I am curious to know if there has been any medical studies that have been conducted to ascertain if drinking a 'Hot Toddy' every day will decrease the odds of someone being infected by the COVID-19 virus, or one of its variants, and also if drinking one each day will reduce the time it takes someone to be completely healed of a COVID-19 infection.

For those who are not familiar with what a 'Hot Toddy' is, it is a home-made beverage consisting of the ingredients of hot water, whiskey, honey, and lemon juice.

Has there been any medical studies as to whether drinking a 'Hot Toddy' can help to ward off or to help heal someone who has COVID-19?

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    Unlike the plethora of other Covid home remedies, I'd be actually willing to try that one. Not as a Covid remedy mind you, but I would. Jan 14, 2022 at 14:55
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    Why do you suppose somebody must have already studied this particular remedy? This is the first time I've even heard of it. I do imagine that alcohol can alleviate the symptoms of common cold, but also that it's no use against pneumonia, which is the Covid symptom you really should be worried about. Jan 14, 2022 at 15:02
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    @user57467 I would imagine the downvote is because your question shows no prior research, which is required here. Have you tried to find this research yourself? You need to edit your question and show us what you've found, or if you've found nothing, what you searched for.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 14, 2022 at 15:55
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    Until I read this question I had no idea what is in a hot toddy, nor if anyone actually still drinks them. I think you overestimate how well they're known outside the UK. There appears to be a lot of variation in recipes, so scientists aren't likely to use the name in their papers. They would probably investigate the ingredients, not the concoction you know as a hot toddy. And sure enough, as motosubatsu's answer shows, that's exactly what they did. Since you have an upvoted answer I'll leave this open, but for future reference you need to at least tell us what you searched for.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 14, 2022 at 20:38
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    @CareyGregory - My mother used to make us hot toddies when we had bad colds. I remember them working pretty well. My parents were raised in Canada, so maybe migrated from Europe? But then, a bad cold isn't a lethal infection, so, no, I wouldn't expect any studies on the use of hot toddies vs., say, monoclonal antibodies. And why would one give a hot toddy to someone facing intubation due to difficulty breathing? Jan 15, 2022 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


To my knowledge no, nobody has specifically studied this in relation to COVID-19. I can't really prove the negative but I tried a few combinations of search terms in to PubMed and came up with nothing.

The "Hot Toddy" (with varying exact recipes) does however have a long history as a folk remedy for cold and flu symptoms and you'll often find many people willing to provide subjective anecdotes about how it always makes them feel better.

So is there anything to it?

A paper in Rhinology Journal describing a pilot study published in 2008 looked at whether drinking a hot beverage versus a cold one had any effect. They looked at both objective measurements of nasal conductance and subjects' subjective evaluations of the severity of their symptoms (runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness).

While there doesn't appear to have been any measurable improvement in the nasal conductance - the subjective results were more promising:

The results demonstrate that a hot fruit drink can provide subjective relief from all the six symptoms of common cold that were scored in this study. Ingestion of the same drink at room temperature only provided relief for three of the symptoms. This demonstrates the extra benefit provided by the increase in drink temperature and supports the traditional use of hot drinks to relieve common cold symptoms.

The exact mechanism behind that relief is undetermined although there is speculation in the paper including placebo effect and some interaction with the major palatine nerve.

But heat is only one aspect of a hot toddy! What about the others? Well the lemon is going to give you some vitamin C - which is certainly good for you in general terms it's been a matter of consternation about it's usefulness when it comes to colds and similar illnesses. I'm not even going to begin to try and settle that particular argument. Here's a modestly-sized study in Nature that says vit-C helps reduce the frequency of colds (but not the severity or duration) and here's a large systemic review from Cochrane says no reduction in incidence but some reduction in severity and duration with regular supplementation (but questionable benefit therapeutically).

The evidence for honey is clearer - a systemic review published in the BMJ suggests that honey is good - especially for cough-related symptoms:

The researchers analysed studies that compared the effect of taking honey, in forms such as teas, neat, or mixed with other ingredients, to either usual care – such as antibiotics, or over-the-counter cough syrups and medications – or medically inert placebos. Studies compared symptoms such as cough severity, cough frequency and symptom length.

They found that, compared to usual care, honey was associated with a significantly greater reduction in symptoms, specifically cough severity and frequency.

Finally.. the whiskey. The alcohol is potentially going to have a small dehydrative effect and can suppress immune activity. So the whiskey is unlikely to be doing you an actual good - but I suppose it might cheer you up if you're a little buzzed.

Now, all of this has been about the various illnesses that all get grouped together under the umbrella of "the common cold". COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, some "common colds" are caused by other coronaviruses but most are caused by rhinovirus, so same symptoms: different cause (hilariously getting a rhinovirus might actually protect the host from SARS-CoV-2). So does any of this prior research matter for the Hot Toddy going up against COVID-19?

Only in so much as if the subjective relief of "cold" symptoms holds for their analogs in mild COVID-19 infection - the honey might help with the cough etc. Not even the most wildly enthusiastic claims about the medicinal properties of the hot toddy have ever suggested it can do anything about the more serious symptoms of a severe COVID-19 case - pneumonia and so on.

And there's just nothing there to suggest that it would prevent COVID-19 or that it would actually treat the infection so I'd have to say that's why you haven't seen any "Hot Toddy as treatment for COVID-19" studies and you're not likely to either.

You might see some studies on the effectiveness of home-care treatments for mild cases later on - as academic curiosity if nothing else. But in the current situation - where you've got a serious disease doing serious harm to many people globally the focus us rightly on treatments for severe cases, and there's just no real reason for the scientists and doctors doing that to say "You know what Jim - my gran always swore by a Hot Toddy when she had a cold, shall we give that a go?"

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    Love this answer. Also, enjoying imagining triaging Covid patients with hypoxia in the ED: "Ok, let's see. You're in the Hot Toddy group. Go to the far side of the waiting room, they'll be serving you shortly. Next? You're in the non-invasive ventilatory support group. We'll be putting you on some high-flow O2 and taking you up to the Covid unit. Next?" Jan 15, 2022 at 11:57

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