winter remedies

41 natural cold and flu remedies these health experts swear by

As the lurgies start to take hold this autumn, Healthista launches a cold and flu special series for November. We’re kicking off with the best natural cold and flu tips and tricks from those in the know

They’re the doctors and nutritionists who see sick people all the time. So what do they use to keep themselves well and immune to illness? We asked leading health experts for the natural cold and flu remedies they can’t live without.

1. doctors winter remediesDr. David Jack – anti-ageing doctor

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

Good old vitamin C has to be my number one. In the winter I make sure I’m getting surplus vitamin C from citrus fruits and supplements.  I really don’t think you can get enough of it. If I feel a cold or sniffle coming on – I add two Berocca tablets to my shake, which seems to really stop anything nasty in its tracks! Try BioCare Vitamin C 1000,b £10.

Do you take an precautions to avoid getting sick? 

In the wintertime I up my game a little. I am a big fan of antioxidants to help the immune system boost itself – particularly glutathione and vitamins C and E so I’ve added these to my supplement range. Berocca has been helping me for years and I really swear by it, particularly when I was working in the NHS and was exposed to all sorts of viruses on a daily basis.

I think eating a good range of fruit and vegetables every day is also essential – particularly strongly coloured fruits such as raspberries, blueberries and Concord grapes. I eat these on a daily basis, particularly in wintertime when the risk of infections is higher. As a rule I try to avoid antibiotics wherever possible and treat things with supportive measures instead.  Try Biocare Glutathione Complex £26.95

 

2. Sarah Flower – nutritionist

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

I swear by adding a good quality probiotic daily such as BioCare Bioacidophilus Forte £33.60 which is expensive but really very good.  This not only ensures your bowel is in good health but also boosts your immune system dramatically.  

I also highly recommend Vitamin D, daily throughout the year for those who don’t spend much time outside, but everyone should take it during the winter months as we do not get Vitamin D from the sun in this country during the winter months.  

The third is a very good quality fish oil, my personal choice is Krill oil. BetterYou DLux 3000 £7.95 is a quality vitamin D supplement that comes in a highly absorbable mouth spray form. 

For colds, I also recommend the following:

Pelargonium – This is a herbal remedy that does pack a punch and helps with respiratory infections, sore throats and general cold and flu symptoms.  Take this remedy as soon as you begin to feel the onset of illness and continue until you are showing signs of improvement. Although natural, I would not advise this for children under 12 years old.  I like Higher Nature’s Pelargonium Cold Relief £8.05 which provides 20mg active ingredient per capsule.

Zinc – I always recommend including plenty of zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, beef, wheat germ and cocoa.  You can also take a good quality supplement such as a Zinc Citrate daily, especially when suffering from any ear, nose or throat problems. I recommend Lifeplan Zinc Citrate £8.40.

Vitamin C – We know that vitamin C can help fight infection, so increasing our intake by eating plenty of berries, citrus fruits, papayas, broccoli and red peppers will help keep us protected, all year long. At the first sign of a cold, I would highly recommend you take vitamin c supplements, either in powder or tablet form to boost the effects.   

Do you take an precautions to avoid getting sick? 

Hydrate  Keeping yourself well hydrated is absolutely vital to help ‘flush’ out the cold, break down congestion and keep your throat lubricated.  Try to avoid sugary or milky drinks especially if you have a lot of mucus as this can often make it worse.  I would opt for water (sparkling water with lemon can be very refreshing), you can also try soothing warm herbal and fruit teas.  Herbal teas such as sage, ginger, lemon, chamomile, liquorice root, slippery elm and green tea can help ease a sore throat.  Fresh turmeric (not powder) tea is really light and is perfect as an anti-inflammatory. Try Taka Turmeric Golden Vanilla Tea £2.90.

Make a brothBroth would have traditionally been made using bones and whatever spare vegetables were around.  Bone stock is packed full of nutrients, including gelatine, collagen and a whole host of vitamin and minerals to help heal and get you back on your feet.  Add some garlic, as it is a powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-catarrhal.  Don’t fear adding chilli, this acts as a natural decongestant.  I would also add some turmeric and cinnamon, as well as a dash of fresh ginger to speed up your metabolism too!

Take it easy! – We all think we are invincible and push forward no matter what but there is nothing wrong with taking some time out, turn off the wifi, grab the duvet and relax and de-stress.  This not only feels good but it also boosts your immune system.  The perfect excuse for a lazy day!

A breath of fresh air – Our ancestors used to take patients outdoors for at least an hour every day, no matter how sick they were. There is a good reason behind this and the reason is Vitamin D, which helps to prevent the flu and can also regulate our immune response.  We are now aware that a large number of Brits are lacking the recommended levels of Vitamin D, especially throughout the winter months. To gain adequate exposure to the sun’s UVB rays, you need to be in the sun for at least 15 minutes per day.  For those unable to do so, a great alternative is opting for vitamin D3 supplements. Taking one daily not only boosts the immune system and fights infection but can also help with depression, bone and joint and heart health.  

doctors winter remedies may simpkin3. May Simpkin – nutritionist

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

As soon as I get the feelings at the back of my throat that I may be coming down with a cold, I start taking Vitamin C, twice a day. 1000mg in the morning and 1000mg in the evening. As a power antioxidant vitamin C can help to boost you immune system and ward off a cold, if you can start it before it takes hold.

I also keep my fluids up with plenty of warming herbal teas like ginger or green tea which is rich in antioxidants and make sure I get plenty of vegetables to boost my nutrient intake to help my body fight off any bugs. I like Clearspring’s Organic Ginger Green Tea £3.99.

Do you take an precautions to avoid getting sick? (extra nutrients, supplements etc.)

I eat well every day and aim to ensure at least 7 portions of vegetables and fruit each day. This provides a good level of varied nutrients which will support a healthy immune system. My sleep routine is paramount and I try to ensure I go to bed at the same time every night. Sleep is essential for the body to rest and repair so you are prepared for the day ahead.

dr rachel carlton abrams, 8 secret reasons for your low libido and what to do about them, by healthista (1)4. Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

Elderberry and echinacea are as effective as Tamiflu in reducing length and severity of flu symptoms. Try Nature’s Answer Black Elder Berry £12.99 and Higher Nature Echinacea Cold & Flu relief £7.15.

How do you get rid of a cold fast?

Vitamin C 1000 mg three times daily. Fresh garlic chopped and mixed in honey applied to the back of the throat every several hours throughout the first day or two of illness.

Do you take any precautions to avoid getting sick? (extra nutrients, supplements etc.)

Lots of nutrient rich colored fruits and veggies of the season: winter squash, sweet potatoes, all citrus, kiwi’s, pineapple guavas, astragalus daily when feeling vulnerable, lots of sleep!

5. Dr. Daniel Glass, dermatologist

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

There is evidence suggesting that vitamin C can be beneficial when it comes to fighting off colds and flus because of the way in which it supports our immune system, so I try to incorporate this into my diet whenever I can. During the colder months in addition to eating a diet rich in vitamin c through vegetables and fruits, I also will take a vitamin C supplement to help ward off colds and infections. Try Nutri Advanced Vitamin C Time Release, £16.25.

How do you get rid of a cold fat?

When it comes to getting rid of a cold, I usually turn away from the standard over the counter cold treatments and opt for natural remedies as I feel these are a much healthier way to fight a cold and get your body back to normal.

For example, I find it incredibly beneficial to sweat out a cold in a sauna, or eat a bowl of chicken soup as the vegetables included have good nutritional benefits. For example, the carrots contain beta-carotene and the celery contains vitamin C, both of which support the immune system and fight off infections. In addition, the onions in chicken soup provide antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and act as an anti-histamine.

Do you take any precautions to avoid getting sick?

I do not do anything too drastic to avoid getting sick, but as a general rule I do take vitamin C all year round and vitamin D during the winter months because of  increasing evidence which shows that we have lower levels at this time of year. These are both essential vitamins which will help nourish our bodies, boost our immunity and stop us from feeling run down.

In addition, I also ensure that I have a flu jab annually to protect myself from the virus.

doctors winter remedies6. Amy Morris, naturopathic nutritionist

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids increase airflow and protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections. To keep myself healthy over the winter season I make sure my diet is packed full of omega 3 and eat oily fish like salmon and mackerel regularly.

I also believe that vitamin D is absolutely critical for a strong immune system (as well as many other things such as skin health, bone health and reproductive health) and according to research in the UK at least half the UK’s white population, up to 90 per cent of the multi-ethnic population and a quarter of all children in the UK have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is also hard to obtain from food, which is why it is a must that people supplement with it and personally, I feel everyone should be supplementing with vitamin D in the winter months. Try Nutri Adanced Vegan Vitamin D drops, £12.49.

How do you get rid of a cold fast?

My immediate go-to whenever I feel the slightest whiff of a cold, is always a good quality zinc supplement. One particular study published in the Cochrane Library, stated that when zinc supplements are administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms, it reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people. When supplemented for at least five months, it reduces cold incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics in children.  Me and my husband travel a lot with work, and literally carry this with us at all times and rarely get colds. We also administer zinc supplements to our three-year-old son who is at nursery full time and is rarely ill. We just adjust the dose accordingly to suit his age. Try Biocare Nutrisorb Zinc Ascorbate £9.95.

Do you take any precautions to avoid getting sick?

I am a huge fan of eating raw garlic given its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. At the start of winter I will take one organic garlic clove chopped up finely and swallowed with a glass of purified water, and I will do this daily for a week or so, just to help my body cope with any invaders trying to take hold!

I also ensure my intake of refined sugars and junk food in general remains low to ensure my immune system stays well. And will take a quality probiotic to help further support my immune system, given that 80 per cent of our immune system tissues lie within the gut. Try Nature’d Aid Super Strength Pro30 Max £30.95 which contains 30 Billion bacteria.   

Deyo Famuboni headshot, by Healthista.com

7. Deyo Famuboni, GP

Which winter health remedies do you swear by?

To ensure I get all the required nutrients, especially on busy days, I take vitamin C, vitamin D and a probiotic regularly. Hand washing is key to preventing the spread of winter viruses too.

How do you get rid of a cold fast? 

In general, having a healthy diet filled with colourful fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good sources of protein are essential especially in the winter so as to maintain a strong immune system so the body can do its job of healing or fighting off illnesses associated with the winter. I ensure I include foods rich in vitamin C , vitamin D and zinc as well as prebiotics such as garlic, and probiotics such as fermented foods in the winter as they help in supporting our immune system. The spice turmeric and the algae chlorella are other immune system supporting foods I take regularly. Try Nature’s Aid Turmeric 400mg £17.95 and Kiki Health Organic Chlorella Powder £24.95

Do you take any precautions to avoid getting sick? (extra nutrients, supplements etc.)

Colds are generally self limiting illnesses so whilst the symptoms can be soothed with hot drinks like lemon, ginger and a bit of Manuka honey, the body gets rid of it by itself, bearing in mind the vital nutrients from such a mixture in supporting the immune system. If you’re looking for Manuka honey, look for one with a high UMF to ensure it contains high levels of active antibacterial properties (and use it very sparingly as it’s expensive) such as Haddrell’s New Zealand Manuka Honey UMF 20+ £69.99.

8. Dr. Julian Nesbitt, A&E doctor

Which cold and flu remedies do you swear by?

Fruit smoothie in the morning, making sure to go to gym for weights and spinning class two to three times a week to battle the blues. High intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise releases endorphins in the brain and makes you feel less depressed.

Trying to get plenty of light helps to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder – if you’re unable to get outside you can buy a special lamp for this. Consider supplements with Vitamin D. 50% of us in UK in winter are deficient in Vitamin D so this is essential. I also eat hearty meals, particularly like casseroles packed with vegetables and flavour, as winter warmers.

What are your three go-tos for getting rid of a cold?

Plenty of sleep. Going to bed early with good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding being on your phone/ laptop before going to bed, is the key to allowing your immune system to fight infection. Making sure you are eating enough vegetables in your diet to get essential vitamins particularly vitamin C.

Paracetamol helps you get through the day and keeps symptoms of cold at bay. Take regularly when you’re under the weather; 1g every six hours, maximum four times a day or if you weigh less than 50Kg then 1 tablet (500mg) four times a day.

Steam inhalation and steroid nasal sprays can help clear the sinuses (steroid nasal sprays are safe to use reasonably long term as they work topically and not much is absorbed in your body).

Do you take any precautions or supplements to avoid getting sick?

A pill-combo using zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and Q10, if I feel like I’m getting unwell, works for me but no scientific evidence at this point. In winter I may need a Vitamin D supplementation if I’m not getting enough sunlight. Making sure to get plenty of sleep – the main factor for getting a cold is lack of sleep with a lack of an immune system, drinking in moderation – again as excessive alcohol can make you more likely to get a cold and weaken the immune system, keeping up with exercise to boost your immune system and make you less likely to get a cold.

doctors winter remedies9.  Dr. Sarah Brewer, GP and nutritionist

Which winter health remedies do you swear by?

Healthy diet and lifestyle always come first! Get enough sleep, avoid excess stress, wrap up warm when going out, wash hands regularly etc.

For supplements, vitamin C, vitamin D and an adaptogen such as Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng or Ashwagandha help to maintain good immunity against infections, especially when you are feeling stressed, so that even if you are exposed to a respiratory virus, your body is more likely to fight it off so you don’t develop symptoms. 

What are your 3 go-to’s for getting rid of a cold?

Pelargonium sidoides root extract is my number 1 remedy  – this herbal remedy is more effective against colds, sore throat, tonsillitis, acute bronchitis and sinusitis than anything I could prescribe as a doctor. If you keep nothing else in your winter first aid cabinet it should be Pelargonium. Start taking it as soon as symptoms start and they will be gone within 24 hours. Keep taking Pelargonium for three days after symptoms resolve to stop them coming back.

Olbas Oil is brilliant for clearing congestion and helping you breathe at night. I’ve recently discovered a lovely natural alternative to rub around the nose, called Kotu Baym which clears the nose as well as stopping soreness – gentle enough for babies, too. 

Hot Toddy – the mixture of whisky, hot water, lemon juice and manuka honey last thing at night makes you feel almost human again and allows you to sleep.

Do you take an precautions to avoid getting sick? (extra nutrients, supplements etc.)

I take Healthspan vitamin D 50mcg supplements, Siberian ginseng (Sun Eleuthero) and take extra vitamin C  during winter as viruses cannot replicate as efficiently in cells with good vitamin C levels.

Got a cold and flu prevention story, remedy or tip we should be reporting? Email editor@healthista.com. We love hearing from you guys.

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