Volume 87 - June 1991.
To the Editor:
Re: A new research model for the common cold
lack of a “cure for the common cold” has become almost
a humorous metaphor for the shortcomings of western medicine’s
high technology approach to medical research.
also represents the inability of a sometimes inflexible and uncreative
research community to shift research activities away from disease
models (in this case the infectious disease model) that obviously
produce limited results in given situations.
of the enormous human and economic consequences of the common
cold, however, it is time for more creative scientists to challenge
the infectious disease model and the role of the more than one
hundred rhinoviruses that allegedly are the “cause”
of the common cold. Although the presence of these viruses is
indisputable. I for one question their causative role.
an occupational physician for over 15 years who has tracked upper
respiratory “infections” against work and family stress
cycles, I believe that, anecdotally, I can report a direct correlation
between periods of intense stress and the onset of a cold. Most
often a cold manifests itself after, rather than during, a long
period of stress, on a weekend, a holiday, or a vacation.
my opinion, many of the symptoms of these colds are what I refer
to as “parasympathetic breakthrough or payback” phenomena.
Symptoms in-dude but are not limited to increased mucus, sweat,
and tear production; generalized muscle aches; nausea; diarrhea;
phenomenon is not unlike narcotic withdrawal, but the “narcotics”
are the well-known stress hormones adrenalin and noradrenalin
that exist in high levels and suppress the cold symptoms during
intense periods of stress.
patients whom I have counseled regarding these intense work (stress)
rest cycles, I have witnessed improvement in the intensity and
duration of “colds.”
1959 Dr. Thomas C. Ward, an eminent virus researcher of Notre
Dame University, and others predicted a cure for the common cold
based on a vaccine against rhinoviruses. In over 30 years, after
great expense and energy pursuing the infectious disease hypothesis,
little if any progress has been made.
it time some creative researchers recognize the limitations of
this infectious disease model as applied to colds and explore
other areas of research more likely to yield success? I would
propose that exploring what I have referred to above as “parasympathetic
breakthrough or payback” to be one such fruitful area of
R. A. Lippin, MD.