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Ginseng for Gesundheit? Latest Study on Colds

Benefits Reported in Study Funded by Ginseng Maker; Results Debated

Lingering Questions continued...

Colds and flu aren't the same. Both can feel miserable, but the flu actually sends thousands of people to the hospital and can even be fatal (the young, old, and ill are most vulnerable). Also, there are vaccines for the flu but not the common cold.

None of the study's participants had had a flu vaccine. That makes it tough to tell if the results would apply to people who were immunized against the flu, notes editorialist Ronald Turner, MD.

Turner didn't work on the ginseng study. He's on staff at the University of Virginia's pediatrics department.

The study also didn't probe how ginseng might fight colds, Turner points out. He calls for more studies to see if ginseng really counters the common cold.

Preventing, Coping With Colds

Expect researchers to kick this topic back and forth. Meanwhile, here are some tips from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on avoiding the common cold:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid being close to people with colds.
  • Try not to touch your eyes or nose. Your hands may have picked up cold germs.
  • Know that cold germs can settle on surfaces such as telephones, stair rails, and door handles.

Already sniffling and sneezing? Rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids, the NIAID recommends. Those low-tech solutions may have to do until a certain cure is found.

Over-the-counter remedies may ease symptoms, but they won't necessarily prevent or shorten colds, and some may cause drowsiness, insomnia, or upset stomachs, notes the NIAID.

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