The immune system is how the body protects itself from illness. It attacks the things that cause disease.
Healthy habits can help support the immune system. Natural therapies have also been used to support or strengthen the immune system.
May Be Effective
May Not Be Effective
These therapies may not have benefit in treating the common cold:
Unlikely to Be Effective
Not Enough Data to Assess
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:
Herbs and Supplements
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A5. Schapowal A, Berger D, et al. Echinacea/sage of chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial. Eur J Med Res. 2009;14(9):406-412.
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A7. Kamin W, Maydannik VG, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of Eps 7630 in patients (aged 6-18 years old) with acute bronchitis. Acta Paediatr. 2010;99(4):537-543.
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A9. Ross SM. African geranium (Eps 7630), part I: a proprietary root extract of Pelargonium sidoides (Eps 7630) is found to be effective in resolving symptoms associated with the common cold in adults. Holist Nurs Pract. 2012;26(2):106-109.
A10. Science M, Johnstone J, et al. Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ. 2012;184(10):E551-561.
A11. Matthys H, Pliskevich DA, et al. Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Eps 7630 in adults with COPD. Respir Med. 2013; 107(5): 691-701.
A12. Karsch-Völk M, Barrett B, et al. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(2):CD000530.
A13. Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, et al. Garlic for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(11):CD006206.
A14. Wagner L, Cramer H, et al. Herbal Medicine for Cough: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(6):359-368.
A15. Schapowal A, Klein P, et al. Echinacea reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Adv Ther. 2015;32(3):187-200.
A16. Tiralongo E, Wee SS, et al. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travelers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182.
A17. Nitsche MP, Carreño M. Is honey an effective treatment for acute cough in children? Medwave. 2016;16(2):e6454.
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A19. Hemilä H, Petrus EJ, et al. Zinc acetate for treating the common cold: an individual patient data meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016;82(5):1393-1398.
A20. Hu XY, Wu RH, et al. Andrographis paniculate (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(8).
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A22. Oduwole O, Udoh EE, et al. Honey for acute cough in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4:CD007094.
A23. Riley DS, Lizogub VG, et al. Efficacy and Tolerability of High-dose Pelargonium Extract in Patients With the Common Cold. Altern Ther Health Med. 2018;24(2):16-26. A24. Hawkins J, Baker C, et al. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2019;42:361-365.
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A29. Somerville VS, Braakhuis AJ, et al. Effect of Flavonoids on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Immune Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Adv Nutr. 2016 May 16;7(3):488-497.
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A32. Kang K, Shu XL, et al. Effect of L-arginine on immune function: a meta-analysis. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2014;23(3):351-359.
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Last reviewed October 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/1/2020
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