Sorry, Mom, Chicken Soup Doesn’t Cure The Common Cold--Neither Do These Remedies
By Kurtis Bright
Some Cures For The Common Cold That Just Don’t Work
Winter has arrived in the northern hemisphere, and as it grows colder, runny noses and coughs are right around the corner--if they haven’t already arrived.
Of course, as educated, modern people, we all know that cold weather doesn’t cause a cold, per se. The rhinovirus is the real culprit, not leaving the house without a hat. It’s a nasty little bugger that thrives at temperatures between 90 and 95 degrees Farenheit, which, happily for the rhinovirus, is the exact temperature range inside your nose.
But as the temperature drops and people spend more time indoors, we have infinitely more opportunities to pass around those various rhinovirus strains, mixing and matching them in our schools, offices, coffee shops and buses.
They’re damn annoying, and since we’ve been fighting these constantly mutating viruses since time immemorial, we’ve developed some creative ways to try to get rid of the bastards.
The sad fact is that the only cure is time. There is some evidence that megadosing zinc (take care if you go this route; zinc can be toxic above 40 mg per day) can reduce the lifespan of a cold and reduce the severity of its symptoms to some degree, but mostly you’ve just got to wait it out.
But as far as a host of other “cures,” you might as well save your money for orange juice and tissues. Science has proven time and again that these remedies simply don’t work.
- Airborne - You may remember this purported miracle-cure used by millions of cold sufferers a few years back, right up until a $33 million lawsuit settlement forced the company to change its labeling from “miracle cold buster” to “helps support the immune system.” Which is true, since it is little more than a multivitamin with a few herbs thrown in for good measure.
- Antibiotics - The antibiotics rush in the 1960s and 1970s led us down the path we walk today, where the once-miracle drugs have been so overprescribed on humans and especially at factory farms that they can’t help us anymore. And anyway, the common cold is a virus, and thus is unaffected by antibiotics.
- Whiskey - Sure, a hot toddy will make you feel better temporarily when you are sick, just as it will make you feel better temporarily if you get fired, if you break up with your significant other, or if your team loses the big game. The thing about drinking when you're sick is that, because alcohol is a toxin, your body expends energy to get rid of it. That energy is then being diverted from helping it to fight off that damn rhinovirus.
- Vitamin C - Despite being relentlessly flogged by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling--who also claimed Vitamin C was a cure for cancer--study after study has disproven the hypothesis that it has any effect on the common cold. And those megadoses are just money you’re pouring down the drain--literally: the latest studies show conclusively that the body can’t process more than 200 mg per day; the rest is just passed in the urine. Any more than that can lead to kidney stones and other ailments.
So curl up with Netflix, and healthy supply of tissues--hell, have bowl of chicken soup if you want. But you’re just going to have to wait for the cold to run its course.