This latest bit of health advice comes courtesy of researchers at the Seekers Centre for Integrative Medicine in Ontario, Canada.
To see how well various alternative therapies have been holding up when it comes to preventing the flu and the common cold, the Canadian researchers scanned MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
They searched from January 1966 to September 2009, combining the key words/phrases “common cold” or “influenza” with the words “echinacea,” “garlic,” “ginseng,” “probiotics,” “vitamin C,” and zinc. Clinical trials and prospective studies were included.
Not surprisingly, they found that vitamin C demonstrated the largest benefit for prevention when it came to fighting the flu and colds. They found inconsistent evidence for Asian ginseng (“Panax ginseng”) and North American ginseng (“Panax quinquefolius). Allicin (a compound found in garlic) was highly effective in one small trial. They also noted that, overall, the evidence suggested no benefit from probiotics for prevention or treatment of the common cold.
As for echinacea, the researchers stated that “Echinacea purpurea” was the most consistently useful variety and was effective in fighting cold and flu symptoms in five of six trials. Zinc lozenges were effective in five of nine trials.
The researchers concluded that ginseng and allicin warrant further research. They stated that vitamin C can be recommended to all patients for prevention of the common cold. They also recommended the use of “Echinacea purpurea’ and zinc lozenges for cold and flu treatment.
“Echinacea purpurea,” zinc lozenges, and vitamin C supplements can be found in the natural pharmacy of your local grocery store. Look for recommended dosages on the label.
Boost your nutrition health and vitamin C intake by including fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Also make sure to include foods high in zinc such as oysters and fortified breads and cereals.