A doctor reveals the truth about 3 home remedies we all grew up hearing

Bestselling author and one of our favorite docs, Dr. Ian Smith stopped by to celebrate the publication of his new book, The Ancient Nine, a totally gripping thriller that investigates members-only secret societies at Harvard. This book was 25 years in the making—he started writing it when he himself joined one of these exclusive clubs.

Wow!

Naturally, we couldn’t resist getting his expert opinion on some ancient medical myths, too, so he walked us through the science behind some old-school home remedies that we all grew up hearing.

Equipped with true or false paddles, our studio audience guessed whether each myth was true or false, before Dr. Ian hit us with the real deal.

RELATED: Dr. Ian Answers Your Most Pressing Health Questions

Can Sugar Be Used To Treat Hiccups?

First up, those pesky hiccups!

The Ancient Greeks believed, Dr. Ian told us, that one way to stop hiccups was to sneeze, hold your breath, to be scared or, to eat sugar.

So, we put the question to the audience, and they were pretty much split 50/50.

But Dr. Ian says that, in fact, it’s true!

How does it work? When the diaphragm, which he calls the most important breathing muscle in the body, spasms, your epiglottis (a small piece of cartilage which covers your vocal chords) closes down (the ‘hic’ you hear, he says, is the air not being able to pass through).

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Bananas

(Photo by Shingo Tosha via Getty Images)

Almonds

(Photo by Svetlana Lukienko, Shutterstock)

Cinnamon

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Basil

(Photo by Tom Merton via Getty Images)

Apples and apple cider vinegar

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Ginger

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Baking soda

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Chamomile tea

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Potatoes

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Fruit flavored chewing gum

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Grapes

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Pineapple juice

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Water

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Aloe vera juice

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A teaspoon of sugar gets rid of hiccups, the doc explains, by stimulating the vagus nerve located in the throat, which makes the body forget to hiccup. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that conveys sensory information about the organs to the brain. When it's distracted by something else — like swallowing sugar — it tells the brain that something more important than hiccupping has come up so the diaphragm spasms stop.

Will Carrots Improve Your Vision and Make You See Better At Night?

This is one we’ve heard since childhood, but is it actually true?

The audience definitely thought so, and Dr. Ian revealed it’s both true and false! Carrots can help prevent eyesight deterioration because of their antioxidants, but they won’t restore 20/20 vision or help you see in the dark (eggs, citrus, peanut butter, and dark leafy greens also contain this important antioxidant called lutein), he says.

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Cataracts are cloudy eyes and are most common in older people. Many times they can be indications of tumors or diabetes. 

Because many people don't think to put sunscreen near their eyes, skin cancer often forms around them. If you see a non-healing sore on your eyelid that may be causing your eyelashes to fall off, it could be time to consult a doctor. 
Droopy eyes on both sides may be a sign of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease associated with muscle weakness. Dr. Hagan explained the disease can range from mild to more serious, deadly forms. 
If your retina is inflamed because of your sensitivity to light, doctors may be concerned with HIV/AIDS. 
Droopy eyelids and differently dilated pupils may be an indication of Horner's syndrome, often associated with tumors or aneurysms.  
Oftentimes, cancer in the body may show up in the eye as well. According to Dr. Hagan, the two most common ones include lung cancer and breast cancer. 
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People started believing this during the World War II blackouts in London (which were issued by the government to make it more difficult for the German planes to hit targets), the doc explained. There was a pilot named Cunningham, he said, who was able to knock down enemy planes in the middle of the night, and they believed he was able to do that because he ate a lot of carrots.

We hit the learning jackpot: a history lesson and some medical myth-busting!

RELATED: How Do I Get Rid of Hiccups?

Can Cranberry Juice Treat a Urinary Tract Infection?

Our viewers DEFINITELY thought so, but Dr. Ian totally busted this myth!

The story behind the myth, he said, is that for thousands of years, Native Americans actually used a poultice made from cranberries to help heal wounds and tumors. That was a smart strategy, he told us, as cranberries have a compound that prevents common bacteria like E. coli and Staph from attaching to the walls of tissue cells. There is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, particularly E. coli, but most of the studies have shown that juice and supplements don’t have enough of the active ingredient -- A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) -- to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract.

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Read on to learn if those myths you bought into as a kid are actually true.

Is The 5 Second Rule Real?

Kind of. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urnbana-Champaign conducted a study on the five second rule. They swabbed the floors of their lab and were to surprised to find few germs. They then placed cookies and candy on tiles with E. coli and found that germ transfer did occur in under five seconds. However, the scientists say that pathogens like salmonella, E. coli and listeria survive better on moist surfaces and didn't conduct any tests on those.

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Does Spinach Make You Stronger?

Popeye was right! Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm discovered that the nitrate found in spinach did tone muscles!

Does Drinking Milk During A Cold Increase Phlegm?

According to the Mayo Clinic, milk does not increase the body's production of phlegm.

Do You Have To Wait An Hour After Lunch To Swim?

Swimming after eating is actually fine. It might not be the most comfortable swimming experience, but it is generally safe. However, swimming after consuming alcohol can be dangerous.

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Is Double Dipping Bad?

Ted Allen of Food Detectives tested the bacteria levels in a bowl of double dipped dip. He found that double dipping just once transferred as many as 10,000 bacteria from mouth to food.

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Is It Unsafe To Eat Raw Cookie Dough?

It's a safer bet to eat baked cookies. A recent outbreak of E. coli was traced back to pre-made raw cookie dough.

Can A Scare Cure The Hiccups?

If it were only that easy! There isn't any scientific evidence showing that fright causes hiccups to stop.

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Does Swallowed Gum Really Stay In Your Stomach For Seven Years?

False. The digestive system breaks down everything in a matter of hours or sometimes days. It would never take the body years to digest anything.

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Does Coffee Stunt Your Growth?

According to Joy Bauer, a nutritionist, this myth began when people believed that caffeine could potentially lead to bone loss, but apparently the research behind that study only examined subjects with already low calcium intakes. Even if caffeine does interfere with the absorption of calcium, it does so only slightly. Just adding milk will offset that effect. However, coffee consumption should be limited in children for a variety of other reasons like stomach aches and insomnia.

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If you’re suffering from a UTI, the doc says, see your doctor, and perhaps try a different, more pungent ingredient: garlic!

He advises putting a peeled garlic clove in hot water, (“Can’t you just have it with some spaghetti and olive oil?” joked Rach) and letting the nutrients seep into the water. It won’t taste good, he says, but the compounds in the garlic could help kill bacteria and ease discomfort.

He also warns against having coffee, alcohol or spices if you’re dealing with this uncomfortable condition, as he says that they’ll irritate your urinary tract further.

Author, doctor, myth-buster: what can’t Dr. Ian do?!

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