Sore throat, runny nose, and congestion. Cold and flu season is officially upon us. While prescription medications may help, your child’s first line of defense can be found at your local supermarket or vitamin shop. Here are 9 natural remedies to help treat the misery symptoms of colds or the flu:

1. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps to boost the immune system while decreasing viral activity

A research article published in 2004 concludes, “zinc supplementation decreases the morbidity of lower respiratory tract infection in pediatric patients”, particularly for RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), colds, and the flu.

2. Vitamin C

Our bodies do not make Vitamin C, rather we get it from our diet. Some foods high in Vitamin C include: papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, and oranges. Overall, we need Vitamin C for bone structure, iron absorption, healthy skin, and immune function.

A 2013 review of 29 randomized trials with more than 11,000 participants concluded taking vitamin C daily reduces the duration of cold symptoms in both children and adults. 


3. Honey

Honey has antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties – all of which make it a great cold-fighter and immune booster. Not only that, but honey has the ability to soothe irritated mucous membranes, making it a great natural cough suppressant. 


A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University in 2007 showed children with upper respiratory infections who consumed honey had a 40% improvement in their cough and restless sleep as compared to the untreated children. 


Note: Honey should not be given to infants under the age of 1.


4. Ginger

The root of a ginger plant contains compounds called gingerols that specifically attack pain, viruses, bacteria, and inflammation. Ginger has been known to help with congestion, colds, nausea, and fever. Read more on the benefits of here.


5. Garlic

Similar to ginger, garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. It is packed full of enzymes, vitamin C, minerals, and selenium which naturally help to ward off a cold or the flu by taming irritation in the respiratory tract while destroying viral cell walls. 


The results of a study performed in 2014 indicate those who take garlic reduce their risk of a cold by more than half as compared to those in the nontreatment group. Additionally, those whom supplemented with garlic and did catch a cold recovered faster than those who didn’t. 


6. Probiotics

It all starts in your gut! More than 70% of the human immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics have been found to modulate the immune system and improve inflammatory responses by balancing out the gut microbiome. The friendly bacteria stimulate a healthy immune system and in doing so show therapeutic indications for several diseases, including immune response-related diseases, such as viral infections. You can read more here on the power of probiotics for cold and flu defense!


7. Essential Oils

There are tons of powerful essential oils for a cold or the flu. Two great options to start with are eucalyptus and peppermint. Eucalyptus oil comes from eucalyptus trees, which are native to Australia. It contains several compounds, such as cineole, that are effective at combating viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It is proven to reduce headaches, stuffy noses, and the general effects of viral illnesses by deactivating viral particles. 


8. Elderberry

Elderberry is a fruit full of bioflavonoids, tannins, and essential oils that help fight against the flu. Elderberries contain hemagglutinin protein. This protein has the ability to stop a virus’ capabilities to replicate by inhibiting its ability to penetrate the cell wall, thereby preventing the virus from spreading. 


This powerful immune-booster can be made at home


9. Steam

Steam is a surefire way to clear a stuffy nose. Although it does not kill cold or flu viruses, it opens up the sinuses and airways so your child can breathe much better. Creating your own steam room at home can be a quick and easy fix for a better night’s sleep. 


Pro Tip: Add in a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to your makeshift steam room for further relief!



Douglas, R.M., Chalker, E. B., & Treacy, B. (2013). Vitamin c for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrate Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).

Suara, R. O., & Crowe, J. E. (2004). Effect of zinc salts on respiratory syncytial virus replication. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 48(2): 783-790.