There is no evidence that stuffing potatoes into your socks will cure an illness like a cold, but eating them may help strengthen the immune system and fight infection.
You may have heard of putting onion in your socks as a remedy for colds and other illnesses. Another folk remedy that’s currently popular is putting a raw potato in your socks.
Potatoes have many health benefits and are packed with nutrients. Even drinking raw potato juice can help boost your immune system. But can potatoes cure colds or other ailments if you put them in your socks?
Nope. Potatoes in your socks can’t cure colds or other ailments like coughs, runny noses, or sinus infections.
Keep reading to learn more about this anecdotal remedy and how you can put potatoes to better use.
It’s not known where this remedy came from. It may have come from the late Middle Ages when the bubonic plague struck parts of Europe. At that time, most people were not aware of viruses and bacteria and how they caused illness.
The claim is that putting sliced raw potatoes against the bottom of your feet — and wearing socks to hold them in place — can help cure cold and flu symptoms likes coughs, runny nose, congestion, and fever.
The reason why potatoes (and onions) are put against the feet may come from a therapy in traditional Chinese medicine called reflexology. In this healing science, the soles of the feet are thought to have access points to different parts of the body. According to reflexology, treating the feet helps to treat the body.
There are plenty of people who’ve tried the potato remedy and say it got rid of their cold or flu symptoms. However, there’s no clinical evidence to show that this folk remedy works.
Nutrition expert Dr. Ruth MacDonald at Iowa State University confirms that the potatoes in your socks cannot cure a cold or any kind of illness. Similarly, an onion cannot get rid of viruses in your body through the bottom of your feet.
Eating potatoes may boost your immune system and help you beat a cold or flu. A medium-size baked potato gives you about 27 milligrams of vitamin C.
Potatoes also contain high amounts of fiber and iron, especially if you eat them with their skin. Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in potatoes include:
- magnesium (5 percent of daily recommended amount)
- vitamin B-6 (12 percent of daily recommended amount)
- B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin and folate)
- vitamin E
- vitamin K
How potatoes are cooked and processed affects their nutrition. Many of the vitamins and nutrients in potatoes are water soluble. As with other vegetables, cooking potatoes can lower their nutrients.
Bake, steam, or boil potatoes in their skins for the most nutrition.
Cooking potatoes on high heat can cause a toxic chemical called acrylamide to form. Acrylamide may be cancer-causing in the body. Frying potatoes to make fries may trigger this. Acrylamide is also found in packaged potato chips and other snacks that have potatoes.
Low-heat or slow-cooking methods help to keep the most nutrients in potatoes and other vegetables. They also prevent harmful chemicals from forming.
You can have a potato allergy. This rare allergy can cause symptoms when you eat cooked or raw potatoes.
Putting raw potato on the skin can also irritate the skin. Some people may get a skin irritation called eczema by touching a potato. Potato peels can also cause a reaction.
It’s safe for most adults to try the potato remedy, even if there is no evidence that it works. If you’re not allergic to potatoes, likely won’t cause a skin reaction. Make sure you use freshly washed and peeled potatoes only.
Do a test patch by placing a small piece of raw potato on the skin. Check your skin every 15 minutes to make sure there’s no reaction. If you see any redness or color change, or feel itching or other skin irritation, remove the potato immediately.
Don’t try this remedy on children
Don’t try this remedy on babies, toddlers, or children. Babies and small children have more sensitive skin and may have an allergic reaction to the potato.
The only way to help prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Babies, children and adults should be up to date on all vaccines to help prevent serious illness.
Your doctor may recommend an antiviral medication to treat a more serious cold or flu. If you or your child has a sinus infection or earache, you may need antibiotics. A bacterial infection can spread and harm the body if it is not treated properly.
See your doctor if you or your child has:
- difficulty breathing
- chest pain
- skin rash
- severe cough
- dark or bloody mucus
- high fever
Natural remedies can help ease cold and flu symptoms
Natural home remedies can’t cure a cold or flu, but they may help ease symptoms. Try home remedies for a cold and flu like:
- drinking plenty of fluids
- herbal tea
- saltwater rinse
- chicken broth
Putting potatoes in your socks cannot cure cold or other ailments. There’s no medical research that shows that it works.
Eating potatoes, however, may help boost your immune system and help you beat a cold or flu. Bake, steam, or boil potatoes in their skins for the most nutrition.