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February 07, 2008



It's said that generously wiping manure on your chest helps one to recover from the common cold.


It's said that generously wiping manure on your chest helps one to recover from the common cold.

Isn't that for prevention? I mean it keeps anyone with (or without!) germs from getting near you!


I just take vitamin C. Have never gotten a cold when I do that. Much cheaper. And the overall quality of my diet is pretty good, too.

BTW, I love your blog, Jimmy, and I listen to your Catholic Answers shows, too.


Did you have to buy all different bottles of vitamins - that could be very expensive - or is there one capsule which contains all of those vitamins?


I take Zicam lozenges when colds are going around and I get that tickle in the back of my throat. Normally the next day I would wake up with a full-fledged cold, but I haven't had a real cold in years. I go to daily Mass and I have two young kids who go to school, so it's not like I'm isolated either.

Tim J

"is there one capsule which contains all of those vitamins?"

Yes, but it weighs a pound and a half...



A major warning about zinc nasal products. There seems to be a small chance of side effects . . . you can lose your sense of smell permanently!!!!!
I thought they took this product off the shelf long ago. Read about it here
and here
Hope you and all your blog readers do not have that happen - it sounds really unpleasant.


Making sure one is not vitamin deficient when under attack seems sensible. But beware, it is easy to overdose on Vitamin A

If this is more than a quack remedy, it would be of interest to major drug companies and even Dr McCoy of Start Trek. This remedy is scientifically testable. Has it been clinically tested? If so what is the result?

More medically mainstream, preventative measures involve reducing the main method of infection - hand-to-face contact. Runny/itchy nose, rub/scratch, sneeze/infected tissue and hands, touch door knob, keyboard, shake hands. Other person touches door knob, then touches own mouth/nose/eye. Solution: avoiding touching one's face plus regular hand-washing has been shown to reduce infection. No need to get obsessive or emulate Howard Hughes though.

Bill in Racine

It might be that research on loading up with vitamins will ward off a cold or nip it in the bud. But how many drug companies would be willing to come up with a pill that clears you up in a few days, rather than having you buy their various assundries (tissues, cough medicine, decongestants, cough drops, etc) for the few days/weeks you are ill?

I hate to be the cynic - but I don't think they would leap at the chance to drop all of those things and if they did - the few pills you'd need would be REALLY, REALLY expensive.


I wonder if Airborne has most of those vitamins. It has really helped me in the past.



Don't forget that Dr Atkins' death report showed he was *seriously* overweight, had heart disease, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. I remember reading this info on Yahoo News at the time, and it was more or less confirmed by Snopes ( http://www.snopes.com/medical/doctor/atkins.asp ). He apparently didn't take his own advice, which IMHO makes the advice at least suspect. As noted by several, large amounts of vitamins and minerals can be hazardous.

So, be careful! I want to keep you around as long as possible.

In faith, Dave
Viva Texas <*))><


Whoaa Jimmy Vitamin A can be dangerous and the it ALOT!!!!! Vitamin A tox can cause neurological problems. Careful there partner.


I'm with you Jimmy, I've been taking basically the same thing (minus the zinc)remedy for colds since before I ever heard of Dr. Atkins, and it's really quite effective. The zicam is interesting - I don't take the zinc because it upsets my tummy, and after morning sickness with 8 pregnancies I'd rather have a cold than nausia. I doubt the large doses would do any harm as you take them ony at the start of a cold.


I just take a handful of C, garlic, and fish oil. That and a regular multivitamin take the edge off a cold. These ultra-mega doses I don't see the need for. I have heard that zinc helps, but don't have colds often enough to bother.

Of course for a sore throat the best remedy is a good bottle of brandy!

J.R. Stoodley

I'm suspicious about the value of taking huge amounts of vitamines to combat a cold, but makeing sure you have enough is certainly smart.

I'm the opposite in terms of colds. I get them on and off throughout the winter, but only once would I call it serious, and then I was considerably weakened from other things (malnutrition, dehydration, stress, a bedroom that was probably in the 50s due to a window not being closable, etc.) I can't fathom not having several colds a winter, though Jimmy does live in an essentially winterless area, and doesn't go to school.

MM from Brooklyn

As a physician, I would like to second what others had said about excess of Vitamin A. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and can thus accumulate in your body. Here's a link about vitaminosis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervitaminosis_A
(Incidentally, the other fat-soluble vitamins are D,E, and K.) You are also ingesting potentially toxic levels of Zinc with those pills. Most of the rest of the pill, while not necessarily harmful to you, probably isn't helping much either. Vitamin C is water-soluble and you urinate out any excess above what your body needs. You are literally peeing out those mega-doses of Vitamin C. Ditto for the vitamin B complex. As for garlic, unless it is prepared in freeze-dried form and placed in a capsule that won't dissolve until after it passes through your stomach, it provides no benefit to you as the active ingredient in garlic is inactivated by heat (as with cooking) or acid (as in stomach acid).

Dr. Atkins was a quack and his famous diet was just a cleverly-packaged means of lowering calorie consumption, something you can do without resorting to his bizarre diet advice.

My advice to you for the next time you get a cold:
1) Eat a well-balanced diet, you should get all the vitamins you need just from that alone.
2) If you feel the need to use vitamins, a regular multivitamin is all that you should use - stay away from exotic (and usually overpriced) dietary supplements.


MM from brooklyn, I understand about the water sol. vit C, but I take my large doses not all at once but spread out over the course of the day. Also, with the large doses of A, will you reach toxicity taking it over a 3 day period and then reverting back to lower levels? And lets not forget that Most People do not eat a well balanced diet. I've seen what they put in their grocery carts week after week.

MM from Brooklyn

Whether you're taking mega-doses of Vitamin C all at once or spread out throughout the day, it doesn't matter, you are still urinating out the excess.

It is true that a short term overdosage of Vitamin A will probably not kill you, but on the other hand I've seen plenty of patients who take these megadosages not just when they get a cold, but on a daily basis.

Regardless, point is that there is no benefit to these excess vitamins - you're not going to get over your cold any faster, but you are going to burn a hole in your pocket a lot faster. I realize that for many people, a balanced diet is not something they are going to embrace, that's why I recommended the multivitamin. You might be surprised how many vitamins you get even from an "unbalanced" diet.


Once, when I went to the doctor he said "If you take antibiotics you will get better in 2 weeks, if you don't take antibiotics it will take 14 days."

The medical consensus for Recommended Daily Allowance is
Vit A 3000 IU
Vit C 90 mg
Zinc 11 mg

and the tolerable Upper Limit is
Vit A 15000 IU
Vit C 2000 mg
Zinc 40 mg

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_Daily_Intake

Atkins initial maximum
Vit A x 5.3 Upper Limit
Vit C x 10
Zinc x 10

Atkins maintenance minimum
Vit A x 0.67 Upper Limit
Vit C x 1
Zinc x 1.25

This would be in addition to a one's 'normal' dietary intake.

How can I know? I'm not a doctor and a few minutes googling won't make me one.

On a matter of medical/scientific fact, if I don't have sufficient expertise, Who would it be rational to place more confidence in? The (non-infallible) medical consensus or a maverick doctor?

Kym O.

A couple of quick points. 1. Beware of Wikipedia - info not necessarily true and too easily modified by anyone. 2. By the logic you use related to colds I could use the same related to the temporal punishment due because of sin. If I'm aware of serious sin, I can quickly do massive amounts of devotions, ejaculations designed to lessen my temporal punishment and therefore, avoid or lessen them. And I do this because like most Americans/Catholics I do not participate in/consume the daily requirements for good spiritual health. (OK, I do my best on a daily basis, but you get my point?) The best thing for physical health is (to give Michael Pollan credit)- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. And get physical exercise (30 min of aerobic exercise at least 4-5 days/wk with strength training to build muscle. Readers of this blog, by and large, are probably more than meeting their daily minimum spiritual requirements!


MM -

I sure wish you would have been here a few weeks ago when I was summarily tarred-and-feathered for daring to question the efficacy of colloidal silver and other snake oil scams.

Keep beating the drum for sanity with regard to all the vitamin/supplement hype that is going on out there.

Eileen R

Don't forget that Dr Atkins' death report showed he was *seriously* overweight, had heart disease, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. I remember reading this info on Yahoo News at the time, and it was more or less confirmed by Snopes ( http://www.snopes.com/medical/doctor/atkins.asp ).

Snopes doesn't confirm it, actually. It says he was overweight at time of death, but his medical record shows he was 195 pounds when he entered the hospital. He gained the extra weight while in a coma.

Tim J

"Dr. Atkins was a quack and his famous diet was just a cleverly-packaged means of lowering calorie consumption, something you can do without resorting to his bizarre diet advice."

That, I'm afraid, is manifestly false. The Atkins diet - low carb diets in general - do NOT work by reducing calories, but by controlling the glycemic load by reducing the amount of processed flour, sugar and other garbage that Americans eat way too much of. That's bizarre HOW, exactly?

I have done low-carb for a while, now, and it works better for me than any other nutrition plan. I do eat a good bit of salad and veggies, but I also enjoy a liberal amount of cheese, beer, eggs and good red meat (as well as fish and other seafood)... NONE of which I measure, keep track of or think about much at all. I'm down twenty pounds in the last several months.

The biology related to the glycemic index is well documented science, not controversial at all. It's not even news, but seems counter-intuitive, especially after people have been conditioned to treat the Food Pyramid as Defined Doctrine.

Hint: the epidemic of diabetes in the West is not caused by the over-consumption of vegetables and protein... it's the carbs, y'all.

MM from Brooklyn

I stand by my original statement. Atkins works only because you are restricting the source of 70% of your calories - carbohydrates. In fact, there have been several studies demonstrating that calorie restriction - regardless of the actual content of the diet will result in weight loss.

A much simpler formula than Atkins is this: Total calories in < Total calories out. If you use up more calories than you eat, it doesn't matter if you are eating straight sugar or straight butter, you will lose weight.

Tim, you gave the game away in your response - you mentioned that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I think this is a greater cause of your weight loss than any carb resriction. You are correct that eating highly processed foods and refined sugars are bad for you - namely because it is easy to eat a huge caloric load without reaching satiety. An analogy would be that for breakfast one could drink a small glass of pulp-free orange juice or you could eat an orange. Both would have the same number of calories, but the orange obviously would provide more satiety. If one were to eat one of the giant-size danishes now being offered at some restaurants, that would put close to 700 calories in your stomach (try eating in one sitting the 11 oranges that it would take to get that number of calories).

Some veggies (like celery) provide tons of fiber and roughage that fill you up while giving virtually no calories.

The other side of the equation (using up more calories) obviously means exercise which ideally should include some resistance excercises. You use up the majority of you daily calories while at rest. The one way to increase your resting metabolism is by increasing muscle mass, hence doing resistance exercises. Paradoxically, obese people tend to have greater muscle mass than thin people (to carry the extra weight) and actually have greater metabolism. This also explains why people yo-yo on their diets, they lose the extra muscle mass when they lose the extra weight.


Since I haven't spent years studying medicine, I shall rely on mainstream consensus regarding the Atkin's Diet. UK NHS website on weight-loss myths

Eaten in the right quantities, carbohydrates will not cause weight gain. To stay healthy, we need the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates give you energy, and cutting them out could leave you feeling lethargic. It will also mean you'll tend to eat a diet too rich in fat and protein, which is not good for the heart. Eat wholegrain and wholemeal carbohydrates such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, and don't fry starchy foods when trying to lose weight. A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that dieters on the best-known low-carb diet, the Atkins diet, tended to lose weight not because they ate fewer carbohydrates, but simply because they ate less overall.

Same site on preventing colds


I think the amount of protein one gets on the Atkins diet helps cause people to think that, because they're eating as much as they want, they're taking in as many calories as they did before they went on the diet.

But protein and fiber tide a person over a lot longer than simple carbs. I can stuff myself on something like potato soup and end up shaky and ravenous two hours later, or eat plenty of protein and a high-fiber vegetable and not even think about food for two or three times as long.

I may have eaten an equal number of calories in each meal, but without the protein I'm likely to eat an extra snack, easily adding another two or three hundred calories to my daily intake. Either way, I'm eating "as much as I want." It's just that, on something like the Atkins diet, "as much as I want" is way less than when I eat simple/refined carbs.



Bob, on that thread you accused me of committing idolatry because I use supplements, and "grandma" said I was going to die, and now you claim that YOU were "tarred and feathered"?

In Jesu et Maria,

Tim J

"Atkins works only because you are restricting the source of 70% of your calories - carbohydrates."

"Tim, you gave the game away in your response - you mentioned that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables."

I'm sorry, but this is just wrong. I eat as many calories as ever. I do eat veggies, but I also eat a lot of cheese (love the stuff), eggs and things like sausage and ham (though I eat a good bit of fish, too). Most of my salads are smothered in blue cheese dressing, ham, boiled egg and Parmesan, to boot. Just about all the cooked veggies are sauteed with real butter, or - even better - seasoned with bacon fat.

The glycemic response is a well known physiological mechanism, as I said, not controversial at all. Your evidence that it doesn't exist??...

I thought low-carb was bogus too, until I tried it. It's not the calories, it's the carbs.

David Bennett

I own the Dr Atkins Vita-Nutrient Solution, and enjoy it. The advice is usually based on scientific studies, most of them probably too small or done only on animals, so most in the medical establishment are likely to demand more proof.

I am not a huge fan of the Atkins diet, but I try to adhere to what I call a "modified Atkins" or "lower carb" diet, in which I avoid refined carbs and too much sugar.

I tried the natural approach with an ear/sinus infection recently. I tried Vitamin C, Oregano Oil, and Olive Leaf among others (purchased at Puritan's Pride). After about 3 weeks there was a little fluid in the right ear, so I went to the doctor for antibiotics. I typically try natural remedies first, and then go to the doctor if that doesn't work. Sometimes the natural works, other times it doesn't. It's my little way of saving me money, and saving my insurance some money. I figured it cost about 3 dollars for a three week course of Vit C, Oregano Oil, and Olive Leaf, versus about 175 dollars for the doctor's visit, antibiotics, etc. Maybe it is just a placebo effect when the natural remedies have worked in the past...but I'll take a 3-dollar placebo effect over a 175 mainstream remedy any day, since the results are the same (although if the condition worsens, I seek mainstream treatment).

Jimmy, you crossed the point of no return. You are now throughly Californian. God help you.

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