Integrative Health Blog

Natural Remedies for Colds and Viruses

Posted by Dr. Charles Gant on Tue, Jan 08, 2019


Cold and virus season can come on fast! The average cold lasts 2 weeks and can leave you feeling grouchy, tired and can sometimes turn into pneumonia or bronchitis, especially if your health is compromised in any way. Consider having these natural items on hand in case symptoms strike or if you are traveling and need an extra boost to the immune system.

Homeopathic remedies are especially helpful if taken at the first sign of a cold and may even help speed recovery. The suggested supplement dosages here are for adults, but always check with your physician first.

1)  Vitamin A is needed for the proper functioning of the eyes, skin, immune system and many other functions in the body. Vitamin A supplementation with 25000 units/day for 3 days is the adult dosage.

2)  Zinc is a mineral that can be effective for shortening the duration of colds, especially when taken at the first sign of illness. It is helpful for the boosting the immune system, fighting infection and wound healing. Optizinc suggested dosage 20 mg. - 4 a day until symptoms improve.

3)  Vitamin C is an antioxidant and supports a healthy immune system. Take 1000 mg. at least 3 times a day at first sign of illness, increase until you have loose stools, then reduce dosage. The loose stool or diarrhea from VItamin C is the point of "bowel tolerance" which means that your body cannot absorb more. The best effective dose is just short of bowel tolerance so that you are able to absorb what you are taking. Continue to take for the duration of a cold and for a few days after. For cold and flu prevention, take Vitamin C daily as part of your routine.

4)  6 Herbals for colds and flu: Elderberry, garlic, astralagus, lemon balm, rose hips, ginger - these are often good as teas but can also be taken as supplements.

5)  Hydration is crucial. "Starve a fever, feed a cold." The old adage is still partly true but the body requires additional fluids and electrolytes when sick. Drown a fever with increased water, juice and hot teas; starve a cold by eating lightly with soup/broth, lightly steamed vegetables and teas which allow the digestive system to rest but maintain good hydration.

6)  Sweat. Epsom salt baths, saunas, inhaling warm steam and light exercise (if you feel up for it) help the body to sweat and may provide temporary relief from symptoms such as congestion Not recommended if fever is present.

7)  Increase rest. Early bedtime to rest the body and allow the immune system to do its work.

8)  Bone broth soup and at least 4 quarts of water a day. Bone broth is soothing, and easy to digest and helps thin mucus.

9)  Homeopathics for colds on the Better Nutrition website matches the cold symptoms to the specific homeopathic remedy:

Eupatorium perfoliatum: This remedy is indicated for colds accompanied by sore bones and hoarseness, along with sneezing, a runny nose, or a dry, stuffed-up nose. Hoarseness may be accompanied with a dry sore throat, and patients will often lose their voice. The chest becomes sore, especially behind the sternum. There is a hoarse cough, with a tickling in the larynx; the cough will be worse while lying on your back. It may hurt to inhale; the bronchi will feel raw and hot.

Sabadilla officinalis: This remedy has an amazing effect on the mucous membranes of the nose. It is great for allergies, hay fever, and colds. Indicated for colds characterized by lots of sneezing with copious watery discharge, which worsens from pollen or the smell of flowers. Itchy nose feels like a tickling inside. It may feel like there is a lump in the throat, with a constant need to swallow.

Allium cepa: Derived from onions, this remedy works best for people who feel worse in a warm room or in dampness, and better in the open air. Typical symptoms include watery discharges from the nose and eyes that can burn the skin, and sensitivity to the smell of flowers. Inhaling a cut onion will give you a good idea as to what these symptoms feel like. So the idea that diluted onion extracts can remedy these symptoms is a perfect example of the homeopathic principle of "like cures like."

Euphrasia officinalis: This remedy works best on colds or allergies that mostly affect the eyes. Symptoms include thick, yellowish discharge from the eyes and burning pains in the eyes that worsen in bright light. The nose runs copiously during the day, but is stuffed up at night. Coughing is caused by irritation in the larynx and produces phlegm.

Pulsatilla nigricans: This remedy is indicated when mucus discharges are profuse, bland, thick, and yellowish-green. The patient may have a dry cough in the evening that worsens lying down. If the cold is accompanied by an ear infection, it will worsen at night and produce yellowish-green discharge. The eyes can have yellowish-green, thick discharge as well.

Be prepared- Consult with your physician and protect yourself and loved ones by having these products on hand to prevent or shorten the duration of cold and flu season.

Or, better yet, come in for an appointment and let's get you on a good plan for optimal health.

Request Appointment


Gant_functional medicine doctor Wash DC




Charles Gant MD, PhD, was a physician, author and teacher who practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades.


Topics: natural remedies, Dr. Gant