Ascorbic acid for the common cold. A prophylactic and therapeutic trial

JAMA. 1975 Mar 10;231(10):1038-42.


Three hundred eleven employees of the National Institutes of Health volunteered to take 1 gm of ascorbic acid or lactose placebo in capsules three times a day for nine months. At the onset of a cold, the volunteers were given an additional 3 gm daily of either a placebo or ascorbic acid. One hundred ninety volunteers completed the study. Dropouts were defined as those who missed at least one month of drug ingestion. They represented 44% of the placebo group and 34% of those taking ascorbic acid. Analysis of these data showed that ascorbic acid had at best only a minor influence on the duration and severity of colds, and that the effects demonstrated might be explained equally well by a break in the double blind.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Autosuggestion
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Common Cold / diagnosis
  • Common Cold / drug therapy
  • Common Cold / microbiology
  • Common Cold / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Rhinovirus / isolation & purification
  • Seasons
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Placebos
  • Ascorbic Acid