But - zinc may have a small effect. Taking zinc right at the start of a cold may shorten duration of symptoms by about a day. It can cause nausea and stomach upset in some people though, so may not be worth it for everyone. Humidifiers are great and Sabrina has it just right - plain cool water works best!

- Jennifer and several others say drinking apple cider vinegar with hot water, and hot water with ginger, were their go-tos.

Dr. Meade says:

Apple cider vinegar has been touted as the fix for everything - colds, weight loss, digestion. And vinegar definitely does have some health benefits! In this case it may be more the hot water that is helping, though, as hot liquids can aid in decreasing congestion. There is actually some evidence that garlic, onions, and ginger have some mild antiviral properties so ginger in hot tea or water is a popular remedy and may help a bit.

- A few of you mentioned "fire water" or "fire cider". Beth says her recipe includes apple cider vinegar, burdock, chili peppers, ginger, garlic, honey, horseradish, red onion, rosemary, and turmeric.

Dr. Meade says:

This doesn’t necessarily sound like something I would want to drink! But there are definitely things here that might help decrease cold symptoms. Hot water and spicy foods like peppers and horseradish all help “drain” your nose and decrease congestion. As mentioned, ginger, garlic, and onion may have mild antiviral properties. And honey is a great way to soothe a sore throat, just remember never to give it to kids under one year!

- Vitamin C and Airborne were also mentioned 

Dr. Meade says:

See above - no evidence for this helping but companies sure are making a fortune off of telling people they will!

- What about eating a whole can of mandarin oranges a day?

Dr. Meade says:

Same - no evidence large doses of vitamin C help prevent colds. But eating whole fruits and veggies always helps with overall general health!

- And I had to ask her about my go-to as well: Chicken Pho (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) and... SOMETIMES... a hot toddy at night (whiskey, honey, lemon, hot water).

Dr. Meade says:

I’ve got good and bad news for you. Chicken soup (and let’s be honest, Pho is basically the best version of soup) HAS actually been shown to be helpful in multiple studies! We aren’t sure exactly why, but some data suggests that it might help change movement of white blood cells and improve function of the cells in your nose that help filter out viruses. Plus, it’s a hot liquid which helps too. Add in some spicy mix-ins for decongestant and some veggies for nutrients, and you have a good recipe for something that will at least make you feel better, and may help shorten the duration of the cold. Your hot toddy, though, has mixed reviews... the hot water, honey, and lemon are all great remedies. But we would generally tell you to avoid alcohol when you’re sick as it can dehydrate you and cause some other negative symptoms. That being said, if it makes you a happier sick person to add a little whiskey in... well, mental well-being is an important component of healing.