Cold and Flu

What are natural treatments for cold and flu?

A Answers (10)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered

    Some natural cures for colds are:

    Saline Nasal Spray for Nasal Congestion

    Saline nasal spray combats stuffiness and congestion by adding moisture to your nasal passages. It also removes bacteria from your nose. Unlike decongestants, saline drops won’t cause a rebound effect, where all the symptoms return as soon as you stop using it   - its benefits will keep your nose (and head) refreshingly clear.  

     Licorice Tea for a Sore Throat

    Hot liquids always provide relief for sore throats, but this tea contains therapeutic compounds that soothe soreness. It also helps to prevent dehydration. 

    Sage Extract to Get Rid of a Cough

    Sage extract works as an expectorant, which helps your body move mucus from your respiratory tract and helps to calm your cough. As a good alternative to an over-the-counter expectorant, try a drop of sage in tea or hot water.  

    Elderberry Juice to Boost Your Immunity

    Elderberry is an herb used to fight colds. It contains vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system. 


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  • AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    There are many natural treatments that people try for colds and the flu. But  according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, so far there's little scientific evidence that they work.

    Research has shown mixed results for three popular alternatives used to treat or prevent a cold: vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc. More studies are needed on all three. Of these treatments, zinc has shown the most promise, with daily doses of more than 70 milligrams (mg) shortening the duration of colds.

    There is currently no scientific research that supports the use of alternative remedies for the flu, but people do often try certain substances to prevent or treat it. These include echinacea, Chinese herbal medicine, elderberry, ginseng, and green tea. If you are considering an alternative remedy for a cold or the flu, talk with your doctor about it.
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  • AChris Kilham, Alternative/complementary Medicine, answered
    Chris Kilham - What are natural treatments for cold and flu?

    Cold and flu season is rife with sniffles and misery. "Medicine Hunter" and author Chris Kilham talks in this video about several ways to relieve symptoms herbally.

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  • Sage: Sage mouthwashes and gargles have been approved for use against sore throat in Germany by the German Commission E. Additional study is needed comparing sage to standard therapies for acute pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharnyx). Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to sage, its constituents, or to members of the Lamiaceae family. Use cautiously with hypertension (high blood pressure). Use the essential oil or tinctures cautiously in patients with epilepsy. Avoid with previous anaphylactic reactions to sage species, their constituents, or to members of the Lamiaceae family. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Vitamin C: Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, which is necessary in the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels, and aids in the absorption of iron. Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, such as oranges. Scientific studies generally suggest that vitamin C does not prevent the onset of cold symptoms. However, in a subset of studies in people living in extreme circumstances, including soldiers in sub-arctic exercises, skiers, and marathon runners, significant reductions in the risk of developing colds by approximately 50% have been reported. Additional study is needed to better determine the effectiveness of vitamin C for common cold prevention in extreme environments. Avoid if allergic or sensitive to vitamin C product ingredients. Vitamin C is generally considered safe in amounts found in foods. Vitamin C supplements are also generally considered safe in most individuals if taken in recommended doses. Large doses (greater than 2 grams) may cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset. Avoid high doses of vitamin C with glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, kidney disorders or stones, cirrhosis (inflammation of the liver), gout, or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (bleeding disorder). Vitamin C intake from food is generally considered safe if pregnant or breastfeeding. It is not clear if vitamin C supplements in doses higher than Dietary Reference Intake recommendations are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Vitamin C is naturally found in breast milk.

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  • APeter Bongiorno, ND, Naturopathic Medicine, answered
    Dr. Peter Bongiorno - What are natural treatments for cold and flu?

    Watch as Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist Dr. Peter Bongiorno suggests some natural treatments for cold and flu symptoms.

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  • ADavid Hoffmann, Integrative Medicine, answered

    There is no herbal cure for influenza or the common cold. However there are herbal approaches that might ease the unpleasantness of such viral infections.

    If your cold or flu is accompanied by a fever, symptomatic relief may be experienced by drinking hot teas of herbs traditionally used to ‘break’ fevers. These are known as diaphoretics, remedies that promote perspiration. An excellent but rather bitter example is boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). A tea of this herb drunk hot and often will ease the aches and pains of influenza. It may be sweetened to taste. Other herbs with this property include elderflower (Sambucus nigra) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

    A more controversial approach uses herbs that possibly help the body in resisting such viral infections. The berries of the same elder tree have been shown to inhibit the entry of the ‘flu virus’ into human cells in the test tube. Viruses are unable to multiply on their own and need to be inside healthy cells to do so.  However, if viruses can no longer enter the cell, they cannot replicate.

    Studies have shown that taking a supplement containing elderberry may help boost the immune system at times when it may be weakened, such as when suffering with a cold, flu or other viruses.  An herb from southern Africa, known as Umcka (Pelargonium sidoides), appears to work in a broadly similar way. Clinical trials show that Umcka shortens the duration and reduces the severity of upper respiratory illnesses.

    Andrographis paniculata, used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine, is another herb that may help people fight off flu and cold bugs.


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  • ATieraona Low Dog, MD, Integrative Medicine, answered
    What are some natural treatments for cold and flu?
    There are many natural remedies for cold and flu that will shorten the duration of colds and sooth your symptoms. Watch integrative medicine specialist Tieraona Low Dog, MD, share her favorite herbal remedies for cold and flu for kids and adults. 
  • AHealthyWomen answered
    Here are some natural methods for managing flu symptoms:
    • Gargle with saltwater to soothe a sore throat.
    • Use a humidifier to moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to clean the filter often so that mold doesn't grow.
    • Several studies have found that zinc lozenges may reduce the length and intensity of colds and flu, and that nasal zinc gel appears to reduce the length and intensity of illnesses related to those viruses. Zinc nasal spray does not show the same effects, however. Consult with your healthcare professional for more information.
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  • ABurke Lennihan RN CCH, Alternative/complementary Medicine, answered

    Gelsemium is a great natural remedy for the flu, especially when the person has that weak, exhausted, “run over by a truck” feeling so bad that they can hardly open their eyes.

    Oscillococcinum (I know, hard to pronounce – try calling it “Oscillo”) is the best-selling flu remedy in France and its effectiveness has been demonstrated in two placebo-controlled double-blind research studies. It’s in every health food store and many pharmacies now. Take just a few pellets as a single dose.

    Alliium cepa is one of many natural remedies for colds, especially for the first stage when the person is sneezing a lot, their nose is dripping a watery discharge that irritates their upper lip (the “red mustache”), and their eyes are watering too.

    Alpha C-F is a great combination remedy that covers both colds and flu for many people (if it doesn’t work for you, keep trying).

    You need to find the remedy that matches your symptoms, though, so you’ll probably need to look them up in a book, for example the Cold and Flu chapters in my A Healer In Every Home, or Dana Ullman’s Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines.

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  • ARealAge answered
    The symptoms and, possibly, the duration of a cold or the flu may be helped by using the following home-care treatments:
    • Drink extra liquids (such as juices, water, tea, or chicken soup) to avoid dehydration. Staying hydrated will keep the moist linings of your nose and throat from becoming dry. Mucus will stay moist and flow out of your body. (A runny nose is better than a stuffy nose.)
    • Gargle with salt water to soothe sore throat pain. The salt and water will shrink the mucous membranes in your throat and decrease the pain from inflammation.
    • Slow down a little. Rest when you get home from work or school.
    • Get extra sleep. Your body needs more rest as it fights off the infection.
    • Use a humidifier to keep the air moist. This will help prevent the delicate linings of your nose and throat from drying out. Cool mist humidifiers are preferred because they are less likely to allow fungus to grow in the machine. Presence of fungus in the machine can lead to increased symptoms in people with allergies.
    • Take hot showers to relieve nasal stuffiness. Steam will shrink the mucous membranes in your nose and throat and will aid mucus drainage.
    • Treat nausea by slowly drinking the thick syrup from a can of peaches, pears, mixed fruits, or mandarin oranges. Chewing any form of ginger also helps relieve nausea.
    • If you develop diarrhea, don’t drink any milk products until the diarrhea stops. Any intestinal inflammation reduces lactase (the enzyme for digesting milk sugar). Eat bananas, rice, and applesauce.
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