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Zinc and Echinacea Get Mixed Reviews for Fighting the Common Cold

Zinc and Echinacea vs. the Common Cold

Nobody wants to get stuck with a cold, so when you hear that you can take something simple and inexpensive to prevent a week's worth of misery, why not jump at it? Echinacea and zinc are much buzzed-about when it comes to preventing or shortening the duration of colds, but do they really work?

When it comes to zinc, hundreds of studies have been conducted, including one in 2000, which found that taking zinc lozenges during a cold produced "modest" benefits. A more recent study published by Stanford Medical School analyzed data from 14 previous studies and reported that the effectiveness of using zinc to treat a cold "has yet to be established." Hmm.

Well, what about echinacea? To find out

Over the summer, a large study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal said that taking echinacea can reduce your risk of catching a cold by 58 percent. This contradicted an earlier study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which said that echinacea didn't help at all. It's tough to determine echinacea's effectiveness, because so many parts of the plant are used to make tinctures, teas, and pills. More research definitely needs to be done to figure out what part of the plant is helpful.

Fit's Tips: The bottom line is that there really is no consistent opinion about whether zinc or echinacea really benefits you when it comes to colds. During this season of sickness, instead of wasting money on things that possibly help, stick to doing things that are proven to work. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get your daily supply of vitamin C (75 mg), and get plenty of rest each night. This will help to keep your immune system strong, so if your body does come in contact with germs, it can fight them off so you don't get sick.

Join The Conversation
elle86 elle86 9 years
What does it do to the liver?
elle86 elle86 9 years
But doesn't Echinacea (however you spell) have negative effects in the long run?
laurini laurini 9 years
I think we're all forgetting the number one tip to avoid colds and flus: WASH YOUR HANDS! :) It's the only proven method.
eroca87 eroca87 9 years
I definitely had positive experiences with echinacea and zinc...i think what is misleading about these "studies" is that (like most natural and alternative remedies) these products aren't really designed to treat symptoms. They won't make you're nose less stuffy in 3 hours or you're throat stop hurting....these things are preventive and made to help your body fight the virus. And Stef, you are definitely right. Echinacea should not be taken for than 10-ish days at a time.
red4bonez red4bonez 9 years
To stay healthy I eat a lot of fruits and veggies. I have echinacea but I always forget to take it. I am bad with taking multivitamins every day. Also i drink a lot herbal tea chamomile or something. I do get sick once in a while and then i just drink little more tea and i am good again =)
BKNYGal BKNYGal 9 years
My son and I take a dose of liquid Vitamin C every morning and I also give him the Cod Liver Oil (orange flavor). We have been good so far (crosses fingers).
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I just take my daily mulit-vitamin. If I go a week without it, I really do feel the differnce. I believe these things DO work.
StefanieO StefanieO 9 years
Echinacea really does a number on your liver, according to all my doctors. It should not be taken for any long period of time, especially if you drink at all.
ElissaM ElissaM 9 years
I regularly take Vitamin C. I buy the chewable tabs and my son and I take one every morning when we are making our lunches. I also totally recommend taking Zinc for first sign of sore throat or cold along with Airborne. I've been using this method for a couple of years and have not had a any full on sickness.
Pixie462 Pixie462 9 years
Echinacea and zink really do work. I work closely with a guy who was really sick last week and I loaded up on echinacea tea and zink lozenges as well as Airborne and I haven't had the slightest sniffle yet. Zink lozenges are good all the time, it's a good thing to pop in your mouth when you crave something sweet and it keeps your immunity up at the same time. I get the kind that are flavored with rice syrup - there's no sugar or dyes used - Love 'em.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I swear by Echinacea.
marley11 marley11 9 years
i am a strong believer in the power of water. Whenever I get that disgusting feeling like i'm getting a cold, i always just drink lots and lots of water and it just flushes it all out of my system. i mean water can't cure disease obviously. but i think it's amazing for so much other every day ways to keep your body healthy.
emalove emalove 9 years
As a teacher, I have more colds than I could count in any given school year...thanks for the tips!
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