Ten natural ingredients for colds, flu and sore throats

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:5 May 2016 

While there’s no known cure for the common cold, numerous herbal and nutritional medicines may help to relieve the symptoms, boost your immune defences against infection, and support your recovery. Many of these remedies may also be beneficial for other types of upper respiratory tract infection, including sore throats, coughs and flu.

Here’s an A to Z of some of our favourites.  

1. Andrographis

Andrographis has been the subject of numerous clinical studies, which show that it is a useful treatment for upper respiratory tract infections like colds. It may help to relieve symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, sinus pain, cough, sneezing, headache and fatigue – especially when taken at the first sign of symptoms. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is considered to have cooling properties, and is used to address acute infections and hot, feverish conditions.

2. Calendula

Calendula flowers have been prized for their antiseptic properties for centuries, and may help to relieve irritation and inflammation of the throat when applied topically (for example as a gargle or throat spray) .

3. Cod liver oil

Cod liver oil is a natural source of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract, which are the body’s first line of defence against infection . It also contains vitamin D, which helps support the body’s immune defences .

4. Echinacea

Echinacea is a traditional Western herb that provides supportive therapy for colds and flu. It is well known for its ability to stimulate some activities of the immune system, including phagocytosis – the process in which white blood cells ‘gobble up’ invading infectious organisms, boosting the body’s ability to fight infections. As a result, it helps relieve the symptoms of colds, flu and mild upper respiratory tract infections. Echinacea may also reduce the severity and shorten the duration of colds, helping you get back on your feet faster.

5. Garlic

Garlic has traditionally been used for infections such as colds, flu and bronchitis. The sulphur compounds in garlic help to stimulate infection-fighting white blood cells, boost NK cell activity and increase the efficiency of antibody production .

6. Horseradish

Horseradish is regarded as having a mild decongestant action on the respiratory sinuses, which may help to reduce symptoms of nasal and sinus congestion .

7. Marshmallow

In Western herbal medicine, marshmallow root has traditionally been used to relieve respiratory symptoms such as hoarseness and catarrh (excess mucus) . It is regarded as having soothing effects on irritated mucous membranes, so is often included in mouthwashes and gargles for the relief of sore throats .

8. Olive leaf extract

Olive leaf extract helps support immune system function . It is rich in the compound oleuropein, which is believed to be the component responsible for its effects on immune health.

9. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is required for healthy immune function and may reduce the symptoms and duration of the common cold . 10. Zinc Zinc is vital for immunity, and even mild zinc deficiency may impair immune system functioning. Older people are at particular risk of zinc deficiency, and taking zinc supplements may help to reduce their susceptibility to respiratory infections such as colds and flu .