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Good Health and Bad Medicine:
 Colds - Part 1

 Colds - Part 2

 Colds - Part 3


 Mouth Washes And Bad Breath

 Nasal Disorders

 Sinuses And Sinusitis



 Asthma And Hay Fever

 Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine

Colds - Part 2

( Originally Published 1940 )


Neo-synephrin or ephedrine may also be obtained as jellies. Since forceful sniffing is inevitable in the use of jellies, and since such sniffing may spread the infection to the sinuses and ears, jellies should be avoided.


Menthol is an ingredient of inhalants such as Vapex, as well as of nose drops. Menthol inhalers have all the defects of menthol nose drops. They are entirely without value, either in the prevention or the cure of colds. Menthol may make breathing temporarily easier, but if used constantly it will increase congestion and discharge.

A recently introduced inhaler, Benzedrine, is unquestionably effective in shrinking the swollen membranes and thus providing temporary relief. However, it can cause toxic symptoms in some users. Nervousness, insomnia, a feeling of anxiety, headache-these are a few of the symptoms produced in sensitive persons. Even apparently norisensitive persons should use it cautiously, and strictly according to directions.

Compound tincture of benzoin or the simple tincture of benzoin sometimes used in steam inhalations may relieve somewhat irritation of the membrane, but the relief can probably be credited more to the water vapor than to the benzoin.

Mouth Washes

Mouth washes are absolutely worthless for the prevention or treatment of colds. If such a thing as the complete disinfection of the mouth, throat and nasal passages were possible, there might be some value in the use of mouth washes to prevent complications resulting from colds. But no mouth wash which is safe to use can provide such disinfection, and even if the mouth wash were available, not even the most expert gargler could get it into all the affected passages and keep it there for a sufficient length of time to allow it to act. If you insist on gargling for such temporary comfort as the warmth or taste of the solution may give, remember that alkaline aromatic solution, N.F., or a weak solution of common salt and bicarbonate of soda in warm or hot water will do quite as well as branded products, and their cost is much less.

Neither Vick's Vaporub nor any other ointment applied to the chest, the neck or any other part of the body can prevent or cure colds. Such ointments cannot penetrate the skin. Their apparent effect in colds is due entirely to the reflex congestion caused by the spreading of the ointment on the skin. They may make breathing a little easier and produce a sense of warmth in the chest, but so will camphorated oil and chloroform liniment, both U.S.P. products and much less irritating to the skin.


Special Diets and Vitamins

A multitude of diets and food combinations have been advocated for the prevention and cure of colds. High protein diets; low protein diets; Dr. Hay's combinations, and Mr. Hauser's concoctions—all have their passionate devotees—and all are totally worthless as cold preventives or cures.

The knowledge that vitamin A is an "anti-infective vita-min," and the popular belief that vitamin D is good for everything under the sun, have led to the sale of vitamin preparations as cold preventives. Vitamin A is indeed an anti-infective agent, but a person on an adequate diet receives as much of the vitamin as he needs, and additional vitamin A doesn't help him resist colds.

In one of the recent experiments in cold prevention, children in a large orphanage were divided into two groups. One group remained on the regular diet, while the other received additional supplies of vitamin A. There were about as many and as bad colds in the second group as in the first.

Many prepared and processed foods have been advertised as cold cures. There is absolutely no scientific basis for such advertising.


Ultra-Violet Rays

Ultra-violet rays are a specific cure for rickets and an excellent form of treatment for certain—but not all—types of tuberculosis, and for a few—but not all—skin ailments.

Exposure of the body to the sun or to sun lamps may have other beneficial effects (see page 247), but there is no good evidence that such exposure will either prevent or cure colds.

Hardening Measures

Cold showers in the morning and ocean bathing in the winter have many devotees. Such heroic exercises and stunts, however, will not provide any protection against colds.


The Lifebuoy Company has yet to prove that the use of Lifebuoy or any other soap will prevent the transmission of colds from one person to another.

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