There are many cold and flu supplements that are pushed on us every winter. Is there any scientific evidence that they work?
Big Supplement makes tons of money pushing pills that have not been shown to be safe and effective in regulated clinical trials.
It’s that time of year when we are bombarded by virus treatments for everything from the flu and colds to COVID-19. The quackery includes things like “immune-boosting” miracle supplements to junk that “cures” every single virus known to medical science.
This article will attempt to debunk the myths of virus treatments such as “boosting the immune system,” magical supplements, and other nonsense involved with the world of flu treatment pseudoscience.
Of course, the best way to prevent the flu or COVID-19 is to get the vaccines. And since these vaccines are free, it’s infinitely cheaper than fake, useless virus treatments.Read More »Virus treatments quackery – what not to take for flu, colds, or COVID-19
You could have predicted that coronavirus prevention quacks would show up on the internet about 4.7 nanoseconds after the disease was found outside of China. Every uptick in reports about the disease causes a doubling in the number of coronavirus prevention pseudoscientific websites.
This article is going to list out some (but certainly not all) of the most quack-filled coronavirus prevention woo that I’ve seen. Since I don’t consciously try to find this junk, I may not catch them all.
There’s one thing you’ll notice – almost all of this nonsense is the exact same thing that the anti-vaccine crowd pushes as “alternatives” to vaccines. And as much as they don’t work for measles, flu, whooping cough, and other diseases, they don’t work for coronavirus. Read More »Coronavirus prevention – quacks are using the anti-vaccine woo cookbook
As we enter the 2019-20 flu season, some choose to receive the seasonal flu vaccine. Of course, some choose to rely upon unproven flu treatments, because they buy into the easily-debunked myths of the anti-vaccine world.
Many of the good people who read this blog understand that the flu is a very dangerous disease. In the USA, the CDC estimates that the flu season every year results in 12 to 56 thousand deaths and 140 to 710 thousand hospitalizations. It is not a trivial disease that can be easily ignored. Let me be frank – your best, and really, the only choice to prevent the flu is getting the seasonal flu vaccine. And, it is the only method to boost your or your children’s immune system against the flu.
I’ve written previously about various supplements and treatments for the common cold, and they mostly don’t work. Or the evidence is so weak that it’s literally a waste of money to use them. Or they’re just useless.
These ineffective treatments exist for one reason – money. Cold and flu treatments are a significant part of the estimated global US$278 billion supplement and nutraceutical industry. And the industry is largely unregulated, so they can make unsupported claims about things like flu treatments, and people buy them based on the pseudoscience and false claims.
Although there’s some overlap between the common cold and flu treatments, there are a large number of flu treatments that get sold over the counter, although one class of drugs are sold by prescription. Are any of them effective? Let’s find out.Read More »Flu treatments and supplements – do they work? No, get the vaccine
It’s that time of year when dozens of common cold treatments are all over the place. On TV advertisements. On displays in your pharmacy. Once again, it’s time to take a look at these lotions and potions to determine which work and which are complete pseudoscientific nonsense.
There are literally a dozen or more homeopathic, herbal, and other unproven concoctions to prevent or treat the common cold, caused by rhinovirus. These common cold treatments are a significant part of the estimated global US$278 billion supplement and nutraceutical industry.
These alternative medicine – so named because there is no scientific evidence supporting their efficacy, let alone safety – products make claims that are so wonderful, many people take them. Then they themselves tell their friends how fast they got rid of their cold. Or that their cold wasn’t as bad after taking the supplement.
Essentially, the whole industry is mostly based on anecdotes, untested claims and the placebo effect. Colds are self-limiting infections, meaning an infection generally lasts some random amount of time, with most people recovering within 7-10 days.
We’re going to review some of the most well-known common cold treatments (there isn’t enough time to review them all), along with what real science says about them in high quality systematic reviews in peer-reviewed, high impact medical journals. This article will review all of the common cold treatments that seem to be out there. Spoiler alert – most don’t work.
One major problem is that the determination of the length and severity of the course of the common cold is entirely subjective. Since the disease is rather mild with few serious complications, it’s hard to determine when it exactly stopped and started, and how bad it was. So, positive results, if they exist, should be treated with a high degree of skepticism.Read More »Common cold treatments – what works, what is just plain nonsense
Updated with more good quotes.
Over this past weekend, a social media protest on Twitter, Facebook, reddit and various blogs created an atmosphere where Chili’s, who was planning to contribute 10% of each guest’s check to an organization whose mission is to support the needs of the autism community, was getting stuck in a tight corner. Although the National Autism Association (NAA) appeared to be a fine charity, helping autistic children in numerous ways, their explicit statement that “Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions,” contradicts the vast mountain of evidence that explicitly and clearly refutes any connection between vaccines, vaccine ingredients, and the number of vaccines with autism.
It’s getting colder outside, and if you go into any pharmacy, grocery store, chemist, or superstore, you will find literally a dozen or more homeopathic, herbal, or other unproven lotions and potions to prevent or treat the common cold, or rhinovirus. These supplements are a significant part of the annual US$108 billion dollar supplement/nutraceutical industry.
These alternative medicine (so named because there is no scientific evidence supporting their efficacy, let alone safety) products make claims that are so wonderful, many people take them. Then they themselves tell their friends how fast they got rid of their cold. Or that their cold wasn’t as bad after taking the supplement.
The problem is that determine the length and severity of the course of the common cold is entirely subjective. Since the disease is rather mild with few serious complications, it’s hard to determine when it exactly stopped and started, and how bad it was. The common cold tends to resolve itself without external help, but there really isn’t much you can do to make your immune system attack that cold faster.
It’s getting close to winter once again, so people always recommend their various lotions and potions to either prevent the common cold or, at least, to reduce the course of the disease. Alternative medicine’s favorite disease to treat is the common cold, mainly because it’s an easy disease to handle without too many serious problems. Also, from the patient’s perspective, the length and seriousness of the cold is usually very subjective, since the patient has a difficult time making an accurate determination when the cold started or ended, and making a quantitative assessment of the seriousness of the disease. Moreover, confirmation bias is usually the reason one hears that something worked for the cold–the person who reports some product works forgets all the times it doesn’t. Or completely misjudges the actual effects of any treatment.
The list of products that you might run across in your local pharmacy that claim to have an effect on the common cold are many. Zinc, oscillococcinum, garlic, and vitamin C. I wrote about these products last winter, and they mostly don’t work. The strangest cold remedy you might find is oscillococcinum, which is a homeopathic preparation derived from duck liver and heart, diluted to 200C, or 200 1:100 dilutions. In other words, in a liter of water there are precisely no molecules of duck guts. And there isn’t any logical explanation of a possible mechanism that would allow one to conclude that duck offal has an effect on cold viruses. Though Oscillococcinum is supposed to be used for flus, many use it for colds, but it doesn’t matter, why would a diluted potion of duck guts cure any virus? Well, Cochrane Reviews concluded that ”current evidence does not support a preventative effect of Oscillococcinum-like homeopathic medicines in influenza and influenza-like syndromes.“Read More »Echinacea and the common cold–Myth vs. Science
It’s cold season, so everyone tries various lotions and potions to either prevent the common cold or, at least, to reduce the course of the disease. Alternative medicine’s favorite disease to treat is the common cold, mainly because it’s an easy disease with not too many consequences. Also, it’s very subjective, since the patient has a difficult time making an accurate determination of the length and severity of the attack. Confirmation bias is usually the reason one hears that something works for the cold. They forget all the times it doesn’t. Or completely misjudge the actual effects of any treatment.Read More »Preventing and treating the common cold