I got a “You & Blue” newsletter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield the other day.  Health insurance companies like to look as though they really care about you by sending out these little missives on how you can improve your health.  Of course, what they’re really trying to do is keep you from getting sick so they don’t lose money.

Anyway, one of the articles in the newsletter is called, “Over-the-counter cold busters:  Truth or fiction?”  From that title, I’m expecting an examination of typical cold medicines of the pharmaceutical type – cough syrups and decongestants and the like.  I was expecting wrong.  Instead, the article looked at “popular home remedies,” including echinacea, zinc, Vitamin C, and Airbourne, which is an herbal cold remedy.  Echinacea and Airborne were both quickly dispatched with, Blue Cross/Blue Shield reporting that there’s no evidence that either has an effect on colds.  Zinc was said to possibly “shorten the duration of colds” and Vitamin C “doesn’t prevent colds, but may lessen symptoms if taken early on.”

Curious how quickly health insurance companies and big pharma are to dismiss herbal remedies.  We don’t get any evidence of how to find the studies the article is based upon.  In fact, the article admits that “studies have been small, so more are needed.”  How then can they pass along their findings with such certainty?  Also, if herbal remedies are so ineffective, why are pharmaceuticals with herbs at their base not dissed with equal fervor?  (Oh, yeah.  It’s because big pharma can patent them and make money off of them.)

Le cough, le hack, le gurgle,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel