Is Cough Medicine Helpful? Probably Not, Says the American Chemical Society
Researchers at the American Chemical Society examine whether or not cough medicine has scientific merit.
David is an ambidextrous thinker who likes big ideas. As a “Tech Ethicist,” he explores our evolving relationship with social media and tech from an ethical, legal, and emotional perspective. Utilizing his background as an attorney, educator, and pop culture aficionado, David offers a fresh perspective on potential trends and ways to humanize our digital lives. He is currently a speaker (3-time TEDx), branding and communications consultant, and Trust & Safety for social messaging platform Friendbase. David is researching the impact that “scaling intimacy” has on human relationships, and working on an upcoming book. He is also the co-host for Funny as Tech.
He can be contacted at TechEthicist.com and @TechEthicist.
In a new video posted on the American Chemical Society's Reactions YouTube site ("Does Cough Medicine Really Work?"), chemists argue that there is no conclusive evidence that cough medicine is effective. The group of researchers came to this conclusion after examining a number of systematic reviews that compared data from numerous studies.
Here the overall take from the American Chemical Society's Reaction team:
"There’s very little evidence that cough syrup is effective at treating coughs. And carefully performed clinical trials show that these medications are generally no better than a placebo."
As the Reactions team pointed out, clinical trials showed that widely-used cough medicines generally did no better than a placebo in treating symptoms. They examined Antitussives (blocking cough reflex), Expectorants (loosening the mucus), Decongestants (narrowing the blood vessels of the lung and nose to reduce congestion), and Antihistamines (decreasing mucus associated with allergies).
While the researchers found little benefit to over-the-counter cough medicines, they also stated that there was no real medical downside (outside of an overdose, especially with children) to taking the medication. The improvement of health one may feel from taking cough medicine may be tied in with the well-documented placebo effect. ("Placebos Relieve Pain, Even When Patients Know the Treatment Isn't Real")
Treating Your Cold Without Pharmaceuticals
There are an endless array of natural remedies that people use to soothe coughing and reduce the symptoms of a cold. The researchers at the American Chemical Society touched upon the popular usage of zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea and determined that likewise there was little scientific backing to the health claims. Honey, however, may have some merit and is in new of continued study.
The three suggestions made by the American Chemical Society's Reaction team was to:
1. Drink plenty of fluid in order to lower your cough reflect and thin out mucus.
2. Take a steamy shower, or use a humidifier, to reduce congestion
3. Use a hard candy or cough drop to increase saliva production, which will soothe an irritated throat.
Lastly, there is always the old standby of chicken noodle soup. Outside of its nostalgic appeal, there may be some scientific merit in having a cup of soup when suffering through a cold. According to the Mayo Clinic:
[I]f you're sick, chicken soup may help you feel better. Warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea or warm apple juice, help speed up the movement of mucus through the nose. This relieves congestion and limits the amount of time viruses are in contact with the lining of your nose. Plus, soup and other liquids help prevent dehydration.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.