Most of the “old wives’ tales” that your elder folks used to tell you about have turned out to be false. However, there are also a handful of them which can’t be that far from the truth — in fact, some of them are even scientifically proven!
The term ‘old wives’ tale’ is one that somewhat ridicules what female healers or just old women used to pass down as part of their wisdom. When we use this term, it’s usually in a scornful manner, but the basis for them lies in the fact of women acting as healers. Housewives, wise women, and midwives have certainly been associated with how to treat several ailments and deal with all sorts of issues—including pregnancy, birth, and children’s illnesses.
Some old wives’ tales can seem to be quite ridiculous, but others may have a pearl of hidden wisdom we didn’t understand until recently. For instance, there’s no proper evidence right now that eating the crusts of bread will curl your hair. While this particular example might have been made up just to get children to eat their crusts, several other tales do make sense. Let’s look at some of these in detail:
Full Moon and Lunacy
Science has yet to prove that a full moon makes you a wacko. More often than not, though, a lot of us would find ourselves finding it hard to sleep during a full moon, despite drawn curtains. There has also been some evidence that the gravitational pull of the moon might have some influence on us.
Long Labor Means Boys
According to one study (which conducted over 8,000 births), it was concluded that babies who give long, intense and troublesome labors must be male babies.
One possible cause for this is their size. Newborn males are generally bigger and chubbier than newborn females. In particular, boys are born with bigger heads, so the delivery must require more effort and extra care.
Other myths about birthing and pregnancy, for instance, have no real basis as far as we know. Pain in your leg, the size of the breasts, and the position of the baby cannot give you any indication of the baby’s sex.
Heartburn in Pregnancy Means a Hairy Baby
This is another old wives’ tale about pregnancy that might seem like nonsense, but it does have logic in it. In fact, a study at the John Hopkins hospital actually tried to disprove this tale and actually ended up proving it.
Once it was evident that there was a definite correlation between hairiness in babies and heartburn in pregnancy, doctors want to find a way to explain it. The theory now stands that pregnancy hormones are probably the culprit. Higher levels of hormones will relax the esophagus muscles and cause gastric reflux. At the same time, they will also prompt hair growth in the growing baby.
Hot Baths Damage Men’s Fertility
This ages-ago advice does have science to back it up: A 2007 scientific study concludes that something called “wet heat exposure” does decrease a man’s sperm count. Sitting around in hot water is the main culprit, whether it’s in a bath, Jacuzzi, or a heated swimming pool. So skip that sexy Jacuzzi moment in your honeymoon if you and your partner plan to conceive.
Carrots do Help Improve your Eyesight
We’ve heard all those debunking superstitions. Those include the one that refutes the power of carrots — that Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack isn’t helping your eyesight at all. Actually, carrots do help improve your eyesight to some extent.
Hold it; don’t stuff yourself with carrots all of a sudden. Sure, carrots have beta-carotene — which produces vitamin A — but its benefits are merely limited to retaining good eyesight, to improve your night vision somewhat, and to prevent the chances of contracting cataracts. They won’t make your peepers super-sharp, so don’t complain about not being able to see in the dark.
Oily Fish is Good for the Brain
It is a known fact that the fattier the fish, the more oily it is. The oilier the fish, the greater the amount of its omega-3 acids. It’s so common now that a lot of people aren’t aware that it was actually once an old wives’ tale. A recent scientific study concludes that omega-3 acids are thought to increase brain volume, so if you need to boost your brain cells, starting a diet high in fish might help.
In fact, there was a study back in 2014 that reported how the regular intake of fish could potentially increase the physical size of our brains.
Chicken Soup as a Cure for Colds
The usual food that we take whenever we suffer from common colds is a bowl of hot chicken soup. This old wives’ tale is actually scientifically proven. While a chicken soup doesn’t cure you of the common cold completely, it somewhat helps in driving away its symptoms.
According to scientific research, chicken soup has anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. Maybe mom was right all along — when you catch a cold, have a bowl of chicken soup and you will get better. Some studies even say that the effect of chicken soup is better than most other hot liquids.
Raw garlic is another old wives’ tale about curing colds that probably holds some truth. After all, garlic does have a whole load of vitamins, nutrients, and other benefits that can help in dealing with certain diseases.
After several studies, we now know that those who consume garlic on the regularly are less likely to develop colds than otherwise. Even if they do catch a cold, the length of their illness is likely to be shorter. In fact, there’s an expensive treatment for staving off the flu that costs about a hundred dollars more than the regular consumption of garlic. We know what option we’re going for.
Honey Does Suppress Coughs
Honey has demulcent properties, which means that Winnie the Pooh’s favorite snack soothes the irritation of the mucous membrane. The latter includes the respiratory parts of your body. A recent study has even proven that honey is more effective in suppressing coughs and colds than a cough syrup is.
So when your grandmother tells you to add honey and lemon to your tea whenever you suffer a terrible cough, follow her advice seriously. Adding in a pinch of turmeric can help in soothing the inflammation even further!
Cheese Gives you Weird Dreams
If you’re often experiencing bizarre dreams and even some nightmares recently, you have been following a cheesy diet. It used to be a superstition, but now there’s science to prove it: the fungal and bacterial properties of cheese contain ingredients which have the potential to affect you mentally, giving rise to some weird dreams.
But don’t worry — not all dreams as a result of eating cheesy stuff will be frightening. So go on, enjoy your cheesy pizza when you can! As with all things, cheese probably won’t do any damage when consumed in moderation.
Reading Up on Old Wives’ Tales
The old wives’ tales detailed above might be fascinating and useful, but there are plenty more to read up on. This is why this book called “Old Wives’ Tales” might be such a great investment. With this and other similar works, you’ll get knowledge of several beneficial home remedies that can help in achieving a healthy, more natural lifestyle. Check out the details here:
This book will let us know which old wives’ tales are actually rooted in science, and also introduce is to some we’ve never heard of before. For instance, many of us might not know that eel liver might aid a woman who’s having difficulties in labor. After all, the female healer is an iconic character in history, and we can all stand to learn from her tried and tested remedies.
It’s not too surprising that old wives’ tales do have an element of truth in them sometimes. After all, barbers were also known as barber-surgeons, as they also performed surgery in addition to cutting hair. Herbal catalogs were also quite popular in England, as they offered several natural remedies. Even aspirin was the result of someone noticing how chewing willow park relieved pain.
It’s evident from the discussion above that we shouldn’t dismiss every old wives’ tale as a ridiculous notion. Even if they’re not rooted in science, as many of the above examples are, there was probably a reason why these sayings exist.