[Updated 19 July 2019]

It doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is: be it summer or winter, there’s always some damn nasty bug going around. Curling up to a hot water bottle when it’s cold outside or sweating it out when the mercury’s at its highest isn’t much fun. But, according to various sources, our beloved Cognac has some rather interesting properties, and not only ones that’ll help you shake off that pesky cold or flu virus…

Can Cognac really help cure the common cold?

OK, so before we get into the bones of the health benefits of Cognac, let’s first say that we’re not physicians, nor are we advocating that you choose our beloved eau-de-vie over proper medical advice and medication (does that suffice as our disclaimer?). But there’s certainly no denying that over the centuries people have sworn by old wives tales that have been handed down from generation to generation.

From a cure for flu and sore throats to a natural detox and antioxidant booster, and even as an ingredient for beautifully smooth, young-looking skin, it seems people the world over not only ask the question “is Cognac good for you?”, but have created and use the drink in ever-creative ways.

So let’s take a look at some of the more popular uses around the world, and some of the different ways that global folklore has captured the essence of various Cognac health benefits 

1. The Russian and Ukrainian Cold Remedy

Where better than the use of Cognac for a cold than the answer from the cold countries of the Eastern Bloc? The delightfully named Gogol Mogol is a hot drink created by heating half a cup of milk along with a tablespoon full of unsalted butter. Whisk in raw egg yolk, a teaspoon of honey and a large slug of Cognac and sip away. It might not cure your cold, but it might just make that blocked up nose a little easier to deal with.

Perhaps it’s the Cognac fumes that help clear your sinuses?

2. The Influenza Remedy

This remedy hails from a family from Stuttgart, Germany, who’ve handed this down from 1918, when a pandemic of Spanish Flu took the lives of 20-40 million people across the globe.

  • Take ½ a pound of fresh garlic, peel and dice, and add to a quart of Cognac
  • Seal in an airtight container and store in a darkened, cool environment for a couple of weeks.
  • Open the bottle, strain out the garlic and reseal the bottle

To use the mixture to treat flu, add 2 drops to 8 ounces of water, and drink 3 glasses a day – one before each meal.The mixture can also be used to prevent catching the virus in the first place. During the flu season add 10-15 drops of the mixture to 8 ounces of water, and drink three times a day (before every meal).

Garlic galore – with Cognac?

Of course, if you choose to use this remedy we suggest a very strong mouthwash or keep a liberal supply of chewing gum and breath fresheners close by —just to make you more pleasant to be around, of course…

Very interestingly, an ENT physician, Dr. Joseph Beck (an accomplished American professor and ENT specialist during WW1) wrote about his time running an American Red Cross Hospital in Cognac, France, during the Great War. Having to deal with the pandemic of Spanish Influenza, he didn’t have the room to house all his patients in the hospital he had. So he asked Hennessy and Martell for help, and was allowed to set up a makeshift ward on the top floor of one of the Cognac warehouses in the city.

In addition to this, he was offered the use of as much Cognac as he wanted to help treat victims of the flu. And with the more usual offering of milk being so scarce, he used a mixture of Cognac and water to give to his patients. It’s reported that after commencing this regime, the death toll dropped by a massive 27 percent almost instantly, and never rose above that in the 5 weeks during which the epidemic ran its course.

Curious? Yes. Scientifically proven? No. Take from the tale what you will, and make up your own mind as to Cognac’s ability to fend off this horrid illness.

3. The Sore Throat Remedy

Ugh! The pain and discomfort of a sore throat is miserable. And while there are a plethora of medicated sweets to help, all they really do is mask the symptoms for a few minutes at best.

But apparently, the combination of cumin and Cognac is an extremely effective treatment for a sore throat and tonsillitis. It’s even rumored the solution can provide relief for a sore throat in as little as four hours!

So here goes, this is how to make up the potion:

  • Take 80 grams of ground cumin, and add to 200 ml of water
  • Bring to the boil, and simmer for around 15 minutes until it’s reduced to a thick liquid mass
  • Strain the liquid, add another 50 ml of water and bring to the boil once again
  • Remove from the heat, allow to cool and then stir in a tablespoon of Cognac

Take a tablespoon of the mixture once every half an hour. If it relieves your throat, stop taking after four hours, but if the pain continues you can take the treatment for a full 8 hours.

Boil the cumin until it’s a mushy thick liquid, then add the Cognac…

We have to say, it sounds revolting, and we’re not sure we’d use a top-quality blend in such a manner. But if it works…?

4. The Beautiful Skin Remedy

Put Cognac on your face? Yes, apparently it’s a thing, and very effective it’s meant to be as well. Those who use it swear by its anti-aging effects, leaving skin velvety smooth and soft, with a lovely rejuvenating effect. Simply mix the following ingredients together and smooth onto the skin:

  • 1 raw egg yolk
  • 100 g heavy cream (preferably 33%)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 dessert spoons of cognac

We’ve not tried it ourselves yet, so if you do please post the results in the comments below (positive and negative, we’re all dying to know if it works).

Does a Cognac face cream really have anti-aging benefits?

5. The All-Round Health Remedy

There are also many tales that imbibing in the odd glass of brown has a positive effect on many other aspects of health. These include raising the levels of antioxidants in the body (the little warriors within your system that fight the good fight against free radicals and the damage they cause).

In turn, this is said to help with heart health, blood vessel health, decrease the chances of getting cancer and help with aiding good vision. True, not true? We don’t know for sure.

But one thing we can say is that a little Cognac now and then is one of life’s little pleasures. And what is life without a regular dose of those? Perhaps that old saying of, “A little bit of what you fancy does you good” really is a truism. 

One of life’s little luxuries, such as the Cognac Expert limited edition, Sophie & Max Sélection N° 2

Well, it is in our book. And that, we have to say, is what we’re sticking to. 

Cheers…

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Author

Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Austin Garcia

    Hi Sophie and Max,

    I have been researching the numerous health benefits of cognac and came across this blog. First, I just want to say you have a great blog that is very informative. I have been into cognac for 1-2 years now and absolutely love it. I have a question that may seem like common sense, but I wanted to know how much men should drink cognac? How much do you drink? How many oz is considered beneficial to someone’s health? This would really help me out.

    Thanks,

    Austin

  2. Avatar
    Diane Winters

    This is entirely anecdotal. but it’s a true account of my own experience once with cognac and a cold. I was staying in Paris in December 1966, having hitchhiked there from London with a French Canadian girl. We shared a room in a small family-run hotel on the left bank and became friends with two young Spanish guys who were also sharing a room there. They were taking graduate courses, waiting to see if the Fulbright scholarships they’d applied for came through. Paris then was grey, chilly and drizzly much of the time and one evening Odile and I realized we were both coming down with bad colds. Now, much older, I seem to be relatively immune to them, but back then I had miserable colds. When our Spanish friends found out, they said cognac would cure them. We didn’t have any, but another friend of theirs who didn’t live there, was so determined that it would cure us, that he went to his apartment and in 20 minutes came back with a bottle. They poured us each a glass of at least six ounces (which is a lot of cognac) and they sat in the room insisting we each drink it down. This was no sipping experience. Odile and I both hated the stuff, but they kept insisting we needed to drink it all. We drank well over half of it, and when they left about 11:30 they made us promise we’d finish it off. We did make an effort to drink more, but don’t think either of us finished it completely. Then we went to bed still feeling lousy. I woke up some time later, when it was still quite dark, realizing that I felt completely rested and that I had no cold symptoms whatsoever. I didn’t know what to do, having no wish to sleep anymore, but not wanting to disturb Odile. I soon found out however, the she was actually also wide awake having exactly the experience I was having. It was about 4:00 or 4:30 am. So we turned on the light and spent the time until morning writing postcards home. Colds absolutely gone.

    I once tried to replicate this “cure” later in my life, but I know I didn’t have cognac. I’m not sure what I used, possibly some liqueur. At any rate whatever I used didn’t work. I landed on this site tonight as I’m now trying to fight off a cold – I do happen to have cognac, and am downing it now. If it does work, I’ll try to find the site again and report back.

  3. Avatar
    Max (Cognac-Expert.com)

    Many thanks for you comment, Diane!

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