These are things that we’ve been told over and over again throughout the years – but are any of these old wives' tales actually true? Why not find out..?
1. Cows lie down when it’s going to rain
True(ish): Researchers found that cows stand up for longer periods when it’s hot, proving a link between their behaviour and the weather. It’s also suggested that cows lie down when it’s colder, which is often what happens to the climate just before it rains.
2. Two blue-eyed parents can’t produce a brown-eyed child
False: Blue-eyed Mum and Dad can have a child with brown eyes, but it’s rare. Also, two brown-eyed parents can have a child with blue eyes, but again this is uncommon.
3. Chicken soup makes you better
True(ish): Chicken soup won’t actually cure a cold, however scientists have found that chicken soup reduces inflammation by slowing down the white blood cell activity responsible for inflammation, which can relieve symptoms.
4. Sitting on a cold wall gives you piles
False: Piles are far more likely to be the result of pregnancy, straining due to constipation or childbirth. Getting a chilly bum does not cause them!
5. Putting earwax on a cold sore will speed up its healing process
True: Earwax has anti-herpes, anti-micrococcus and anti-staphylococcal properties (easy for us to say…not!). Apply earwax directly on a cold sore and in time it’ll stop the tingling and pain.
6. Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning
True: The saying first appeared in the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew and was used to help shepherds prepare for the next day’s weather. There are variations such as ‘Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. Red sky in morning, sailors’ warning‘, although the meaning is the same. In case it has eluded you, a red sky at night means fair weather is heading towards you. Red sky in the morning means the good weather has already passed, leaving a low-pressure system (bad weather) behind.
7. Putting a slice of bread in your mouth can stop you crying when peeling onions
True: The syn-Propanethial-S-oxide in onions is released as a gas during chopping and irritates the eye, stimulating tear ducts. Putting a slice of bread in your mouth with half sticking out is thought to catch the fumes before they reach the eye. Or you could just do like this lady and put on goggles!
8. Eating carrots can improve vision
True: Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for sight. But then so are other foods such as asparagus, apricots, nectarines, and milk. A well-balanced diet can provide the vitamin A needed for good vision.
9. Feed a cold, starve a fever
False: The original saying was: ‘Feed a cold, stave a fever’ with stave meaning to prevent. Fasting just makes you weak, so even if you don’t feel like eating, at least have some chicken soup as it could help. (See point 3, above!)
10. You’ll catch a cold if you go out in winter without a coat
False. Getting chilly doesn’t cause a cold. In a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, two groups of people were exposed to common cold viruses. One group was exposed to germs in a unheated room, the other group in a balmy room. Both groups caught colds at about the same rate.
11. Putting ice cubes on dents in the carpet will remove them
True: Place an ice cube over the spot. Wait until it melts and the dent should be gone.
12. Count sheep to fall asleep
True: We don’t mean actual sheep, of course. But counting imaginary sheep when you’re in bed can help distract you from the stressful or anxious thoughts that keep you awake, so you’ll fall asleep sooner.
13. Chewing parsley gets rid of garlic breath
True: Parsley contains compounds that counteract the high sulphur content of garlic, which causes the unpleasant odour.
14. The swing of a ring will determine the sex of your baby
False: The tale is that you take off your wedding ring, tie it to a piece of string and hang it over your belly. If it swings in a circle, you’ll have a boy, if it moves back and forth, you’re expecting a girl. The only accurate way to find out your baby’s gender during pregnancy is by having an ultrasound scan.
15. Toothpaste can send spots packing
True: Toothpaste contains menthol, which cools and soothes inflammation, as well as antibacterial agents, which can fight infection, and detergents, which can dry out spots.
16. Pull out a grey hair and two will grow in its place
False: It actually takes about three months for a new hair to grow and a further three before you’ll notice it. If you pull out a grey hair, by the time the one you pulled out grows back, a few more will have appeared nearby, so it’ll look as if two have grown in its place.
17. If you sit too close to the TV you’ll go blind
False: How many times did you hear that when you were a kid? But there’s no evidence that sitting right in front of the telly will damage your eyes. Actually, children can focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, which is why they often sit right in front of the TV.
18. Pour white wine on spilt red wine to remove the stain
False: Which? magazine did some lab tests and found that white wine is actually rubbish at removing red-wine stains, so their suggestion is that you’re much better off drinking it instead!
19. A hair of the dog will ease hangover symptoms
True: Research has shown that consuming small doses of alcohol can relieve alcohol-withdrawal symptoms. But it can increase dependency on alcohol. So it’s best to avoid getting a hangover in the first place. If you’ve been boozing, drink a big glass of water before going to bed. Or, even better, just drink responsibly, as all the ads tell us!
Which old wives’ tale work for you? Tell us below…