Uncommon Cold Remedies

November 19, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

The common cold is back with a vengeance this year, at least in my neck of the woods. And, while “it” never really goes away, the common cold certainly becomes more prevalent during the winter months and is as dependable as clockwork or rush hour traffic. Researchers are continually on the lookout for natural and safe ways of managing and preventing symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections (URIs). As a result, each year there are more and more holistic and integrative options to consider if you hope to avoid the seemingly inevitable coughing, runny nose and sneezing that comes with the season.

In recent months, five natural remedies have demonstrated efficacy and safety in protecting against URIs and/or minimizing symptoms relating to such viral infections. 1) Echinaforce, a standardized Echinacea purpurea extract, reduced “the total number of cold episodes” and the need for medication in a recent, 4 month placebo-controlled trial conducted at Cardiff University, UK. 2) Immun Age, a fermented papaya extract, also showed potential in lowering viral susceptibility by supporting immune function (lysozyme production and secretary IgA) and antioxidant expression in the respiratory tract of 90 study volunteers. 3) Kyolic, a popular aged garlic extract, increased the number of infection fighting cells (Natural Killer and T cells) and decreased the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms in a double-blind trial involving 120 men and women. 4) Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, two healthy strains of bacteria or probiotics, lowered the incidence of cough, fever and school absence in children who were supplemented with the probiotics instead of a placebo over a 3 month period of time. 5) Finally, if a cold does set in, consuming 10 grams nightly of various types of honey (citrus, eucalyptus or labiatae) provides symptomatic relief of “children’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to URI”. Prevention is always best, but safe remedies that can help you ride out a common cold are always welcome news as well.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Safety and Efficacy Profile of E. Purpurea to Prevent Common Cold (link)

Study 2 - Is There a Potential Application of a Fermented Nutraceutical in Acute (link)

Study 3 - Supplementation w/ Aged Garlic Extract Improves Both NK and γδ-T Cell(link)

Study 4 - Randomized Controlled Trial of Probiotics to Reduce Common Cold (link)

Study 5 - Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality: A Double-Blind … (link)

Honey Reduces Cough Symptoms and Improves Sleep Quality

Source: Pediatrics. 2012 Sep;130(3):465-71. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements

7 Comments & Updates to “Uncommon Cold Remedies”

  1. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    My favorite is “Stoss Therapy”, 1,000iu of vit D3 for each pound of body weight. Start at 1st sign of sore throat. I’m usually cured after 1 dose (over 200,000iu).

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks for that, Iggy. I’m aware of Stoss Therapy but failed to find any study of it in relation to UPIs. Of late, lower-dose Vitamin D interventions have yielded mixed results:




    Be well!


  3. JP Says:


    I should add that when a cold does come knocking at my door, I do increase my Vitamin D intake – usually to about 12,000 IUs/day for about a week or so.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Update: Pycnogenol may shorten the duration and severity of the common cold …


    Panminerva Med. 2014 Dec;56(4):301-8.

    Improvement of common cold with Pycnogenol®: a Winter registry study.

    AIM: This registry study aimed to evaluate the use of Pycnogenol® (pine bark extract), an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-edema natural compound, on symptoms of common cold. Main targets were the evaluation in otherwise healthy subjects of signs/symptoms, the reduction in days of disease, and the prevention of complications.

    METHODS: All subjects used the “best management” for colds and one group added Pycnogenol® capsules (50 mg, bid/die) from day zero. The resulting registry groups were comparable. A total of 70 subjects used Pycnogenol® and 76 acted as controls.

    RESULTS: The number of days with a perceived cold affecting the patients was reduced in the supplement group (3.1;0.4 days) in comparison with controls (4.2;0.2). Lost working days were significantly decreased in the supplement group (0.55;0.3 versus 0.67;0.3 in controls). The need to use any other compound (on demand basis; OTC products) to manage symptoms and the occurrence of any clinically significant complications were significantly lower in the Pycnogenol® group. The most frequent complications were the extension of the cold to a period longer than 4 days, a tracheal extension and a bronchial involvement. Pycnogenol® was significantly effective in reducing the number of complications. The daily evolution of the “pillar cold signs” indicates a significantly faster resolution in the supplement group. With supplementation the decrease in symptom scores appears to be significantly more important. Pycnogenol® supplementation appears to make regression faster for all symptoms in comparison with controls.

    CONCLUSION: In this pilot registry, Pycnogenol® appears to decrease symptoms of cold and shorten its course also preventing some complications.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Update: It may not be uncommon, but echinacea is still worth considering …


    Adv Ther. 2015 Mar 18.

    Echinacea Reduces the Risk of Recurrent Respiratory Tract Infections and Complications: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

    INTRODUCTION: Respiratory tract infections are common, and these infections occur frequently in children, susceptible adults, and older persons. The risk for recurrences and complications relates not only to the presence of viruses but also to immune function. Therefore, modulation of the immune system and antiviral interventions such as echinacea might reduce the risk of recurrences and possibly the development of complications.

    METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CAplus, BIOSIS, CABA, AGRICOLA, TOXCENTER, SCISEARCH, NAHL, and NAPRALERT were searched for clinical trials that studied recurrent respiratory infections and complications on treatment with echinacea extracts in a generally healthy population. Two independent reviewers selected randomized, placebo-controlled studies of high methodological quality and a Jadad score of ≥4. Relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated according to a fixed effect model.

    RESULTS: Six clinical studies with a total of 2458 participants were included in the meta-analysis. Use of echinacea extracts was associated with reduced risk of recurrent respiratory infections (RR 0.649, 95% CI 0.545-0.774; P < 0.0001). Ethanolic extracts from echinacea appeared to provide superior effects over pressed juices, and increased dosing during acute episodes further enhanced these effects. Three independent studies found that in individuals with higher susceptibility, stress or a state of immunological weakness, echinacea halved the risk of recurrent respiratory infections (RR 0.501, 95% CI 0.380-0.661; P < 0.0001). Similar preventive effects were observed with virologically confirmed recurrent infections (RR 0.420, 95% CI 0.222-0.796; P = 0.005). Complications including pneumonia, otitis media/externa, and tonsillitis/pharyngitis were also less frequent with echinacea treatment (RR 0.503, 95% CI 0.384-0.658; P < 0.0001).

    CONCLUSION: Evidence indicates that echinacea potently lowers the risk of recurrent respiratory infections and complications thereof. Immune modulatory, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects might contribute to the observed clinical benefits, which appear strongest in susceptible individuals.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Update: The health benefits of hugging …


    Psychol Sci. 2015 Feb;26(2):135-47.

    Does hugging provide stress-buffering social support? A study of susceptibility to upper respiratory infection and illness.

    Perceived social support has been hypothesized to protect against the pathogenic effects of stress. How such protection might be conferred, however, is not well understood. Using a sample of 404 healthy adults, we examined the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buffering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease. Perceived support was assessed by questionnaire, and daily interpersonal conflict and receipt of hugs were assessed by telephone interviews on 14 consecutive evenings. Subsequently, participants were exposed to a virus that causes a common cold and were monitored in quarantine to assess infection and illness signs. Perceived support protected against the rise in infection risk associated with increasing frequency of conflict. A similar stress-buffering effect emerged for hugging, which explained 32% of the attenuating effect of support. Among infected participants, greater perceived support and more-frequent hugs each predicted less-severe illness signs. These data suggest that hugging may effectively convey social support.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Update 04/21/15:


    BMC Fam Pract. 2015 Feb 25;16(1):24.

    The effectiveness of high dose zinc acetate lozenges on various common cold symptoms: a meta-analysis.

    BACKGROUND: A previous meta-analysis found that high dose zinc acetate lozenges reduced the duration of common colds by 42%, whereas low zinc doses had no effect. Lozenges are dissolved in the pharyngeal region, thus there might be some difference in the effect of zinc lozenges on the duration of respiratory symptoms in the pharyngeal region compared with the nasal region. The objective of this study was to determine whether zinc acetate lozenges have different effects on the duration of common cold symptoms originating from different anatomical regions.

    METHODS: We analyzed three randomized trials on zinc acetate lozenges for the common cold administering zinc in doses of 80-92 mg/day. All three trials reported the effect of zinc on seven respiratory symptoms, and three systemic symptoms. We pooled the effects of zinc lozenges for each symptom and calculated point estimates and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).

    RESULTS: Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (-1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (-10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever.

    CONCLUSIONS: The effect of zinc acetate lozenges on cold symptoms may be associated with the local availability of zinc from the lozenges, with the levels being highest in the pharyngeal region. However our findings indicate that the effects of zinc ions are not limited to the pharyngeal region. There is no indication that the effect of zinc lozenges on nasal symptoms is less than the effect on the symptoms of the pharyngeal region, which is more exposed to released zinc ions. Given that the adverse effects of zinc in the three trials were minor, zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80 mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, started within 24 hours, for a time period of less than two weeks.

    Be well!


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