Various foods and supplements can help prevent and/or treat colds and flus.
- Honey appears to improve nighttime cough and sleep disruption in children.1 (Note: Do not give honey to infants younger than 12 months.)
- Warm fluids like tea and soup are soothing and help relieve congestion. Tea with honey is especially helpful if you have a sore throat. One small study found that the popular "Throat Coat" brand of medicinal tea actually does reduce sore throat discomfort, as compared to placebo tea.2
- Chicken soup is a popular home remedy for colds. Researchers have developed theories to explain the apparent healing properties of chicken soup. Some believe that steam from the hot soup clears congested noses and throats. Others believe that it may have inherent anti-inflammatory effects, thereby providing symptom relief. Still others say it is purely psychological.
- Vitamin C: Based on research, this popular supplement is probably more effective at mildly reducing symptoms of a cold than preventing you from getting sick in the first place.
- Zinc: Taking zinc supplements might help prevent and treat colds, and potentially flus, too. (Zinc can also be effective in topical form.)
- Probiotics: "Friendly bacteria" have have shown great promise for preventing colds, as well as increasing the effectiveness of flu vaccines.
- L-glutamine (glutamine) has demonstrated strong potential for preventing post-exercise colds in endurance athletes.
Effect of Zinc Supplements on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)
Taking zinc in oral supplement form supports the immune system, which can then be more effective in combating the virus causing your cold or flu, or preventing illness altogether.
Read more about Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza) and Zinc.
Effect of Vitamin C on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)
Vitamin C supports immune function, but the exact effect of vitamin C on colds and flu is not clear. Vitamin C serves numerous functions in the body, from producing collagen to working as an...
Effect of Acidophilus and Other Probiotics on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)
Probiotics are believed to help prevent infections through various mechanisms, including supporting the immune system.
Effect of Glutamine on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)
Glutamine plays a role in the health of the immune system, as well as other bodily functions. Heavy exercise and other stressors can deplete the body's glutamine reserves, particularly in muscle...
- Paul IM, Beiler J, McMonagle A, et al. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161:1149-1153
- Brinckmann J, Sigwart H, van Houten Taylor L. Safety and efficacy of a traditional herbal medicine (Throat Coat) in symptomatic temporary relief of pain in patients with acute pharyngitis: a multicenter, prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2003;9:285-298.
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