Turns out, Grandma may have been right all along: Chicken soup is the perfect cold and flu remedy.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a key ingredient in some of the most common cold medicines doesn’t actually work, leaving millions of Americans without Trusted cold and flu remedies.
An FDA panel said after a two-day review that phenylephrine, an oral decongestant, “is not effective” at standard or even high doses compared to a placebo, and stores began removing products containing it from their shelves. substance, including Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion, Sudafed PE and Tylenol Severe cold and flu day and night.
Dr. Stuart Fischer, an internist in New York City, told DailyMail.com that there are several over-the-counter alternatives (and natural remedies) that work better.
Dr. Fisher’s Alternatives to Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion, Sudafed PE, and Tylenol Cold and Flu Severe Day & Night
CVS will begin removing popular oral cough and cold products with phenylephrine as the only active ingredient from its stores. Pictured: Empty shelves at CVS in New York City
The pharmacy chain is voluntarily recalling the products after an FDA advisory panel last month refused to endorse the effectiveness of over-the-counter oral medications made with the ingredient.
Dr. Fischer said he was glad to hear the news and said there are many alternatives that work better than over-the-counter products, including the old chicken soup recommendation.
Dr. Fischer said, “I’m not a big fan of overmedicating the signs and symptoms of a winter cold.
‘I see this as our bodies using the immune system and overmedicating themselves to make us feel “normal”; that won’t help you.
‘Normal feelings cannot be achieved in the middle of a winter virus. It’s going to take time and it will take its course.
“The idea that someone can totally erase the signs and symptoms of a winter virus I don’t think is necessary and, frankly, I very rarely recommend (these medications) and never take them myself.”
Instead of products containing phenylephrine, Dr. Fischer recommended other ways to help a person feel better.
When it comes to pharmaceutical options, the doctor said that taking the regular version of Benadryl that only contains diphenhydramine and not phenylephrine can help people suffering from sinusitis, the inflammation of the tissue lining the sinuses that causes facial pain and nasal congestion. , by drying out the sinuses. mucous membranes of the nose.
It can also help “dry out” a wet cough.
The internist also recommended a cough syrup like Robitussin, adding that the medication “is essentially harmless.”
Dr. Fischer said N-acetyl csitein (NAC), an antioxidant that comes from the amino acid L-cysteine, could help people feel unwell.
NAC is thought to possibly play a role in cancer prevention and is used to treat paracetamol poisoning.
People also commonly use it for coughs and other lung conditions, as well as for the flu and dry eye. There aren’t many studies on NAC and its impact on the immune system, but current research suggests that it may help improve immune function.
Phenylephrine is everywhere, to the point that almost all nasal decongestants available in pharmacies contain it.
One study found that people who took 600 mg of the substance twice a day had fewer flu symptoms than those who took a placebo.
A remedy that has been recommended for decades, chicken soup, is one of the best things to relieve cold or flu symptoms, Dr. Fischer said. and was even taught it during his medical training.
There are three things in chicken broth that are vital to relieving an illness: the broth, the salt, and the chicken fat.
When people are sick, drinking fluids is essential to staying hydrated, and soup broth can help achieve this.
Second, people who have a fever may sweat and lose water, but the salt in chicken soup draws water into the body’s cells and rehydrates them.
Finally, the chicken fat in the soup is a good surfactant, a fat-soluble molecule that opens and closes the air sacs deep in the lungs, helping people inhale deeply and exhale more deeply.
When it comes to preventing disease, one of the best things to take, according to Dr. Fischer, is probiotics.
He said: ‘My particular way of preventing colds is probiotics. I don’t think anyone can consume too many probiotics. I take 25 billion units of probiotics every morning.
‘And this to me is what people mean when they say they have a good immune system. It’s not something inherent to their chemistry, but rather their live good bacteria outnumber the bad negative bacteria.’
Probiotics are considered “good bacteria” in the digestive system and can help fight harmful bacteria that can cause illness.
They can be found in foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and kimchi. Supplements containing different strains are also sold without a prescription.
Probiotics have been shown to help improve immune health by balancing good bacteria in the gut.
In addition to alternative remedies, Dr. Fischer emphasized that sick people should rest and drink fluids with electrolytes to replace the fluid they lose through sweat, which can occur when someone has a fever.
While the FDA panel’s ruling last month is not binding, it strongly suggests that the agency could soon follow its advice and withdraw approval of phenylephrine, forcing drug makers to recall or reformulate their products.
Following the ruling, pharmaceutical giant CVS began removing over-the-counter cough and cold products from its shelves this month.
The store said it will recall oral medications that contain phenylephrine as the only active ingredient.
Pseudoephedrine, also an over-the-counter cold drug, helps with congestion and, despite its similar-sounding name, is not the medication that researchers consider ineffective.
Dr. Fischer told DailyMail.com that he thinks it’s good that the FDA made this decision and that stores are recalling products.
He said the side effects of the medications outweigh any small benefits they may have.
While phenylephrine is not a stimulant, it can have similar side effects, such as increasing blood pressure, increasing heart rate, and causing restlessness.
The doctor noted that there is an epidemic of high blood pressure in the United States and that a medication like phenylephrine can raise it to an unhealthy level.
And because these medications are available without a prescription, people can “self-prescribe” them, simply by walking into a store to buy cold remedies.
While they may feel a slight improvement in their health, Dr. Fischer told this website that they may not be aware of the dangerous side effects.