Opinion

What old wives’ tales do you live by?

By Morgan Dyer

For the past two weeks, our office has been riddled with sicknesses, sneezes, snottiness and sinus infections.

I, however, have held on tightly to my trusty bottle of apple cider vinegar for protection.

And the germs haven’t even looked in my direction.

I first heard about the miraculous benefits of apple cider vinegar from my mum about five years ago.

Whenever she felt slightly off with any sort of sickness, she would go straight to the bottle.

I would always laugh and think it was an old wives’ tales, until one day I could feel a cold coming on and she convinced me to take a shot of it.

The acid-y burn was next level, however I went to bed and I woke up feeling better then ever.

Since then, if I ever feel the slightest bit of sickness coming on, I take a shot and miraculously haven’t been sick with a cold for a very long time.

To show you this wise tale isn’t all in my head, I had a quick Google about the benefits of apple cider vinegar and it revealed it was the most popular type of vinegar in the natural health community.

It is claimed to lead to all sorts of benefits, many of which are supported by science and include weight loss, reduced cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.

It got me thinking about other old wives’ tales that you commonly hear or swear by.

(I’ve been spruiking apple cider vinegar to the office enough, I’m sure sales have gone through the roof).

Such as, bad things come in threes, cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis, eating carrots will make you see better and you’ll catch a cold if you go to bed with wet hair.

So, what is fact and what is fiction? And where do you draw the line relying on these for treatment?

Are they all just the placebo effect?

Placebo is Latin for ‘I will please’ and refers to any medical treatment that has no active properties. A placebo doesn't have to be a pill. It can be any passive or ‘dummy’ treatment.

The Better Health Channel reports that “the placebo effect is the positive effect on a person’s health experienced after taking a placebo”.

“It is triggered by the person's belief in the benefit from the treatment and their expectation of feeling better, rather than the characteristics of the placebo.”

Research reveals around one third of people who take placebos will experience an end to their symptoms.

It's unknown exactly what causes placebo to be effective, however coincidences, brain chemicals releasing natural pain relief, an altered perception of symptoms and a change in behaviour of self care are a few of the reasons why placebo can be effective.

So what are some of the old wives’ tales you live by and do they technically work?