Prevent colds: Vitamin-C offers hardly any help

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Home remedies help the body to fight cold

Even though winter has so far come with moderate temperatures, many people are currently suffering from a cold and cough. During the cold period, many people try to protect themselves from infection with vitamin C (ascorbic acid), but this apparently has significantly less effect than previously thought.

Vitamin C has always been considered a particularly effective weapon against runny nose and cough, but has far fewer cold-preventing effects than is generally attributed to it. This is the conclusion reached by the researchers led by Harri Hemilä from the University of Helsinki when evaluating examinations on more than 11,000 people worldwide for the independent medical network Cochrane Collaboration. Vitamin C can neither prevent nor shorten the runny nose and cough, which is why “it simply does not make sense to take vitamin C 365 days a year just to reduce the risk of a cold,” stressed Harri Hemilä. Instead, home remedies such as a nasal douche with saline or zinc intake should be used instead.

Vitamin C no help for cough and runny nose The first reaction of those affected with signs of a cold is often the preparation of a hot lemon due to the high vitamin C content of the citrus fruits. For the same reason, kiwi, black currants and sea buckthorn are used to treat colds. In addition, many people today take a vitamin tablet, which they take dissolved in water to counter the cough and runny nose. However, according to the Finnish researchers, all of these methods apparently have no effect. Because vitamin C does not keep up with the colds, which most people promise. As an alternative, pharmacies offer numerous means that promise a quick cure. But various home remedies can also be convincing in the treatment of colds and also have a preventive effect against the runny nose and cough.

Nasal irrigation against colds particularly effective Nasal irrigation with saline has proven to be particularly effective against colds. The method, also known as a nasal douche, is an insider tip for numerous doctors to avoid colds. The self-cleaning function of the nasal mucosa is strengthened by the nasal douche. The mucous membranes are kept moist so that possible pathogens can be warded off better. Blocked noses can be largely avoided in this way. While most people find it difficult to run the lukewarm salty water through their noses when they are used for the first time, using the correct temperature of the water and correct concentration of the saline solution is by no means unpleasant. A few years ago, the late doctor at the Hannover Medical School (MHH), Thomas Schmidt, examined the effect of the nasal douche on Bundeswehr recruits and found that nasal irrigation measurably reduced the risk of a cold. As part of the investigation, a group of volunteer Bundeswehr recruits regularly washed their noses over a period of six weeks, while the comparison group did not take cold prevention measures. According to the MHH researcher, most recruits described the nasal douche as a pleasant experience despite initial skepticism, but it was important to use "the right isotonic salt concentration".

Zinc can protect against colds Another effective method of preventing colds, according to the Indian pediatrician Meenu Singh, is to take zinc. As part of a meta-study, the research team led by Meenu Singh analyzed the data from 15 previous studies with more than 1,360 study participants and found clear positive effects of zinc. According to the Indian researchers, the study participants who took zinc-containing lozenges, capsules or juices on the first day of the cold symptoms were able to fight their cold much more effectively than the test subjects in the control groups. According to this, zinc preparations could significantly reduce the severity and duration of a cold, especially if the preparations are taken within the first 24 hours of a cold. The Indian researchers also found that taking zinc supplements also reduces the risk of a cold in the long term. For example, children who took zinc supplements over a period of five months were much less likely to have a cold, were less likely to be absent from school, and needed fewer antibiotics, explained Singh. However, according to the Indian researchers, there are no precise recommendations on the optimal dosage of zinc. These have yet to be determined in further studies, Singh emphasized. The expert recommends, for example, foods such as eggs, oatmeal, lentils, red meat, sunflower seeds and wheat bran to ingest zinc through food.

Many different pathogens can cause colds According to the experts, the difficulties in preventing and effectively treating colds result from the large number of different pathogens that can cause colds, coughs and body aches. Viruses are usually responsible for the symptoms, with over 200 different types of virus such as Rhino, Entero, Corona, Mastadeno and Paramyxo viruses being possible triggers. They affect the mucous membranes in the nasal and pharynx, causing the typical cold symptoms. The viral infection is often accompanied by a bacterial infection, which makes the treatment of the common cold even more difficult. Overall, colds are the most common infectious disease in humans, although there are differences between the individual infections. According to the experts, toddlers suffer from a cold up to ten times a year, while adults do this on average two to three times a year. Fortunately, however, the health effects are usually limited, so that there are usually no more serious impairments.

Healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent colds. A healthy lifestyle with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, physical activity, spending time in the fresh air and occasional saunas is the best protection against colds, according to numerous medical experts. In addition, all measures that strengthen the immune system are recommended. Experts such as the director of the Greifswald University Clinic, Werner Hosemann, advise you to wash your hands regularly in order to avoid transmission of the pathogens. "Washing hands is the most important thing to avoid colds," emphasized the expert. Because this reduces the risk of accidentally rubbing pathogens on the mucous membranes. Most Germans are aware of the fact that increased hygiene during the cold period is essential. A representative survey by the “Apotheken Umschau” came to the conclusion that 64.5 percent of Germans wash their hands particularly often in times of high risk of infection and 25.5 percent of those questioned also use disinfectants. Just under a third of the respondents (31.4 percent) tried to reduce the personal risk of infection by avoiding public transport. The survey also made it clear that more than 50 percent of the study participants assume that infection cannot be avoided during the cold period.

Naturopathic home remedies for colds The various home remedies can significantly reduce the risk of colds and the severity of the disease can also be positively influenced in this way. However, the intake of vitamin C shows significantly less effect than previously thought. The moistening of the mucous membranes is of relatively great importance. Inhalations and steam baths are also promising home remedies for colds. In naturopathy, drinking iodine water is associated with a particularly positive effect when a runny nose develops. A drop of ten percent tincture of iodine is added to a glass of water to regulate the fluid balance of the nasal mucosa. Ingestion of Schüßler salt no. 14, potassium iodatum D6, is also used in naturopathy to treat colds. In addition, numerous other measures based on naturopathy are available, whereby the most suitable should be selected depending on the symptoms of the patient. (fp)

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