TAKING vitamin C supplements to ward off colds is a waste of money, Canadian researchers claim.
Other remedies such as echinacea, ginseng, vapour rubs and cough medicine also had little effect, said academics. The study concluded that antibiotics were more likely to cause harm than good.
Researchers found that the best way to prevent a cold was to take a zinc supplement. Academics who looked at 67 studies examining the effectiveness of cold preventions and remedies discovered that few lived up to the hype.
Consumers could be wasting millions of euro on cold cures, they claimed.
Only about one in 20 colds was caused by bacteria, with most caused by a virus that cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Drugs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol were found to be useful at reducing fever. Taking honey was the best way to soothe a sore throat.
To prevent the illness spreading, the authors recommended hand washing.
At least two trials indicated that children who took 10 or 15mg of zinc sulphate daily had lower rates of colds and fewer absences from school due to colds. Although the studies involved young people, the researchers concluded that "there is no biological reason why zinc could work only in children and not adults".
Graham Keen, of Britain's Healthcare Financial Management Association, said other studies had shown that vitamin C helped to reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms. (© Daily Telegraph, London)