"The quick rule of thumb is if you can buy it without showing an ID, don't bother.It's not going to work," said Ally Dering-Anderson, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.Vitamin C Vitamin C in mega-doses comes brightly packaged as Emergen-C and Airborne, but there's no concrete evidence that large doses of C can reduce the duration or severity of colds or the flu.You'll have to ask for it at the pharmacy counter—in 2005, the FDA put limits on how much an individual can purchase because pseudoephedrine is commonly used to make methamphetamine.That said, the drug is safe for most people and among the most effective cold remedies available.The average American gets three colds a year, each lasting for nine to 14 miserable days, so it's no surprise that we spend billions of dollars on over-the-counter cold and flu remedies annually. Some evidence suggests that zinc lozenges (like Zicam and Cold-Eeze) may ease symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold, but most studies are small and don't provide "robust" evidence of benefit, said Joy P. D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville. And there may be a drawback to some forms of zinc: In 2009, taking zinc nasal products was linked to a permanent loss of taste and smell in some people.Turns out that by and large, we're wasting our money. The FDA has warned consumers not to use three zinc-based nasal products, but that warning doesn't extend to oral products, like zinc tablets or lozenges.Those with high blood pressure should stick to spray-based decongestants such as Afrin 12 Hour.
Evidence suggests that few remedies—herbal, over-the-counter, or homeopathic—are likely to influence the course of a cold or the flu. Health.com: 10 Ways to Soothe a Sore Throat Echinacea Studies on whether the herb echinacea reduces the duration of the common cold are a mixed bag.So much depends on the treatment's preparation—juice, root-and-herb or tincture—which can vary widely.