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Natural Remedies for the Relief of Cold and Flu Symptoms: The Evidence for Garlic, Onion, Chilli and Chocolate | OMICS International
ISSN: 2573-4555
Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy
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Natural Remedies for the Relief of Cold and Flu Symptoms: The Evidence for Garlic, Onion, Chilli and Chocolate

Christopher Ian Wright*
Red Pharmaceuticals; Cold Meece Estate, Staffordshire, UK
Corresponding Author : Christopher Ian Wright
Red Pharm; Cold Meece Estate, Staffordshire, UK
Tel: +44-7967-230-155
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: July 21, 2014; Accepted: June 25, 2015; Published: July 2, 2015
Citation: Wright CI (2015) Natural Remedies for the Relief of Cold and Flu Symptoms: The Evidence for Garlic, Onion, Chilli and Chocolate. J Homeop Ayurv Med 4:182. doi:10.4172/2167-1206.1000182
Copyright: © Wright CI. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Abstract

Some over-the-counter natural remedies claim to provide symptomatic relief from the common cold and flu. The current study used pubmed to review the evidence to support the use of garlic, onion, chilli and chocolate for the symptomatic relief of cold and flu symptoms, congestion, cough, mucous and a runny nose. The search terms focused the search on review articles conducted in humans. Results showed that there was limited data supporting the use of garlic, onion, chilli and chocolate. Future studies are required to support the effectiveness and safety of these ingredients alone or in combination. Studies may also consider exactly what ingredients are effective, which combinations are effective and at what dose these ingredients are effective.

Keywords
Cold and flu; Symptomatic; Garlic; Onion; Chilli; Chocolate
Background
The symptoms of cold and flu can be quite similar with common symptoms including a stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat and coughing [1]. In both conditions, over-the-counter remedies can be used to provide some symptomatic relief2. Review articles have assessed the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment and prevent of common cold symptoms (Table 1) with varying effects reported in terms of both severity and duration of symptoms. Promising candidates include Andrographis paniculata, Echinacea purpurea , Pelargonium sidoides extract, zinc, garlic and vitamin C [2,3]. There are a growing number of natural remedies claiming to provide relief from the symptoms of the common cold and flu [1]. One example is FinifluTM (product link www.finiflu.com.au). This product contains garlic, onion and chilli, and is chocolate flavoured and the on-pack indications are for the symptoms associated with colds and flu including a runny nose, congestion, mucous buildup and cough. The prophylactic use of garlic for 12 weeks has been suggested to decrease the number of self-reported colds with no change in the days taken to recovery from the cold [2]. However, there is little data, that the author is aware of, that shows extracts of onion, chilli or chocolate provide symptomatic relief from the common cold or flu. The aim of this article was therefore to review the evidence that supports their use.
Methods
Product ingredients
32 chocolate squares are contained within each box of Finiflu. The packet claims that the product is produced with 100% natural vegetable extract containing garlic, onion and chilli and provided in a chocolate food base.
Finiflu, is mint chocolate flavoured and contains 333.34 mg of dry Allium cepa fruit (i.e., onion), 16.65 mg of garlic clove powder and 8.33 mg of Capsicum annum fruit (chilli).
Directions for use
The advice is that the product is taken orally with two squares of chocolate taken every 2 hours with a maximum of 16 tablets taken in one day. Hence the maximum suggested daily dose is: onion, 5333.44 mg; garlic, 266.40 mg; and, chilli, 133.28 mg.
Symptomatic relief
The pack states the following usage: “Assists with the relief of symptoms associated with cold and flu and other mild respiratory conditions.” The symptoms specifically identified on pack are runny nose, congestion, mucous and cough.
Commercial availability
Finiflu is listed / included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (AUST L165924). The author is unaware of other countries where this product has been commercialised.
Analysis
Pubmed (www.pubmed.org) was searched using two pre-defined filters - ‘humans’ and ‘review’ to assess the number of results for each of the ingredients (‘garlic’, ‘onion’, ‘chilli’ and ‘chocolate’) in combination with each of the symptoms (‘common cold’, ‘flu’, ‘congestion’, ‘cough’, ‘mucous’ and ‘runny rose’).
Results of this search are presented in terms of the number of review articles per ingredient. This is broken down by symptom Table 2.
Results
The results of this literature review are presented in Table 2.
Onion
The literature search revealed three symptoms potentially associated with onion. These were cold [4,5], flu [4] and mucous [6]. Analysis of the identified literature showed that none of the hits specifically related to clinical efficacy and safety trial results and were associated respiratory and allergic diseases [4], epilepsy [5] and pemphigus, an autoimmune disease marked by blisters on skin and mucous membranes and often by itching or burning [6].
Chilli
The literature search revealed four symptoms potentially associated with chilli. These were cold [7,8], cough [7], mucous [6] and runny nose [7]. None of these related to clinical efficacy and safety trial results for the common cold or flu and were associated safety [7], themo transient receptor potential channels [8] and gastric ulcers [6].
Chocolate
The literature search revealed three symptoms potentially associated with chocolate. These were cold [9-11], congestion [12] and cough [13]. None of these reviews related to the common cold and flu, but were associated with phosphodiesterase inhibitors [9], productivity and development safety [10], methylxanthine composition of cocoa [11], acute pelvic pain [12] and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis [14].
Garlic
The literature search revealed four symptoms potentially associated with chocolate. These were cold [15-23], flu, cough [16,23] and mucous [6]. The reviews relating to cold, flu and cough all concerned trials relating to the effectiveness of garlic. Mucous was not related as this review related to pemphigus [6].
Discussion
Many people turn to alternative remedies for treating the symptoms of the common cold and the flu. The current assessment focused on four actives – garlic, onion, chilli and chocolate – and their effectiveness in providing relief from the symptoms of the common cold and flu. A review of the literature on Pubmed showed that there was little support for onion, chilli and chocolate. Garlic, in contrast, was reviewed in a number of different articles and suggested to provide relief from cold and flu symptoms, and cough.
The current research was initiated based on the claims being made by Finiflu. This product contains garlic, onion, chill and chocolate and it claims to alleviate symptoms including a runny nose, congestion, mucous and cough. The current literature search failed, however, to identify scientific support to show that onion, chilli and chocolate provided symptomatic relief for any of the symptoms that Finiflu claims on its pack. Garlic per se, however, may provide symptomatic relief. The strongest evidence supporting the use of garlic comes from the Cochrane review by Lissiman et al. 17, although the authors did conclude that further trials were needed to support the use of garlic in the prevention and symptomatic treatment of the common cold. Indeed, the reviewers concluded that:
“There is insufficient clinical trial evidence regarding the effects of garlic in preventing or treating the common cold. A single trial suggested that garlic may prevent occurrences of the common cold but more studies are needed to validate this finding. Claims of effectiveness appear to rely largely on poor-quality evidence.”
Conclusion and Recommendations
At the present time, the current literature for the individual ingredients (garlic, onion, chilli and chocolate) is quite limited. Further data is required to support both the effectiveness of these individual ingredients as well as their combined usage in preparations such as Finiflu. Hence, in keeping with the conclusions by Lissiman et al. [18], more studies (e.g., randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials and individual case reports) are required. Furthermore, such trials will need to assess which ingredients are effective, which combinations are effective and at what dose these ingredients are effective. Lastly, future studies should assess the safety of the ingredients in order to define their optimal dosing frequency and duration of use.
Acknowledgements and Disclosures
The author confirms that he did not receive any financial rewards or incentives to prepare this article.
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