The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Here’s what we know about vitamin C and the common cold

    150px-Ascorbic_acid_structureVitamin C (ascorbic acid) for preventing and treating the common cold has been a subject of controversy for 70 years.

    Now, The Cochrane Library has reviewed the data.

    First, the details.

    • 29 studies involving 11,306 participants contributed to the meta-analysis on the risk of developing a cold while taking vitamin C regularly.
    • 31 comparisons examined the effect of regular vitamin C use on common cold duration (9745 episodes).
    • The majority of included studies were randomized, double-blind — neither the researchers nor patients knew the treatment given.

    And, the results.

    • Regular ingestion of vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population.
    • Regular supplementation of at least 1 gram of vitamin C daily had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms in adults (8%) and in children (18%).
    • In participants exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (including marathon runners and skiers) vitamin C reduce the common cold risk by up to half in some but not all studies.
    • No adverse effects of vitamin C were reported.

    The bottom line?

    Based on what we know it appears there is no evidence that regular supplementation of vitamin C reduces the chance of coming down with a common cold, although it may reduce the duration and severity of illness.

    The effect on people in extreme exercise situations is inconsistent.

    2/14/13 09:06 JR

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