Valentine’s Day is approaching, love is in the air, and recent freezing temperatures make for perfect cuddling conditions.

How appropriate, then, that today—January 21—is National Hugging Day!

You may be thinking, “With all the coughing, sneezing, and sniffling right now, the last thing I want is somebody’s arms around me.” It’s understandable, and wise, to be germ-conscious in wintry months, but a Carnegie Mellon University study from 2014 wants to alleviate some of your caution.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, “A team of researchers, led by Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, tested whether hugs act as a form of social support, protecting stressed people from getting sick.”

“They found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.”

Cohen and his team analyzed 404 healthy adults—surveying “perceived support” and “frequencies of interpersonal conflicts and receiving hugs” with various questionnaires and phone interviews. The participants were then intentionally exposed to a cold virus and quarantined for assessment.

“The results showed that perceived social support reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing conflicts,” the publication reported. “Hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support.”

While affection is often regarded as detrimental to those avoiding illness, it’s a sweet relief to learn that a simple embrace may aid in combating the common cold.

Tips from the experts

Be cautious with neti pots and antibiotics
“[T]here are two common mistakes that people make when treating themselves when they’re using neti pots and taking antibiotics. If you have the flu, using a neti pot will hurt you rather than help you. [Dr. Woodson Merrell recommends] neti pots for colds only and favors steam inhalations for the flu or when you’re not sure whether you have a cold or the flu. [A]ntibiotics will only be effective if you have a bacterial infection, as opposted to a virus.” Dr. Woodson Merrell, M.D., Executive Director of the Beth Israel Medical Center’s Center for Health and

Sip hot tea and honey
“Drinking warm liquids helps to open up your stuffy nose and soothe a sore throat. Hot tea with a dollop of honey can help quiet a cough. But don’t give honey to children under a year old. It can make them very sick.” Dr. Jean Carstensen, M.D., University of Michigan-Ann

Wrap up with a scarf – especially over your nose
“[T]he implication of what [our study] found is that when we inhale cold air into the nasal cavity, the temperature in the nose decreases and that will provide a more permissive temperature for the cold virus to replicate. Many of us have the cold virus in our noses without symptoms—about 20 to 25 percent of healthy people carry the virus—and if you are one of those people and you go out in the cold, you might develop symptoms.” Immunobiology professor Akiko Iwasaki, Yale School of

The more colorful the food, the better
“Immune-boosting antioxidants in brightly colored fruits and veggies battle the free radicals that dampen your natural defenses. Eat plenty of fare such as red beans and berries (the brighter the hue, the higher the antioxidant count) and drink green tea.” Josh Miller, D.O., internist at Cleveland ClinicWomen’s Health

Related resources:

Cold Medicines (Application)
Cold Medicine API Screen Using a Kinetex EVO C18 Core-Shell LC Column
Cold Medicine Compounds on Kinetex 2.6µm EVO C18
Cough and Cold Medicine (NyQuil) on Kinetex 2.6µm C18 100 x 4.6mm ID
Cough and Cold Medicine (DayQuil) on Kinetex 2.6µm C18 100 x 4.6mm ID
Cough and Cold Medicine (Sudafed) on Kinetex 2.6µm C18 100 x 4.6mm ID
Cough and Cold Medicine on Kinetex 2.6µm C18 150 x 4.6mm ID
Acetaminophen, Phenylephrine, Chlorpheneramine and Dextromethorphan by HPLC-UV

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