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Some ideas of health lore seem based purely on superstition. Swallowing a pumpkin seed won't cause an actual pumpkin to grow in your stomach. And cats can't steal the breath of babies simply because both drink milk (many cats are actually lactose-intolerant).
But some ancient words of advice seem a bit more plausible, and could have roots in medical truths. MyHealthNewsDaily asked the experts which of some common cultural wisdoms hold up in the light of science.
The importance of a hot-cold balanceSlide 2 of 15
The importance of a hot-cold balance
In Eastern cultures, maintaining a balance of hot and cold in the body is thought important. In Chinese culture, for example, crispy or fried foods, beef, chilies and peppers are considered "hot" foods, while soy beans, lettuce and oranges are considered "cool" foods.
According to Chinese beliefs, an imbalance of "hot" and "cool" in the body is thought to cause sickness, said Dr. Chun-Su Yuan, director of the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
"Based on Chinese medicine theory, a healthy person is in good balance between cold and heat," Yuan told MyHealthNewsDaily. When a person eats too many "hot" foods, there is a hot imbalance called "yeet-hay."
But can crispy or spicy foods make you sick?
In a way they can, said Dr. Alan Weiss, an internal medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
"If you have acid reflux disease , eating spicy foods can make you feel worse and, in that way, can make you sick," Weiss told MyHealthNewsDaily.
And crispy foods are usually fried, and overconsumption of fried foods can increase the risk of heart disease, he said.
However, many people who eat spicy foods don't get sick at all, Weiss said. There's no scientific basis in saying that all spicy foods can make you sick, he added.Slide 3 of 15
Hot toddies for a cold or fluSlide 4 of 15
Hot toddies for a cold or flu
Hot toddies a concoction of whiskey, boiling water, honey, lemon and cloves are touted by the Irish for soothing and killing a cold or a bout of flu.
But scientific evidence doesn't support hot toddies as a cure for either ill, Weiss said. And while alcohol kills some bacteria in the stomach, if we're sick, disease-causing bacteria or viruses are already circulating throughout our bodies, and alcohol can do little to them, he said.
However, hot toddies can help relieve symptoms of cold or flu because the steam from the drink can open up nasal passages, he said.
And if your cold is making it hard to sleep, the alcohol may help you doze off sooner, he said.
"It won't cure the flu and it won't decrease the length of the flu, but it certainly could help with some symptomatic relief," Weiss said. "If a hot toddy makes you feel better, go for it."Slide 5 of 15
ShiatsuSlide 6 of 15
Shiatsu, a type of acupressure , is a hands-on healing method from Japan believed to relieve disease and pain when a practitioner presses certain pressure points on the body. These pressure points are found in different regions of the body, and pressing on them is believed to stimulate a flow of energy to those parts of the body.
But there is no scientific evidence that shiatsu works in this way, Weiss said.
However, shiatsu could have some therapeutic benefits by helping relax and relieve tender muscles, he said.
"When I think about traditional medicine and therapies, it's a pretty easy one to say it's not going to hurt you, but it could help," Weiss said.
Past studies have shown that acupressure can help with brain function and stress relief. A study published last month in the Journal of Neurotrauma showed that acupressure enhanced memory function in people who survived traumatic brain injury.
And a study published online last year in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that acupressure reduced fatigue in cancer survivors.Slide 7 of 15
Chicken noodle and matzo ball soupSlide 8 of 15