In many ways, our parents are our first teachers, the very first people we looked to to learn about the world. Still, there are nuggets of wisdom that they’ve always said that doesn’t really hold truth upon the scrutiny of science. Here are some of the common “truths” some of us may be familiar with as kids:

Run Ice Water On A Burn

Let’s start with a tip that many of us still swear by: when we scald our hands on the coffee pot or burn ourselves on a hot pan, we immediately run our hands with ice water to ease the burn. If you think about it, it should make sense: ice water should quickly lower the temperature and cancel the burning sensation, right?

The problem is icy or cold water on unbroken skin can damage the tissue and give you a cold burn as well. Also, if we take ice water straight from the freezer, it’s possible that the ice is contaminated by the raw meat we keep in there. It can introduce bacteria that can infect the wound and slow down the repair.

Instead, if the skin is unbroken, you should use an ice pack covered in cloth to protect the skin. You can still wash the wound to quickly lower its temperature but make sure to use clean cool water, not icy. For open wounds, it’s best to cover them with a dry clean cloth and have a doctor check their severity. Do not apply anything else, especially the Aunties’ favourite burn ointment: toothpaste. It might be a cool sensation at first but it will eventually sting and make the wound worse.

Soy Sauce Makes Wounds Darker

Speaking of wounds, a common admonition you’d hear when you have a wound is to not ingest soy sauce, because it supposedly makes your wounds darker. The pigment of the soy sauce has nothing to do with the body’s ability to replenish scar tissue — in fact, the only thing that contributes to a darker scar is scratching it as it heals. A healing wound can be irritatingly itchy and often we subconsciously scratch it, slowing the healing process and possibly infecting it as well. To make sure that your wound heals flawlessly, no need to avoid soy sauce: simply use calamine lotion instead of scratching. 

Drinking Salt Water From The Durian Husk Will Remove Its Heatiness

Durian’s heatiness can result in a phlegmy cough, constipation and sore throat, which is why parents have always cautioned us to not overindulge. To counter the effects of durian’s heaty traits, they said to pour salt water into the durian husk and drink it from there. 

Surprisingly, there is some truth to this common parental advice. However, while TCM doctors do recommend pairing durian with salt water to reduce its heaty properties, you don’t need to drink it from the husk. Salt water is believed to reduce toxins and heatiness from many foods, plus it complements the durian’s flavour pretty well, so maybe your mum does know best.

Do Not Wash Your Hair Too Late At Night

Aunties will always admonish you for washing your hair in the evening, saying that having wet hair at bedtime can give you a cold, drive you blind or even encourage fungi to grow in your hair. 

While sleeping with wet hair can make you feel colder, only viruses can give you a cold. Being cold often can weaken your immune system, but it does not mean that just because you hit the sack while your hair is still damp, you will get sick. 

Have A Cough? Drink Soft Drinks

This one is a common “cure” — when we develop a cough as kids, we were advised to drink cola, which is supposedly even better than ginger, cough syrup or any other herbal drink. The problem is that cola is made with so much sugar that it can literally create micro lacerations on the insides of your throat, making your cough worse. While drinking cola feels nice, all the artificial sweeteners in it can be harmful to your health.

Instead, opt for medicines or herbal remedies that are proven to be good for you. Herbal remedies provide an all-natural treatment for most common illnesses, drawing from centuries-old knowledge and the healing properties of nature. If there was advice that our parents got right, it’s believing in the restorative properties of the best quality ingredients. For the most comprehensive herbal selections, check out hengfohtong.com/