HealthNotes

HealthNotes

Healthnotes offers comprehensive, science-based health and lifestyle information. Written with you in mind, Healthnotes answers the most commonly asked questions with credible, easy-to-understand information — edited by physicians who review over 550 scientific and medical journals to keep content current, factual, and balanced.

Common Cold/Sore Throat

Also indexed as:Sore Throat & Colds, Cold and Sore Throat
Coughing. Aching Sneezing. Take a few simple actions to knock out the annoying common cold. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
SupplementAmountWhy
Andrographis
100 mg of a standardized extract two times per day 3 stars[3 stars]
Andrographis contains bitter constituents that are believed to have immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory actions.
Vitamin C
1 to 4 grams daily3 stars[3 stars]
Studies have shown that taking vitamin C may make your cold shorter and less severe.
Zinc Lozenges
Use 13 to 25 mg as gluconate, gluconate-glycine, or acetate in lozenges every two hours3 stars[3 stars]
Zinc lozenges used at the first sign of a cold have been shown to help stop the virus and shorten the illness.
American Ginseng
400 mg per day of a freeze-dried extract2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind study, supplementing with American ginseng significantly reduced the number of colds that people experienced over a four-month period.
Garlic
Follow label instructions to take a product containing stabilized allicin2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, taking garlic during the winter months reduced the occurrence and duration of colds.
Geranium
Take a product containing stabilized allicin and follow label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Geranium is an herbal remedy used in Germany, Mexico, Russia, and other countries in the treatment of respiratory tract and ear, nose, and throat infections.
Probiotics
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
A double-blind trial showed that daily supplementation with with a probiotic may decrease the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in children.
Throat Coat Tea (Marshmallow Root, Licorice Root, and Elm Bark)
5 to 8 ounces of tea, four to six times per day, for two to seven days2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, Throat Coat tea was effective in providing rapid, temporary relief of sore throat pain in people with acute pharyngitis.
Vitamin D
300 IU per day for three months in winter2 stars[2 stars]
Research suggests that supplementing with vitamin D may prevent upper respiratory tract infections in people who are deficient in the vitamin, but not in those who have normal vitamin D status.
Zinc Oral
For prevention: 15 mg daily; for treating colds: 30 mg daily at the onset2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, oral zinc supplementation significantly reduced both the incidence and duration of the common cold.
Asian Ginseng
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Adaptogens such as Asian ginseng are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally.
Astragalus
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Adaptogens such as astragalus are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally.
Blackberry
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Blackberry leaves contain astringent tannins that are helpful for soothing sore throats.
Blueberry
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Blueberry leaves contain astringent tannins that are helpful for soothing sore throats.
Boneset
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Boneset is an immune stimulant and diaphoretic that helps fight off minor viral infections, such as the common cold.
Chinese Artichoke
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners use Chinese artichoke for colds and flu.
Elderberry
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Elderberry has shown antiviral activity and may benefit some people with common colds. Elder flowers are a traditional remedy for helping to break fevers and promote sweating during a cold.
Eleuthero
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Adaptogens such as eleuthero are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally.
Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil1 star[1 star]
Eucalyptus oil is often used in a steam inhalation to help clear nasal and sinus congestion.
Goldenseal
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Goldenseal root has antimicrobial and mild immune-stimulating effects. It soothes irritated mucous membranes in the throat, making it potentially useful for sore throats.
Goldthread
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Goldthread contains berberine, an alkaloid with antimicrobial and mild immune-stimulating effects.
Horseradish
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Horseradish has antibiotic properties, which may account for its usefulness in easing throat and upper respiratory tract infections.
Hyssop
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Hyssop may promote a healthy fever and the immune system’s ability to fight infections.
Linden
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Linden may promote a healthy fever and the immune system’s ability to fight infections.
Mallow
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Herbs high in mucilage, such as malvia, are often helpful for relief of coughs and irritated throats.
Marshmallow
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Herbs high in mucilage, such as marshmallow, are often helpful for relief of coughs and irritated throats.
Meadowsweet
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Meadowsweet is reputed to break fevers and to promote sweating during a cold or flu. It also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect and a pain-relieving effect.
Mullein
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Mullein has soothing and mucus-expelling properties, which accounts for its historical use as a remedy for irritating coughs with bronchial congestion.
Myrrh
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
The resin of the herb myrrh has been shown to kill various microbes and to stimulate macrophages (a type of white blood cell).
Peppermint
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Peppermint, a source of small amounts of menthol, is believed to work by acting on receptors in the nasal mucous membranes, leading to a reduction of nasal stuffiness.
Red Raspberry
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Red raspberry leaves contain astringent tannins that are helpful for soothing sore throats.
Sage
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Sage tea may be gargled to soothe a sore throat.
Schisandra
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Adaptogens such as schisandra are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally.
Sea Buckthorn
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Sea buckthorn has been shown in animal studies to have immune system-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties, though a clinical trial did not find benefit.
Slippery Elm
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Herbs high in mucilage, such as slippery elm, are often helpful for relief of coughs and irritated throats.
Usnea
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Usnea has a traditional reputation as an antiseptic and is sometimes used for people with common colds.
Wild Indigo
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Wild indigo appears to stimulate immune function and is considered a strong antimicrobial agent. In tinctures with echinacea, boneset, white cedar, and homeopathic arnica, it also has prevented and reduced colds.
Wood Betony
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use Chinese artichoke, a species similar to wood betony, for colds and flu.
Yarrow
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Yarrow is a diaphoretic herb that has been used for relief of sore throats.
Zinc Nasal Spray

Not recommended due to a potenially serious side effect

Zinc nasal sprays appear to be effective at shortening the duration of cold symptoms, however, some people have experienced long-lasting or permanent loss of smell after using the spray.
  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

Copyright © 2014 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Aisle7.com

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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