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Is there a cure for the common cold?

Posted by Marc Siegel on Dec 24, 2012 7:53:00 AM

They say that seasons change and people change, but one thing that doesn't change is the fact that the common cold is a rampant virus that affects over 1 billion people a year. The debate whether the common cold is curable has been ongoing with two very conflicting sides. On one side there are people that believe that there is nothing that you can do to alleviate or cure the common cold. The other side is those that believe you can alleviate and cure the common cold with both pharmaceutical and homeopathic methods. Cold medicineIn this week’s blog I will take neither side, but present to you some strong arguments for both sides.

Side 1

Dr. Owen Hendley, a pediatrician and professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Virginia School of medicine, has studied this topic for nearly 40 years. In his opinion there is no evidence that shows that there is a cure for the common cold. He feels that the effectiveness of products out there such as Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc-based products for curing colds are fallacy. He even speaks in regards to the popular product Zicam which was recalled based on reports that users lost their sense of smell, in some cases permanently. Lastly, to quote Dr. Hendley, “the best way to interrupt the transmission of the rhinovirus is to simply wash your hands."

Now let's take a look at the other side – those that believe that the cold can be lessened and/or alleviated through medicine.

Side 2

Dr. Kenneth Pelletier is a clinical professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Arizona School of Medicine and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California School of Medicine San Francisco.  He feels that some herbal medicines and organic products like Echinacea, Ginger, and Mushrooms help with the duration of the cold, yet don't necessarily stop the cold.

The British Medical Journal has studies that show that supplementation with early and high dosages of Echinacea have shown evidence of shortening the duration of a cold. Their research points to the fact that Echinacea acts like a mild antibiotic which elevates the white blood cell count temporarily, which in turn helps fight the infection.

Chicken Soup

One of the most interesting things I uncovered while writing this blog is that chicken soup is possibly effective in relieving cold and flu symptoms in two ways. The Mayo Clinic states “First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body's inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.”1

Who is right? Who knows? I say just take care of yourself and focus on prevention, rather than worrying about curing a possibly incurable situation. What do you think, can you cure a common cold?

References:
1Mayo Clinic Staff. "Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, What Can't Hurt." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 07 June 2012. Web.

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Topics: health and fitness, health, recovery, myth or fact

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