5 natural supplements for colds and flu that work

Time For Wellness review some natural cold relief supplements.


A host of natural medicines are sold for cold and flu relief but not all of them work. Here are 5 natural supplements with high quality evidence from human clinical studies that do.

1. Vitamin C

Doses of 100-2000 mg of vitamin C per day when you get a cold have been shown to shorten your time to recovery, and 500 mg per day works well as a preventative (1,2).

2. Garlic extract

A garlic extract containing allicin (a key active phytonutrient garlic) when taken over the winter months reduced number of colds (24 vs 65 for placebo) and sped up recovery time (1.52 vs 5.01 days for placebo) in a clinical study of over 350 people (3).

3. Elderberry

Elderberry extract (trade name Sambucol) has been shown to significantly improve flu symptoms and speed up time to recovery compared to placebo in two studies at a typical dose of 15 ml daily (4,5).

4. Echinacea

The herbal medicine Echinacea (purpurea and angustifola) has been shown to reduce cold symptoms by 58% and duration by 1.4 days across a number of studies and may also improve overall wellbeing (6,7). Recommended doses are 3-6 ml of liquid extract, and up to 10-20 ml at the onset of symptoms and continued for 7-14 days (8).

5. Zinc

Taking zinc within 24 hours of the start of symptoms was found to cut the risk of still having symptoms at day 7 of a cold by about half. And for prevention, taking zinc for at least 5 months cut cold risk by a third (9). For acute relief zinc gluconate lozenges dissolved in your mouth slowly and containing at least 18 mg of zinc are effective (10).


Remember, the nutritional needs of every individual will be different, so it may be that you require more specific support in order to encourage your immune system.


Read the footnotes here.