Cold and flu season: What NOT to do

It’s that time of year again…

Sniffles, coughs, and fevers galore.

If you’re coming down with something, let’s talk about what NOT to do.

“No better than a placebo”

Many folks reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy when they come down with a cold or flu.

But, similar to the flu shot, which I often describe as “a shot in the dark,” these drugs offer limited relief—if any.

Remember, they’re designed to treat your symptomsNOT boost your immune system. And the latter is what’s really important when it comes to these seasonal viruses.

But you don’t only have to take my word for it. Because recently, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed that a common decongestant ingredient—found in many OTC formulas—is ineffective.

And if a decision is made to remove or ban the ingredient, popular OTC remedies could become unavailable when consumers are reaching for them most.

So, what’s the ingredient in question?


It’s used in many popular formulas from brands like Tylenol, Mucinex, and Benadryl. But research shows “that the ingredient was useless and no better than a placebo.”

Rest assured, it’s not found to be dangerous. Just simply “ineffective” (or useless).

Of course, the “experts” also agree there are better OTC options available that DON’T contain phenylephrine—or, at the very least, that the other ingredients in a formula that does contain it will still help alleviate symptoms.

But I have a better suggestion…

Year-round immunity

First and foremost, good hygienic practices will go a long way in preventing the season’s nastiest viruses. I’m talking about washing your hands with plain soap and water—NOT alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

But when it comes to priming your immune system, here’s what I recommend for year-round support:

  • Vitamin D—250 mcg (10,000 IU) daily
  • BRM4BioBran, also known as Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Concentrate (RBAC)—1,000 mg daily.
  • Vitamin C—1,000 mg, three times daily.
  • Probiotics—look for a formula that also contains prebiotics and postbiotics, then take it daily.

And when it comes to protecting yourself from the cold and flu, this is what I do at the first inkling that I may be getting sick—and I haven’t suffered a full-blown illness in decades:

  • Vitamin D—1,250 mcg (50,000 IU) for two days
  • Vitamin A (as retinol)—12,000 mcg (40,000 IU) for two days
  • Olive Leaf Extract—500 mg three times per day for two days

Oil of Oregano—500 mg three times per day for two days


“Decongestant in Cold Medicines Doesn’t Work, Panel Says.” The New York Times, 09/12/2023. (