National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
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mother feeling the forehead of her child who is laying in bed

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Each year, Americans get millions of colds, and between 5 and 20 percent of Americans get the flu—a much more severe disease. Fortunately, vaccines can help to protect you against the flu. With rare exceptions, everyone age 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu each year. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against the common cold.

Researchers are investigating a variety of complementary health approaches to see whether they can prevent colds and flu or relieve their symptoms. The resources on this page will tell you what the science has to say about the effectiveness and safety of complementary approaches for colds and flu, such as zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C.

This page last modified November 23, 2018