Here's How Hot Toddies Really Benefit Your Health

Now for some good news: Hot toddies have been officially sanctioned by the medical community as being good for colds! Everybody drink up! Well okay, not quite. Experts generally concur that the popular hot drink is about as beneficial for a cold as any other hot liquid, like tea or chicken noodle soup. Which is to say, it may help relieve symptoms — somewhat.

"There are definite health benefits to most, but not all the ingredients in hot toddies," according to Liz Weinandy, R.D., a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (via Bustle). The classic hot toddy contains lemon, honey, hot water, and a shot of spirits (usually whiskey, but sometimes bourbon, brandy, or rum too). Spices, like cinnamon or ginger, may also be added.

Lemon is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant which is believed to be useful both in preventing and treating colds (via Medical News Today). Honey is an effective remedy for soothing sore throats and calming coughs, both of which are common cold symptoms. In fact, a study published in American Family Physicians in 2019 touted honey as one of only a few safe and effective treatments for sore throats that are caused by colds.

Hot liquids can help soothe cold symptoms

Also, the hot water in a hot toddy can help not just warm you up, but clear the sinuses, too. Roxana Ehsani, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, notes, "A cup of hot water can be very soothing, helps open up nasal pathways, and helps hydrate you. Inhaling the hot steam from your cup can open everything up [including] a stuffy nose or sinuses."

And then there's the whiskey, or another spirit of choice. Doctors warn that alcohol, in excess, suppresses the immune system and dehydrates you. But in small amounts — say, sticking to one serving only — even the whiskey may provide some indirect benefit. Dr. Sam Kacew, associate director in toxicology and professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, puts it this way (via Global News): "We know that alcohol is a depressant that diminishes the activity of the brain. This diminished activity could help you stop thinking about how lousy you feel and help you fall asleep." And that much-needed rest might just — you guessed it — help you feel better.