Quotation in “Using folk remedies to feel better will leave you cold”

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janehansenDr Michael Tam was interviewed and quoted in an article written by journalist Jane Hansen, published in the Sunday Telegraph.

“THEY are the first things we reach for when the winter sniffles arrive but experts say popular supplements such as vitamin C and echinacea are really just a waste of money.

Dr Michael Tam, a general practitioner and senior lecturer at the University of NSW, said most popular natural cold and flu supplements simply don’t work.

“They appear to be no better than placebo,” he said. “In the general community there is no evidence vitamin C makes any difference in terms of length or severity of a cold.”

Another popular herbal remedy, echinacea, which is a member of the daisy family, has also failed to prove its effectiveness as a preventative.

One supplement that has shown promise is zinc, Dr Tam said. “There is some evidence it can reduce some symptoms but you need high doses and it tastes bad and can make you sick, ” he said.

Garlic has shown some promise but only one study has been done by the company which is selling the garlic supplement, Dr Tam said.”

Health Check: can you treat the common cold?

Health Check: can you treat the common cold?

By Michael Tam

With symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, headaches and fever, the common cold can leave you feeling rotten for up to two weeks.

As the name suggests, they’re annoyingly common, with the average adult likely to get two or three colds a year, while children average ten.

Common colds are caused by more than 200 different viruses and tend to be milder than the flu. But while the influenza vaccination can prevent against the most common circulating strains of the flu, there’s no equivalent for the common cold.

So, can you prevent the common cold? Or treat it once you have it? Let’s put four popular therapies to the test: echinacea, garlic, vitamin C and zinc. Continue reading

Monday’s medical myths: vitamin C prevents colds

The following article was published on The Conversation.

Monday’s medical myth: vitamin C prevents colds

By Michael Tam, University of New South Wales

Vitamin C is so often suggested as a treatment for the common cold that it’s almost considered common sense. This well-known vitamin is primarily found in fruits and vegetables, with small quantities in some meats.

With a healthy diet, most of us should get all the vitamin C we need from food. But this doesn’t stop many Australians boosting their intake through vitamin supplements. Continue reading