If you’ve ever had a cold, known someone who’s had a cold, or walked down the cold remedy aisle at the pharmacy on your way to the contraceptives, chances are you’ve seen them. Pills, powders and potions, all claiming to treat cold and flu symptoms by helping your body help itself.
“Immune boosting” remedies, like vitamin pills and herbal supplements, purport to provide a jolt of extra juice to your immune system, like Robin showing up to help Batman kick some retroviral ass. The only problem? Just like the brightly-costumed Boy Wonder, this immune boosting effect is kind of fictional. It turns our that, with the exception of vaccination, there isn’t actually any known way to make the immune system function more efficiently.
Skeptic North’s Erik Davis looked at the evidence for some of the most popular cold remedies in a recent post, and the results aren’t great. “[S]imply put, there is no known way to boost one’s immune system other than vaccination.”
None. Nada. Not a one.
It turns out the best strategy for treating a cold is not to get one in the first place. And if you do succumb to a seasonal bug, your best bet is rest, fluids, and not spending money on a dubious medicinal sidekick.
This post had special resonance for me, because I’m currently sick. I’m going back to bed now.