Produce aisle may provide better cold, flu remedies than pharmacy
Posted February 28
During cold and flu season, many people search the pharmacy aisles for help, but some remedies work better than others.
WRAL Health Team's Dr. Allen Mask says many patients will see a doctor with over-the-counter supplements, such as Airborne, Cold Calm or Emergen-C, and want to know if these products are effective in warding off the flu or the cold virus. Some of the supplements contain hefty amounts of Vitamin C.
A 2013 review of 29 trials showed a small but significant 8 percent reduction in the duration of cold symptoms in adults who took at least 200mg daily of vitamin C supplements on a regular basis. But Vitamin C given after the onset of illness did not reduce symptom duration or severity.
Zinc sulfate lozenges and syrup may reduce cold symptom severity. However, because of the uncertain benefits and potential toxins, they are best avoided, Mask said.
Studies on the dietary supplement Echinacea are mixed. The extracts do seem to have an effect on the immune system, but it's unclear how much it helps: Two studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine did not find them effective in adults or children.
There is no evidence to support the use of antibiotics, antihistamines or vitamins and herbal remedies in the treatment of the flu or the common cold.
Antibiotic treatments cause more harm than benefit.
No vitamin or herbal product has been shown to conclusively impact the incidence of the flu or the common cold. Instead, Mask recommends drinking plenty of fluids, getting rest and keeping good nutrition.
Saline nasal sprays may help nasal congestion, and medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are effective in reducing headache, achiness and fever.
Dextromethorphan has been shown to be an effective cough suppressant.
Flu vaccination, hand washing and staying six feet away from sick people greatly reduces your risk.
Fresh fruits like oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are great sources of natural vitamins and provide the good nutrition we need while we are sick. A trip to the produce department may be preferred over a trip to the pharmacy during this cold and flu season.