Anyone who enjoys being sick, raise your hands!
Everybody hates being sick. For me, the worst part about being sick is not the runny nose or the incessant coughing, but that moment where I first feel the tickle in the back of my throat and think to myself, “There goes the next week.” Basically, on the long list of life’s inconveniences, sickness is near the top.
In addition to being a massive inconvenience, sickness is time-consuming. So time-consuming, in fact, that the economic cost of lost productivity due to the common cold is estimated to be about $25 billion when accounting for workplace absenteeism and other factors (Bramley et al., 2002). Also, what is considered the “common cold” is actually no different from the hundreds of respiratory viruses that cause similar symptoms, so we may never see a comprehensive cure in our lifetimes (Friedman, 2016). Therefore, I am writing this article to propose an effective remedy to the common cold, and hopefully reduce those billions of dollars in lost productivity.
The remedy I am proposing is the heavy consumption of vitamin C. The brand I buy is Emergen-C, which you can find at your local grocery store. While marketed as a dietary supplement that contains essential nutrients for growth and repair, Emergen-C is also an efficient cold remedy because it boosts immune system functioning. The trick is to dump 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C into a glass of water, rapidly drink it all, and then wait about a day or two for symptoms to lessen in their intensity.
Before jumping to any conclusions, it’s important to note that remedying the common cold by consuming large quantities of vitamin C is not supported by research. The idea was initially conceived by the work of Linus Pauling, who won the Nobel Prize in 1970 for his book about cold prevention. Since then, there has been little, if any, conclusive evidence that supports his thesis… or has there?
No, vitamin C definitely does not cure the common cold. It’s not open to debate anymore. Saying that you can kill a cold by drinking a few vitamins would be the same thing as saying that vaccinations cause autism, a myth that has been consistently disproven. However, vitamin C can buffer your immune system to where your cold doesn’t last quite as long.
A quick and successful recovery from a cold via vitamin C consumption is contingent on three factors: the relative strength of your immune system, your age, and the complex interactions vitamin C has with other nutrients that may affect how your immune system responds to the virus.
The first reason that vitamin C has never been elucidated as an acceptable cold remedy is because everyone’s immune system is different. It could be that participants in the studies had weak or poorly functioning immune systems, so the vitamin C had no statistically significant effects on them. Age is an important factor to consider as well because people’s immune systems become weaker as they grow older. Middle-aged or elderly people may not benefit from the effects of vitamin C in the same way that children or adolescents do. Lastly, evidence is inconclusive because until now, researchers have only examined the effects of vitamin C on the immune system and nothing else. It might be the interactions that vitamin C has with other nutrients, and not the vitamin C itself, that are most effective in combating the common cold. Keeping these factors in mind, Emergen-C is perhaps your best bet for a quick recovery in the event that you’re coming down with something.
Because vitamin C hasn’t yet been endorsed by researchers as a cold remedy, I can’t guarantee that it will work for you. If anything, a good night’s sleep goes a much longer way in getting you to recover the fastest. However, I can at least say that, anecdotally, Emergen-C works wonders when you consume it soon after you start feeling sick, and this is again dependent on the strength of your immune system, your age, and your body’s response to the vitamins.
As far as influenza goes, a virus that is about 100 times worse than the common cold, get your annual flu shot. The flu is constantly evolving, and there are countless different strains of Influenzas A, B, and C, so it’s always good to plan for it accordingly. If you are unlucky enough to become infected by the flu anyway, take your recommended dosage of Tamiflu for a chance of cutting the duration of the sickness in half.
So, feeling that tickle in your throat right about now? Then go out, buy Emergen-C, drink up, and be amazed.
Friedman, L. F. (2016, January 26). No cure for the common cold exists – but scientists have a hunch about what might work. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/cure-for-the-cold-2016-1
TJ, B., D, L., & M, S. (2002, September). Productivity losses related to the common cold. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12227674