Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — The Common Cold

Dear Dr. Walt,

Do any supplements help prevent a cold or the flu?

—Fighting Colds in Colorado

Dear Health Seeker,

For questions like this from my patients, I turn to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

They say that natural medicines that are likely safe and possibly effective for the preventionof the common cold and flu (influenza) include:

  • American ginseng,
  • bifidobacteria, and
  • echinacea (but only for colds).

I don’t recommend supplements to prevent the common cold or flu because the cost is not worth the limited benefit.

And, all of these products can have side effects and interactions with prescription drugs.

However, there are a variety of common sense measures that are inexpensive, safe, and effective ways to prevent colds or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Wash your hands often to help protect you from germs. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, as germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth;
  • Practice other good health habits such as cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Also get plenty of sleep, stay physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
  • Last, but not least, there is no more effective way to prevent influenza than by getting an annual flu vaccination.

Dr. Walt

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2018. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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