Photo credit: Flickr/mcfarlandmo
When those aches, sniffles and runny nose strike, many of us want to turn to natural cures. But I know from writing about holistic health for many years that not all natural remedies work. So I called several top doctors, then looked at the research (which, as with many natural products, isn’t as extensive as scientists would like), and found 5 remedies that seem worth taking. Of course, we all know that prevention is best–not touching your face, washing hands a lot and the like. But as the rest of cold and flu season blows through, consider keeping some of these remedies on hand. (With any medical treatment, you should talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you.)
Probiotics. The idea that good bacteria could crowd out bad ones makes sense, which is why scientists weren’t surprised when a review last fall of 10 studies on probiotics found people taking supplements or yogurt with these cultures had 12 percent fewer upper respiratory tract infections. Another study confirmed that children, too, develop fewer bouts of coughs and runny noses. To be most effective, probiotics should be taken daily.
Zinc. Taken at the first hint of a cold (rather than continuously), zinc seems to make your bout shorter and less severe, according to a review of 15 studies. The best way to take is in lozenges, since coating your throat stops the virus from proliferating, says Neal Schachter, MD, author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu. (Remember, though, that zinc make some people nauseous–and it tastes gross.) Just keep it out of your nose: nasal sprays have been linked with permanent loss of smell.