1. Colds cured by zinc

    At last: A cure for the common cold

    You've got a lot on your mind as summer approaches: beach, barbecues, and maybe even a trip to see your loved ones.

    But the one thing you're probably NOT thinking about is catching a cold.

    I hope you don't get sick, in this season or any other.

    It can happen, though. Even in summer. Heck, sometimes those warm-weather bugs can be every bit as nasty as the ones circulating in the dark days of January and February.

    Now, the latest research reveals what just may be the closest thing we have a cure for the common cold.

    It's completely natural, perfectly safe, and so cheap you can get a supply of it right now for just a few bucks so you'll have it on hand when you need it.

    It's zinc -- especially zinc lozenges, which can cut the duration of the cold so you get better about 33 percent faster, according to the new analysis of 30 years of research.

    There are two kinds of zinc used in those little slow-dissolving tablets: zinc acetate and zinc gluconate.

    The study finds zinc acetate might be a little more effective, cutting the duration of the cold by an average of 40 percent.

    The other form, zinc gluconate, cuts cold duration by an average of 28 percent.

    That might seem like a big difference, but the researchers say it might be due entirely to chance -- so you can take either one and expect similar results.

    Most of those lozenges contain very low doses of zinc.

    That's actually good, since too much zinc at once can lead to gas and diarrhea. The lozenges are a way of getting a little bit at a time so you're less likely to battle stomach problems.

    But track how much you're getting to ensure you take the right amount each day.

    According to the new study, that's just under 100 mg. In the studies in the analysis, taking between 80mg and 92mg per day was just as effective as taking more than 200 mg per day.

    One way to track it is to count out your lozenges in the morning and set them aside. If they have 5 mg of zinc each, set aside about 20 and take them throughout the day instead of all at once.

    Along with helping to fight the cold, the lozenges will also soothe a sore and dry throat.

    And, of course, be sure to follow the usual rules: Stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep, and you'll be back on your feet and ready for action in no time.

  2. Natural cold remedies

    Make it through cold season without a sniffle

    Spring may be just around the corner, but it's hard to tell in a lot of places.

    For many, we're still smack in the middle of cold season -- and I don't just mean the temperature. It's that time of year when everyone, even in some warm weather places, seems to be coughing, wheezing, sniffling and sneezing.

    Maybe you've heard that there's no cure for the common cold, but that's not exactly true.

    While there's no drug that can cure the cold, completely natural cold remedies can help you in two major ways.

    First, they can stop you from getting sick, even as everyone around you is stocking up on tissues and cough drops.

    And second, if you do get sick, they can shorten the duration and ease the severity of the symptoms. Fewer cough drops, fewer tissues, and fewer days where you just can't get out of bed.

    You can get started with natural cold remedies right now with a back-to-basics approach: wash your hands.

    Simple, yes, but a new study confirms that a little soap and water -- and even an alcohol-based hand sanitizer -- are quite possibly the most effective weapons against the cold, killing the virus and preventing it from spreading. (Just don't make the mistake of picking up a hand sanitizer with toxic triclosan in it. Read this to learn more.)

    But don't stop with good hygiene, though it is essential for good health along with other natural cold remedies.

    The mineral zinc can also play a key role in keeping you healthy during cold season. The new analysis of hundreds of studies finds zinc's best role may be in preventing the cold, but I've seen plenty of other evidence to show that zinc can also help if you get sick.

    One study found that even very low doses of zinc can shorten your cold by an average of 1.6 days, while higher doses of 75 mg per day are twice as effective -- taking nearly three days off the average cold.

    If turning a weeklong battle with cold misery into a couple of days of sniffling and sneezing isn't a cure for the cold, I don't know what is.

    Zinc works because it can stop the rhinovirus that causes the cold from reproducing. When the virus stops reproducing, you stop feeling sick.

    The best way to get zinc (at least for fighting colds) is from a lozenge, some of which also contain other helpful ingredients such as Echinacea and homeopathic remedies.

    Two words of advice here: First, don't bite or chew the lozenge. Let it dissolve slowly in your mouth instead.

    And second, don't eat one after another like candy -- because too much zinc can give you a stomachache, nausea, gas and even diarrhea. If you're aiming for the full 75 mg per day I mentioned earlier, it's best the spread it out and take one lozenge every few hours.

    While you're at it, don't forget a quality probiotic supplement. A bellyful of good bacteria is essential to a strong immune system. One study even found that probiotic supplements can shorten the duration of the cold and ease symptoms at the same time.

    Just be sure to get the right stuff: a quality probiotic blend with high amounts of human-tested strains.

    For more on the benefits of probiotics and how to choose one that's right for you, be sure to see the May 2012 edition of my subscription newsletter, Health Revelations.

    Current subscribers, use the password in your current issue to read it for free in my online archives. Not a subscriber? Get started here.

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