26 April 2014

Materia medica

Everyone has their favourite folk remedy for a cold or its symptoms. Mine is steam - inhaling steam. But not the clumsy, wearying way ... the large bowl of boiling water and towel over the head - that's too steamy, too claustrophobic ... no picture is used here: they are all too depressing... 

My steam inhalation is portable and (almost) discreet - all it needs is a cup of steaming liquid, held in one hand and covered by the other -
Lift cup, insert nose into aperture, take several deep breaths. Rest a bit (have a sip of the tea or coffee?), repeat. (Have tissues handy.)

A systematic review in 2006 found "insufficient evidence" for the efficacy of steam as a treatment for cold - the review included a grand total of 6 studies, some with positive results and some negative. The review concluded that steam treatment is "not recommended" - but hey, it costs nothing and has no adverse effects (unless you spill the hot liquid, always a risk with a cup of tea or coffee). And if it makes you feel better, who's to say it's not working?

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