It’s as true today as it was during the flu pandemic of 1918-1920: Coughing and sneezing in public simply isn’t acceptable. We’d all be safer, in fact, if we remembered the popular slogan from way back then, “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases.”
Coughing and sneezing are among the clearest indicators of a viral infection, whether it’s the Covid-19 we all dread or the common cold. Ultimately, having either would keep us and our kids out of circulation this winter.
But what if we had way to avoid colds this season, or at least of reducing their length and severity? Two often-recommended remedies are over-the-counter Vitamin C powder Emergenc-E and herbal Echinacea tea. But are they really effective in preventing or fighting the cold virus?
To answer my own question, I searched my favorite nutrition website. It came up empty for both cold supplements. Zero results means the scientific evidence for their efficacy is likely limited, or non-existent.
Running a full online search confirmed my suspicions. After a meta-analysis of Emergen-C’s main active ingredient, Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, The Cochrane Library research review site concluded:
“… [E]xcept in cases of extreme physical strain…The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified.”
In a Marshfield Clinic study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Echinacea fared no better. In a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, one group received Echinacea capsules three times a day.
The control group got placebos. The results led the researchers to find Echinacea “ineffective” in treating the common cold.
But if these two popular home therapies don’t work, what does? I did find a few ingredients proven to significantly reduce both the frequency and severity of colds.
More on this tomorrow!