In the middle of a cold you do what makes you feel better. But are you treating the symptom or disease?

Although we all know that there is no cure for the common cold, almost everyone has an infallible home remedy. Mention, in a crowd, that something is coming and medical advice will begin to come out: garlic broth, oregano oil, echinacea, chicken soup and dozens of other priests to swear.

Nor is there a shortage of over-the-counter products that promise to avoid colds or stop them dry. The question is, does any of these remedies have any value? Since the interweb is full of conflicting advice on this, and the cold and flu season is officially underway, we went to an expert, Dr. Dawn Bowdish, President of Canada's Research on Aging and Immunity at McMaster University, to Get some tips on what works what doesn't, starting with the super popular Cold-FX.

“We had an investigator who was doing some tests with him and it seems that if you take the white blood cells from people and place them in a test tube and then add Cold-FX Y an infection, the cells appear to be a little more resistant, "Bowdish explains, describing laboratory-controlled cell studies." The controversy arises when you try to apply it in real life. "

Bowdish says the clinical trials that followed people who took Cold-FX to avoid colds have been disappointing, but They are far from conclusive, as many of the subjects did not take the supplement as directed, twice a day, every day, during the cold and flu season. It is unlikely that those who commit to this regime will be forced to take it, since ginseng (the active ingredient) is used to treat a variety of ailments in traditional Chinese medicine.

When it comes to colds and flu, people stick to their rituals. I can sympathize, since I drink cubes of hot ginger tea with lemon and mega doses of vitamin C at the first sign of a cold. That usually works, but, if it persists, I drown it in a bittersweet soup. I asked Bowdish about my strategy.

"There was a clinical trial that showed that a cold with vitamin C could not be prevented, but the symptoms could be shortened by a day or a day and a half," Bowdish explains. "Therefore, individually, it is unlikely that you know if it is a shorter infection or not, but collectively, in these trials, it seems to accelerate the process of improvement."

However, if you're half cold, you'll hold on to anything, right? Then, I will happily continue dosing eight grams of vitamin C, especially now that I am aware of a 2017 study that found that participants who took that dose reduced a significant amount of time (almost 20 percent) of the duration of a cold .

That represents a change of fortune for vitamin C, which has had a stir since Dr. Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner, promoted it in his 1970 book, promoted it in his book. Vitamin C and the common cold. Pauling recommended a daily preventive megadoses of 3,000 milligrams for optimal health and explored the idea that the vitamin could help people suffering from atherosclerosis and terminal cancer, all of which were ruled out as junk science in later years. Most people in the medical establishment and the research community began to consider large doses of C as a colossal loss of money, so this latest news represents a slight claim for vitamin loyalists.

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Several of the other home remedies (rosehip tea, elderberry supplements, hot water with lemon, for example) also contain vitamin C, so if people find that they work, it could be the vitamins that do the heavy lifting. . On the other hand, it could be the fact that they soothe the throat and make us feel better, possibly the reason why oregano oil is so popular.

"There have been some clinical trials with various essential oils, not just oregano oil, and, when people take them, in the first 20 minutes, they feel better," says Bowdish. "The throat feels better, but that doesn't mean they are less sick." Therefore, oregano oil and many home remedies only help with the symptoms and make you feel better, but they do not prevent you from getting sick. "

To avoid getting sick, the best thing you can do is get a flu shot, which also protects the most vulnerable people in the community, whether elderly or immunocompromised. We tend to think that the flu is a less serious health problem than many other conditions, but the flu kills thousands of people in Canada every year and some of those deaths could be prevented with a (free) vaccine that takes a few seconds.

Unfortunately, when it comes to colds, there is no shot in the arm. "It's not very sexy, but good old-fashioned hygiene is the best thing you can do," Bowdish advises, "Try not to touch your face too much and, if you're sick, try not to spread. Cough in the sleeve and away of people and that kind of thing. "

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Or just stay home and put it in quarantine. Sleep and take all the oregano oil, garlic broth and vitamin C you want. None of this is a cure for the common cold, but it could make you feel better a little earlier.

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And best of all, you won't pay for that cold or flu and spread it.

Christine Sismondo

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