Feel a cold coming on? You may want to stay away from the pharmacy.

Over-the-counter drugs only relieve symptoms. They don’t get rid of the viral infection causing them.

Instead of relying on over-the-counter drugs, keep yourself from getting sick in the first place. A lot of people think there is nothing you can do to stave off the common cold. But in my practice, we’ve proven that’s not true. You can, for example:

• Take vitamin C. You should take 500 mg a day of this potent antioxidant consistently. If you feel a cold coming on, increase that to 1,000 mg. This old standby really is one of your body’s best immune defenses – if you take enough. The recommended daily allowance of 60 mg a day will do nothing.

• Use Echinacea, an herb that Native Americans have been using for centuries. While it’s a strong immune booster, it’s best not to take it regularly. Drink one to two cups of Echinacea tea a day during cold and flu season. You can also take Echinacea capsules, 500 mg a day – but I prefer the tea.

• Try Goldenseal, another Native American plant. This is a strong bacterial fighter, including the bacteria that cause strep throat. You can find powdered Goldenseal in capsule form at most health food stores. Gargle a solution of Goldenseal and water at the first sign of a sore throat. Use 100 mg three times a day.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears is a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure. He is also a nutritional expert, a fitness expert, and is certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Find Dr. Sears’s practical solutions and get immediate access to more than 500 of his articles by visiting www.alsearsmd.com.]

Comment on this article

Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.