Flu or Cold Treatment to Stock up Now!

posted in: Functional Medicine | 12

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Cold Treatment Remedies Flu Prevention

In this list, you will learn about supplements that are effective for flu and cold treatment, as well as prevention. These remedies have been known for their potency in alternative medicine for a long time, and have also been proven effective in clinical studies. I am not a medical professional, so please ask your doctor as to whether these supplements are right for you and your family.


As you might know, the FDA does not regulate supplements; thus, it is more important than ever to buy from trusted companies. In this list, you will learn about brands that I believe are doing the right thing. These supplements are void of artificial dyes, flavors, gluten, dairy, and other unnecessary additives and fillers.


Flu and Cold Prevention


Nobody wants to get sick. The best cold treatment is prevention, especially because conventional medicines are controversial. Tamiflu may not be effective and has bad side effects. And Tylenol may contain harmful ingredients and interfere with the body’s ability to detoxify. It may also be taxing on the liver. Luckily, there are some supplements that you can take on a daily basis for flu and cold prevention.


Vitamin D


This study in Japan showed that regular intake of vitamin D reduced the chance of catching the flu by 40%. Also, taking vitamin D while you have the flu or a cold helps reduce the length and severity of the symptoms.

My favorite brand for vitamin D is Nordic Naturals. All of their products go through stringent third party testing for contaminants and potency, and are void of gluten, dairy, and artificial dyes and colors.


Here is something important to know. Vitamin D is best absorbed with fatty food. Take it with your most fatty meal and/or with whole milk or nut milk.


Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 5000


This is the formulation I take once a day.


Ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil, soft gel capsule (gelatin, purified water, glycerin, natural orange flavor), d-alpha tocopherol, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol in olive oil), natural orange flavor, rosemary extract (a natural preservative). (source)


This product comes in 1000 mg capsules so you can adjust to the dose you need.


Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Vegan


If you are a vegan or a strict vegetarian, Nordic Naturals carries a vegan vitamin D3 product. It is sourced from organic lichen.


Ingredients: Medium chain triglycerides (from coconut oil), natural apple flavor, vitamin D3 (from lichen), d-alpha tocopherol acetate (a natural antioxidant). (source)


Nordic Naturals Baby’s Vitamin D3


For babies, they offer liquid vitamin D for easy application.


Other ingredients: organic olive oil. (source)


Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 Gummies KIDS


And lastly, for children starting at age 4, you will find delicious gummies. My son loves them.


Other Ingredients: organic tapioca syrup, organic sugar, pectin, citric acid, fruit juice concentrate (for color), natural flavor.

Sour coating: organic sucrose crystals, fumaric acid. (source) 

Manufactured in a facility certified to be free of allergens derived from milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soy. No gluten or artificial colors and flavors.




This Danish study found that regular intake of probiotics can prevent and reduce the severity and length of the common cold, which is not surprising to me. Probiotics strengthen our immune system and improve our overall health. I try to eat a cup of fermented vegetables every day. You can find my family sauerkraut recipe here.


The Klaire Labs brand of probiotics that l take has over 25 billion strains of Lacidophilus and Bifidobacterium bacteria. Klaire Labs designs products for the most sensitive people and their products are free of wheat, gluten, milk, lactose, soy, peanut, and rice. They are also free of artificial sweeteners and colors. The vegetable-derived capsules are manufactured from highly purified plant cellulose.


Ther-Biotic Women’s Formula


I take this formulation, which also helps to prevent UTIs. You can read more about this formula here.


Other Ingredients: Vegetarian capsule (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, water), InTactic® proprietary polysaccharide complex, and L-leucine. (source)


Because the probiotic bacteria can be destroyed by gastric acid, Klaire Labs uses InTactic® purified polysaccharide material (which is derived from marine plants) to surround and protect the probiotic bacteria.


These probiotics have to stay refrigerated. I order them from an online pharmacy with overnight shipping but when they arrive the ice pack is always melted. I was concerned about that. So I talked to Klaire Labs representatives. They said not to worry – if a closed bottle is stored at room temperature, the counts of bacteria will go down from 35 billion to 28 billion (they add more bacteria than they list on the label to account for shipping and improper storage).


Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic for Infants


Klaire Labs also carries products in powder for infants.


Other Ingredients: none (source)


Klaire Labs Children Chewables


And lastly, Klaire Labs has a delicious chewable product for children two years of age and older.


Other Ingredients: Xylitol, natural cherry flavor, natural vanilla flavor, silicon dioxide, stearic acid, magnesium stearate, and natural licorice extract. (source)

Nordic Naturals Probiotic Gummies KIDS


Nordic Naturals makes tasty Probiotic Gummies for children ages 2 – 4. It offers only 1.5 billion live cultures versus over 25 billion in Klaire Labs product. However, this product does not need to be refrigerated. Along with probiotics, there is prebiotic fiber in the formulation.


Other ingredients: organic cane sugar, purified water, pectin, fumaric acid, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium citrate, fruit and vegetable juice (color). (source)


Flu and Cold Treatment


Now that we have discussed prevention, let’s talk about what to take when you catch a cold.

Cold Treatment Remedies 

Flu or Cold Treatment: Zinc


Studies have shown that Zinc syrup or lozenges are beneficial when used within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms to shorten a cold or flu by a day and have less severe symptoms.


For adults, Dr. Ashe recommends sucking on a lozenge every 2 hours while awake. Each lozenge should contain at least 10 mg of zinc and the daily dose should be 75 mg. This is a high dose and should not be maintained for more than two weeks.


BlueBonnet Earthsweet® Zinc 15 mg Lozenges


After having done a lot of research into zinc lozenges, I have chosen these lozenges by BlueBonnet because they contain sufficient amount of zinc and a minimum amount of sugar. They have 15 mg of zinc and 1 mg of sugar per 1 lozenge. So to achieve 75 mg, you can take 1 lozenge every two hours, 5 lozenges a day total for 5 mg of sugar. And BlueBonnet sources non-GMO and organic ingredients when possible.


Other ingredients: Natural orange flavor, EarthSweet®, [juice concentrates (wild blueberry, cranberry, prune, cherry, strawberry, grape, raspberry and bilberry fruits, grape seed and raspberry seed extracts), cane crystals] orange crystals, stearic acid, vegetable magnesium stearate. (source)

Free of milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.

Also free of yeast, gluten, barley and rice.


Flu and Cold Treatment: Vitamin C


There are some studies indicating that vitamin C taken before you come down with symptoms may reduce the duration of colds. Depending on your research, you may be either satisfied with the amount of vitamin C contained in the zinc lozenges listed above or take extra.


Pure Encapsulations Vitamin C


I like Pure Encapsulations brand because their products are non-GMO, free of common allergens, and vegan. The formulation I take is called Ester-C® & flavonoids that is formulated for maximum absorption. For more information on this product, visit here.


Other ingredients: ascorbyl palmitate, vegetarian capsule (cellulose, water). (source)


Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies


For kids of age 4 and older, Nordic Naturals carries these delicious vitamin C gummies. They have 3 g of sugar per 2 gummies. I wish there was less sugar.


Other ingredients: organic sugar, organic tapioca syrup, pectin, citric acid, sodium citrate, annatto (for color), natural color. (source)


Flu and Cold Treatment: Elderberry Syrup


Elderberry, Sambucus Nigra L., is conclusively proven to be an effective flu and cold treatment. In this study, the group that took elderberry syrup was cured of flu within 2-3 days; while the placebo group had flu for at least 6 days.


The elderberry studies were conducted with Sambucol, the brand name for the original elderberry syrup formulation. However, other formulations do not appear to have been tested, and their efficacy is therefore somewhat questionable, although we take it.


Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup


I like that this formulation is proven to be effective in clinical studies. I like that it is free of gluten and artificial colors. It is made in France. There is 3.8 g of elderberry and 8 g of sugar per one serving of 2 teaspoons. I wish it were organic though, contained less sugar and had no preservative. It uses potassium sorbate as a preservative. While I generally don’t like preservatives in my food, potassium sorbate is commonly used as a food-grade preservative. No studies have demonstrated that it is harmful. And other medicines also use preservatives. So, I think it is okay to take it for a few days, even though it has a preservative.


The main focus here is to get better without taking the worst offenders, such as NyQuil.


Other ingredients: glucose syrup, purified water, citric acid, potassium sorbate (to retard spoilage). (source)


Sambucol® Sugar Free Liquid Extract


This formulation contains no sugar and is sweetened with stevia and has a very sweet taste.


Other ingredients: purified water, glycerin, elderberry natural flavor, citric acid, xanthan gum, REB-A (stevia nonnutritive sweetener), natural flavor, potassium sorbate (preservative). (source)


Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup


In 2010, Gaia introduced certified organic products containing USDA certified organic herbs that they grow on their own organic farm. And their black elderberry syrup is one of them. It contains 1.9 g of elderberry juice concentrate, the equivalent of 14.5 g of fresh elderberries. There is 4 g of sugar in every serving, which is 1 teaspoon. This product is made in Italy.


Other ingredients: organic cane sugar, lemon juice. (source)


GaiaKids® Black Elderberry Syrup


Gaia also carries elderberry syrup for kids starting at age 1.


Other ingredients: organic sugarcane, water, organic honey, and lemon fruit juice. (source)


Flu and Cold Treatment: Echinacea


This study published in the leading British medical journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that echinacea decreases the chances of catching a common cold by 58 percent and reduces the duration of the common cold by 1.4 days. It needs to be taken as soon as the exposure occurs or at least at onset.


I like organic echinacea made by Gaia company either in capsules or extract form.


Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme Liquid Phyto-Capsules


Other ingredients: vegetable glycerin, capsules (vegetable cellulose). (source)


Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme


Other ingredients: organic alcohol USP (50-60%) and water. (source)


GaiaKids® Echinacea Goldenseal


Gaia sells an echinacea formulation for kids age 2 and older.


Other ingredients: pure vegetable glycerin and water. (source)



This concludes the list of flu or cold treatment and prevention supplements. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids and, as my friend says, rest aggressively. Chicken broth is now scientifically found to be helpful for flu and cold treatment. Homemade chicken soup is the best but if you are short of time, you might consider buying chicken broth by Imagine as they do not add sugar. (I try to avoid Pacific because of the added sugar.)


And don’t forget – stock up now on these remedies so you will have them on hand when you inevitably do get sick.


Please share in the comments what methods you found effective to treat flu or cold. And get well soon!


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12 Responses

  1. Dawn

    How much Vitamin D should an adult and child take daily? Also, do you have a children’s multi vitamin you recommend?

  2. Marisela V Carrillo

    Thank you, we seem to be recycling the same bug in this household, and I completely forgot to air out our home.

  3. Clare

    This list is very useful! Thank you! I’ve heard about turmeric (along with lemon juice and honey, particularly manuka honey) being effective. Have you heard of this?

    Good luck with your surgery tomorrow! Sending positive thoughts your way…. 🙂


    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Clare: lemon juice and honey mixed together are really good for a sore throat. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Thank you! ~Irina

  4. Jennifer

    Just started reading your post but I had to ask before I move on… Just in the first handful of supplements you recommend, they all contain either “Natural Flavors”, sugar as a first ingredient, or both. My understanding is that natural flavors can mean anything, but often includes toxic ingredients. A quick google, and CNN states: “Natural flavors” and “artificial flavors” aren’t always as different as you might think”. For example, Nordic Naturals Vit. D contains Natural Orange Flavor. This is the reason I don’t buy from them anymore. I used to get their fish oils to give my daughter, and she LOVES it, probably because of the natural flavors, which I only realized after a while. What’s your take on this? What about the other ones with Natural Flavors? I’m really surprised to see you recommend this stuff… because I know how thorough you are! And I must say, I really respect and have come to value your articles, so this causes me pause…

    But also, giving kids sugar? I don’t give my daughter any sugar, except for small bits of raw or Manuka honey, and fruit. And a couple times a little nibble of something with coconut sugar or maple syrup. Would love to hear your thinking on this, though I don’t see myself giving her sugar coated anything anything soon, unless it’s halloween. Ha, those would be good Halloween candies!

    In any case, thank you for what you do, and thanks in advance for any info you can give me on this!! Bless!

    • Irina Webb

      Thank you, Jennifer, for your comment. And I am glad to hear from you. I absolutely agree that sugar, sweet sugar substitutes, natural flavors and as well as natural colorings should not be part of our regular diet. And I admire you for restricting your daughter’s sugar intake. We did pretty well with no sugar policy up until my son started attending preschool, went to birthday parties, and summer camps. Now we limit it, but don’t restrict it altogether. And of course, when he is allowed chocolate, it’s only organic chocolate. The point is that even the best-intentioned parents make different dietary decisions based on a number of different factors.

      With these supplements, I took a practical real-life approach. This seems to be one of those areas where there are no perfect solutions, and having a sick kid often calls for measures we might not otherwise take. The supplements I recommended are way better than a lot of mainstream ones, which usually contain untested ingredients, are possibly laden with heavy metals, and other harmful additives and contaminants. Yet, the choices in the post are not perfect, and perhaps I should have had some warning or disclosure language at the beginning of the article.

      The goal here is to make sure the child takes the supplement, even if it comes with an enhanced flavor. This is not going to be part of someone’s regular diet, and so I feel the trade-off is justified. Also, I tried to provide a variety of options so you can decide how to mix and match these supplements based on one’s dietary views. I know some take a DIY approach. I see two shortcomings with that – the right dosing, preparation, and preservation. I am looking forward to hearing from you, and I hope you can share with us what type of supplements/medicine you give to your daughter, if any? I rely on the community who reads this blog for the information I can find, and often my posts spark a conversation that have me thinking in new ways and that teach me about products and techniques I can pass along. Thank you again for raising these valid questions. And if anyone else has any ideas or recommendations, please send them along! ~Irina

  5. Lina

    Shouldn’t vitamin D3 be taken in combination with vitamin K2 for better absorption? I thought it’s a common knowledge. Do you disagree?

  6. Tatiana

    Irina, thank you so much for this – the article came in handy. They always do! What brand of vitamins did you give your child, if any? I need to give mine a vit. D supplement /multivitamin, but can’t decide on the absolute best brand. Also, do you have any thoughts on Garden of Life probiotics (USDA organic). In my researches I was debating between Garden of Life and Klaire Labs, and went with the former. Thank you.

  7. Beverly

    Thanks for the info. Wish I had remembered this article, since my husband and I both had the flu this past week…will stock up for next time!

  8. Ramya

    Hi Irina,

    Can you pls let me know which brand of Prenatal Vitamins is good. I looked at Nordic naturals but they only have Prenatal DHA.


    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Ramya: It is nice to hear from you! When I was pregnant 6 years, I was taking New Chapter prenatal multivitamins. However, I have not researched them since. By the way, they are on huge sale on Vitacost right now. Let me know what you think. ~Irina

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