Strategies for Dodging Colds, Flu

  • Irrigating your nasal passages with saline can produce relief from cold symptoms.
  • Vitamin C may reduce the duration of a cold. Try taking 250 mg to 500 mg twice daily, which is all you need to saturate your body's tissues with vitamin C; higher doses can cause diarrhea.
  • Vitamin C may reduce the duration of a cold. Try taking 250 mg to 500 mg twice daily, which is all you need to saturate your body's tissues with vitamin C; higher doses can cause diarrhea.
  • While echinacea doesn't seem to prevent colds, it may help to shorten the severity and duration of a cold once you get sick. The data are controversial. Look for a product with the species Echinacea purpurea.

Echinacea is not advised for people with autoimmune disease like lupus or those with allergies to ragweed.

  • Elderberry is an herb that may reduce the duration of the flu by a few days. If you try this, we recommend the product Sambucol.
Some data suggest that the herbal combo Andrographis plus Siberian ginseng (sold as the product Kan Jang) can reduce the symptoms and duration of colds and flu.
  • Zinc lozenges taken during the first two days of a cold may shorten its duration. Zinc is toxic, however, if taken in excess or for prolonged periods of time.

Zinc nasal sprays are not recommended - in rare instances, they may lead to permanent loss of sense of smell.

Many herbs and supplements interact with prescription meds, so be sure to talk with your doctor before starting anything over the counter.

And, of course, if you have any persistent or worrisome symptoms, check in with your doctor as well.