health myths

Health myths debunked

Taking sick as a child could often be a fairly interesting experience thanks to the number of ‘age-old-family recipes’ which had been passed down through generations. The likes of fish being good for the brain and chicken soup curing a cold seem fairly mundane against the number of old wives’ tales which exist, therefore we’re going to talk you through some of the most popular and rarest myths, confirming or quashing their ability to do good. Here, with Pharma Nord UK, suppliers of Ubiquinol, we take a look at the myths surrounding getting back to health.

Cracking knuckles

Arthritis being caused by cracking your knuckles is a preconception we’ve been exposed to for a number of years. Research has found that up to 54% of us actually do it – whether it’s pulling the tip of each until they crack, making a fist or bending our fingers away from our hand. Men are also more likely to do it. The popping noise and sensation is created by the spaces between the joints increasing, which causes gases dissolved in the synovial fluid to form microscopic bubbles. These bubbles then merge into larger bubbles and are popped by additional fluid that has filled the enlarged space.

Despite suggestion that the cracking could cause wear and tear in the same way that a mechanical joint would get, there hasn’t been a huge amount of research into the matter. However, a study from 2010 claimed that there was no difference in the prevalence of osteoarthritis between those who did or did not crack their knuckles.

Without being too cliché, without any further scientific research, we’re saying crack on.

Soap in bed

Supposedly, simply popping a bar of soap under your bed sheets is linked to the relief of muscle cramps, particularly in the lower legs. While those who perform this method stand by it, there is no plausible or scientific explanation that has been given to suggest that this actually does work.

If, however, lower leg cramps are something which have proven to be a cause of concern in your life there do exist some proven techniques you should be trying. This includes reducing your caffeine intake on a night time, stretching your calf muscles before bed, and increasing your intake of essential electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Onions in socks

Perhaps the most surreal of our old wives’ tales which we have picked up over the years, the myth has stuck around. The remedy, which entails putting onions in your socks is apparently a cure for the flu. The concept is that, because onions are slightly acidic, there can be antibacterial results when rubbed against things. Unfortunately for the believers, onions in your socks hasn’t been found to aid your recovery. As viruses require direct contact with a human being to spread, this wouldn’t allow an onion to draw the virus in and absorb it.

Appearing to be somewhat of a placebo, giving this one the boot isn’t out of the question.

Feed a cold, starve a fever

There is some form of truth in this, however reading the following is essential to understand the ins and outs. The folklore of starving a fever has been around for hundreds of years, with some medical historians linking it as far back at the 1500s. Back then, doctors believed that a fever was caused because your metabolism was in overdrive.  However, you shouldn’t starve your fever, modern-day experts have warned. Doing so means you’ll have a lower calorie intake, which can then make it more difficult for your body to fight off the flu virus.

Studies have found that by eating less during the early stages of bad infections can actually have a dangerous effect on your body, meaning that most experts will dismiss the starve-a-fever comment as purely folklore.

Swallowing chewing gum

Some of us may have been scared of swallowing our gum as it will stay in our system for seven years. While it’s not particularly advisable to do so, you can relax – this is a decades-old bit of folklore, according to pediatric gastroenterologist David Milov of the Nemours Children’s Clinic in Orlando. He explained: “That would mean that every single person who ever swallowed gum within the last seven years would have evidence of the gum in the digestive tract. On occasion we’ll see a piece of swallowed gum, but usually it’s not something that’s any more than a week old.”

Carrots improve sight

The orange vegetable, throughout myths of the past has established itself as somewhat of a premier cure. Throughout the years, they have been associated with helping cure everything from snakebites to STDs. However, one of the most popular comments is that carrots can help you see in the dark.

Despite the tale, this was simply propaganda that first began in the Second World War following the British Royal Air Force creating the fabricated tale that the vegetable was attributed to fighter pilot Jon ‘Cats’ Eyes’ Cunningham’s great skills. This led to it being mandated for people to eat their carrots, as it would help them see better during the blackouts.

However, one would be foolish not to fully appreciate a carrot for what it can do. While it can’t improve your vision, the levels of vitamin A and lutein can actually be beneficial for overall vision health.


Undoubtedly there are numerous myths which probably haven’t even made it our way and if we were to visit foreign countries, they could teach us a whole lot more. It must be remembered that scientific research has been carried out into prescribed medicines, so don’t be hasty in dismissing genuine medicine for simple old wives’ tales.



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