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Feed a cold . . .

(article, Caroline Cummins)

Spring is sprung — sort of, depending on where you are right now (lovely on the West Coast, snowy and nasty on the East Coast). And we're all still fending off those head colds that arrive in the fall and linger way too long.

For those of us who don't want to pop vitamin C (the Linus Pauling favorite) or Airborne pills, there are plenty of other edible options. Chicken soup, as the New York Times_ pointed out last fall, really is good for you, although researchers haven't been able to pin down the secret of the soup in the cold-fighting department. Hot peppers, the paper pointed out in mid-February, are also a popular home remedy for colds; they're high in vitamin C and (despite the burning heat in your mouth while eating them) are analgesic, or pain-relieving.

And the sober-minded folks at the Mayo Clinic have put together a helpful Web page detailing what, in their medical opinions, really makes you feel better (and what doesn't). Thumbs up? Caffeine- and alcohol-free liquids, saltwater gargles, humidity, the occasional over-the-counter remedy, and, yes, chicken soup. Thumbs down? Antibiotics (colds are caused by a virus, not a bacteria), antihistamines, and cough syrup. The docs suggest a soothing balm of lemon water and honey instead.