Scientists Find Natural Help for Treating Colds

Monday, December 15, 2008 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: winter colds, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) 'Tis the season to be jolly -- and also the time of year many of us come down with the sniffles and sneezes, body aches, coughs and other miseries of the common cold. Rest, plenty of liquids, vitamin C, other vitamins and herbs like Echinacea may help. And now new research provides evidence some additional self-help measures can effectively fight the effects of a cold.

It may seem too simple to be true but hot drinks could tackle cold symptoms. That's the conclusion of research conducted by British scientists at Cardiff University`s Common Cold Center, the world`s only center dedicated to researching and testing new medicines for treatment of the symptoms of flu and the common cold. The study, just published in the December 2008 edition of the clinical journal Rhinology,compared the effects of a commercially available apple and blackcurrant drink served either hot or at room temperature to 30 research subjects suffering from common cold symptoms. Remarkably, just drinking the fruit cordial hot was shown to provide immediate and, what's most important, sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness.

"It is surprising that this is the first scientific research on the benefit of a hot drink for treating cold and flu symptoms," the center's director, professor Ron Eccles, said in a statement to the media. "With temperatures falling and Christmas just round the corner, cold viruses love this time of year. Having a bottle of fruit cordial in the cupboard and making a hot drink could help fight off the symptoms of cold and flu. The big advantage of this type of treatment is that it is cheap as well as safe and effective."

Another common sense way to help your cold symptoms: if you wear contact lenses and you feel a cold or the flu coming on, take immediate action and you can reduce cold-related eye redness and eye irritation. "Colds and flu create symptoms of dry eyes or irritation with or without lens wear, and contacts may aggravate the symptoms, especially soft lenses which will lose more of their water than normal and may not rehydrate fast enough," University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) professor of optometry William Benjamin, O.D., Ph.D., stated in a media release. He advises taking out your contact lenses or, if you have extended-wear lenses, opt for daily contact lenses when you start feeling cold symptoms and remove them earlier in the evening to reduce redness and irritation.

Dr. Benjamin recommends checking your eyes for changes during the winter season. "You can sometimes tell you`re about to come down with a cold or the flu when your eye-redness and end-of-the-day eye irritation are more than usual. Then you`ll know to start taking your contacts out earlier in the evening – ultimately leaving them out all day when a cold or flu strikes. Keep a spare pair of glasses handy just in case, so you`re not totally dependent on your contacts," he explained in the media statement.

The common cold can be an aggravation to the healthiest person but, for anyone fighting cancer, colds can be a serious health problem due to the burden of a weakened immune system. However, a ginseng extract sold in Canada, where it is the number one pharmacist recommended cold and flu fighting aid, could give cancer patients a needed boost during cold season.

Previous clinical trials in Canada showed 400 milligrams of the ginseng preparation used daily reduced the frequency, severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms by boosting the immune system. Now the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring a landmark trial to evaluate whether this specific herbal cold remedy – sold in Canada as COLD-FX® – can help those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) when cold and flu season strikes. The trial is being coordinated by cancer and infectious diseases experts at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial will involve more than 300 patients recruited from more than 1,500 cancer research sites across the United States.

In a Wake Forest media release (, principle investigator Kevin High, M.D., explained CLL is a common and chronic condition that primarily afflicts older adults, those age 60 and over. "The risk of respiratory infections is greatly enhanced in CLL patients because of immune dysfunction that accompanies the disease and is worsened by current treatments...Our hypothesis – that COLD-FX could reduce infections by enhancing immune function in CLL patients – is supported by previous research," stated Dr. High, Chief of Infectious Diseases, Professor of Medicine and Director of the General Clinical Research Center at Wake Forest University's School of Medicine.

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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