What Alternative Cold Remedies Really Work?
They say there’s no cure for the common cold, but walk though any drug store and you’ll see plenty of products trying to convince you otherwise. In addition to antihistamines and pain relievers, there are plenty of homeopathic remedies—products containing diluted amounts of minerals and ingredients––stocking the shelves. But do they really work? We spoke to doctors and got their take on the most popular treatments. Read on to learn which ones are worth reaching for when you feel a cold coming on, and which to pass up.
This purported immune-system booster, which is available in effervescent tablets, packets and chewables, encountered some trouble in 2008 when the company was sued for falsely claiming that the remedy prevented colds. Airborne eventually settled the class-action lawsuit, and changed its promise. Now, the blend of 14 vitamins and herbs claims to “help support your immune system.” So is it worth a try if you’re feeling ill? “It’s essentially a multi-vitamin with some herbal supplements as well,” says Yael Halaas, MD, ENT, an ear, nose and throat doctor based in New York City, meaning it doesn’t contain any magic cold-busting ingredients. And according to Linda Dahl, MD, a New York City board-certified otolaryngologist and surgeon, homeopathic remedies don't undergo the same type of testing that over-the-counter and prescription drugs do. “There’s no way to say if it will help one person versus another. If you eat well, take vitamins and get sleep you’ll be in good shape. This remedy won’t hurt, but it won’t necessarily help, either,” she says. However, if you are deficient in certain vitamins, it might be worth a shot.
The original formula of Emergen-C is a vitamin drink mix that contains 24 nutrients, including 1,000 mg of vitamin C. Experts are mixed about whether or not the added dose of C will ward off colds. According to Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, a board certified doctor of internal medicine in Atlanta, some studies show that vitamin C has no effect, while others suggest it can reduce the severity and duration of a cold. Keep in mind that 1,000 mg of vitamin C is at the top end of the recommended daily dosage; the doctors we spoke with confirmed that it’s fine to try when you feel a cold coming on, but that it does not have proven results. You should also avoid taking it daily in the long term—too much vitamin C can cause stomach pain and diarrhea.
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Do you use any of these cold remedies? Have they worked for you? If so, which ones?
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