Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nutrition science and the common Cold

Time to go back to some basics and take a few supplements when the next cold (flu) comes around. Here is the latest update from the Cochrane review.

In a major study of 13 therapeutic trials and two preventative trials with almost 1400 participants Zinc supplements significantly reduced the severity of cold symptoms, as well as the length of illness (Singh and Das, 2010). They reported a significant difference between the zinc and control group for the proportion of participants symptomatic after seven days of treatment . The authors concluded that zinc administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people. When supplemented for at least five months, it reduces cold incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics in children. One of the actions of zinc is to inhibit rhinoviral replication and has been tested in trials for treatment of the common cold.

In a review of studies on Vitamin C (Hemilä 2007) the researchers found it useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise. In five trials with participants exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (including marathon runners and skiers) vitamin C halved the common cold risk.

In a review of 16 controlled clinical trials (Linde et al 2006) investigating the effectiveness of Echinacea preparations (a herb) for preventing and treating common colds, the researchers found taking Echinacea preparations after the onset of cold symptoms shortens the duration or decreases the severity of symptoms when compared with a placebo.

In summary when you get the flu take Zinc, Echinacea and if you are exercising take vitamin C. That is what the science shows so forget the flu vaccine with its very questionable benefits, high cost and serious side effects. Last year in the UK they spent more than 2 billion pound on the swine flu without a single reduction in symptoms or disease.
It should also be mentioned that vitamin C and zinc work hand in hand for lots of other things in the body including healthy skin and arteries. They have lots of positive side effects.

Hemilä H, Chalker E, Douglas B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD000980. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub3. Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group.

Linde K, Barrett B, Bauer R, Melchart D, Woelkart K. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000530. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub2. : Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group

Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3. Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group.


  1. Great Article Dr Dingle,

    Do you happen to have the article for the swine flu facts?

    Thanks in advance


  2. So the flu is nothing but the common cold?