Even though we have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather, coughs, colds and flu abound at this time of year and can drag on for ages, lowering energy levels and disrupting our lives and generally make us feel below par.

Rather than reaching for the usual medicines which may only mask the symptoms, a more natural approach using tried and tested nutrients has been shown to be helpful in reducing symptoms and the length of the illness.

Vitamin C

A new study concludes that 1000mg of Vitamin C daily, in a divided dose, can reduce the frequency and the length of the common cold by about half.  Many people are low in Vitamin C, which is commonly found in vegetables and fruit, and it seems that these are the people who would most benefit from taking a supplement.  What’s more the research showed that those taking the supplements considerably improved their physical activity.


Elderberry extract is traditionally used to help reduce the severity of both sinus and chest infections whilst boosting the immune system.  Elderberry is a great remedy for children who are bringing up lots of mucous – it is available in pleasant tasting syrup – and can really help support immunity through the winter months.


A 2012 study found that taking regular doses of Echinacea can prevent colds and is beneficial to people who are most prone to them eg. those with weakened immune systems.  The duration of the illness was also reduced as well as the recurrence of colds which in some cases was reduced by 60%.  Echinacea is available in tablets and tinctures and there are over the counter remedies specifically formulated for children.


Garlic has been used for many different health conditions due to its anti viral, antibacterial and anti fungal properties.  It can be taken boost the immune system and speed up recovery times.  Garlic can be eaten raw for its most potent benefit (crush into oil and vinegar for a salad dressing) or use the cloves in cooking.  You can even make a beneficial syrup to help a chesty cough by crushing three cloves of raw garlic, sprinkling over one tablespoon of brown sugar and leave in a covered saucer for six hours.  Sip the liquid throughout the day until the cough has gone.


As soon as you feel a sore throat coming on, start taking zinc tablets or lozenges.  They have been shown to cut the duration of a cold by half and help to reduce the symptoms of coughs and blocked noses. Zinc is an important mineral for immune support and is often found in flu, cough and cold remedies.

Beta Glucans 1,3 and 1,6

Beta Glucans are compounds that help support the immune system and have been shown to prevent colds, improve symptoms and increases the body’s potential to defend against invading pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.  They are especially useful for those with upper respiratory tract infections and are able to provide allergy relief without the side effects of medications such as steroids.

Other advice

All of the above nutrients can be found in a variety of ‘over the counter’ medications which are formulated for different age groups and in different strengths.

If you think your immune system is struggling why not make an appointment to see our Nutritional Therapist, Pippa Mitchell, who can give you specific diet and nutrition advice to support your immunity and overall health.

If you are taking prescribed medicine please consult with your GP before taking any other medications especially over the long term.