Over-the-counter cold remedies: what works, what doesn’t

The average American gets three colds a year, each lasting for nine to 14 miserable days, so it's no surprise that we spend billions of dollars on over-the-counter cold and flu remedies annually. Turns out that by and large, we're wasting our money. Evidence suggests that few remediesherbal, over-the-counter, or homeopathicare likely to influence the course of a cold or the flu. That said, some do work.

Zinc

Does it work? Maybe. Some evidence suggests that zinc lozenges (like Zicam and Cold-Eeze) may ease symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold, but most studies are small and don't provide "robust" evidence of benefit, said Joy P. Alonzo, Pharm.D., assistant profes