All Natural Cold and Flu Care

It’s that time of year again.  As soon as school starts again, I brace myself for the first illness to hit home.  My 2 year old just came down with a bad cold.  Someone just asked me what I use for cough and cold medicines, so I thought I’d do a post on it.

Most of what you find at Walgreens is going to be loaded with red dyes, artificial flavors, and preservatives.  They’ve even just admitted recently in the media that mainstream cough medicines aren’t even as effective as once thought, and can be dangerous if given at high doses. 

We hit the local health food store or Whole Foods for our medicines.  I also increase immune boosting vitamins during cold or flu season, or when something is going around. 

Here’s my disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor.  Use common sense.  Read the instructions on the medicines.  Check with your doctor if you want.  This is stuff we do.  I’m not giving medical advice.  Blah, blah, blah. 

Here are the cough and cold medicines we use.  These are homeopathic. 

B&T (Boericke & Tafel) – they have various kinds of cough medicines.  The one for adults tastes horrible.  They have one for kids that is cherry flavored, which will be Feingold stage 2.   They have orange flavored cough chewable tablets.  We haven’t tried these.  They also have a sore throat spray.  We don’t get sore throats very often.  For some reason, B&T doesn’t have a fever/pain reducer that I’ve ever been able to find. 

Hyland’s Cold N’ Cough 4 Kids.  They also have a night time one.  Safe for kids 2 and up.  It does contain sodium benzoate, which we try to avoid.  This is stage 1. 

Ricola cough drops are Feingold approved (stage 2). 

My friend also told me about Sambucus Elderberry Syrup and cold and flu products by Nature’s Way.  She said her friend swears by them.  The Flu Care contains dairy.  These are not listed in the Feingold shopping guide.  All stage 2.

We also tried Umcka Cold Care Cherry Powder packets by Nature’s Way.  These are for kids 6 and up.  The woman at the health food store said she uses this and likes it.  It’s also not in the shopping guide, so not sure if it’s approved or not.

My midwife also makes a tea for cough for my kids.  The cough tea she makes contains slippery elm, marshmallow root, chamomile, peppermint, burdock root, fenugreek, fennel, licorice root, and elderberry.  You can add a little bit of lemon and honey (stage 2) to your tea too.

For Flu:

Oscillococcinum – My son and I joke that it sounds like a name that a drunk person came up with.   This is really expensive (and only contain 6 doses) but supposed to be really good.  The health food stores always have them right up front during flu season and they sometimes run out.  They are little white pellets that dissolve.  They do contain a small amount of dairy (lactose).  My kids love these for some reason.  They have a children’s version and an adult version.  These say for flu, but I’ve given it to my  kids when they had a cold before too.
Emer-Gen-C  - these aren’t approved but a lot of people use them.  My holistic doctor and my midwife recommended it too.  This is great for cold or flu, and particularly helpful for the stomach flu.  If my kids are throwing up, I wait until they’ve stopped getting sick for at least 2 hours, then try to have them take sips of Emer-Gen-C every 10 minutes.  My kids love the taste of this.  I’ve taken it before when I had a terrible stomach flu and it really does help a lot.  They sell the big boxes at Sam's Club, or you can get individual ones at Whole Foods.  They have lots of different flavors.  I don't worry so much about staying stage 1 when my kids are sick.  It's more important that they get better.

Coke - I do the same thing with Coke sometimes.  My midwife told me about this.  She said there’s something in the cola bean that calms the stomach.  For my kids, I try to give them caffeine free Coke.  Open the can and let it sit for a little bit first.  Coke is Feingold approved, but contains corn syrup.  My kids love it when they need this remedy.   They don’t need a lot.  Just enough to calm the stomach.   You could also use 365 brand Cola to avoid corn syrup.

Tea – my midwife makes a Tummy Tamer tea that works really well.  It contains peppermint, papaya leaf, catnip, ginger root, lemon balm, dandelion, cardamom, anise, and fennel.  Or just look for a tea for stomach upset. 

Probiotics – We use probiotics daily, but they are helpful with stomach issues because you are adding good bacteria to the gut to help fight off the bad bacteria.  Start low and slow.  Pearls is a good brand to start with because you can take them at any time of day, with or without food, and they are tiny pearl sized capsules.  These do contain a small amount of dairy.  They come in as low as 1 billion.  I think 1 to 3 billion is enough to start with and then you can work up if you want or stay with that.  We use Floragen 3 (15 billion).  It does not contain dairy but you’d have to open up the capsule and dump it in juice to start with only 1/8 of a capsule. 

For Fever:

Belladonna homeopathic pellets.  These also contain a small amount of dairy.   Just note that you’re supposed to give these every few hours.  I think these work for lower fevers.  If my kids have a high fever, I may give to them in between doses of Advil.  My kids think these are candy for some reason.

Motrin or Advil Dye Free Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer.  I prefer Motrin or Advil over Tylenol because Tylenol lowers glutathione levels in the body.  Glutathione is needed to get toxins out of the body, which is especially important while sick.  If I have to give Tylenol, I also give my kids glutathione gel, which I got through my holistic doctor.  It's just like a lotion that I rub on the small of their back.

The dye free Motrin/Advil/Tylenol does still have artificial flavors, but not dyes.  My kids get hyper from the artificial flavors and have trouble sleeping so I try to avoid Motrin.  But, my 5 year old has febrile seizures (he has a seizure when his fever spikes suddenly), so in order to avoid a seizure, I have to alternate giving him Tylenol and Advil when he gets a high fever.  Would it kill them to make a version with all natural flavors?  We’ll pay! 

If you have an older child, you can give them the white Tylenol tablets.  These are Feingold stage 1.  You can cut them in half if needed.  For younger kids, you can crush it up and put it in pudding or ice cream or something to get it down.  We used to do this, but with seizures I don’t have time to do that.   Look at the dosing though.  For younger kids, they may only need ¼ of a tablet.


We also use vitamins to combat illness.  To boost the immune system, we use several vitamins.  I will give different ones throughout the day usually.  The key is to give vitamins right away when an illness is coming on.  I did a post called “All About Supplements” that probably contains a little more detail about some of these vitamins.
Vitamin C – for me, I’ll do 1,000-3,000 mg a day in 1,000 mg doses.  Your body can  absorb more of it by giving it in divided doses.  For kids, I will usually do about 500-1,000 mg a day.  Trader Joe’s has some orange gummy vitamin C vitamins that we sometimes use.  I think 2 gummies only give you 250 mg of vitamin C though so I don’t feel it’s worth the money.  But, if my 2 year old is sick, I’ll give her some of these.  They can also get a lot of vitamin C from Emer-Gen-C. 

Lysine – L-Lysine boosts the immune system and is especially helpful in fighting viruses.  If I know they have a virus, I will give them lysine.  If I know it’s not viral, I’ll skip it.   

Vitamin D – I give this to my kids every day, but when they are sick, I up it.  We use the Carlson vitamin D drops because they are so easy to add to juice.  I give my 2 year old 1,000 mg and 2,000 or more to my older kids.

Zinc – I also give this to them almost daily.  Give with food or it can cause an upset stomach.  We use WaterOz Zinc.  Tastes like water and I just add it to their juice. 15-20 mg is an average dosage for zinc if you use capsules.  We also use Zinc Picolanate by Pure Encapsulation. 

Cod Liver Oil (CLO) - We  use Green Pasture brand - unflavored capsules.  I order online.  Great for the immune system. 

Oil of Oregano – this will kill bacteria and yeast.  Take at the beginning of a meal or snack or it will cause bad tasting belches.  This is often my vitamin of choice for almost everything.  If I know my kids have a bacterial infection or illness, I’ll give them these.  They are small gel caps.  My 5 year old doesn’t have a problem swallowing these.  Wild Mediterranean Oreganol is the best brand.  It contains 6 drops of the oil.  They keep them locked up at my health food store because I guess they got stolen a lot.  A bottle of 60 capsules is about $23 but well worth it and cheaper than my $35 doctor co-pay.  I have the Oreganol liquid drops too.  I use this on the skin for any bacterial infections.  It is HIGHLY effective.  Has worked better than antibiotics for us.  You can also rub this onto the soles of your kids’ feet if they can’t swallow the capsules.  It will absorb into the skin.  Stinks though. 

Olive Leaf Extract – these come in capsules.  If I know strep is going around, I’ll give my kids these because this will kill strep.  This is also a good anti-bacterial and highly effective supplement but I usually go with oil of oregano first just because they’re easier for my kids to swallow, and they work for us.  If my kids do get strep, it’s about the only time I will give them antibiotics.  We don’t get strep very often though thank goodness.  If they do take antibiotics, then I double up on their probiotics and give at least 2 hours away from the antibiotics. 

Virastop – this will kill viruses and works great for cold or flu.  These are enzymes.  It does tend to increase yeast so I give with a yeast fighter (not at the same time), especially probiotics.  Give Virastop at least 2 hours away from other supplements, but it’s actually OK to give with probiotics.  We do these at bed time and first thing in the morning because it’s better to take on an empty stomach.  Virastop needs to be taken at the beginning of a cold or flu.  It will shorten the duration and severity. 

Try to stay away from sugar as sugar suppresses the immune system and just feeds the bad bacteria that you’re trying to get rid of.  Resist the urge to give them lots of pop.  Some is OK to calm the stomach.

My daughter loves smoothies.  She’ll drag out the blender and say, “Smooie, peas?” (translation: Smoothie, please?”)  I make her a smoothie out of coconut milk, raspberries, and blueberries usually.  She can’t do bananas (gets hives for some reason).  Then I like to add Amazing Greens green powder and flax powder.  They make a kids version of Amazing Greens but I have the adult version and I just give my kids a less amount.  This is good stuff.  Then I make popsicles out of the smoothies.  For stage 1, you can use pineapples and bananas to make a smoothie. 

If you want to make Jell-O, Whole Foods has an all natural box of strawberry and orange that are pretty good.  It’s made by Natural Desserts.  I’m not sure if it’s approved or not.  You can make homemade Jell-O too.  Trader Joe’s used to have a juice called Sir Strawberry that would work well for that.  I’m not sure if they still make it or not. 

If you do end up needing to give your kids antibiotics, ask your doctor to write the prescription out for anti’s without any artificial colors or flavors.  They’ll look at you weird at first and might even question whether they make them.  They do.  We’ve used them.  Not every Walgreens has had them but most of them by us do. 

However, they come in capsules.  The outside capsule is redish and has dyes but inside is white powder that is fine.  So, you have to either transfer the contents into a veggie cap (empty capsule you can buy at Whole Foods or the health food store) – I did this for my older son because he can swallow pills, or you can dump the contents into juice or food.  Younger kids may not need the whole capsule so you’ll have to find out what dosage they need. 

Your other option is to find a compounding pharmacist in your area. Google it.  We have one but it’s 45 minutes away.  They can make liquid antibiotics for you without dyes. 

Or, they also make big horse tablets that are white and without dyes.  These can be hard to swallow though, especially when you have strep.  We’ve used them before.  I cut them in half and had my son swallow one at a time.  You can also crush them and add them to ice cream, pudding, food, etc.  It doesn’t taste good so it needs to be something that your kid is just going to take one big bite of to get it down.  A peanut butter sandwich works well too.  Don’t mix it with a whole pudding cup b/c your kid will taste it and not finish it.  Tried that once.

Funny story.  So when my youngest son was 12 months old, he had his first seizure, followed by a very bad cold, followed by an ear infection.  Normally, I would give ear oil and wait it out but because he could have another seizure if he got a fever, they really wanted me to give him antibiotics. 

I was very sick at the time too and didn’t have the time to go out to the compounding pharmacist with a sick baby to get a liquid antibiotic without dyes, and I didn’t feel like messing with the tablets with him, so I just took the prescription for the bright pink liquid antibiotics.  I figured we’d just deal with it.

However, after 2 days on the anti’s, he was very crabby and would not sleep.  He was usually a very good sleeper, even with being sick.  This wasn’t good.  He wasn’t going to get better if he couldn’t sleep. 

So, on an early Saturday afternoon, I called the pediatrician to see if they could write me a new prescription for anti’s without dyes.  They had the doctor on call call me back.  This doctor was the biggest jerk I’ve ever talked to. 

He said, “You want me to do what?!”  I told him how my baby couldn’t sleep b/c of the dyes in the medicine.  He said, “Well, did you ever think that maybe he can’t sleep because he’s sick?”  I said, “Yes, but he still sleeps well even when he’s sick and he didn’t start this until I started the antibiotics and this is how my other kids react as well.” 

He told me there was absolutely NO link between dyes and hyperactivity and he was livid.  It just so happened that Chicago Channel 2 News had just aired a 3-minute segment on my older son and I and the Feingold Diet called “Hyper Ingredients” outlining the newest medical research out supporting the fact that dyes are linked to hyperactivity.

He was not convinced and still thought I was nuts and was laughing at me for thinking that removing dyes could eliminate ADHD symptoms.  I asked him for his e-mail address and told him I’d forward him the link to the video and story.  He refused to give it me until near the end of the conversation (I tried to send it to him and he had given me a bad e-mail address!).  I thought of calling his office to get his real e-mail address, but I figured he probably wouldn’t watch the video anyway. 

He continued to argue with me and go on and on.  Then he told me that this was not what he wanted to be doing on his Saturday afternoon!  He would have to look up what prescription he would have to write out because he had no idea.  I told him I’d call the pharmacy and see what I needed.  He got really mad then and said, “No, I’m the doctor!  I’m the one who does that!” 

I couldn’t believe how this guy was acting.  After 10 minutes of arguing with this guy when I could hardly talk myself because I was so sick, I finally just said, “Ya know what?  Forget it.  I’ll take care of it myself” and I hung up on him.  I think he tried to call back but I didn’t answer. 

After that, if I ever had to call the doctor on call, I’d ask who it was.  Once it was him, and I said forget it.  I’ve never seen this doctor at the office, but they did try to give us him one time and I said no way.  He’s since left that practice.  I wonder why.  I’ve never met such an egotistical doctor in my life. 

I don’t remember what I ended up doing.  I think I may have found some old antibiotics from my other kids and just crushed those up and used those.  I know I did not continue with the anti’s for the full 7 days, and my son was just fine.  Now I remember to always ask for the dye free anti’s when I’m at the office.  The doctors don’t always know what the prescription should be.  They usually have to look it up, but the Walgreens pharmacist always knows what I’m talking about. 
So, that's what we do for cold and flu.  :)

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All About Supplements

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