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WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK — TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2006 — Autumn is the beginning of "cold season" — the period through early spring when people are most likely to develop a cold. But based on's tests of sixty-six products with ingredients that may help prevent or treat a cold, people reaching for a natural remedy have a good chance of picking a product with no proven value or unsafe ingredients. is providing a useful chart of its results and advice to help consumers choose properly and avoid being misled. has found that only 42% of herbal supplements made with echinacea, ginseng, or garlic have the right ingredients, in the right dose, and without lead contamination. Just-released test results for zinc lozenges show that only one of four products provided the dosage known to be effective in reducing the symptoms and duration of a cold. Vitamin C products have fared better in testing, but their effectiveness appears more limited.

"Some natural remedies may help people avoid or get over a cold — shortening it by two or three days and reducing symptoms — but many products don't provide the ingredients known to work," said Tod Cooperman, MD, President of released the following chart with information and advice on popular natural remedies.'s Results and Recommendations for Natural Cold Remedies
Ingredient Possible Benefit Product Test Results* Recommendation**
Cold Treatments:
Echinacea Decrease duration and severity of symptoms if started at first sign of a cold. Only 1 of 6 products had correct ingredients; one contaminated with lead.
  • Look for products with at least 1% phenols (higher for extracts) and suggest at least 2,000 mg of herb per day (700 mg for extracts).
  • Use for one to two weeks.
  • Don't use if allergic to daisies.
More information and products at (
Zinc (lozenges) Decrease in duration by two days and severity if started within 24 - 48 hours. Only 1of 4 products had correct ingredients and directions.
  • Look for products with 9 mg - 24 mg of zinc per lozenge.
  • Take every 2 - 3 hours.
  • Don't chew -- allow to dissolve.
  • Don't use for more than 1 to 2 weeks -- zinc can suppress the immune system.
More information and products at (
Cold Prevention (Not treatments)
Garlic Reduction in number of colds (by two-thirds) when used regularly during cold season. Only 6 of 14 products had correct ingredients; two contaminated with lead.
  • Look for products that provide at least 3,600 mcg allicin per day (equal to one fresh clove).
  • Aged garlic should have about 0.05% SAC.
  • Don't use with blood thinners; some drug interactions.
More information and products at (
Ginseng Reduction in number of colds when used regularly during cold season. Only 7 of 13 products had correct ingredients and labeling; one was contaminated with lead.
  • Look for products with at least 1.5 to 2.0% total ginsenosides (3 to 4% for extracts).
  • Take 400 mg extract per day
  • May affect blood sugar levels.
More information and products at (
Vitamin C Less well proven, but may slightly decease colds and severity when used during cold season. Not a treatment. All 29 products tested well.
  • Get 1,000 mg per day during cold season (from foods or supplements)
  • Natural (rose hips) and synthetic are equally good.
  • Ester-C form is less acidic.
  • Can cause diarrhea if dose too high (2,000 mg in adults).
More information and products at (
*Based on products selected and purchased by Reports include additional products tested through CL's Voluntary Certification Program. See Testing Methods for each report for more details on ingredient assessment.

** See a doctor if symptoms persist for more than one week, include high fever, or difficulty breathing. Use during pregnancy or breast-feeding has not been evaluated and is not recommended.

Additional information about each ingredient and tested products is available at the addresses listed above and accessible from is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. New reviews to be released in coming months include CoQ10, multivitamins, probiotics, SAMe, supplements for joint care (glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM), and supplements used for muscle enhancement (creatine, HMB, and amino acids). Later this fall, will publish the 2nd edition of the acclaimed paperback,'s Guide to Buying Vitamins and Supplements: What's Really in the Bottle? It can be pre-ordered through 800-431-1579. is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. is affiliated with, an evaluator of online pharmacies, and, which reviews and rates Medicare Part D plans. Subscription to is available online. For group subscriptions or product testing contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at

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