Sorry! Orange Juice Will Not Cure Your Cold
Winter is coming. Ladies and gentlemen, unwrap your lozenges.
The onset of cold and flu season signifies that your school or workplace will soon be flooded with a chorus of coughs and a veritable menagerie of maladies. The sick season also harkens the return of a myth that just won't die: that orange juice will cure your cold.
This myth was originally derived in 1970 from the book Vitamin C and the Common Cold, by Nobel prize-winner Linus Pauling. Though his publication lacked scientific evidence, Pauling authoritatively claimed that consuming megadoses of vitamin C was a surefire way to diminish the world's most common ailment. The message stuck, and decades later it has been perpetuated by both word of mouth and an aura of false certainty that seems to accompany almost every ingrained myth.
Each winter, millions of Americans reach for the OJ when their throat starts to tickle. Despite elevating prices, the trend is sure to continue this season.
"I drank a half a gallon of orange juice yesterday; I'm not catching your cold," one of my co-workers confidently declared to his cube companion last week.
Despite my burning desire to set the science straight, I decided not to rain on my coworker's parade. I figured his sanguine belief in the magical healing powers of the Florida (or California) orange could very well wrap him in a placebo-forged cloak of invincibility.
But make no mistake, I will 'parade rain' now.
I absolutely adore my morning glass of OJ, but I recognize that it will not cure, prevent, reduce the severity of, or reduce the duration of the common cold.
Over sixty years of research have cemented this notion. Study after study has shown that while daily supplementation of Vitamin C can slightly reduce the frequency and duration of the common cold, no amount of vitamin C consumed immediately before, during, or after the appearance of symptoms will reduce a cold's severity or duration. Sorry, chugging vitamin C like it's your job won't ease that sore throat or cough.
Cold plasma, however, does show promise in the fight against the common cold. If Tropicana could somehow find a way to infuse cold plasma into their orange juice in the same manner as calcium, then they might just have something!