HealthFood supplements, essential oils... These fake remedies to avoid getting sick in...

    Food supplements, essential oils… These fake remedies to avoid getting sick in winter

    Food supplements, essential oils... These fake remedies to avoid getting sick in winter

    Doctors warn against certain pseudo-remedies that would protect against colds, bronchitis and other sinusitis.

    With the return of the cold, some people are already anticipating the arrival of winter illnesses. And equip themselves with a supposed preventive pharmacopoeia: food supplements, vitamins, propolis cure or essential oils in the hope of escaping nasopharyngitis, bronchitis, sinusitis and seasonal angina… But is it really effective? We asked the question to two doctors.

    • Food supplements, a “placebo effect”?

    “Reinforced immunity”, “physical boost”, “immune defenses”… Food supplements that offer to “reinforce” or “stimulate” the immune defenses are legion, in the form of tablets, gummies or drops: more than half of the French population has already taken it, according to an Opinionway survey. And the market is growing: +6% in 2021, indicates the National Syndicate of Food Supplements.

    Their components are multiple: based on melatonin, pale rose powder, California poppy and lemon balm extract, for example, for those that promise to improve sleep; vitamin B6, B8, zinc and hyaluronic acid to claim to strengthen hair; or carob, cherry stalks, chromium and ascophyllum for those supposed to reduce fat absorption.

    These supplements are defined by the Ministry of Health as “foodstuffs the purpose of which is to supplement a normal diet and which constitute a concentrated source of nutrients or other substances having a nutritional or physiological effect”.

    But “none has shown efficacy beyond the placebo effect”, warns general practitioner Corentin Lacroix. Otherwise, “we would prescribe a shovel,” says the author of the Youtube channel WhyDoc, distinguished by the Academy of Medicine for the pedagogy of its content.

    The Ministry of Health also recalls that “the substances constituting food supplements do not exert a therapeutic action and are not intended to prevent or cure a disease”.

    Corentin Lacroix is ​​also worried about possible “cocktails” of food supplements ingested simultaneously: a first for food defenses, a second for hair regrowth or the quality of the skin and a last supposed to promote sleep. “From a marketing point of view, it’s very well done,” he remarks for “But there is a real risk in taking too much and telling yourself that it will be good for your health. However, this is not necessarily the case.”

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    • Vitamins, “useless”?

    A cure of vitamin A, C, or E to face the winter? A multivitamin and mineral complex to slip through the cracks of viruses? It’s “useless,” says Boris Hansel, endocrinologist and nutritionist at Bichat Hospital, who takes the example of vitamin C. “Vitamin C deficiency is completely prevented by diet if we follow the recommendations “, he assures “Especially since we don’t store it. Overloading it will have no effect.”

    Consumption of vitamin C is essential: it is involved in nerve transmission, plays a protective role in tissues and facilitates the absorption of non-heme iron, explains ANSES. But the professor of medicine recommends rather one or two kiwis added to a citrus fruit to cover the daily vitamin C needs, that is to say 110mg per day, rather than a tablet of 1000mg, as certain products propose it.

    “A food supplement absorbed suddenly does not have the same effects as a food, which is a combination of micronutrients”, he explains, warning against overdose, especially in the case of vitamin E – with properties antioxidants – or calcium or iron supplementation which is not insignificant if it is not necessary.

    “Telling yourself that you are going to take vitamins to have a better winter is a figment of the imagination. If taken over a month there is no danger, nor is there any profit.”

    With the exception of vitamin D, points out Boris Hansel, who devoted a video to it: the majority of French people do not consume enough of it, according to ANSES. It is however particularly important, allowing in particular to fix calcium and phosphorus in the body, further reminds the Agency.

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    • Royal jelly, propolis, pollen… “Marketing”?

    Royal jelly, propolis or pollen cures to drive out microbes and strengthen white blood cells? In an ampoule, pure or in chewing gum?

    “Marketing”, points out the doctor Corentin Lacroix again. “Only honey potentially has a small effect in case of persistent dry cough”, he believes, although it should be avoided in children under 1 year old for risk of botulism. “And watch out for pollen, which can be allergenic,” he adds.

    For the endocrinologist and nutritionist Boris Hansel, the only advantage of these cures is that the patients take care of themselves. “And when they take care of themselves, they pay more attention to what makes them feel good,” he notes. “So if someone feels like they get less sick from having a spoonful of honey or royal jelly every morning, so much the better.”

    • Essential oils, ineffective on seasonal illnesses?

    Ravintsara, eucalyptus, tea tree, niaouli or cinnamosma… Some people swear by essential oils to which they attribute antiviral, immunostimulating or even antibacterial properties. Doctor Boris Hansel calls for caution: “There is no scientific proof of the effectiveness of essential oils on seasonal diseases.”

    Especially since they can be potentially toxic. Review Prescribe alerted on the subject, pointing to the risks of acute poisoning, in particular by ingestion, ranging from digestive and neuropsychic disorders to kidney failure and liver damage.

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    Boris Hansel also encourages vigilance regarding the content of these essential oils, especially for pregnant women or children. “You shouldn’t take just anything,” he insists.

    ANSES has also warned about essential oil sprays and diffusers, reporting cases of irritation and considering that these products could emit volatile organic compounds that could “constitute a source of indoor air pollution”. The Agency also warned against food supplements containing essential oils of tea tree, niaouli and cajeput, which pose neurological, carcinogenic, genotoxic and potentially reprotoxic risks.

    • Barrier gestures, the best prevention

    For Corentin Lacroix and Boris Hansel, certain gestures are indeed effective in order not to fall ill: “These are quite simply barrier gestures”, recalls the first. “Ventilation, hand washing, coughing into your elbow and wearing a mask are our best allies,” he insists. Boris Hansel also adds sleep and physical activity to the list.

    “It’s been scientifically proven: poor sleep lowers the immune system. And we know that physical activity prevents many pathologies. That’s really effective for not getting sick.”

    As for food, if Corentin Lacroix recommends the Mediterranean diet to stay healthy, especially from the point of view of cardiovascular disease, no daily intake of fruit or vegetables will prevent catching a cold.

    On this point, this Youtuber doctor is also worried about a certain rigorous vision of food. “Some patients put so many dietary constraints on themselves to stay healthy that they fall into what is called orthorexia.” An eating disorder related to the quality of food, or when eating healthy turns into an obsession.

    Source: BFM TV

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