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Dear Pharmacist,

What are some suggestions to avoid catching cold this season?

--R. P. Albany, New York

Answer:The common cold has been around for eon, even though it has morphed a bazillion times. It's brilliant at outsmarting us, this is why we don't have an effective remedy to cure or prevent it.

Health experts will tell you the obvious, get enough rest, allow your body to sleep more if it wants to, drink plenty of water, take cough drops, take vitamin C, sip chicken broth and keep a trash bin near the bed in case you have to throw up in a hurry.

These are all great suggestions, especially the last one, but if you've been there, and got the T-shirt, you know this is not nearly enough.

Job one is to wash your hands frequently. Keep them away from your face, and don't use them to cover a sneeze or a cough. This is so simple and yet whenever I people watch, I notice everyone fidgeting with their face and heaven forbid picking stuff out of their teeth or nose. Yeah, seriously that was going on in the car next to me yesterday. Instead, use a tissue and then throw it out. Don't opt for a hanky, it's kind of gross to reuse those. No tissue? Use the crook of your elbow to cover your nose or mouth.

Vitamin C. I mentioned this earlier because it is used commonly to prevent cold, and alleviate certain symptoms, particularly those involving mucous membranes. It improves your white blood cell count and assists your body in making glutathione, a very strong antioxidant that escorts poisons out of your body.

Probiotics- The only way for you to have a strong immune system is to build one. Good clinical science proves a healthy gut barrier protects your body from pathogenic invaders, and revs immune function.

Mushrooms, the medicinal sort. Look for maitake extract at the health food store, or beta-glucan. These mushrooms provide compounds to your body that fight germs. Their incredible immune-boosting effects are well documented in medical research.

Vitamin A keeps your mucous membranes wet and strong, which helps soothe your nose, mouth, and throat. When the delicate membranes are functioning properly, they will trap particles and pathogens before they enter the body.

Vitamin D. It's great for most immune disorders because it enhances your T cells and helps you keep all sorts of bugs at bay. Usually, doctors suggest about 5 - 10,000 IU during the winter months, but it depends on your serum levels. Ask your physician.

Zinc. This prostate-loving mineral also reduces the duration of illness, and severity of symptoms. The trick is to start zinc at the very first sneeze. Luckily for you, zinc is found in nuts, dark chocolate and seafood so you can eat your way to better levels.

Certain spices like thyme, garlic and saffron. These possesses anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral compounds making them strong medicine in my kitchen.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)