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Cold: home remedies are often a boon
The cold period is in full swing. There is no miracle cure for curing a cold, and medication often does not have the desired effect. Many prefer to use home remedies, the effect of which is often not proven, but which have nevertheless proven their worth many times over. The heads of the Institute of General Medicine at the University Hospital Tübingen and the Institute of Evidence in Medicine at the University Hospital Freiburg explain why this is so.
Sage tea, calf wraps and hot milk with honey: Everyone knows of some home remedy that can help with a cold - supposedly. Because home remedies are usually not scientifically researched. Why not?
Grandma's recommendations are often still unexplored today
If the throat is scratching, a hot milk with honey helps. Grandma said that already. A cup of hot lemon is good for a cold, and onion sachets can help with earache.
Knowledge about home remedies is passed on from generation to generation. And they are used frequently - in Germany by around half of the population, according to a study from 2007. But does honey, onion and lemon really help? It is not quite certain. Because: home remedies and their effectiveness are largely unexplored.
Studies are thin
"Home remedies were never really examined properly," explains Stefanie Joos, general practitioner and head of the Institute for General Medicine at the University Hospital in Tübingen. That is a pity, because "there are funds that sometimes have a very long tradition." There are only a few well-done studies in which the effectiveness of home remedies was examined.
Pharmaceutical companies are not interested in home remedies
"When pharmaceutical companies finance research, they are not interested in home remedies," emphasizes Joos. This would require public research funding. But home remedies are not innovative enough for this. And: home remedies are often used for simple, self-limiting diseases. The funding agency says: "Well, a cold like that isn't so important now."
Little interest in home remedies research
Jörg Meerpohl, head of the Institute for Evidence in Medicine at Freiburg University Hospital, confirms this. Industry is rarely interested in investing in home remedies research. The funds should come from the public purse.
The funding guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, funders for public research, in the health research program are open-ended, they say. As such, studies on the effectiveness of home remedies could also be supported. In fact, no research proposals directly related to it have been submitted so far. The Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (vfa) is also not aware of any project in which home remedies are examined for their effectiveness, says spokesman Rolf Hömke.
Placebo or actual effect? The main thing is that it helps
The pediatrician Meerpohl thinks it's a shame that there is no research on home remedies. "From an academic-scientific point of view, I would like to be able to tell people clearly whether a home remedy works for a cold or not, for example." From a medical point of view, he thinks it may be less important. Many people used home remedies and subjectively felt better. "It may not be crucial to know whether the home remedy helped a lot, just a little, or just a placebo effect."
Onion sachets are sometimes more effective than painkillers
Medical doctor Joos also regrets the lack of research: "Home remedies are always laughed at a little - thanklessly, because in individual cases the onion sachet can work better than the painkiller." In order to make reliable recommendations here, studies are actually needed.
The belief in the effect counts
Using home remedies makes sense for various reasons, says Joos. In addition to the actual effect, it is good that the patient does something himself: "This conviction, I can also do something for myself, I do not always have to go to the doctor right away." Earache in children, there is also the aspect that you give someone care and time. That is an important point with a home remedy. Even touching calf wraps to lower fever triggers something "for sure", says Joos.
Is the tradition of home remedies lost?
Studies carried out by her would have shown that older people in particular, and also more women, use home remedies. This is also due to the fact that knowledge is even more available in older generations than in younger ones. According to the surveys, knowledge is rather lost here.
These are the most popular home remedies
The most popular home remedies are according to Joo's surveys
- Chicken soup,
- hot milk with honey,
- inhaling salt water,
- Hot lemon.
Also read: Chicken soup for cold: These ingredients make the soup even more effective.
Home remedies from other cultures are becoming more popular
The doctor considers it unlikely that new home remedies will be discovered again. "I rather believe that globalization and migration add home remedies from other cultures." In other countries there are sometimes completely different home remedies. Potatoes play a major role in Russia's in-house pharmacies, as does vodka. Ginger is also an example. 15 years ago, nobody in Germany would have drunk ginger tea for health - today things are different.
The effects of these home remedies are proven
Even if there are not many studies on home remedies, a few have been shown to help. "Nasal rinses have been researched relatively well, they definitely help," says the doctor Joos. Likewise calf wraps for lowering fever and honey as expectorant and cough suppressant. “You have to say very clearly: home remedies are symptom-based treatment. They relieve pain or cough, for example, but they probably do not help to shorten an illness. ”You can find the best cold remedies with instructions on how to do them in the article: Home remedies for colds - that can work! (vb; source: dpa, Katharina Redanz)