Popular Supplements Used to Treat Colds and PMS: Are They Healers or Hype?

For Immediate Release
March 2003
Please Contact: Christina Calbi
at KMR Communications, Inc
(212) 213-6444

Feel a cold coming on? The natural response for most suffering from cold or flu symptoms is to immediately reach for supplements and herbal remedies such as Echinacea, Oscillococcinum, and Zinc. The same reaction applies to the increasing number of women who rely on herbal solutions like Evening Primrose Oil and Wild Yam to help them battle PMS. Supplements and herbal remedies have quickly become household names and are typically the first line of defense for many against a plethora of common ailments, but do they really work?

“Supplements can offer some relief, but are not the answer for curing illnesses such as the common cold or PMS,” says Dr. Ali Meschi a Laguna Hills, California holistic medical expert and board certified naturopathic physician. “Many of the patients I encounter are under the impression that they can eradicate their symptoms simply by consuming a combination of supplements they have heard about in the news, this is not the case.”

Cold Remedies – Over the last several years, many people consistently use supplements such as Echinacea, Oscillococcinum and Zinc as a primary treatment for cold and flu symptoms. Echinacea has received great accolades for its ability to boost the immune system and ward off cold and flu. However, a recent study found that when researchers gave 117 participants either a placebo or Echinacea and then exposed them to cold viruses, those who took the Echinacea were equally as likely to develop a cold as those who took the placebo. Given this new information, do these commonly used remedies actually work? Dr. Meschi explains, “Supplements such as Echinacea and Zinc should not be considered a primary defense against cold and flu because while they do support the immune system in some aspect, they do not address all of the components of a healthy immune system. Without treating the whole picture, they cannot be considered an effective treatment.”

Dr. Meschi also cautions against overuse, “These supplements and homeopathic remedies, particularly Oscillococcinum can, at minimum, result in the reduction of cold or flu-like symptoms. However, if they are overused the body will not react to them whatsoever. They should only be taken when symptoms are present.” Dr. Meschi recommends the following for getting rid of a cold or flu; “The bottom line is that supplements just are not a substitution for traditional methods of fighting illness. The best defense is a combination of simple things, consuming a great deal of liquids, maintaining a healthy diet and getting a significant amount of rest.”

PMS – Millions of women are perpetually searching for a solution to managing PMS. There are many over-the-counter remedies, but many women turn to natural herb alternatives such as Evening Primrose Oil and Wild Yam to regulate cramps, bloating and emotional upset. Women believe these supplements, which are frequently touted as remedies, to be a cure for the symptoms they are plagued with. Are these remedies truly responsible for curing PMS? Dr. Meschi comments, “Unfortunately, these supplements are not potent enough to be considered therapeutic. Evening Primrose Oil, in the form that it is readily available to the public, is not strong enough to provide a real, lasting effect. Wild Yam does stimulate hormone production in its most potent form, however this form is not generally available to women. The Wild Yam supplements found on store shelves generally do not contain the appropriate ingredients to be used for medicinal purposes.” Women can take measures with diet and exercise to decrease monthly symptoms. “By eliminating certain foods from the diet and incorporating an exercise regiment, women can see drastic symptom reduction.”

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