Many people swear by natural cold and flu remedies. But do they actually work? We've found six science-backed solutions for fighting off winter ailments, from vitamins and minerals to herbal teas and tinctures, and tracked down top-quality products from trustworthy companies so you can try them for yourself.
All the products are made without artificial ingredients or unnecessary additives, and may help to ward off colds and flu or boost your chances of kicking them quickly when they strike.
D is for defense
DLux1000 1000 IU (25 μg) Daily Vitamin D Oral Spray, $10.08 (100 sprays)
Supplementing with vitamin D can reduce your chances of catching a cold, especially if you're deficient in the vitamin.1 This all-natural, peppermint-flavored oral spray formula from BetterYou delivers a dose of 1,000 IU of vitamin D per spray, which is said to be better absorbed than tablets. It's also available in 400 IU and 3,000 IU potencies, and there's an unflavored version for infants.
Astragalus Root Liquid Drops, $16.99 (1 fl oz)
www.biovea.net; tel: 800-961-4750
Astragalus membranaceus has a long history of traditional use as a tonic and treatment for colds and flu. In studies, it's been found to stimulate the activation and proliferation of immune cells, even more so than Echinacea (see below), according to one review.2 Biovea's Astragalus root drops are made from organically grown, wild-harvested Astragalus and pesticide-free, pharmaceutical-grade grain alcohol.
Frontier Natural Products
Echinacea purpurea, cut & sifted, $20 (1 lb)
www.healthyplanetshopping.com; tel: 877-919-7641
Echinacea is one of the most popular natural remedies for colds and flu. Echinacea purpurea, the variety of the herb used in this loose leaf tea, is the most consistently useful type of Echinacea for the common cold.3 Taken as a tea at the first sign of a cold or flu, it could help to reduce the number of days you're sick.4 Frontier Natural Products Echinacea is 100 percent organic and comes in a handy resealable pouch.
Echinacea & Propolis Manuka Honeysuckers,
$7.69 (0.78 oz/8 lozenges)
vitarock.com; tel: 855 735 6536
These no-added-sugar lozenges combine the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action of Manuka honey5 with immunity-boosting Echinacea (see page 76) and propolis. In fact, propolis, a gummy substance collected by honeybees from leaf buds and tree bark, may be useful for both cold prevention and treatment, according to clinical studies in children.6,7 Keep these Honeysuckers on hand to ward off winter ailments and soothe a sore throat when needed.
Bio Zinc , $5.15 (100 veg caps)
www.swansonvitamins.com; tel: 800-824-4491
Zinc appears to be an effective remedy for colds. The results of 13 trials, involving nearly 1,000 people, showed that those who took zinc within 24 hours of their symptoms starting had shorter and milder colds than those who didn't take the mineral.8 This vegetarian supplement by Solaray contains 15 mg of zinc in the form of zinc citrate, zinc picolinate and zinc amino acid chelate, along with 20 mg of vitamin B6 to enhance zinc absorption.
Altrient Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, $29.95 (30 packets)
www.livonlabs.com; tel: 866-790-2107
Regularly taking vitamin C as a preventative can reduce the severity and duration of a cold when one strikes.9 This high-potency Lypo-Spheric formula uses microscopic healthy fat particles to deliver vitamin C straight to the bloodstream and the cells that need it. Each sachet provides 1,000 mg of the vitamin—an ideal daily dose to fend off seasonal sniffles.