Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fighting Colds with Vitamin C and Niacin

I have read many documents advocating fighting colds with 5 to 100 gm/day doses of extra vitamin C. The extra vitamin C is taken in divided doses every hour or two until the onset of the side effect of intestinal discomfort. Many in my family followed this advice for many years, and we generally believe that the practice reduces the duration and severity of colds. Despite this practice, colds continued to cause substantial suffering, and we were interested in better results. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

Niacin is one of two common forms of vitamin B3. Niacin has been proven in double blind, placebo control clinical trials to fight heart disease when taken at doses ranging between 1000 and 4000 mg/day (the RDA is near 20 mg/day). Niacin lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. It is the most effective treatment known for these conditions.

Niacin can be difficult to take. It can have very unpleasant side effects. Niacin causes flushing. The skin turns red and feels like a sunburn for a few minutes. On average, the severity of the flush increases with increasing dose, and can be extremely painful. Flushing can be controlled with time-release niacin. The next most common side effect is more serious. It is nausea. The nausea ranges from mild, lasting for an hour or so to so severe that it lasts a whole day and can be accompanied by vomiting. Niacin has been associated with many other side effects. In this respect, niacin is much more difficult to use than vitamin C. In general, vitamin C’s intestinal side effects are some combination of completely avoidable or readily tolerable.

My family has found niacin’s side effects to be tolerable, but not completely avoidable. We take it because we have found the combination of vitamin C and niacin to obviously reduce the duration and severity of colds. With the exception of the most severe colds, the combination of vitamin C and niacin has kept the family feeling 100%, and maybe even better. When fighting a cold, we have found the combination of vitamin C and niacin to have a stimulant effect. Under the influence, in addition to fighting off the cold, we rush about our business with extra energy. We use single daily doses of niacin between 100 and 250 mg. We ordinarily use it only twice at most because by the third day the cold is over. I take ordinary niacin and typically flush because the flush doesn’t bother me. The rest of my family hate flushing and take time release niacin. When the cold is gone we return to the normal daily routine of vitamin C and a multivitamin.

I have read the vitamin literature extensively. I have found almost nothing advocate the combination of extra vitamin C and extra niacin to fight off colds. If anyone can point me to references, I’m interested.

Niacin is a vitamin with tremendous potential. All medical professionals accept the usefulness of niacin at doses far above the 20 mg RDA. All cardiologists are now familiar with the challenges of using niacin and are a skilled resource to help the population that is suffering from chronic colds. Niacin side effects are being successfully managed. The benefits clearly far outweigh the dangers.

Niacin is known to be essential to the health of every cellular system in the body. Hundreds of specific metabolic pathways requiring niacin have been identified. Since high doses of niacin are effective for heart disease, proposal that high doses might be effective for other conditions merit a fair hearing.

So, if colds cause you enough trouble to make taking extra vitamin C worthwhile, consider adding in some extra niacin. There’s nothing to lose. If it works, come on back to the board and let others know. Let us know about any side effects too.


At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, thanks a lot, You'v done a great job.I can only realize how much time and resources does it take to create such a resource!Great work, I am impressed!

At 7:08 PM, Blogger rpisces11 said...

I took a 500mg pill of Niacin and found the experience traumatic. NEVER AGAIN! Please go see a doctor if you are going to take big doses. I was on FIRE for 45 minutes!!!!!!

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Rusty Hoge said...

In response to rpisces11: The "flush" that you experienced, which can be frightening and annoying, is harmless. Niacin needs to be taken carefully. Dosage needs to be raised slowly. I recommend time-release. Please also see the Niacin Mongraph

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Niacin is a bit of a wonder drug just do some research on the net. In addition it was found that the lower costing non flushing formulations had the better effect. It is also recommended to increase niacin over a period of time, you should never SELF dose Niacin in the upper limits of 1000-1500mgs daily, this can be dangerous for a few is BP medicine interaction (only some BP meds not all) secondly it can have an effect on your liver which needs to be tested as if you were on statins. Even with these very minimal issues I highly recommend its for people who have lower HDL numbers. Remember if your able exercise, 30-40mins daily will most definately and has been clinically proven to have many positive impacts on your overall health, it is well documented.

At 4:47 AM, Anonymous Ian Kline said...

I get week long colds twice a year regularly. I'm not 100% sure why, however I trust that the length of the colds is due to a problem I have with my Lymphatic system. The colds run a regular course. First, sore throat which lasts a couple days, the second day the congestion starts, and just when the sore throat is beginning to feel better, I start three and a half to four day violent coughing spree that usually leaves my sides feeling like I'd just been hit by a car, then nausea for the last couple of days. I recently began taking Niacin as a "helper" to cleanse my Lymphatic system. Much to my suprise and EXTREME joy, It seems that the Niacin helps tremendously with the congestion and coughing stage of my colds, and also (after flushing) seems to help keep my fevers to a minimum. Is there any specific reason behind this? I know that Niacin helps to promote healthy bloodflow and pressure, but I was curious if there are any proven effects on the respiratory system.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger silent wings said...

Hello I took Niacin and extra Vitamin C for my cold this week at the recommendation of my husband. I was pretty mad at him for the first 3o min. LOL That stuff is crazy!!! I was beet red and my skin felt tight and swollen. I think it took about an hour for it to wear off completely. It is day 3now and my cold is almost gone.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Steve said...

silent wings,

Thanks for visiting and sharing your experience. I'm sorry you were surprised by the niacin flush. Yes indeed. LOL that stuff is crazy!!! I've done my best to warn about this side effect and to help users avoid this pain. I hope you realize that you can take niacin in divided doses of <50 mg each. 30 minutes between doses is enough to prevent intense flushing. Alternatively, you can take time-release niacin tablets.

I believe I've been clear that vitamin C and niacin do not reduce the frequency of colds - just the duration and severity. Please see my post titled "Four Special Nutrients". I now believe that optimal doses of vitamin D and allithiamine can reduce the frequency of colds. You can also type "Vitamins and Influenza" into google. An OMNS press release comes up discussing the same subject.

Thanks again for visiting and leaving your comment.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Fla-grp said...

Anyone who's interested in therapeutic doses of niacin would like the website

The website is entirely about niacin therapy.

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Michael Dezelle said...

I have taken Niacin periodically for years. Most frequently in flushing my system for THC. I did not realize that it was so integral to our bodies health. This has given me much food for thought, and continues to reinforce the idea that homeopathic remedies are indeed the answer for more than just basic rememdies.
Our bodies are miracles. We should treat them like temples, yet most often we abuse them. As I grow older, I come to understand life better. I am 32 now and have abused my body in all manner of ways. I am attempting to heal the damage I have caused and prevent further degeneration.
Inso far as the Niacin flush is concerned, I have found that a tall glass of water per 100mg is essential. It cuts down the irritating flushing effects immensely. I have a nasty lil cold that refuses to go away, and I was searching for a (natural) remedy to help it go away. I have found that common storebought medicines leave me feeling sick for much longer. Indeed, instead of getting better, my colds commonly cause infections in my throat and lungs.
Thank you for your information. I plan on putting it to good use.

At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks 4 the great blog! On the time release niacin almost evthng I hav read abt it says it can damage ur liver while regular niacin nearly always will NOT (as long as not going crazy with it)
If u google Dr Janet Starr Hull she
writes "the flush is a rush" & I agree with her! I am now much less afraid of the flush than I used to be & its said if u want to tame the flush drink lots of water &/or take niacin with more food. I suspect its very true u must watch it if ur on certain meds but to me its also SO sad that people r on meds so much when its AMAZING what
many natural products can do! As far as I can tell niacin helps the body a LOT with blood flow & this seems now a NO-BRAINER with aiding ur body to go after & destroy anythng unwanted. Niacin WITH vit C makes much sense 2 me as even better yet! (Esp C in the form of hot peppers &/or food-based C supplements) Been taking anywhere frm 500-3000 mg/day of niacin recently & am completely convinced its ALL for the better!! (Also hav read many places that the non-flushing kinds of niacin dont do u nearly as much good & ARE the types u must be more careful with.) Cheers!

At 5:00 AM, Blogger Sharad said...

I am suffering from colds since yesterday. Since yesterday I was taking extra Vitamin C. One of my colleagues is also suffering from colds, and he told he had taken Citrazine and feeling better. Citrazine is antihystamine drug.
So I myself got idea, why not take niacin and flush, so the flush will take out hystamine. So I took 500 mg Niacin with vitamin C. and ... within 5 min. started flushing and within next 5 min. my nose stopped running!.
Feeling better I just thought of checking relation of niacin and colds on the net and I found your Blog.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Xander said...

This is awesome! I'm pretty familiar with vit. B3 and C, I know what potential they have. I take Vit. C and Multivitamin every day. I take Vit B3 maybe every other day. Been doing this for about a year, never sick! Got sick a few days ago, I mean I was about to be down for the count. I hate taking meds, so I kinda doubled up on my trusted Vits. Was amazed that it worked so well!! Great info here!

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Xander said...

Great info Vit C and B3 works in miraculous ways!!

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been using high doses of vitamin C to fight off colds for about 5 years now and have found it very effective. Cold sypmtoms only last about 2 or 3 days. I only recently discovered Niacin and find the flushing effect to be tolerable. I mostly have fun with it freaking friends out, and pretending I'm getting really angry as my entire body turns beet red :P I trying out the combination of vitamin C and Niacin today to hopefully get rid of the cold I have even faster. Thank you for posting this and thank you everyone for the great information!

At 4:15 PM, Blogger V said...

I just had a spontaneous recovery from a cold using niacin and found your site looking for verification. I am into orthomolecular a long time now but mainly Vit C. I just started niacin to experiment with my acne and anxiety, i am into 100mg per meal at the moment. I had a cold which i almost fully reversed using bowel tolerance doses of C. But some symptoms remained, so today (day seven of cold) i took 200mg in my meal. after a good sleep which energized me, i discovered that cold remaining symptoms are much less, my nose and throat finally cleared. I dont know if the zinc i am taking played also a role, i am taking 50mg of zinc per meal, today i took 100mg...

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Beth said...

I recently started taking niacin for cholesterol... The immediate release 1 of cold, I didn't know if I should skip the niacin today, but just took it with food and lots of water, so hoping it works in the next couple days. My head still feels achy but my nose cleared up after 5 minutes taking niacin. I hope my head starts to feel better too.

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I experienced headache that lasted daily for 3 weeks. The prescription meds did little to help. I had thought to take niacin flush 500mg & within 45 minutes headache gone & not returned. Now with the beginning of a cold I took another & sore throat significantly improved in about same time. I dont mind the flush, except for the first time I ever tried it.


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