Jan. 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM ET
If you’re stuffed up and coughing, there’s nothing like a hot bowl of traditional chicken soup when you’re suffering with a cold.
Dr. Mehmet Oz stopped by TODAY on Thursday to offer several unique alternatives from other cultures, some that have been used for centuries.
“All these cures from around the world, they all taste good,” Oz told taste-tester Tamron Hall. “That’s why they’re still around.”
The teas and hot remedies are made with spices and herbs, which Oz said stimulate the body’s immune system and help with a cold. Most are served warm and the vapors offer an additional benefit, he said.
“The vapors, we think help open up the airways a little bit,” he said. “Spice does that as well.”
Turmeric tea made with turmeric, honey and warm milk, Oz said, “tastes fantastic.”
The turmeric helps stimulate the immune system, and honey is the only sweetener that has nutritional benefits, he said. “That’s why I use it a lot.”
Garlic tea, made from garlic cloves, honey, lemon juice and water, is not something you want to drink right before a date, Oz joked. But, he said, garlic will help keep people away from you, so you don’t get infected as often, and the tea’s properties help stimulate the immune system and can help shorten the duration of a cold.
From China, Oz recommended astragalus tea, the one remedy he said Americans are unlikely to have heard of.
“In traditional Chinese medicine astragalus is an adaptogen,” Oz said. “Adaptogens are things that allow ourselves to weather the storms of adversity.”
The tea comes from the astragalus root but in America, it usually can be found in a tea form, he said, cautioning that it doesn’t quite taste as good as the others.
“It tastes a little bit medicinal but it has remarkable powers as well,” he said.
The French do alcohol well, and there’s a bit in the remedy Oz recommended from France: a grog tea made with spiced rum, honey, cinnamon stick, water and lemon juice.
“It will leave you groggy if you have too much,” Oz said. “You want to make sure you don’t have too much because it will actually dehydrate you.”
The reason a little alcohol is OK with a cold is that it will help you rest easier, he said.
“It allows you to relax a little bit, so if you’re tired and you want to sleep but you can’t because you’ve got a cold, this will get you through it,” Oz said.
From Vietnam, Oz likes pho.
“It’s essentially chicken soup with a lot of spices added to it,” Oz said. “I love coriander and anise. But you can put ginger in it as well. That extra spice opens you up a little bit and ... feel yourself getting healthy.”
Oz also mentioned his new magazine Dr. Oz The Good Life, launching on Feb. 4.
“Life is defined by the people in it,” Oz said. “A good life is when those people are feeling their best. So I want this magazine to speak to people, to meet them where they are in their lives and to realize it’s really about happiness.”