Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Alternative Treatments To Fight a Cold --

Some Herbs, Stress Management Show Promise

While I've been fighting a cold myself, the office has been full of children of every age blowing their noses and raising a cacophony of coughs. So I thought I'd take another look at alternative ways to prevent and treat the common cold.

Recently, I discussed the use of vitamins and minerals to combat colds, but now I want to look at some other interesting options. Some herbs have been studied, as well. A. paniculata (king of berries) is a popular herb used to treat fever, sore throat and respiratory infections.

In two different research studies on children, one working with Russian children and another with Chilean students, both found that those receiving this herb had a shorter duration of cold symptoms. The Chilean study also showed that those who took A. paniculata had a 70 percent reduction in the number of upper respiratory infections than those given a placebo.

I found this very interesting. I think I'll head to the store tomorrow to buy this herb, which I'd never heard of! It certainly can't hurt and I can just add it to all of the other stuff I'm taking for my own cold!

And what about probiotics, dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeast? Probiotics are being used in formulas and foods to help prevent gastrointestinal issues, as well as in the treatment of post viral gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea). Could they be used to prevent or treat the common cold?

A Finnish study showed no difference in the symptoms of respiratory infection among those using probiotics compared to test subjects taking a placebo. Another study from Israel also showed that consuming probiotics had no effect on the duration or frequency of respiratory illnesses.

Honey has received a lot of notoriety lately and is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects in general. Several years ago, a study with parent support reported that honey was better for a nighttime cough than cough syrup containing dextromethorphan. Buckwheat honey is considered safe for use to control cough in children who over 1 year of age.

The most interesting report I found was out of Australia. This study looked at the effectiveness of mind-body therapies in combating cold symptoms. Some children participating in the study received stress management to deal with generalized anxiety and to promote self-esteem. Another group received guided imagery and relaxation therapy. The children who received either of these therapies had a shorter duration of upper respiratory symptoms than the control groups.

I know there's much more data to come, but in the meantime it looks like another herb and a nap may help more than my current vitamin/herbal regimen. It certainly can't hurt. I'm also going to get a flu shot in hopes of keeping that virus at bay all winter long!

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show.


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Health - Alternative Treatments To Fight a Cold