While on a recent trip to London, I came down with a slight cold. The same thing happened last time I traveled to the UK in 2008, and what a miserable time I had fighting that cold. So this time I vowed to be prepared. But instead of bringing traditional OTC cold medications, I decided to take Vitamin C supplements. Overall, I’m impressed with the results.
Vitamin C and the common cold
Vitamin C has long been touted by alternative medicine proponents as a way to treat the common cold. However, established medical organizations like the Mayo Clinic have yet to fully endorse this method of treatment due to lack of significant evidence. Even the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine claims Vitamin C only slightly reduces the severity of a cold and does not prevent it. So basically, the jury is out on whether or not Vitamin C can treat the common cold.
The severity of my cold
I would describe what I had as a typical head cold. My symptoms included a runny nose, sinus congestion, feeling tired, and coughing. I never had a fever, chills, or aches and pains, which would have been more indicative of the flu rather than a cold. The symptoms were aggravating but not enough to keep me out of Harrod’s!
So what exactly did I do?
I brought over my bottle of Vitamin C 1000mg tablets and began taking them the first day I felt the sniffles. Then I took a tablet each day for 4 days straight. In addition to taking Vitamin C for my cold, I slept on my side to prevent post nasal drip from irritating my throat and drank plenty of water with my meals.
Does Vitamin C have side effects?
The one side effect I noticed while taking Vitamin C was moving my bowels more often and softer bowel movements. I normally move my bowels once a day, but while taking Vitamin C, I easily had 2 to 3 bowel movements a day. Other side effects of Vitamin C can include nausea, vomiting, heartburn and headache. More serious side effects that need to be addressed by a health care professional include severe lower back pain, blood in your urine, and painful urination.
The verdict on treating my cold with Vitamin C
I’m glad I took the Vitamin C for my cold rather than traditional medications. However, had my symptoms persisted longer, I would have chosen a cold medicine with pseudoephedrine like I have in the past. It’s important to note that drinking more fluids, getting a good night’s sleep, and avoiding post nasal drip also contributed to successfully treating my cold.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, The Flu, the Common Cold, and Complementary Health Practices, last updated February 2012
Mayo Clinic, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), last revised September 1, 2012
Drugs.com, Vitamin C