10 Remedies That Do Absolutely Nothing to Treat the Common Cold

The echinacea flower has long been associated with cold treatment, but its actual benefits are debatable. ©iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Echinacea is a natural, herbal remedy that has long been used by Native Americans, and today is popular among those who prefer natural and alternative medicines to over-the-counter cough suppressant. Echinacea is an herb, often taken as a pill or prepared as a tea in an effort to treat and shorten the duration of the common cold and upper respiratory infections.

Despite its popularity, studies show that its benefits are debatable. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine as well as research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) echinacea is no more effective than a placebo -- or nothing at all -- in preventing colds [sources: Barrett, NCCAM].