Natural Alternatives for Fighting the Flu + Cold

Published on January 14, 2013 by Dr. Jonothon Mainland

Cold symptoms usually begin with a sore throat that does not last for more than 2 days, while other symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and cough are present by the fourth or fifth day.  These symptoms usually last around a week.  With a flu however, the symptoms are more severe and come on very quickly.  These symptoms usually include sore throat, fever, muscle aches and pains, headache, cough and congestion.  These symptoms can last up to 5 days, but possibly longer.

Being prepared for cold/flu season and ensuring your medicine cabinet is stocked with natural therapies, that combat a cold or flu, for when you actually get sick, is paramount.  Having acute acting cold/flu remedies that reduce symptoms and reduce duration is important.  Many natural health ingredients support the immune system to reduce the prevalence and severity of a cold or flu.  Unfortunately, they have not been studied in terms of their effectiveness at acutely combating the cold or flu.

One of these acute acting remedies that should be stocked in your medicine cabinet, is Andrographis, an herb native to India and Sri Lanka.  It was widely used in Southeastern Asia, before antibiotics were discovered.  Some people claim andrographis stopped the 1919 flu epidemic in India, although this has not been proven.

A trial of 208 men and women (with upper respiratory tract infections) were given 60mg of Andrographis or a placebo per day.  Following just two days of supplementation, symptoms of sore throat, fatigue, sleep disturbance and nasal secretions were significantly improved with Andrographis supplementation.

In another trial of slightly longer duration (4 days), 158 adults with colds found that treatment with Andrographis significantly reduced cold symptoms such as earache, sleeplessness, nasal drainage and sort throat.  These results were seen by day 2 and even more by day 4 of the trial.  These participants also experienced reduced earaches, phlegm, coughing and headaches.

Andrographis has also been studied vs. acetaminophen in adults with sore throat and fever.   Participants received 3g per day or 6g per day for 7 days of Andrographis or acetaminophen.  The higher dose Andrographis group, decreased symptoms of fever and throat pain to about the same extent as acetaminophen, but the lower dose was not as effective.

My other suggestion to keep on hand, would be a common mineral – zinc.  Even before experiencing a cold or flu, zinc is an important immune mineral.  Severe zinc deficiency depresses immune function and even mild-moderate degree’s of zinc deficiency can impair NK cells, neutrophil function and macrophages, all important immune system cells.

In a trial of 50 subjects (within 24 hours of developing the common cold) were given 13.3mg of zinc or a placebo, every 2-3 wakeful hours.  Compared to placebo, the zinc group significantly reduced the duration of cold symptoms such as cough, nasal discharge and muscle aches.

In a similar trial involving a larger amount of participants with experimentally induced colds, 13.3mg of zinc significantly reduced the duration of illness compared with placebo.  While 5mg or 11.5mg of zinc, had no effect on either duration or severity.

If you choose to try a natural alternative to aid with a cold or flu, look to these suggestions.  If symptoms of a cold of flu persist, please always consult your qualified health care provider.

Please leave a comment below with your favorite natural remedies for cold and flu!

You may also be interested in: "3 Uncommon Herbs to Help Beat that Winter Cold!"

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