Dear A.T.: It's the season for the common cold, with more than 1 billion cases in the United States each year. Sneezing is perhaps the most annoying symptom of all. Most people don't realize sneezing is actually your neurological process. Dust, a change in temperature, or even a bright light cause impulses to build up in the "sneezing center" of the brain. Signals are transmitted to nerve endings and the reflex of a sneeze occurs. It's actually a protective mechanism for your body.
Echinacea won't stop sneezing, but it does have other virtues.
Echinacea purpurea is a perennial flower native to eastern North America that wakes up the immune system to help you fight infections. We've just learned that daily consumption of echinacea may help stave off the common cold. A large study done by Cardiff University in the United Kingdom demonstrated that taking echinacea for four months significantly decreases your likelihood of catching cold; it may also shave time off your illness by 26 percent.
The study also showed that these preventive effects continued to increase with regular echinacea consumption, something that is new to our thinking. Many clinicians think echinacea is best when cycled for a few weeks on, then a few weeks off (as opposed to taking it routinely).
Ask your doctor if echinacea is right for you, and what your dosage should be. You can also drink echinacea tea.
But keep in mind that some people are allergic to this botanical class, and also, echinacea is rarely recommended for people with auto-immune disorders, as it can trigger flare-ups.
Also consider probiotics, which improve your body's own natural killer cells. Naturally, vitamin C and zinc should be part of your arsenal.
This is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.