Cold and Flu are common and inevitable. These are trusted natural cold and flu remedies that we use in our home without compromising standards for clean, natural and organic living. Truly natural remedies that are safe for kids and adults; and those that children will actually take.
Sometimes one vitamin or supplement is enough, but sometimes, a combination of these will work best.
The best six doctors anywhere remain to be Diet, Water, Rest, Air, Sunshine and Exercise…
Healthy immune system that can fight infection is key. Our bodies need real, nourishing food. This especially holds true during an illness with a weakened immune system. Eat well – no processed food and or refined sugars. Lots of healthy food, especially colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats… Take it easy, rest and boost your immune system with these natural cold and flu remedies so it can do its job.
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Natural Cough, Cold and Flu Fighting Remedies
Keep in mind, I am not a doctor. I am a mother that has done her research and I encourage you to do yours as well as consulting with a medical professional.
Mineral Water – Hydrate! Experts agree, Americans are severely dehydrated and the problem intensifies during an illness. If one is thirsty, it is too late, one is dehydrated. Mineral water, like Mountain Valley (in glass bottle) or another natural spring water is best. The general recommendation is to take one’s weight and divide it by two. That is how many Oz of water one should drink daily without being sick. So..
- a 26lb two year old, should be drinking 13 Oz of water per day;
- a 40lb five year old child should be drinking 20 Oz of water per day
- a 125lb adult, should be drinking 75 Oz of water daily.
Vitamin C – vitamin C is incredible at fighting anything from a simple cold to a bacterial infection. There are several recommendations on how much to take. Vitamin C Foundation’s protocol is “At first sign of cold or flu, begin taking at least 8 g (8000 mg) of vitamin C as ascorbic acid every twenty minutes for 3 to 4 hours until bowel tolerance.” (Note: 8 grams equals sixteen – 500 mg pills, or eight – 1000 mg pills.)
I however have found that 3,000mg every 2-3 hours also has a noticeable effect. The point to derive is there is no “too much”. And “too much” is basically diarrhea – with one positive – a person now knows their tolerance level and can safely take that amount in the future. There are also reports of Liposomal Vitamin C that has significant absorption rates. I am having trouble finding one with tolerable preservatives, but this brand seems to be the ‘better’ of the bunch.
We take non-liposomal Vitmain C and this is what we do:
Adults: 3,000mg of Vitamin C every 2-3 hours for 24-48 hours. This brand (500mg in each pill so 6 pills at once)*
Children: 750mg – 1,000mg every 3 hours for 24-48 hours. Vitamin-C gummies (250mg in 2 gummies with 3g of sugar), although I really do not like the extra sugar. 6-8 gummies every 3 hours.
*Several years ago, during an away-weekend, my throat was incredibly sore; I could barely speak. Went to a no-name grocery store and bought the most expensive ($12) vitamin C supplement they carried. Took 3,000mg every 2-3 hours and woke up with a slight cold but my sore throat was completely gone. True story.
Elderberry Surup – used to boost immune system, relieve coughs, colds, flu and viral infections. In vitro, elderberry flavanoids bind to and prevent H1N1, according to this study. Another study and confirmed elderberry extract shortens the span of the common flu similarly to Timaflu; this particular brand was studied in the actual study, but it has potassium sorbate as preservative and is not organic). We take this certified organic brand:
Adults and children over 2: 1 teaspoon 2x a day
Children under 1: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon (depending on age) 2x a day
Herbal Immune Booster – herbal blend that supports response to immune system distress. Certified Organic. Works amazingly well. Thank me later. A must have for the cold/flu season. Did I mention it is certified organic? This is the adult version in alcohol and kids version with no alcohol. I get the biggest 4oz bottles. Often it stops a cold in its tracks if taken at first symptom. Can be used as a preventative after exposure to a sick person.
Adults: based on body weight five times a day
Children: based on body weight five times a day
Vitamin D3 – excellent immune system booster. In this study, school children that took 1,200IU of vitamin D had 40% lower type A influenza rates. In addition, the children who took vitamin D had significantly less asthma attacks.
Vitamin D is a daily supplement in our home. Many professionals insist that most, even those in sunny climates are still deficient in this important vitamin. We take a daily dose and boost the amount during a sickness. Vitamin D3 should be taken with vitamin K2. This is the brand we use daily and add this D3 only for a boost when needed. During illness we increase our dose to:
Adults: 7,000IU – 15,000IU daily
Children: 1,000IU – 3,000 IU daily
Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) – this type of fish oil is abundant in omega 3’s and full of antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body. Rich in naturally occurring vitamin D and A necessary for optimum immune health. best taken as a combination. All boost immune health. I like the transparencies of both, Dropi and Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oils. Dropi provides test results for their oil and it looks very good (buy Dropi here).
Adults: 1tsp daily
Children over age 1 or over age 2: 1tsp daily …(this one is tough. Too much vitamin A for a child is not good in general, however, Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil contains natural vitamin, not synthetic so for an older toddler a one time dose of 1 tsp should be OK for boosting immune system. Even if 1 tsp contains 3,00-5,000IU of vitamin A, it is still less than 1/2 cup of raw carrots at 9,189IU or 1/2 cup of raw cantaloupe at 2,706IU – see Table 2 for more info)
Garlic – nature’s antibiotic! Mince, chop or crush 2-4 garlic cloves, let sit for 15 minutes. “Chopping or crushing stimulates the enzymatic process that converts the phytonutrient alliin into allicin, a compound to which many of garlic’s health benefits are attributed. In order to allow for maximal allicin production, wait at least 5 minutes before eating or cooking the garlic.” (source)
Adults: swallow as you would a pill with a glass of water
Children: mix with raw honey
Raw Honey – raw, unfiltered and local is best (NO honey before age 12 months). If not available locally, this raw honey is a product of USA and is in a glass jar. Medicinal and anti-bacterial properties of raw honey have been documented in world’s oldest medical literature. Raw honey is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and wound-healing and immune boosting properties. Another type of honey – Manuka honey – has been studied and also found to have miraculous properties.
Adults and Children: take a tablespoon every few hours. Alternate with this brand Manuka honey.
Ginger – anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Take a 1-2 inches of fresh ginger root, peel carefully; grate using a fine cheese grater/zester. Pour hot/boiling water over grated ginger. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
Adults: drink as-is
Children: allow to cool to warm/room temperature, add raw honey
Turmeric – powerful antioxidant, contains potent anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. I buy here in bulk.
Adults and children: Mix 1tsp of turmeric powder with raw honey and take throughout the day
Probiotics – support our immune system. Experts agree, 70-80% of our immune system resides within our gut. Healthy gut equals healthy immune system. Probiotics need to be refrigerated, including during shipping. We take Klaire brand Infant Probiotic(for kids under age 2) and their Therbiotic Complete. Other good brands are GutPro, Metagenics and Seeking Health. This is one supplement I insist to order direct from manufacturer, google for a practitioner code.
Additionally, we make Kefir and homemade sauerkraut. The probiotics in these homemade ferments far outweigh the store-bought options. We do however supplement with Klaire brand for diversification.
Tea – beneficial medicinal properties and hydration. We regularly during Chamomile Tea (buy here), Ginger tea (buy here) and Peppermint tea for adults (buy here). The brand I chose is certified organic, with unbleached, natural paper bags. No synthetics leaching into your tea while brewing.
Bone Broth – simple, healing and so nourishing. Check out my recipe, and you will not believe how easy it is. Quality marrow bones from a grass fed animal, or an organic chicken. Place in large pot of water, add 2 celery, an onion and 2 carrots. Simmer on low for several hours. That’s it! Sip throughout the day.
Cough Syrup – supports respiratory system. This one is a ‘maybe’. It takes the edge off but is not super effective. I have more success boosting the immune system so the duration of the illness is short. This is a certified organic adult version, and an organic kids version.
Adults: teaspoon 3 times daily
Children: 2-4 times daily depending on age
Xlear Nasal Spray – a saline spray with xylitol and grapefruit seed extract. Used for colds and allergies. Washes away pollutants, irritants and airborne contaminants. Thins and loosens mucous secretions. According to this doctor, it can be used as a preventative measure as well; she recommends using every night during cold/flu season or at every exposure to cold, cough, flu or even something like measles. I have it on hand for such events like a birthday party with a child in attendance that clearly should have stayed home…. An encounter where your child plays closely with another child experiencing a cold, a cough or another symptom… When exposure was obvious, we spray before going to bed and in the morning. Buy it here.
Adults: spray 4 times in each nostrill, 2x a day
Children: spray 2-4 times in each nostrill, 2x a day
Homeopathy – Homeopathic remedies are non-drowsy, have no drug interactions, and they work naturally with your body. The concept is quite fascinating, read more about homeopathy here. There are several principles but in very general terms, “like cures like”; a patient takes a homeopathic remedy that is the “most similar to that of the patient’s characteristic totality.” So for example, “An onion is a substance which makes your eyes water and your nose burn. If you are having an attack of hay fever with watering eyes and a burning nose, a homeopathic remedy made from onion can relieve it.” In addition, “a second principle of homeopathy is that you should give the least amount of medicine necessary to evoke a healing response.”
Homeopathic medicines sold over the counter “tend to be in either the 6c or 30c potency. 6c means that the substance has undergone 6 steps in a series of dilutions, where each step involves diluting 1 part medicine to 99 parts alcohol/water. The more stages of dilution and succussion the preparation has gone through, the more potent the medicine is – so a 30c medicine is more potent than a 6c medicine.” The two homeopathic remedies below have ingredients with 3C and 6C dilution. The founder of homeopathy “created the centesimal or “C scale”, diluting a substance by a factor of 100 at each stage. …A 2C dilution requires a substance to be diluted to one part in one hundred, and then some of that diluted solution diluted by a further factor of one hundred. This works out to one part of the original substance in 10,000 parts of the solution. A 6C dilution repeats this process six times, ending up with the original material diluted by a factor of 100−6=10−12.”
I am a skeptic by nature so my first thought was “OK” with sarcasm and a smirk… And to my humble surprise, it worked beautifully when my daughter experienced colic symptoms. In fact it worked so well that I went from a complete non-believer to an advocate. In colic treating case, it was the only truly clean remedy without fillers, synthetics and toxic preservatives. I find it hard to give to children but my husband is a big fan. He regularly depletes our homeopathic “stash” over the winter months.
Boiron Oscillococcinum – treats flu-like symptoms – body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue. Some recommend taking once a week during cold and flu season and after exposure to a sick person or a very public place as a preventative. According to clinical trials, “Oscillococcinum has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms. …Oscillococcinum works rapidly, with 63 percent of patients showing “complete resolution” or “clear improvement” at 48 hours.” Buy it here.
Adults and Children over age 2: at first symptom, dissolve 1 vial under tongue every 6-8 hours. Three doses a day.
Boiron ColdCalm – treats cold symptoms – when in doubt, give ColdCalm. It is a combination remedy that has 9 homeopathic ingredients. ColdCalm fights sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and a minor sore throat. But it here.
Adults and Children over age 3: at first symptom, dissolve 2 tablets under tongue every 15minutes for 1 hour. Then dissolve 2 tablets under tongue every 2 hours until symptoms are relieved.
Multi Vitamin – for additional immune system function, a daily multi vitamin is in order. Even if our diet is perfect, our soils are depleted so the food is not as nourishing as it used to be. After extensive, several months worth of research, I have finally narrowed it down to quality adult brands and a quality child brand that children actually take. All have no toxic fillers; proper forms of Folate and B12. All are of highest professional grade quality and are tested for purity and actual vitamin content.
Prenatal Multi Vitamins – this brand is of highest quality, although expensive, it has a 2 months supply. Contains fish oil pill.
Womens Multi Vitamins – cleanest ingredients, quality professional grade brand. 1 packet includes DHA and EPA capsule.
(this one for post menopausal women)
Mens Multi Vitamins – another great brand, cleanest ingredients. 1 packet includes DHA and EPA capsule.
Chilrens Multi Vitamins – it took me years to find this one. Great brand, quality and purity tested. Chewable and approved for children over age 1. Most multi vitamins are for children over age 4. This one is safe, and has recommendation for kids older than age 12 months.
DHA/EPA fish oil – kids version. Kids love it and the strawberry flavor has been tested and it is from a natural source.
Avoid simple sugars and processed food. Simple sugars reduce ability of white blood cells to “eat” the bacteria. The effects last over 5 hours. Interestingly, this does not happen with eating starches, complex carbs (vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds).
Kids often lose their appetite when sick. That is fine; easy to digest foods and quality water is all that is needed. But make sure the child stays hydrated.
Rest, sleep, reduce or even better eliminate screen time.
A word of caution on conventional treatments
Remember, always consult your doctor.
Fever is the body’s mechanism to fight infection. Fever is how the body wins over the infection. Minimize fever reducing medications. Surpression of fever with medication can prolong duration of illness, deplete glutathione (Tylenol), and give false sense of normalcy to a child. When ill, a child should be resting, letting the body do its work. Some children become too active, too soon on a fever surpressing medication.
Through the last several years I only had to give a fever reducing medication twice. If the child is acting ‘ok’ – let them be. If they are lethargic, barely moving, not drinking – it is time for a fever reducer. The only one I will compromise on is the Motrin dye-free version. Treat the child, not the temperature.
Tylenol has been found to deplete glutathione levels. Glutathione is the body’s most important antioxidant that it produces. Glutathione is also important because it is also active in the brain. Acetaminophen, main ingredient of Tylenol, can asthma worse, which in turn will worsen a cough. This study is even more alarming, linking Acetaminophen use at age 12 – 18 months to Autism.
Antibiotics – going beyond the antibiotic resistance, antibiotics kill beneficial gut bacteria. Our immune system IS our gut bacteria. I once read it takes almost two years for some bacteria to come back after an antibiotic exposure. Even after a single antibiotic treatment, studies have found significant change in variety of fecal bacteria strengths. Another study suggests significant effects on roughly 1/3 of bacterial species of intestinal microbiota.
A quick note – if antibiotic exposure is inevitable, consider taking this probiotic spaced at least 4 hours from antibiotic dose for duration of antibiotic treatment to minimize antibiotics devastating effects on the gut bacteria.
At least 90% of ear infections resolve on their own.
Bronchitis – a cough with any type of phlegm – thin, transparent, greenish, thick, greyish or strange tasting, you have Bronchitis. Bronchitis is almost always viral so antibiotics will be useless.
Timaflu and Rlenza, medications to fight influenza, have been recently questioned by influential Cochrane Review. Side effects are clear – nausea, vomiting, headaches, psychiatric disturbances and renal events.
When to Give Fever Reducing Medication
Treat the child, not the temperature. If a child is struggling, lethargic and is visibly ill. The fever reducing medication I have and will use is Children’s dye free Advil. There is also Children’s dye free Motrin; they are similar, just different preservatives. I always have one on hand for a case of emergency.
When to Call the Doctor
Fever in a child less than 3 months old
Fever that lasts over 3 days
Signs of difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing, nasal flaring, grunting, wheezing, blue lips
Symptoms of dehydration
- Cracked or dry lips, dry tongue, no urination for more than 6 hours
Lethargy or difficulty waking up
- poor eye contact, pain or stiffness of neck
Strange rashes or any other skin development
Start with vitamin C (adults, kids), Elderberry Syrup (adults and kids), Immune Avenger (adults, kids) and Vitamin D3. These four easy natural and organic remedies will help boost immune system and send that cold on its way.