Publication: CBS Broadcasting Inc; CBS5.com
Author: Kim Mulvihill, MD
You can’t cure the common cold. However, some research suggests you can reduce your chances of getting sick with botanicals.
In Sweden, Andrographis — an herbal supplement — is used to boost the immune system. The supplement is based on Elderberry herb, which is found in Sambucol. One study shows it suppresses the flu virus.
Other botanicals include Pelargonium, an extract taken from the root of a South African scrub, a Chinese herb called Astragalus, and Echinacea, an extract taken from a flowering plant.
As for zinc or Vitamin C, the research is controversial. One study found zinc cut the duration of colds in half but had no effect on the severity of symptoms. Large trials of high doses of Vitamin C showed little, if any, benefit in preventing or treating the common cold.
However, before you stock up on dietary supplements, consider this:
“These are not generally tested rigorously for either harmful side effects or effectiveness,” said Dr. Guy Pugh.
And some research shows they may not contain what they advertise.
If you’re looking for natural ways to stay well, here are some simple things to consider:
Take a sauna. A German study found those who steamed twice a week got half as many colds as those who didn’t. One theory is that if you are in a sauna or a steamroom, you inhale air that is hotter than 80 degrees, which might be too hot for these viruses to survive.
Eat yogurt-based products. They’re full of beneficial bacteria that can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent.
Exercise regularly. A brisk walk is enough and can boost your immune system and cut colds also by 25 percent.
Use tissues. Don’t sneeze into your hands. Use tissue and then throw it away. If you sneeze into your hands, you can then transfer whatever bug that made you sick to other people.
Wash your hands. It’s back to the basics. Wash your hands often and keep them away from your eyes and nose.