Herbs & Natural Remedies:
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.), vitamin C, zinc and vegetable soup.
Echinacea: tincture. Vitamin C: tablets. Zinc: lozenges. Vegetable soup: by the bowl.
How it Works:
All of these treatments boost the immune system’s ability to fight cold viruses. University of Wisconsin researchers reviewed nine echinacea studies. Six showed significant benefit and two suggested benefit. A Finnish review of twenty-one vitamin C studies showed an average symptom-reduction score of 23 percent. Several studies show that zinc lozenges speed recovery from colds. Vegetable soup is soothing, and vegetables have phytochemicals with immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory actions.
Echinacea: 1 to 3 teaspoons of tincture in juice or tea three times daily. Vitamin C: 500 mg four times daily, total 2,000 mg. Zinc: 23 mg of zinc gluconate or zinc aspartate every 2 hours in lozenges. Vegetable soup: whenever you’re hungry.
Echinacea causes tongue tingling or numbing, but this is temporary and harmless. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea. Some people find the taste of zinc lozenges unpleasant.
Rest helps the body focus on self-healing. Hot fluids soothe the throat, provide some decongestion and impede viral replication—cold viruses don’t reproduce as well at temperatures above normal body temperature.
San Francisco health writer Michael Castleman is the author of 11 consumer health books. Visit