Text and Images by Tris Marlis @ Makansutra
In Hong Kong, boiled coke and lemon is a common remedy for cold. Electrolyte drinks like 100 Plus is believed to ease diarrhea. Adding salt to your Sprite, 7Up or Ginger ale helps soothing sore throat. Drink soda to help you recover basic ails, does it sound like hogwash, and how does it work?
Mdm Pang Yet Lan who used to run a coffeeshop at Sim Place had a cold for weeks, then her Cantonese customer recommended boiled coke with lemon to her. “It worked wonderfully,” she says.
Boiled coke and lemon is a remedy that started in Hong Kong. There’s a story about a businessman who was trying to sell his coke during winter time, but people wanted hot drinks, so he boiled it with lemon and claimed that it will cure cold. That business trick became a ‘remedy’ that people in Hong Kong have been practicing for decades.
Many who tried soda drinks as remedy can’t really explain how it works. Mdm Pang believes that boiled coke with lemon or adding salt to Sprite helps detoxify. We consulted Dr Jeffrey Chua at local hospital to find out explanation behind these theories.
“Remedies like these are really a hit and a miss, it doesn’t work on everybody. Most of these remedies are passed on from generation to generation without really a scientific basis for it,” Dr Chua replies in an email.
According to Dr Chua, it’s a known fact that lemon contains vitamin C, which helps with cold. In his opinion, adding coke is just to make it tastes better and balances the tartness and acidity of lemon. Same explanation applies to the remedy of Sprite and salt that is said to soothe sore throat. Dr Chua explains that sore throat means there is inflammation and when there is inflammation, there is accumulation of fluids. “Salt is a natural dehydrator, it draws water out from our cells. Gargling (not drinking) salt water soothes sore throat. Soda like Sprite or 7 Up only add taste to the solution,” he adds.
As for diarrhea, he explains that “electrolyte drinks like 100 Plus and Gatorade taken after bowel movements helps the body replenish its loss fluids and electrolyte.” Again, he advised that this remedy is not a cure for diarrhea. In fact, he says that diarrhea has a lot of causes, as long as it’s not bacterial cause, the body will cure itself sooner or later.
So these remedies have been a theory for long, but it’s never been medically proven. Soda as remedy, is it a hit or a miss for you?