Zinc pills, garlic capsules … there are many home remedies to deal with colds, but is there any scientific evidence that they really work?
You have little universal experience until you suffer from cold. And even though there are about 200 different viruses that cause it, there seem to be a lot of choice to fight it.
But is there any of these?
Behind all house remedies is the idea of helping to strengthen the immune system.
When a virus enters our body, it is confronted with two defenses: the innate immune system that is trying to get rid of innate cells, and the adaptive system that targets the specific pathogens that the body has previously contacted and against. if they return, they produce immunity by producing cells that can fight.
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That's why we tend to suffer from chickenpox only once, while the common cold that changes its appearance from one person to the other is confusing our memory cells – something that tens of people can experience. times
It is well known that both lifestyle and diet affect the power of our immune system.
However, because our immune system is limited to our lack of vitamins or minerals, we will supplement our diet with foods that are thought to be effective against the flu if we take a relatively good diet, according to Charles Bangham, the College of Communicable Diseases of the Imperial College of London.
"If you have a vital nutrient deficiency just like vitamins, zinc or iron, it will be very helpful to get an addition for this particular element, but if you have a balanced diet, adding more of these things is more efficient than your Immune system," he says.
However, some studies investigating the remedies for the common cold have found that they can make a difference.
The majority of this research focuses on nutritional supplements rather than on food: in fact, there is no reliable study of whether a popular remedy such as chicken soup really makes a difference.
However, it is an additional popular home medicine that may help: garlic.
In a small study, 146 healthy adults took placebo or daily garlic supplements for 12 weeks in winter.
The placebo group struggled with 65 colds that resulted in a 366 day sick leave, while only 24 days of colds took place for garlic crops and a total of 111 days of sick leave.
Vitamin C is another supplement that many people return to when they feel cold symptoms. Some research suggests that it may be as useful as it might be.
An analysis of 29 trials on vitamin C supplementation did not demonstrate that they serve to significantly reduce the risk of colds or symptoms.
However, it was found that the duration of colds decreased by 14% in adults and 8% in adults. Researchers, because they are low-risk supplements, were worth trying.
Orange juice can be less useful: There is no strong evidence to help prevent colds, alleviate or shorten your symptoms.
This is because, according to Harri Hemilä, a researcher on public health issues at the University of Helsinki, it does not contain high enough vitamin C to have the same effect as daily supplements. C vitamin
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a small bottle of fresh juice made from orange juice contains about 72 mg of vitamin C. This is more than the recommended minimum daily dose, but much less than many supplements contain.
Then there's zinc. An analysis of the effectiveness of zinc pills in coping with daily colds revealed that sneezing and dropping patients had a 22% reduction in sneezing and cough reduction as well as a 3% reduction. half.
When the study began to use within 24 hours of the first symptoms appearing, the daily colds concluded that 80 milligrams zinc could help treat colds.
However, Hemilä believes that it is more appropriate to examine the full recovery of a cold than to measure the duration of symptoms. His work on 199 common cold patients found that the daily dose of zinc recovered three times faster.
Scientists often say that it is better to obtain vitamins and minerals by food rather than supplement them, but it is often easier to obtain higher doses with supplements in the case of vitamin C. .
But in case of zinc, it works better upside down. To be effective against cold, zinc should be consumed in pills and should not be used in tablets or foods that are rich in minerals, Hemilä.
"Zinc pills slowly dissolve in the throat area and the zinc effect is local. We do not know what the biochemical mechanism of this effect is, but studies show that there are pills when zinc pills are effective.
Most of the time, a complication is that the investigators have not investigated whether there are deficiencies in something such as vitamin C or zinc before starting treatment.
For this reason, any benefit to the cold can be caused by the fact that by taking the supplement, some participants can correct a point instead of a supplement that makes a difference in healthy people.
Another difficulty is the strength of the placeboos. Of course, as many studies, such as garlic supplements, have a control group receiving a placebo, it is known that the effect obtained is not only due to the placebo effect.
However, if we swear to us that there is no scientific evidence, such as chicken soup or orange juice, or that it is limited, it would really improve us, which may be due to the placebo effect.
Studies have shown that placebo is an effective way to alleviate many symptoms, from pain to irritable bowel syndrome, although the reasons for this have not yet been fully understood. In the case of vitamin C or chicken soup, the placebo effect can help us overcome the cold.
One study found that people who believed in the so-called cold fighting characteristics of the echinacea medicinal plant live with less serious and shorter periods of time when taking the daily doses than those who did not believe in the disease.
Previous studies, however, did not find any improvement in the symptoms of the cold, as participants did not know that they received doses of this plant.
It also works in the opposite direction. For a long time the milk was believed to worsen the production of milk when we cooled down, but it turned out to be wrong. However, in one study, it was found that people who believed that milk was the cause of mucus reported to have more respiratory problems after taking it.
Placebo effect comes from our daily lives, while the placebo effect is usually administered by physicians during clinical trials, Felicity Bishop from Southampton University Health Psychology associate professors.
. Research shows that the power of placebo comes from the trust relationship between patients and health professionals, showing that they can offer special care and confidence with treatments, "he says. ”And this is what kind of relationship that is important, not who it is, but what the parents are doing when they are young.“
According to Bishop, a placebo effect, such as a trustworthy friend and family, can be strengthened by the marketing of foods.
The good news is, knowing that some drugs are placebo, they won't prevent them from reducing our symptoms.
Or Even if a doctor tells a patient that something is happening, it is a placebo, but it helps some people to use it, which makes the person feel better, “he says.
Another effect can be the comfort caused by such foods. Dietician Sarah Schenker, for example, says it might be a little better for someone who has a cold.
How much vitamin C we consume, the chances of getting rid of the cold in the winter are highly dependent on each person, not on how much we believe in placebo, but also on our genes.
"Genetics makes some people particularly vulnerable to certain diseases. It is much more important to realize that we are different from each other: Some people do not notice it when they perceive cold, while others have severe symptoms. For genes that have a much greater impact."
For most people with a healthy immune system, we can do much more than to depend on the power of placebo to overcome winter viruses … However, it may also be helpful to take some zinc or garlic supplements.
You can read the original version of this note as follows. English.