Head to Toe Health Centre
71 Oxford Street
Toronto, ON M5T 1P2

416 203 6500


Who looks outward dreams; who looks inward, wakes.

Our 7 Favourite Natural Remedies to Banish Colds & Flus!

October 13, 2017 by headtotoe

When your down and out with a cold or flu there isn’t much conventional medicine can offer besides ibuprofen or tylenol while the symptoms run their course.  Although pain killers can dial down symptoms they don’t support your body or immune system and can actually put strain on our organs.  In fact, tylenol is one of the leading causes of liver damage in North America (1) while Iburophen is hard on the stomach and carries the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers(2).

The good news is you don’t have to just ride out uncomfortable symptoms of colds and flus!  There are plenty of naturopathic remedies that are not only beneficial for our bodies, but they are clinically proven to safely and effectively relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of colds & flus.

Below are our 7 favourite remedies to banish colds and flus!  Be sure to start as soon as cold symptoms appear; this way you can often ward off the unpleasant symptoms before they take hold!


1. Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and is clinically proven to shorten the duration of colds and flus! The nutrients and anti-oxidants of elderberries strengthen the cell membranes or our respiratory system so that the virus cannot penetrate into our cells and cause infection. Elderberry may also inhibit the virus’ ability to weaken membranes which allows for its penetration.  Although powerful, elderberry is safe for children and delicious taken by the spoonful or added to teas!

Dosage: Take 1/2-1tbsp every 2-4 hours.



2. Herbal Infusions!

Make a botanical tea to warm and nourish your body while harnessing the healing power of herbs!

There are so many powerful herbs to help fight colds and relieve symptoms but thyme is one of our favourites.  Thyme has potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that help your immune system to fight infection.  It is also a “diaphoretic” herb, meaning it has the ability to warm our bodies and kick body temperature up a notch.  This may sound a little strange but a moderate fever (less than 40C) is perfectly safe and actually optimizes your immune function while preventing viral and bacterial replication – thus setting the stage for a speedy recovery (3)!
If your throat is extra sore, you can also consider a premixed herbal tea like, Throat Coat by Traditional medicinals.  We’re not associated with them but we really like the blend of soothing and immune boosting herbs they have created.

Dosage & directions: steep 2 tsp of dried thyme in one cup of hot water covered for 10 minutes.  By covering the steeping herbs we prevent the evaporation and escape of the herbal medicinal essential oils!  Add unpasteurized honey and lemon generously. While creating a delicious flavour, honey helps to soothe a sore throat and also has anti-bacterial properties.  Lemon has plenty of vitamin C, which adds further immune boosting and anti-inflammatory action.



3. Zinc

Taking a little extra zinc with cold onset is proven to decrease the intensity and duration of colds so you can feel better sooner!  Zinc lozenges are pretty common in health food stores but we find them more likely to cause nausea.  To reduce the chance of nausea, take zinc supplements with food and get a form that has better absorption, such as zinc picolinate.  You can also increase your intake of zinc by adding more zinc-rich foods to your diet!  Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc!

Dosage: take 40-50mg daily until cold symptoms have resolved.  NOTE* Long term zinc supplementation can deplete copper levels and must be supplemented together if taken long term.  Talk to your naturopathic doctor for more information! You can contact us here.



4. Garlic

Yea, it has a bit of a kick but the antimicrobial action of garlic sure is effective!  As for the “aroma”, it’s not such a big deal if you smell a little extra garlic-y when you’ve got a cold; you’re contagious so it’s best not to get too close to others until symptoms have cleared anyways.  All that said, the below homemade garlic-honey cough syrup or garlic-lemonade are actually pretty tasty, it is kid approved and safe in pregnancy!

  • Honey-garlic cough syrup
    • In a jar cover multiple cloves of garlic with honey, viola!  For additional flavour and warming action you can add ginger root and/or cinnamon sticks.
    • Dosage: Take a spoonful of the honey every 2-4 hours as needed.  You can eat the garlic but in two months time, the garlic will become candied and be much more palatable, some would even say tasty!  Replace garlic as you eat them.
  • Garlic-Lemonade (Recipe from Dr. Aviva Romm)
    • Chop 3 cloves of garlic & place into a quart sized mason jar, and cover with boiling water. Let this sit for 15 minutes, then add lemon and honey to taste.
    • Drink hot, up to 4 cups/day to treat and prevent colds and flus. This is safe for kids over 2 years of age and pregnant women.



5. Echinaseal By St. Francis Herb Farm

Echinaseal is a herbal tincture (with an alcohol base) made by St Francis Herb Farm, which is a combination of several herbs; Golden Seal (Hydrastis Canadensis), Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Propolis, Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum), and several species of Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia & Echinacea purpurea). The immunostimulatory effect of Echinacea has been well studied and documented, however, it has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-protozoal properties as well. Golden Seal acts primarily as a spasmolytic and as a tonic for the mucous membranes, thereby helping the body to remove excess mucous. Wild Indigo has many actions; immunostimulatory, antimicrobial, it also helps to reduce fevers, and it also works alongside Golden Seal to remove excess mucous from the body. Myrrh is an interesting herb because it helps to both suppress a cough (antitussive) as well as help your body to expectorate excess mucous or respiratory catarrh at the same time. Cayenne pepper contains high amounts of a compound called capsaicin, which helps to relieve congestion by loosening both sinus and nasal congestion and stimulating blood flow to the mucous membranes. And finally Propolis has been used for centuries because of its immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.

In short, Echinaseal is a herbal combination that Dr Karen Hack has used frequently to knock out colds for her patients and her family members before they take hold!

Dosage: Take 2 ml (60 drops) 3 times daily in a little water on an empty stomach. May be gargled before swallowing for a more direct action in the throat (where viruses tend to replicate).

6. Let Food Be Thy Medicine

Do not forget to nourish your body and give your immune cells the fuel they need to do their job! We recommend easy to digest yet nutrient rich foods.  Your body is already working overtime so by having soups, stews, and baked vegetables that are essentially partially digested for you in the cooking process, you are providing your cells with readily available micro and macro nutrients to get you feeling better before you know it!

osup_colds_flus_natural_remedies_naturopath_nutrition_toronto_kensingtonmarket acorn_squash_naturopath_vitamin_A_immune_colds_flus_natural_remedies_naturopath_toronto

Pictured above: Bone broth soup with thyme and roasted acorn squash with grass-fed butter, cinnamon and a splash of Canadian maple syrup!


7. The under-prescribed medicine: REST!

While the herbs work their magic, the innate healing power of the body plays a key role in your recovery that cannot be overlooked.  Without proper rest we can not expect our immune cells to conquer bacteria/viruses, and sweep them from our body.  Pushing through uncomfortable cold symptoms will often just slow down the recovery process so take a day off, get extra sleep, and cozy up while you sip immune boosting teas and enjoy nourishing foods.


Get well soon,

Dr. Karen Hack & Dr. Angelica Kada


  1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/acetaminophen-toxicity-health-canada-1.3764672
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682159.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145646/