(NEW YORK) — There are lots of cold remedies out there, both conventional and unconventional, that people swear by, and celebrities are no exception.
From drinking alcoholic beverages to taking over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies, the well-known women listed below say they beat their nagging colds thanks to these concoctions. But even if science doesn’t back up some of these swear-by remedies, as long as the treatment isn’t dangerous, there’s no harm in doing whatever makes people feel better, doctors say.
“If people use these remedies and they’re not harmful and make people feel better, then why not?” said Dr. Robert Schwartz, a professor and chairman of family medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
The Mamma Mia and Les Misérables actress told ABC News she uses well-known over-the-counter medicines for colds, along with a special twist at night.
“I have a nasal spray that I use when I get a cold, and I drink a lot of water,” Seyfried said. “Loads of water, and Emergen-C.” Emergen-C is a powdered mix of extremely high doses of vitamins C and B, along with other natural ingredients.
“And at night,” Seyfried said, “Whiskey and honey and lemon.”
A heated mixture of whiskey, honey and lemon, also known as a hot toddy, is an ages-old remedy sometimes made with brandy instead of whiskey.
“Whiskey will certainly make people feel better,” said Schwartz. Alcohol relaxes the blood vessels, he explained, which makes people less aware of their symptoms.
“And if you drink enough, it can put you to sleep, but it has no impact on how the body responds to treat a cold,” he added.
Another star who touts the benefits of Emergen-C is Real Housewives of New York star Ramona Singer.
“If I feel like something’s coming on, I take those packs. I love the flavors, especially raspberry,” Singer said at the annual New York Women in Film and Television Awards. “I’ll do it two or three times in one day.”
“It has potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin B, which are all important in small amounts, but there’s no evidence that it will help you get over a cold or prevent you from getting one,” Schwartz said. “It’s been disproved that taking a lot of vitamin C will make a cold go away.”
The Saturday Night Live alum, who also starred in Broadway shows and currently has a role on the ABC series Suburgatory, relies on garlic pills, vitamin C, extra sleep and exercise.
“Oh and working out! If you do a light workout, it really helps,” Gasteyer told ABC News.
“Garlic is an ancient remedy, but there’s no real evidence that it works,” Schwartz said.
But exercise can help people feel better if they have a cold.
“Exercise produces endorphins, which are brain chemicals that make you feel better,” Schwartz said. “Our bodies were designed to move, which definitely contributes to well-being.”
Getting extra sleep can also help kick the immune system into gear and help people feel rested.
The Emmy-winning actress and Broadway star told ABC News that taking Wellness Formula, a combination of vitamins and herbs, keeps her healthy.
“When I take that I tend not to get sick,” she said.
As with Emergen-C and other herbal remedies, there’s no scientific evidence that taking these types of formulations will prevent colds or make them go away faster, Schwartz said.
What’s more effective than relying on alcohol, garlic or other alternative treatments is to take medications to help with symptoms, such as decongestants and painkillers, he said.
And perhaps the best remedy, although not always the easiest to endure, is time for the body to heal.
“The immune system is, for the most part, very capable of fighting off most viral infections,” he added. “But viruses have to run their course.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio