There’s a lot of nasty, virulent bugs going around this year. Colds and flus are putting people out of commission for weeks on end. This means that by now one of your friends has told you to drink some whiskey because that’ll knock the cold right out.
Some people swear by it. But is there any scientific evidence to support that (admittedly fun) hypothesis? Let’s see.
It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Take two shots and call me in the morning. Err, afternoon.
Knocking Out the Virus
First let’s address the theory that after you’re already getting sick, drinking whiskey (or brandy, or other spirits) will kill the virus and you’ll wake up healthy. It’s a beautiful idea, but unfortunately no study has ever shown that this is remotely true. Further, it doesn’t make any logical sense at all. People think, “Hey, alcohol is used to sterilize stuff and kill viruses outside of my body, so why wouldn’t it work inside by body?” The answer has to do with concentrations.
Once you’re already infected with a cold or flu virus, it’s in your bloodstream. That means that if you want to kill it, you’d have to kill it in your blood. Yes, consuming alcohol does raise your blood-alcohol levels, but not nearly enough.
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