Herbs and Vitamins Might Just Cure What Ails You

It doesn't matter how old you are, chances are you'll get a cold this winter. The saying goes, you can't cure the common cold. But research is showing you can reduce your chances of getting one by doing some simple natural things to boost your immune system, like eating garlic and yogurt.

Infection control manager Maureen Spencer reviewed the research on a number of natural approaches to strengthening our ability to fight off harmful bugs.

"Andrographis has been proven by seven randomized clinical trials that this absolutely will alleviate upper respiratory infections," said Maureen. "This is actually based on elderberry herb."

That's found in Sambucol. An Israeli study found that it suppressed the influenza virus.

Maureen also said the herb pelargonium actually reduces the severity of respiratory symptoms. Another ancient Chinese herb, astragalus, will help enhance the immune system.

What about vitamin C and zinc? Some research recommends a high dose of each at the first onset of a cold. The verdict is more mixed on echinacea. One study did show some promise however.

But doctors warn patients to read up on the vitamins and herbal remedies before you take them. Or ask your doctor.

Dr. Paul Bradley with the St. Joseph's/Candler Medical Group also says the best way to prevent colds and the flu is good hygiene. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly, and of course, get your flu shot.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com