Complementary medicines for respiratory tract infections

Vitamins, minerals and complementary medicines

While some people may find vitamin or mineral supplements or herbal medicines helpful, there is not enough information from good quality, reliable clinical trials to prove that vitamins (e.g. vitamin C), mineral supplements (e.g. zinc) or herbal medicines (e.g. echinacea) help treat or prevent respiratory tract infections such as colds and flu (influenza).

Bear in mind also that there is often less information about the safety of complementary medicines, and some can cause side effects and interact with other medicines.

Read our information on vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking

It is important that you tell your health professional about all the medicines you or anyone in your care is taking — including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (‘herbal’ and ‘natural’ medicines and vitamin and mineral supplements). This is because all medicines, including herbal and natural medicines, can cause side effects and may interact with other medicines. The benefits and risks of herbal and natural medicines may not have been tested.