Cold fight

Fighting colds – a cold is a cold

[ As with any post here or online advice the content is for informational purposes only and not medical advice . Before trying anything written here please consult with your physician or your child’s Pediatrician]

“ Take my magic potion”  “ cold cure”  every day and you will better in 2 weeks.

Granny Clampett

There are no magic potions, lotions, herbs, unapproved tinctures, or anything that will cure a cold or short cut your body’s immune fight with a cold virus. There is no pill to make the cold go away immediately. Only the basics of your body’s natural defenses fighting an illness ; with fever, congestion, and coughing. Your system learns to recognize the cold virus and builds an immune reaction to defeat the cold this time and in the future.

My main medical focus is to help your body physiologically mount a strong response to the illness by  supporting and boosting  your own immune system . Secondly to make you comfortable to be able to fight the virus,by helping you sleep and rest. And finally by keeping the inflammatory response, that is responsible for your misery, to a minimum, while maximally fighting the virus.

Standard medical natural-physiological advice

For babies and those of us that still act like babies:

Nose suctioning: Do not use the blue suction bulb given to you at the delivery.It goes too far into the nasal canal.  Use a nasal aspirator which doesn’t go all the way in the nose but uses a vacuum to gently suction out loose secretions.Start with two drops of sterile saline drops or spray. [ can buy these at most pharmacies] Tilt your child’s head back to put the drops then gently suction the mucus four or five times a day.There’s a new Suction apparatus which has two tubes to go in separately into a container that doesn’t directly apply suction to the nose

Stop frequently when you feed your baby so they can catch their breath and not end up choking

Steam: Hold the child ( over 6 months) in the bathroom ( not in the shower)  and turn on the shower to reasonably hot  only for a few minutes to breathe in the steam.

Humidifier with eucalyptus oil ( five to ten drops) a couple times a day. You can also put some eucalyptus oil on the floor of the bathroom shower. 

NOTHING directly on the body. You should not put any eucalyptus oil or menthol  directly on a baby. You can put it on a cloth near the baby or somewhere on the bed so they get the benefit without irritating the skin or absorbing it.

We do not use any decongestants or medication for a baby.

Consult your Pediatrician before trying any remedy.

Elevate the head at night by putting something underneath the mattress NEVER using a pillow for the baby. You usually end up holding the baby or driving in the car seat or use the stroller to keep the head elevated.

On the feet with socks included here for guidance only: Only over a year. ( not medical and not wholly recommended by Pediatricians please check first)- Many people place Eastern spices and herbs , or very small amount menthol or eucalyptus oil on the soles of the feet then cover with socks.(be careful of allergic reactions) . Studies have actually shown that this does help drain some of the mucous by dilating blood vessels away from the sinuses . This has temporary relief but tradition is hard to sway. What is most interesting is that almost every culture from every part of the world uses this method for aiding cold symptoms. When something spans a wide range of global behavior there generally is some validity to its use. Caution with anything you put directly on a child’s skin.

NO over the counter cold MEDICATION FOR BABIES and very little recommended for any child under 4. Please consult with your physician before treating any cold with any meditation .

HealthfulMD:See below for the natural treatments of a cold.

Breastfeeding: If mom has the cold -wear a surgical mask, wash your hands and continue breast feeding.

Breast milk – for babies under a year breast milk is by far the best source of immune supporting antibodies to fight a cold. .  

The following is for over 6-8 months of age and teas should be decaffeinated for children


HIbiscus tea with ginger and add echinacea tea to it for the first two to 3 days , 3 -4 cups a day, continue the same tea without the echinacea after that.Can add a teaspoon of organic honey particularly Manuka honey but only if your child is over a year. I also add turmeric particularly at the first sign of a cold.

Green tea ( matcha) with ginger, honey-only over a year of  age, and echinacea as above. Add ginseng if elevated blood pressure is not an issue.

Goji berry tea- as above one of my favorites

Chamomile tea- has anti inflammatory properties and settles the stomach . Add any of the same ingredients from above.

Rose hip tea-is high in vitamin C


My superpowered immune building grandma’s chicken and unchicken vegan soup

Take grandma’s base of chicken soup or vegetable soup base

Make sure to add lots of green leafy vegetables as tolerated

Add sweet potatoes


mushrooms, any will do, but shitakke preferred

lots of garlic

turmeric- kids will not notice the yellow color here

red pepper chili or cayenne , or a milder version for your child’s taste.



red onions

nutritional yeast

Spices – same health spices but  I double the amount of turmeric I add to food and tea. I also increase the cayenne pepper and chili pepper to the point I can tolerate when I feel like I am getting sick or already congested. Make a big emphasis to add all these ingredients to the level you can tolerate without giving you indigestion: turmeric,  garlic, oregano / oil, cayenne pepper or chili pepper  , cinnamon, thyme. Add to vegetables, soups , and sauces.

Healing smoothies and juices – similar ingredients to above

Preferred to blend in the fruits in a smoothie to get the pulp rather than juice.

Could also start with high vitamin C anti-inflammatory juices : fresh squeezed orange, tomato, pineapple, or dark juices blueberry, or pomegranate .

Or start with a blended fruit as above or healthy plant milk like almond, hemp, soy.

Add high vitamin C fruits papaya, strawberries,  citrus fruits- pineapple, oranges, lemon,

Sweet fruits to make it taste good especially for children, apples for quercetin with red skin, peaches, pears, bananas.

Dark fruits for maximize vitamin C and anti inflammatory fighting – blueberries, blackberries, black cherries, pomegranate, acai, goji berries

Vegetables as tolerated and rich in  vitamin C and antioxidants- bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and kale.


Foods and other extras to help your immune system fight a cold

Supplements such as vitamin c, are not as effective as the real food source for the vitamins and herbs.

Zinc in natural sources are healthier: Following are good zinc food sources .

Dark chocolate( greater than 70%), garlic ,sesame seeds, wheat germ, lentils, chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds. Zinc lozenges also have some benefit if you or your child can not eat enough of the foods that contain it.

Foods with high vitamin C also have natural healing anti inflammatory properties with the  understanding that most of the symptoms of the cold are our body’s inflammatory response to the cold virus . Eat more of these  vitamin C rich foods ( also review my vitamin C post.

Fruits – Papaya, strawberries, oranges, blueberries, blackberries,  pineapple, etc.

Greens greens greens- as usual your dark green inflammation fighting vegetables are at their best when you need them for colds. Kale, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, Swiss chard, collard greens, and any dark green vegetable you like and Jerusalem artichokes are also known to help immunity fight a cold. Do not forget the bell pepper which has a high vitamin C rating. 

Mushrooms of any type – need to be cooked- have immune supporting properties

Nutritional yeast– also helps support your immune system

Manuka honey purported to help stop a cold but is expensive, and has a milder glycemic index ( has to be authentic) rise. ( honey is only safe over a year of age)

Echinacea -I use tea instead of the drops. But there are enough supporters of the drops to try them if you prefer but for a short time only.

Fish oil is considered to be helpful as well if it is not contraindicated for any other health reasons.

Probiotics are known to help your immune system particularly when you are ill. Not generally necessary for children and adults who maintain a healthy diet of natural plant foods.

Rest – get as much rest as possible . The only time I recommend any medication is to help you sleep from a cold and then generally only a antihistamine.Contact your physician for their guidance regarding cold meditcation to help you sleep.

Get mobile – don’t over do it but exercise thins and mobilizes the congestion. If you exercise regularly lower the intensity of the workout.Contact your physician before any exercise particularly during an illness . If there is fever or lethargy , difficulty breathing refrain from any exertion and contact your doctor.

Relax– as in all things ,stress has a negative impact on your psyche and your immune system. As I tell adolescents don’t get angry and stressed that you are sick it only makes it worse. You are sick now what. Accept it and do what you have to fight it. Meditate, walk, take quiet time with the above teas. Take an extra long hot shower with eucalyptus oil and lavender. Take a break from your  work, study, hustle and bustle, and anger. Put your body in the best position to focus on the job it has to do fighting the cold.

Homeopathic remedies have been reported to have anecdotal benefit but not consistently research proven . The following besides echinacea are widely used and  generally not harmful if you follow the directions

Immunoberry supplement

Astragalus and Elderberry

Oscilllococcinum has been proven with substantial research to not be of value besides acting as a placebo

Limit foods that have a negative impact on cold fighting

Sweets- sugar tends to feed a virus.

Fatty foods, cause inflammation and don’t allow your body or immunity to do its best in fighting a virus.


Warren Krantz MD, FAAP

Author of “Start healthy, stay healthy”