Jumping in quickly with some well chosen remedies can often stop a cold or flu in its tracks, and reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
If you’re not sure what to take, TS Acutes, a tissue salt combination we’ve been recommending since the days of The Children’s Ear Clinic back in Perth, can be a great first remedy if symptoms are vague. Useful if there is a bit of a fever or maybe a runny nose, but generally if you’re not sure what to give, try this!
Otherwise, have a read through this list of the most commonly indicated remedies and pick a remedy that fits what is going on for you. Remember . . . not everyone manifests a cold in the same way, so you can’t assume that everyone in the family is going to need the same remedies.
- If symptoms are not too intense, take your chosen remedy 3 or 4 times a day as long as things are improving.
- If symptoms are very intense at the beginning, which can be the case if remedies like Aconite are required, you can take your remedy hourly through the first day and then reduce or change the remedy as the picture changes.
For more information on how much and how often to give your remedies, you can read more here.
As our environment becomes more toxic, immune systems become less vibrant and there are more viral illnesses floating around, we are seeing increasingly nasty and lingering acute illnesses.
If someone in the family is having recurrent acute illness or symptoms that linger, they may require an individualised remedy from your homeopath to address the underlying, often inherited, weakness.
As I always say, if your home prescribing is not getting the results you would expect, contact your homeopath sooner rather than later or see your GP.
Remedies for Colds & first stages of an acute illness
So here are the most frequently indicated single remedies for colds, flu and the beginning of an acute illness. This is obviously only a very small list and with, at the last count, around 5000 remedies to choose from, sometimes someone is going to need a remedy that you’re not familiar with.
Aconite – Is really the number one remedy for the first stages of a cold, fever, sore throat or similar illness, particularly when they come on suddenly. Patients commonly wake at midnight with symptoms which are intense and sometimes frightening for those around. Illness may come on after becoming chilled or out in the cold wind. There may be a lot of sneezing with pain at the root of the nose, tingly or scratchy throat and dry mucous membranes. Fever may be high, often with chills, and strong thirst. There can be great restlessness, anxiety and/or fear. This is the first remedy to think of for croup, along with Spongia and Hepar Sulph.
Allium Cepa – Allium colds starts with hay fever-like symptoms; profuse, watery, burning runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. Just like when you peel onions! Common feverish cold with streaming eyes and nose. Profuse water nasal discharge which burns upper lip. Red, running eyes with bland discharge. Headache which may be worse in a warm room.
Anas Barb (Oscillococcinum) – is the top selling flu remedy in France and is often referred to as the homeopathic flu shot, because it has a similar effect in helping people avoid picking up everything going around. Research in France has shown it to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral affinities. It can be taken weekly or fortnightly through winter by all family members as a support remedy and is particularly useful for children in child care – in which case I recommend weekly. It can also be taken more frequently (every two hours on day one, then three times a day for three days) at the beginning of viral illness to help boost the system, alongside the indicated remedies. Anas Barb is only available in 200c potency.
Arsenicum Album (Ars Alb) – Arsenicum is similar to Allium but the throat burns, the mouth is dry and the patient is weak, restless, tired and often anxious when sick. They may be thirsty for frequent sips of warm or hot drinks and can feel worst around midnight and when alone. It is also a good acute asthma remedy, particularly if asthma comes on with a cold, so a good remedy to try even if you use conventional medication. These patients catch cold easily and usually have burning, watery nasal discharge alternating with dryness, frequent sneezing and the nostrils become sore and red and the nose feels blocked. They can feel chilly and shivery with the illness. They are usually worse for a change of temperature, cold, damp and around midnight, and better for heat, warm applications and hot drinks.
Eupatorium Perforatum – These patients experience chills followed by heat and sweating. There is intense aching of bones (see Gelsemium – aching muscles) and they feel as if broken or bruised. There is great thirst for cold drinks and the patient is worse for movement, cold and open air. They feel better for resting, warmth and for sweating.
Ferrum Phos – Useful for the early signs of a cold or flu, especially if you have no strong picture and are not sure what to give. Tired, weary, not feeling quite right. Red inflamed eyes, and/or hot, burning, gritty eyes. Chills with shivering and fever with flushed face. TS Acutes (Kali Mur/Ferrum Phos/Nat Mur 6x) is often better in situations where there is accompanying runny nose and in small children. Better for rest and for cold applications.
Gelsemium – This is the number one remedy for the flu, particularly when the patient is achy all over. Symptoms may come on slowly over a number of days. The patient looks and feels dull and sluggish with heavy looking eyes, a dull headache usually at the back of the neck and a burning throat. They may experience chills and shivering up and down the spine and the patient looks droopy! If the pains are in the bones (rather than the muscles as with Gelsemium) and accompanied by a harsh cough Eupatorium 30c may be more indicated.
Hepar Sulph – is a good remedy for sore throats, with a feeling like a bone or broken glass in the throat. It is useful in well-established coughs which are loose and hacking, with thick, yellow/green mucous. The patient is often irritable and chilly, and may cough more when uncovered. This is good when croup has progressed from the Aconite/Spongia stage.
Kali Bich – is helpful when the cold goes to the sinuses and the mucous is thick, yellow or green and sticky or stringy. It can be extremely difficult to blow out, seems to be endless and the sinuses may be very full and painful, particularly when bending over.
Merc Sol – is another cold and sinus remedy where there is dirty yellow/green mucous, a lot of pain and blood tinged mucous. The breath is often foul with bad taste in the mouth, ulcerated nostrils and mouth, and the patient may have an offensive smell in the nose.
Nat Mur – Colds begin with lots of sneezing, streaming nose like egg white, dry, cracked lips and cold sores. Nat Mur is in our TS Acutes tissue salts combination.
Nux Vomica – There is extreme chilliness with any illness in these patients. They seem unable to get warm and they may be extremely irritable. The nose may be very blocked at night and running during the day or there may be a lot of sneezing. There is often a frontal headache, sore or raw throat and teeth may ache. Their worst time may be around 4am and often they will wake at this time and then not be able to get back to sleep. They are better for heat, lying down and sleep.
Phosphorus – has a major affinity for anything to do with the lungs – bronchitis, loose or dry, irritating coughs. Hoarseness may be a feature. Mucous is very often green and may be blood streaked or there may be blood noses. They usually have strong thirst when sick and always feel better for company.
Pulsatilla – usually has thick, yellow/green bland mucous, a dry mouth but no thirst. All symptoms may be very changeable. Colds often progress to rattly, chesty coughs, and ear pain is common. These patients are often needy, clingy, weepy (particularly in small children) and may feel better for fresh air. Worse in a warm room, after lying down.
Rhus Tox – Very restless with aching in all muscles and stiffness. Cannot get comfortable. Heat alternating with chills, pain in head and eyes, with red face. Sometimes you will see the classic keynote of a red tip on the tongue. Worse: night, first movement. Better: warmth.
TS Acutes (Kali Mur/Ferrum Phos/Nat Mur 6x tissue salts) is a great remedy to use if you suspect someone is “sickening” for something, but symptoms are vague and you’re really not sure what to give. In a reasonably strong immune system this may be all that’s required to ward off illness. It is a good where there is fever, clear to white runny nose and sneezing and also good for congestion in both the early and the later stages, particularly of the ears.
Cold & Flu Combination – is useful for typical cold or flu symptoms if you aren’t sure what to give in the way of single remedies. It contains the most commonly indicated remedies for the early stages. Use this if you are sure a cold is on the way and symptoms have actively started.
For congestion of the sinuses or profuse mucous following a cold try Congestion Combination, but single remedies can be the best option if the remedy picture is clear.
Winter Prep or Travel Prep – Don’t forget that these two remedies (which are the same) can be used alongside your chosen acute remedies as additional support. They contain some of the most common flu remedies as well as remedies which match the flu strains of the current year.
If you go to the Winter & Acute Ailments category in the store, you’ll find a range of other remedies that may be helpful at this time.
Early management of Influenza
You will find that many of the remedies in the list above will fit symptoms of influenza and there is often some confusion about the difference. Homeopathically it doesn’t matter!
Along with Anas Barb you would usually be thinking of remedies like Aconite, Gelsemium or Eupatorium in the early stages. You could select the single remedy that fits the picture best or use our Cold & Flu Combination which covers a broad spectrum of flu symptoms.
In addition to this it is recommended you use a good quality combination of vitamins A, C, E, Zinc and Selenium (if you can get the last in the combination). Vitamin C** can be taken in high doses and a powder is a good way of taking this. Vitamin C helps the body produce more immune-fighting chemicals and reduces the inflammatory response among other things. For acute symptoms you can take 1000mg (or 1g) hourly, along with drinking plenty of water. If there is diarrhea or abdominal cramping halve the dose. Consult your pharmacy or health food shop before taking if you are unsure, if you have any chronic health problem or for children.
Our Immune Boost combination (Astragalus, Echinacea, Hydrastis, Olive Leaf Extract all in 30c potency) is an easy-to-take homeopathic form of all of these powerful immune boosting herbs. It is easy to give to children, more palatable than herbs and without the potential risks.
This combination can be taken to support the system in winter. We recommend 3 weeks on and one week off, or five days on and two days off. Continual use of immune boosting herbs or remedies can make the immune system lazy! In an acute situation take 2 or 3 times a day for an extra boost.
Our Winter Remedies Kit is a great little mini kit in a zip around pouch containing 8 x 10g remedies (leaving space to add a couple of your favourites).
The kit contains:
- Winter Prep
- Cold & Flu Combination
- TS Acutes (a tissue salt combination of Kali Mur/Ferrum Phos/Nat Mur 6x for the start of any illness with vague symptoms)
- Cough – Chesty Combination
- Fever Combination
- Immune Boost
- Throat Sootha
The remedies are also available individually on the website if you wish to add some to your own winter kit. If you prefer to use single remedies, you can buy a Pick Your Own Pack to suit what you’re looking for.
Click here and go to the NOTES tab to read more about the included remedies.
Influenza Pandemics & general immune support remedies
Anas Barb (Oscillo) 200c (see above) was what I always recommended for situations like Swine Flu, Avian Flu, SARS, etc – all of which have been in the news over the past decade or so. It can be taken weekly if a pandemic threatens and if you suspect you have been in contact with a carrier, take the remedy once a day for 5 days. Should symptoms arise, increase to every 2 hours along with whichever other remedy is indicated.
Winter Prep & Travel Prep
Since 2014 we have been offering a Winter Prep and more recently Travel Prep combination. Both contain the same ingredients and are a more robust version of Anas Barb (it does contains this remedy) which is made up fresh each year based on the flu strains in the northern hemisphere, the flu vaccines being used, plus the most used remedies for that season.
This came about as myself and colleagues began to find Anas Barb on its own was no longer as effective for some individuals.
Winter Prep or Travel Prep (same remedy) may be given weekly or fortnightly at any time of the year and may be used for travel in the same way as described above for Anas Barb.
This is also a good remedy to take if you are travelling by plane or train where you are in contact with potentially contagious people. We recommend commencing three days before departure and taking daily until three days after arrival at both ends.
** Information on Vitamin C from “Bird Flu Virus, Your Personal Survival Guide” by Dr Sandra Cabot