Can Beer Fight The Common Cold?

Most people reach for the boiling pot of tea or OJ to prevent the common cold — now, research says popping open a cold brew might do the trick. 

The beer world is buzzing about the study, in which scientists found that the chemical properties of hops may be what can prevent colds. The chemical compound that's responsible for hops' bitter taste, called humulone, was found to protect againt the virus that causes cold-like symptoms in adults. More importantly, respiratory syncytial virus (or RS), can cause more serious health problems in children and infants, such as pneumonia — and there is no vaccination for it. Now, the researchers think that humalone may be key in preventing viruses in children. (Of course, that doesn't mean a cold beer for the little ones, either.) 

And a new book from the Brewer's Assocation, For the Love of Hops, traces back hops' potent capabilities from centuries ago. Back in the 1600's, writes Stan Hieronymus, physicians believed it could "open obstructions of the liver and spleen, cleanse the blood, to loosen the belly, to cleanse the reins rom gravel, and provoke urine." (Lovely.) Hops also is packed with flavanoids (such as xanthohumol) and other anxiodiant and antibacterial properties. 

Of course, there are a couple problems with the study: not only was the study done by a brewery, Japanese favorite Sapporo, but the amount of humulone in beer is miniscule. The researchers say that in order to achieve true cold-fighting action from humulone, you'd have to drink about 30 beers. (And we're guessing those 30 beers aren't exactly going to cure your cold.) Instead, the researchers are looking for ways to use humulone in food and non-alcoholic beverages. 

Still, it's just one of the many health benefits from beer as of late: The Week magazine points out lower blood pressure in women linked to drinking beer, as well as beer's many vitamins and antioxidants.