Don’t Believe These Medical Old Wives’ Tales

Old wives’ tales have been passed down through generations like a game of medical telephone, where each whisper adds a twist to the narrative. These quirky… Alexander Gabriel - December 22, 2023

Old wives’ tales have been passed down through generations like a game of medical telephone, where each whisper adds a twist to the narrative. These quirky anecdotes often sprouted from a mix of imagination, limited medical knowledge, and a dash of superstition. Enter the old wives, armed with tales that sounded as whimsical as a fairy tale but about as grounded as a hot air balloon. These tales entertained and sometimes terrified, turning everyday occurrences into cautionary sagas. While these tales might tickle our funny bone, they’re about as accurate as a medieval map – charmingly creative but not to be relied upon for navigation. In the end, old wives’ tales are like the folklore of the medical world, offering a delightful glimpse into the quirks of our collective health-related imagination.


Swallowed Gum Takes Seven Years to Digest

Swallowing chewing gum won’t haunt you for seven years; that’s just folklore. Your digestive system doesn’t treat gum like a long-term tenant. In reality, it takes a stroll through your digestive tract, but it doesn’t set up camp. Gum is mostly made of indigestible substances like rubber, which passes through your system without a hitch. So, fear not the accidental gulp during a bubble-blowing session – your stomach won’t become a chewing gum graveyard. Old wives’ tales may linger, but this one? It’s simply a sticky myth.


Eating Chocolate Causes Acne

Chocolate lovers, rejoice: the myth that chocolate causes acne is a sweet misconception. Despite what old wives might say, scientific studies debunk this tale. Acne’s roots lie in factors like genetics, hormones, and skincare habits, not your love for cocoa. Chocolate, in moderation, won’t trigger breakouts. So, indulge in that chocolate bar without the guilt – your skin won’t hold it against you. The real secret to a clear complexion? Skincare and genetics, not avoiding the candy aisle. Say goodbye to the guilt trip and savor that chocolatey goodness!


Cracking Your Knuckles Leads to Arthritis

Cracking your knuckles won’t pave the way to arthritis; it’s an old wives’ tale with no scientific merit. The satisfying pop you hear results from gas bubbles in the synovial fluid, not joint damage. Studies show no link between knuckle cracking and arthritis. So, go ahead, unleash that knuckle symphony – you’re not orchestrating joint trouble. The notion that it causes arthritis is merely a noisy myth, and your joints won’t suffer the consequences of this audible habit. Enjoy the pops without the worry; arthritis won’t be tuning in.

NBC News

Cold Weather Causes Colds

Cold weather doesn’t cause colds – it’s a persistent old wives’ tale with a chilly reception from science. Colds are caused by viruses, not a drop in temperature. In fact, viruses thrive indoors where it’s warm and cozy. Bundling up won’t shield you from the common cold if you’re in close quarters with a sneezy companion. So, the next time someone blames a runny nose on the winter chill, set the record straight. Cold weather might give you the shivers, but it won’t unleash a viral invasion. Stay warm, but don’t point fingers at the thermostat for your sniffles – viruses are the true cold culprits.

Tree Top

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever (or Vice Versa)

The old adage “feed a cold, starve a fever” is a health myth with no scientific backing. Whether you have a cold or a fever, your body needs nourishment. Depriving yourself of food when you have a fever won’t help you recover faster. In fact, your body requires energy to fight off infections, and proper nutrition supports the immune system. Similarly, when you have a cold, eating is essential to maintain strength and aid the healing process. So, forget the outdated rhyme – feed both a cold and a fever with a balanced diet to support your body’s battle against illness. Starving isn’t the solution; nourishment is.


You Lose Most of Your Body Heat Through Your Head

Contrary to the old wives’ tale, you don’t lose most of your body heat through your head. This myth likely originated from a misinterpretation of a military study in the 1950s. In reality, heat loss occurs proportionally across the body. The head isn’t a thermal escape route on its own. Sure, it’s important to cover up in cold weather, but focusing solely on the head is misguided. So, keep your whole body warm – not just your noggin – to stay cozy in chilly conditions. The idea that the head is a heat-leaking culprit is more fiction than fact.

UAMS Health

Reading in Dim Light Ruins Your Eyesight

Reading in dim light doesn’t ruin your eyesight, debunking the age-old myth. While it may strain your eyes temporarily, it doesn’t lead to permanent damage. The idea likely stems from a misunderstanding – low light makes focusing more challenging but doesn’t cause lasting harm. Your eyes adjust to different lighting conditions, and the strain is temporary. So, no need to fear the dimly lit reading nook; your eyes won’t pay a long-term price for indulging in a good book with softer lighting. The myth of dim light causing permanent damage is more fiction than visual fact.


Waiting an Hour After Eating Before Swimming Prevents Cramps

Waiting an hour after eating before swimming doesn’t prevent cramps – it’s a swim myth with no scientific basis. The idea suggests that digestion diverts blood flow, leading to muscle cramps in the water. However, studies show no significant correlation between eating and cramps during swimming. Your body efficiently manages blood flow, even after a meal. So, dive into the pool without worry – the old wives’ tale about waiting to avoid cramps is just a poolside fable. Nourishment won’t sabotage your swim; the only cramp you might encounter is from treading water on the tide of misinformation.

You Work for Them

You can “Sweat Out” Toxins

The notion that you can “sweat out” toxins is a fitness myth with no scientific basis. Sweating is primarily a way for your body to regulate temperature, not to purge toxins. Your liver and kidneys are the real detox heroes, breaking down and eliminating toxins from your body. While a good workout can make you sweat, it doesn’t magically expel toxins. So, skip the sauna suits and detox teas; your body has a built-in system for handling toxins that doesn’t rely on excessive sweating. Sweating might feel cleansing, but it’s not a detox shortcut – leave that idea in the sauna.


Shaving Hair Makes it Grow Back Thicker

Shaving your hair doesn’t make it grow back thicker – it’s a grooming myth without scientific backing. Hair growth occurs beneath the skin, and shaving doesn’t alter the thickness of the hair shaft. The perception that shaved hair is coarser may arise because new hair has a blunt edge after shaving, giving it a temporary stubbly feel. Over time, the hair regains its natural texture. So, feel free to shave without fear of a thicker mane sprouting – the myth is just a hairy exaggeration. Shaving doesn’t rewrite the script for your hair’s thickness; it simply trims the storyline temporarily.

The Sun

Eating Carrots Improves Your Eyesight

Munching on carrots won’t magically enhance your eyesight – that’s an old wives’ tale with a carrot-shaped hole in the facts. While carrots contain beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, consuming excessive amounts won’t grant you superhuman vision. The tale likely originated from World War II propaganda about British pilots and their supposedly heightened night vision from eating carrots. In reality, a balanced diet supports eye health, but carrots won’t turn you into a human telescope. So, enjoy your carrots, but don’t expect a sudden upgrade to eagle-eyed vision – that’s just a sightless myth.


Going Outside with Wet Hair Will Make you Sick

Going outside with wet hair won’t make you sick; it’s a common misconception devoid of scientific grounding. Viruses and bacteria cause illnesses, not a damp head. Colds are spread through exposure to infected individuals, not through wet hair. The notion likely arose from correlation without causation. So, feel free to embrace your post-shower tousle without fearing the wrath of illness. The wet hair myth is all wet; catching a cold depends on germs, not the dampness of your locks.


If You Touch a Toad, You’ll Get Warts

Touching a toad won’t give you warts because it’s a myth without a leg to stand on. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), not by amphibians. The idea likely emerged from the bumpy appearance of toads and the association with skin irregularities. However, toads don’t carry the virus that triggers warts in humans. So, don’t worry about turning into a toad after a friendly encounter – the wart tale is just a skin-deep fable. Warts come from viruses, not from the gentle touch of a toad’s skin.


The Color of Urine Determines Hydration

The color of urine doesn’t determine hydration. While concentrated, dark urine can signal dehydration, various factors influence urine color, including diet and medications. Clear urine isn’t always a sign of proper hydration; it can be a result of excess water intake. Hydration status is more accurately assessed by overall fluid intake, thirst, and other bodily signs. So, don’t rely solely on the hue of your urine to gauge hydration – the color code is a fluid oversimplification. The tale that urine color holds the key to hydration is more fiction than liquid fact.

The First Twenty

Sugar Makes Kids Hyperactive

Contrary to popular belief, sugar doesn’t make kids hyperactive. Scientific research has consistently debunked this myth. Studies show no direct link between sugar consumption and increased hyperactivity in children. The idea likely stems from the perception that sugary treats lead to energetic behavior. However, the energy boost is more likely related to the excitement of the occasion rather than the sugar itself. So, feel free to enjoy a birthday cake without worrying about unleashing a sugar-fueled frenzy – the hyperactivity tale is a treat-time fiction.


Eating Turkey Makes you Sleepy Because of Tryptophan

Eating turkey doesn’t make you sleepy because of tryptophan. While turkey does contain tryptophan, it’s not present in levels high enough to cause drowsiness. In reality, other foods like chicken and cheese contain similar or even higher amounts of tryptophan. Thanksgiving fatigue is more likely the result of a combination of factors, such as overeating and the festive atmosphere. So, rest assured, that post-turkey nap isn’t solely the fault of tryptophan.

NBC Montana

Milk Increases Mucus Production During a Cold

Milk getting the blame for cranking up mucus during a cold? Well, that’s just a tale that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Despite what you’ve heard, science isn’t buying it. Research shows that milk doesn’t trigger an increase in mucus production when you’re battling a cold. So, if you’re feeling the sniffles, sipping on some milk won’t make matters worse. In fact, it might even offer some comfort. The idea that milk and mucus are partners in crime? That’s just an old wives’ tale that’s a bit past its prime.


Warts Can be Cured by Touching Them With a Frog or Toad

Thinking that you can cure warts by touching them with a frog or toad might sound like something out of a fairy tale, but it’s just not rooted in reality. There’s no scientific basis for the idea that amphibians have magical wart-healing properties. Warts are caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV), and a frog’s touch won’t make them vanish. So, no need to go hunting for a wart-healing toad – the notion is more folklore than a medical remedy. If only warts were as easily banished as a fairy tale curse!

Deviant Art

Eating Crusts Makes Your Hair Curly

Chomping down on crusts won’t magically transform your hair into a curly wonderland – that’s just a fanciful story. Despite what grandma might say, there’s no scientific proof that finishing your sandwich edges will alter your hair texture. The texture of your locks is determined by genetics, not your bread-eating habits. So, no need to force down those crusts if you’re not a fan – your hair won’t hold it against you. The idea that curly hair is just a crust away is a whimsical tale without a strand of truth.

Image Of A Young Playful Curly Blonde Lady Dressed In Warm Orange Oversize Sweater Standing With Hand Near Head Isolated Over White Background While Blowing Bubble With Chewing Gum. Look At Camera

Swallowed Gum Takes Years To Digest

The notion that swallowing gum lodges it in your stomach for seven years is a persistent myth. While it’s true that the human body cannot fully digest chewing gum due to its resilient composition, the myth exaggerates the duration of its stay in the stomach. In reality, swallowed gum follows the typical digestive process, moving through the digestive tract along with other ingested materials. Despite resisting complete digestion in the stomach, the indigestible components of gum are eventually expelled from the body during a bowel movement, typically within a few days. The seven-year digestion timeframe is a misleading exaggeration, and the body efficiently eliminates swallowed gum through its natural digestive mechanisms.


Fingernails and Hair Keep Growing After Death

This is definitely a creepier one to think about. But this will put your creepy thoughts to rest. The belief that hair and nails continue to grow after death is a misconception. In reality, what occurs is the dehydration of the body, causing the skin around hair follicles and nail beds to contract. This contraction, coupled with natural skin retraction, creates the illusion of growth. However, the cessation of metabolic processes after death means that the body no longer undergoes genuine hair or nail growth. This myth likely originated from observations made in the absence of scientific understanding, leading to the perpetuation of a notion lacking factual basis.

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Pixel Bay

Eating Chocolate Can Cause Migraines

There’s so much chocolate hate on this list! The notion that consuming chocolate leads to migraines lacks conclusive evidence, as migraines are intricate neurological events influenced by various factors. While migraines can be triggered by genetic, hormonal, and environmental elements, chocolate alone has not been consistently proven as a primary cause. Scientific studies emphasize the complexity of the relationship between diet and migraines, cautioning against oversimplifying triggers. The belief that chocolate universally induces migraines overlooks the individualized nature of such triggers and the diverse factors contributing to migraine onset. It is essential to recognize that chocolate-related migraines may be specific to certain individuals with sensitivities or in conjunction with other coinciding factors.

“Natural” Sugar Is Healthier Than Added Sugar

Seems that people like to make a lot of things up about sweets. The notion that natural sugars, such as those found in fruits, are inherently healthier than added sugars is a common belief. While the natural sugars in fruits come with essential nutrients and fiber, the body processes natural and added sugars similarly. Excessive consumption of natural sugars can also contribute to health issues. The key is moderation and understanding that all types of sugars should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.


Chicken Soup Cures A Cold

The belief that chicken soup has curative properties for the common cold is a well-rooted folk remedy. While chicken soup can provide comfort and hydration, its ability to cure a cold is not backed by robust scientific evidence. The warmth of the soup may help soothe a sore throat, and the broth provides hydration and nutrients, but the actual impact on the duration or severity of a cold is modest. Rest, staying hydrated, and proper nutrition are essential for recovery from a cold, and chicken soup can be a comforting addition to these measures.

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