Herbs, Homeopathy, Immune Health

Cold & Flu Remedies

It’s that time of year again. Coughing, sneezing, sore/scratchy throats, congestion, fevers, and general misery. How do we stop cold and flu before they start? And if they’ve already arrived on our doorstep, how do we send them packing in a hurry? Homeopathy and herbal preparations, of course!

Homeopathy: The Best Defense is a Good Offense

I had my first experience with homeopathy when I was in high school. I was so sick I could hardly get out of bed. My throat was so swollen I couldn’t talk and had difficulty swallowing water! My mom gave me all the popular over the counter cold and flu remedies, of that time (this was nearly 20 years ago). The only thing any of them accomplished was, at best, making me sleep through my misery, and one – I won’t say which, caused my heart to flutter! (Keep in mind, I had not yet been diagnosed with my heart condition.)

A short time before, my mother had discovered a health food store – Nutrition Works – only three short blocks away from our new home. They sold natural remedies for just about everything. My Mom favored their Swiss Kriss laxatives and a green tea that was imported from Japan but had never used or even heard of homeopathy prior to visiting this store and reading their free health magazines. As I recall, she bought the Zand sore throat liquid and Boericke and Tafel Alpha CF (a continuing favorite of mine). I took both as directed and was able to speak again the very next morning! It felt like a miracle. I continued taking the remedies for the next two days and I was back on my feet and feeling stronger and more vital than ever.

I can honestly say that when I use homeopathy to treat cold and flu, especially at the first signs of illness, not only do I get a quick response but I get cold symptoms far less often. For me, it has acted like an immunity booster. So, I guess “like cures like” is a very accurate way to describe homeopathy.

Homeopathy has been very effective for me, and several other members of my family, over the years, but there are limits to its effectiveness.

  • If you wait too long, which really does depend on your individual physiology, it will be less effective and may take longer to work, if it works at all.
  • If you don’t take homeopathic remedies as directed, they will be less effective. The experts who develop these homeopathic formulas know how much is needed and at what intervals it should be taken. If you cannot follow simple directions, you may be wasting your money.

I’ve listed a few of the most popular homeopathic remedies on the market below, along with their product descriptions and relevant reviews from users.

Oscillococcinum (Boiron)


Product description: “Taken at the first sign of the flu, this homeopathic remedy has been clinically proven to decrease the duration and intensity of your symptoms. Safe for the elderly and for children. Non-drowsy, no drug interactions, no artificial additives or preservatives.”

Best and worst performance reviews (Drugstore.com)

  • 5 star review – “I have been using this product (as well as other Boiron products) for close to 20 years and Oscilli and Esberitox are the BEST to ward off a cold. You take the first dose, when you first feel like you’re coming down with something (if take it when you already have a cold, it won’t work). Normally, I take 2-3 doses and can avoid a cold completely. I use it on my 8-year old daughter too and she’s never skipped school due to a cold. I also take it, when it looks my daughter is coming down with a cold (even if I don’t have any symptoms). I haven’t had a cold in years!!”
  • 2 star review – “I’ve used this product for years at the earliest sign of oncoming flu. It’s been rare that it hasn’t worked but always upset my stomach. I was recently very disappointed to learn that this (and all homeopathic meds) have a lactose base. Take with lactaid or something similar if you’re sensitive.”

Alpha CF (Boericke & Tafel)

alpha cf

Product description: “Alpha® CF has been clinically studied for cold symptoms including sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, coughing, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and overall aches and pains. Alpha® CF is available in both liquid and tablets as well as in a children’s tablet.”

Best and worst performance reviews (iHerb.com)

  • 5 star review – “I have used this homeopathic product for about 15 years now. Works great, the sooner you start it when you suspect a cold the more [effective] it is.”
  • 1 star review – “I bought this coz I read all the good reviews but after using it, I didn’t find it very effective. Also it’s quite a hassle to have to remember to take it every hour.”

Wellness Cold & Flu (Source Naturals)

wellness cold and flu

Product description: “Wellness Cold & Flu is a Bio-Aligned Formula that is a quick, safe, natural alternative to the conventional medical approach. Wellness Cold & Flu uses specific homeopathic remedies to address multiple body systems related to colds and flu: the sinuses, throat, upper respiratory tract and lungs, and the musculoskeletal and immune systems. These remedies relieve the fever and chills, sore throat, sinusitis, sneezing, runny nose, body aches and pains, and chest congestion that may accompany a cold or flu.”

Best and worst performance reviews (iHerb.com)

  • 5 star review – “I gave this brand a chance about 5 years ago, when I couldn’t find my regular one and I was suffering from a cold to end all colds. After a few hours I was good and functional again, 2 days later it was all gone, and I never looked back. Now,I make sure I have a box at the beginning of every cold season and if I start taking it at the first symptoms, it stops it dead in it’s tracks. Highly recommended. I gave it to a lot of my friends too, and now they swear by it.”
  • 1 star review – “I bought 2 boxes of these because of the reviews. Perhaps it works well when you are just getting sick. I don’t know. But I was in full blown flu/cold and this has not helped at all. I have been on for one week now. Still sick. Have taken as directed, 3x a day. Also, my urine has a very strange, pungent odor now. Very gross. I believe it is from this medicine, as this is the only NEW item I added to my regime. I take cough medicine, Emergen-C, Vitamin C,D, cough drops, tea with lemon and honey. So this is the only logical medicine that I can think of to make this happen.”

Herbal Remedies: Great at Running Defense and Offense

When homeopathy fails, for the reasons I detailed above, herbal preparations are definitely the way to go. They can both treat and prevent cold and flu quite effectively. Although their defense is not as subtle as homeopathy, for those who have a weak constitution or have an already compromised immune system, herbal remedies are your best bet. Why? Because many of the new formulations combine herbs that do more than just enhance immune function, they are anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, they act as expectorants and purify the blood.

I’ve listed a few of the most popular herb-based remedies on the market below, product descriptions and relevant reviews from users included.

Sambucol Black Elderberry Immune System Support, Original (Sambucol USA)


Product description: “Sambucol, the original Black Elderberry extract, provides strong immune system support to help you and your family stay healthy throughout the years. Sambucol Black Elderberry extract conveniently arms you with some of the best production nature has to offer. Developed by a world-renowned virologist, Sambucol is the unique black elderberry extract that has been used in scientific studies. By using a proprietary method of extraction, only Sambucol can guarantee consistent, immune-supporting properties in every serving. Trusted by millions worldwide, Sambucol can be taken every day for continuous immune system support.”

Best and worst performance reviews (iHerb.com)

  • 5 star review – “I love this stuff. I can be around my grandchildren without the fear of catching every cold and virus they pick up at school or from being around other children. I’m older and enjoy the security it provides me.”
  • 3 star review – “My [daughter is] on her 3rd bottle she still catches cough and cold but the duration is shorter.”

Insure Herbal Immune Support (Zand)

zand insure

Product description: “Zand Insure Immune Support Provides a full spectrum of immune-supporting ingredients including Echinacea Angustifolia, Echinacea Purpurea, and Goldenseal.”

Best and worst performance reviews (iHerb.com)

  • 5 star review – “I have been using Zand’s herbal Insure tincture for years. It is the one tried and true remedy when I am around people with colds or flu. It is very effective! I highly recommend this above all other herbal combinations.”
  • 4 star review – “I have kept Zand Insure Herbal in the house for over 20 years. I was glad to be able to order it here. Unfortunately, I got charged by the Canadian shipper for taxes, shipping, and a COD fee. When I order from mercola.com, it comes to my home by Canada Post, completely paid for, no COD charge.”

Astragalus Extract, Full Spectrum (Planetary Herbals)

planetary herbals astragalus

Product description: “Astragalus is one of the primary immune tonifiers of Chinese herbalism. Full Spectrum Astragalus Extract combines a standardized astragalus extract with whole, high-grade astragalus root, to ensure the presence of the full spectrum of astragalus constituents.”

Best and worst performance reviews (iHerb.com)

  • 5 star review – “my entire family likes the product. it has helped us fight the seasonal colds and sore throats. [there is] much less downtitme even when we get infection. use it regularly.”
  • 3 star review – “It’s supposed to help the immune system. I haven’t been sick so maybe it’s helping.”

There are many other prepared herbal remedies on the market; they come in a variety of herb combinations and strengths, but the ones listed above are considered among the best.

Herbal Remedies For The Kitchen Chemist

For those of you who know a bit about herbs, creating your own herbal formulations is a great way to cure what ails you and feel closer to nature. For those who don’t, below, are two recipes: One is an expectorant that soothes sore throats, the other a cold and flu combination that can stop runny noses in their tracks.

Formulation #1: Expectorant and Sore Throat Relief

Ingredients: 1/2 tsp. Licorice root, 1 tsp. Honeysuckle, 1/4 tsp. Eucalyptus, 1/2 tsp. Myrrh granules, 1/2 tsp. Slippery elm bark, 1 tsp. Balloon flower, 1/2 tsp. Ginger root

Directions: If you don’t have an “iron-seal” tea bag, you can make one from a small coffee filter. Just use unbleached/un-dyed thread to sew it shut. Steep in 4-6 cups steaming hot water for at least 20 minutes, with the lid on.

How much water you use will determine the tea’s strength: four cups will yield a strong tea, 6 cups will, of course, be somewhat weaker.

Formulation #2: Cold and Flu Remedy

Ingredients: 1 tsp. Echinacea, 1 tsp. Golden Seal, 1 tsp. Astragalus, 1 tsp. Yellow Dock, ½ tsp. Ginger, ½ tsp. Lemon balm, ½ tsp. Licorice, 10 Juniper berries(dried), ¼ tsp. Eucalyptus

Directions: If you don’t have an “iron-seal” tea bag, you can make one from a small coffee filter. Just use unbleached/un-dyed thread to sew it shut. Steep in 4-6 cups steaming hot water for at least 20 minutes, with the lid on. As before, how much water you use will determine the tea’s strength. For more concentration, leave tea in hot water for 30 minutes.


It’s always best to begin treating your cold/flu as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms. So, stock up on cold and flu remedies, and/or bulk herbs, before you and your loved ones fall ill.

I hope you have found these recipes and prepared product recommendations useful. Whether the answer is yes or no, please, let me know in the comments. And if you have used any of these products or herbs, don’t hesitate to share your own cold and flu-fighting experience.

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Andrea Lewis
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