Cold and Flu. Boost Your Immune System With Natural Supplements

Updated: 12/8/23

If you’re looking to protect your health this cold and flu season, natural supplements can be a great choice to boost your immune system. With the harsh weather outside combined with exposure to people carrying the flu bug, now more than ever it’s important to make sure your body receives all of the nutrition it needs. Luckily, there are many simple and safe herbal remedies that have been used for centuries as effective cures for common colds and flus – so why not give them a try? In this blog post we’ll dive into some of these natural supplements and how they may help support your immune health this season. Read on!

What is a Cold?

The common cold is an infection that affects the upper respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and sinuses. It is caused by a group of viruses, including rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, and adenoviruses. The symptoms of a cold can vary from person to person, but the most common ones include a runny nose, congestion, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and headaches.

The common cold got its name due to the fact that it is a prevalent illness that millions of people around the world experience. The term “common” is used to describe its widespread occurrence, and “cold” is used to represent the feeling of coldness that often accompanies the symptoms.

The flu, also known as influenza, is another illness that affects the respiratory system. While it may share some symptoms with the common cold, such as coughing, congestion, and a runny nose, the flu is generally much more severe. The symptoms of the flu can include high fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea. Additionally, the flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Unlike the common cold, there is a vaccine available for the flu, so it is important to get vaccinated every year.

What is the Flu?

The flu is an illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and in extreme cases, it can even lead to death. The flu typically infects people during the winter months, and it can spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces.

The term influenza comes from the Italian word “influenza,” which means influence. This name was given because people used to believe that the flu was caused by the influence of certain stars or planetary alignments. Later, scientists discovered that the illness was actually caused by viruses.

The flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory system. There are four main types of influenza viruses: type A, B, C, and D. Types A and B are responsible for most flu outbreaks. These viruses can mutate rapidly, making it challenging to create effective vaccines. Therefore, the vaccine needs to be updated every year to provide better protection against the flu.

Cold Symptoms

As the weather gets colder, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the common cold. The cold season is notorious for causing congestion, coughing, and achy muscles. And while these are classic symptoms of the common cold, there are actually many more that you may not be aware of. In this next section, we’ll explore 10 common cold symptoms that you should be aware of in order to stay healthy this winter.

Runny Nose and Sneezing

A runny nose and sneezing are classic symptoms of a cold. When you have a cold, your body produces more mucus in an attempt to fight off the virus. This excess mucus can run from your nose and cause sneezing.

Sore Throat

A sore throat is another common symptom of a cold. It occurs when the virus causes inflammation of the throat tissues.


A cough is a common symptom of a cold. It occurs when the virus causes inflammation in the bronchial tubes.


Feeling tired and achy is common when you have a cold. This happens because your body is working hard to fight off the virus.


Many people experience headaches when they have a cold. This can be caused by sinus pressure or dehydration.

Body Aches

Muscle and joint aches are common when you have a cold. This can be caused by the inflammation and swelling that occurs in your body as it fights off the virus.


A low-grade fever is common when you have a cold. This is the body’s way of trying to kill off the virus.


Feeling cold and shivery is a common symptom of a cold. This can be caused by the fever and the body’s attempt to warm itself up.

Loss of Appetite

Many people experience a loss of appetite when they have a cold. This can be caused by the body’s attempt to conserve energy and focus on fighting the virus.


Nasal congestion is a common symptom of a cold. This can make it difficult to breathe and cause headaches.

Flu Symptoms

In the early stages of a flu infection, symptoms may seem minor and can go unnoticed. While most people recover from the flu on their own, severe cases can be life-threatening, particularly for young children, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions. As a health-conscious person, it’s important to understand the signs of flu and know when to seek medical attention. Here are ten flu symptoms that warrant a trip to the doctor.

High Fever 

A sudden spike in your body temperature is a common symptom of the flu. A fever of 100°F or higher is a warning sign that you should seek medical attention. If your fever lasts for more than 3 days, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Persistent Cough 

The flu virus can damage your lungs and cause a persistent cough that lasts for weeks. If your cough is accompanied by wheezing, shortness of breath or chest pain, it’s time to see a doctor.

Extreme Fatigue 

Feeling tired is normal when you are sick, but extreme fatigue is a sign that your illness is more severe. If you are too weak to carry out your daily routines, seek medical attention.

Body Aches 

Body aches are a common symptom of the flu. However, if your body aches are severe, or you experience muscle weakness or stiffness, it’s best to consult with your physician.


Headaches are a frequent symptom of the flu. Seek medical attention if you get migraines, or if your headache is severe and accompanied by dizziness, confusion or a stiff neck.

Sore Throat 

A sore throat is normal during the flu infection. However, if your throat becomes so sore that it’s hard to swallow or if you develop white patches in your throat, it’s time to see your doctor.

Chest Pain 

Chest pain or pressure is not a symptom of the flu, but some people experience it. You should seek medical attention immediately if you have chest pain or pressure, or your chest feels tight.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath can be a sign of a severe flu infection. If you have trouble breathing or experience rapid breathing, seek medical attention urgently.

Gastrointestinal Problems 

Flu symptoms can often include gastrointestinal distress like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, if you are unable to keep fluids down or have bloody stools, it’s time to see your doctor.

Confusion or Seizures 

Although rare, confusion or seizures can occur during a severe flu infection. If you experience a sudden onset of confusion or have a seizure, it’s crucial to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of Cold and Flu

What Causes a Cold?

Virus Transmission

Colds are caused by over 200 different viruses, with rhinovirus being the most common. These viruses can spread easily when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and releases droplets into the air. You can also get infected by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, such as door handles or telephones, and then touching your nose or mouth. Contrary to popular belief, cold weather itself doesn’t cause colds, but being in cold, dry conditions can make the body susceptible to getting infected by a virus. Colds are highly infectious and can spread when you breathe in tiny droplets of discharge produced from the infected person. Touching a contaminated surface, then touching your mouth or nose, is a common way people catch a cold.

Seasonal Variations

Although you can catch a cold at any time of the year, they’re more common in the winter months. The cold weather keeps us indoors and in close contact with others, making it easier for the virus to spread. Also, humidity levels are lower, which can dry out the mucous membranes in the nose and throat, making us more susceptible to infection.

Weakened Immune System

Our immune system plays a vital role in fighting off infections, but it can be weakened by factors such as stress, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition. When our immune system is compromised, we’re more vulnerable to cold viruses.

What Causes the Flu?

The flu is caused by a virus, specifically the influenza virus. This virus is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person, either through the air or by coming into contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. When you come into contact with the virus, it enters your body and begins to replicate itself. This process can take anywhere from 1 to 4 days, during which time you may not feel any symptoms.

Once the virus has replicated enough, it starts to cause symptoms which can range from mild to very severe. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. In severe cases, the flu can even lead to hospitalization or death. The best way to prevent getting the flu is by getting vaccinated each year, which helps your body to build up immunity to the virus.

However, there are other factors that can increase your risk of getting the flu, even if you’ve been vaccinated. One of the biggest culprits is a weakened immune system. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including chronic stress, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition. If your immune system is not functioning properly, it may not be able to fight off the virus as effectively as it should.

Common Cold Treatment

While there is no cure for the common cold, there are several treatments that can help alleviate symptoms and decrease the duration of the illness. From natural remedies to over-the-counter medicines, we’ve compiled a list of the most effective treatments to help you kick that pesky cold to the curb in no time.

Stay Hydrated

One of the easiest and most effective ways to fight the common cold is by staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, helps keep the body hydrated and flushes out toxins. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine can also help prevent dehydration. Try sipping on warm liquids such as tea or broth to help soothe a sore throat.

Rest and Relaxation

One of the most important things you can do while fighting a cold is rest. Trying to push through the illness will only prolong the healing process and potentially make symptoms worse. Take a day off work if possible, and spend time relaxing at home. This will not only help you feel better but also prevent the spread of the virus to others.

Natural Remedies

While over-the-counter medications can be effective in treating common cold symptoms, natural remedies can also be a great option. Incorporating items such as honey, garlic, ginger, and echinacea into your diet can help boost the immune system and alleviate symptoms. Essential oils, such as eucalyptus and peppermint, can also help with congestion and coughing.

Over-the-Counter Medications

There are a variety of over-the-counter medications available to treat common cold symptoms. Decongestants, cough suppressants, and pain relievers can help alleviate symptoms such as congestion and coughing. Be sure to read labels carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.


Of course, the best way to fight the common cold is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Wash your hands frequently, especially after being around others who may be sick. Avoid touching your face, and sanitize surfaces regularly. Incorporating immune-boosting foods and supplements into your diet can also help prevent illness.

Flu Treatment

Stay Hydrated

One of the most important things to do when you have the flu is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps your body fight off the infection and reduces the symptoms of the flu, including headaches, fever and fatigue. If you’re struggling to drink plain water, you can also try adding lemon or honey, which can help soothe a sore throat.


While it can be tempting to keep pushing yourself when you have the flu, it’s essential to take some time off and rest. Your body needs to use its energy to fight off the infection, so it’s important to conserve your energy as much as possible. If you are struggling to sleep, try taking a warm bath or drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed.

Take Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, decongestants and cough syrups can help alleviate the symptoms of the flu and make you feel more comfortable. Be aware, however, that some of these medications can cause drowsiness, so make sure you are not operating heavy machinery or driving.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet can also help your body fight off the flu. Focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are packed full of vitamins and minerals that support your immune system. Additionally, try to avoid sugary foods and drinks, as they can weaken your immune system.

Consider Seeing a Doctor

If your symptoms are particularly severe, or if they are not improving after a week or so, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. They may be able to prescribe antiviral medications that can help shorten the duration of your illness and alleviate your symptoms.

Supplements For Cold And Flu 


The Sambucus tree is a flowering plant and the term elderberry refers to its different varieties and properties. The plant mostly grows in Europe, but it exists all over the world. Research suggests that it is rich in vitamins and nutrients, can boost the immune system and treat cold and flu virus symptoms.

Elderberry extract is available in several different forms, such as gummies, candies, teas and extracts. As a dietary supplement, take elderberry extract powder at a dose of 1,000 to 3,000 mg (½ to 1 ½ tsp) every day. Make sure to consult a physician about dosage instructions and follow all medical advice.

Beta Glucan

Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that comes from oats, barley and yeast. Studies state that it can strengthen the immune system and defend the body from cold and flu viruses. Patients can take it as a pure supplement or fortified in drinks and cereals. It’s easy to add to meals or smoothies. The recommended dosage for beta glucan powder is 250 mg per day. 

Side effects are uncommon and if they do appear, they are usually mild—stomach upset, flatulence and bloating. But as always, it’s best to consult with a doctor before trying a new supplement. Make sure to follow a physician’s instructions and advice.

Echinacea Extract Powder 

There are several different species of echinacea with different compounds that produce different effects. Echinacea is a flowering plant native to North America and Europe and it is a popular homeopathic cold therapy. Research suggests that this plant protects the body from respiratory diseases by activating the immune cells responsible for fighting off germs. It activates macrophages, which respond to infection in the early stages of diseases and injuries. Echinacea stimulates natural killers in the body that allow the body to fight off diseases such as the common cold.

The recommended serving size for echinacea extract powder is 450 mg once or twice a day. Side effects are uncommon, but patients allergic to marigold, daisies or ragweed may also be allergic to echinacea. It may also aggravate autoimmune disorders, so it is always best to see a doctor for approval before starting a supplement regimen with echinacea.


Garlic is a natural antibiotic that has been used for centuries to treat infections. It contains compounds that boost the immune system and fight off viruses and bacteria. Taking garlic supplements can help prevent and treat colds and flu. It’s recommended to take 600-1200mg of garlic supplements per day during the winter months.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the immune system’s health. It helps the body fight off infections and viruses. During the winter months, when we don’t get enough sunlight, we may become deficient in vitamin D. Taking vitamin D supplements can help boost the immune system and prevent colds and flu. It’s recommended to take 1000-2000IU of vitamin D per day.

Marshmallow Root

This herb dates back thousands of years in western Asia, Europe and northern Africa. Historically marshmallow root treats digestive, skin and respiratory conditions, such as the cold and flu. Extracts have shown promise in rat experiments for their potential to treat respiratory diseases like asthma by relaxing the smooth muscle in the airways. Patient surveys have also reported its potential to treat dry cough.

As a dietary supplement, take 1,200 mg (or ¼ tsp) of marshmallow root extract powder once or even twice a day. It is unlikely to cause side effects, but stop using it if you suspect that it is causing negative side effects. It may also impact blood sugar levels, so patients who have recently undergone surgery or are scheduled for a procedure should not take it. Confirm with a physician before supplementing with marshmallow root extract.

Pumpkin Seed

Fall is the season for pumpkin spiced lattes, pies and scones. But it doesn’t have to be fall to enjoy pumpkin’s health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are a highly nutritious extract with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in zinc, which helps boost the immune system and fend off respiratory viruses and infections. Because it’s rich in zinc, taking pumpkin seed extract may help reduce symptom severity or shorten the duration of the common cold.

The recommended dosage for pumpkin seed extract powder is 550 mg (or ¼ tsp) daily, or as advised by a doctor. It is generally safe with few, uncommon side effects. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take this supplement. Always confirm with a doctor before adding pumpkin seed supplements to a dietary plan.

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is a popular remedy to prevent the common cold and flu, present in several medicines. It helps the immune system fight infections by replacing phagocytes and t-cells because sickness reduces Vitamin C stores. It is also a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from oxidative stress that can cause disease, improving heart and immune function. The supplement may cause mild side effects such as diarrhea or stomach ache.

The important thing about taking Vitamin C to prevent a cold or the flu is to use it consistently, since it is a preventative measure rather than a treatment. The recommended daily dose for ascorbic acid / Vitamin C is 1,000 mg (¼ tsp). However, different individuals may have a preference or individual need for dosage. Consult with a doctor to confirm dosage instructions.

The Bottom Line

Most people contract a cold or flu once or twice a year, even if they are otherwise healthy. Both the common cold and the flu are a result of a viral infection. They are both respiratory illnesses that produce similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them, but the flu causes more severe symptoms than a cold and it often develops suddenly, while cold symptoms appear gradually.

There are no medicines that directly treat the virus, but patients can treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medication. There are some homeopathic therapies that patients can try to either prevent or shorten the duration of illness. Getting lots of rest, staying hydrated and drinking warm tea or soup can help relieve symptoms and help the immune system fight the virus. Supplements may also be able to help treat cold and flu symptoms, such as echinacea, marshmallow root, elderberry, beta-glucan, pumpkin seed extract and Vitamin C. Many of these have limited scientific evidence, but are generally considered safe to use with minimal side effects. Always talk to a doctor about any concerns trying a new alternative therapy.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author: BulkSupplements Staff