Natural Foods Merchandiser

Make the best of cold and flu season

As safety concerns about conven­tional cold and flu remedies mount—no doubt fueled by the Federal Drug Administration's recommendation to avoid giving over-the-counter medications to children under age 6—parents are searching for effective yet gentle remedies. This is a golden opportunity to use your cold and flu section as an entry point for cross-over consumers. These four natural products have passed scientific muster.

Nature's Way Umcka ColdCare
A homeo­pathically prepared 1x extract of a geranium species, umcka has been used for centuries in South Africa to treat coughs and respiratory ailments. In a 2007 study published in the scientific journal Explore, 103 adults with cold symptoms were given either 30 drops of umcka or a placebo three times a day. After 10 days, nearly 80 percent of the umcka patients were completely free of cold symptoms. Just 31.4 percent of people taking the placebo recovered as quickly.

Healthcare Brands International Sambucol
This proprietary black-elderberry extract was shown to improve flu symptoms in a 2004 double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in The Journal of International Medical Research. Patients who took 15 ml of sambucol syrup four times a day showed reduced symptoms four days earlier than those who took a placebo.

Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat
Slippery elm, a gummy North American herb that leaves a film on mucous membranes, was traditionally used by Native Americans to ease sore throats. Traditional Medicinals sponsored a 2003 study on the company's Throat Coat herbal tea, which features a combination of slippery elm and emollient herbs such as licorice and marshmallow. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 60 adults, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed that patients reported a significant reduction in throat pain within just five minutes of drinking the tea.

Boiron Oscillococcinum
Pronounced "oh-SILL-oh-cox-SEE-num," this homeopathic remedy is manufactured from wild duck heart and liver, and has been the subject of four human clinical trials. The most impressive study, published by the British Homeopathic Journal in 1998, found that 63 percent of patients who took oscillo at the onset of flu symptoms showed "clear improvement" or "complete resolution" after 48 hours. Only 49 percent of participants who took the placebo experienced the same benefit.

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