Done With Diligence

A Mama’s Guide to Treating a Cold- Homeopathy & Natural Remedies

mom and sick child sitting on bed

Cold season comes every year!  Typical symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough, and more. Some mamas may rush to their healthcare provider for prescription drugs, others may grab some over the counter medicine and hope for the best, but some mamas are stocked up and ready with their natural remedies and homeopathic products.  If that last category of mamas sounds like the one you want to fall into, keep reading!  Let’s talk through some of the best homeopathic and natural remedies for treating the common cold the NATURAL way.

(Before I begin, I must remind you that I am NOT a doctor.  I’m a mom and wife who tries her best to take care of her family at home whenever it makes sense to do so. I can’t diagnose, treat, or cure your family.  Consider this article a conversation between friends as I describe our experience.  Use it for thoughts and ideas that may lead to further research.  And always consult a medical professional when needed. This post contains affiliate links in order to help you find the products I mention.  You can read more about my affiliate policy here.)

Setting a Good Foundation for Naturally Treating a Cold

Let’s begin by making sure you are setting a good foundation for the immune system and natural healing.  No matter how the cold presents and which specific symptoms are present, these tips serve to lay good groundwork for the body to heal, so I would implement these ideas with each and every cold that my household faces.

1. Nutrition for a Cold

When it comes to having the body in tip-top shape for fighting a cold, I focus on 2 things.  I want to (1) Limit sugar (2) Maximize Bone Broth.

First, sugar impairs the immune system (source).  When we are trying to heal, we don’t want to impede the immune system in any way.  Therefore, this is not the time for sugary cereals, cookies, gummies, or even fruit juices.  Encourage lower-sugar foods or those sweetened with Stevia.

Second, I want to get as much bone broth in the sick patient as possible. Homemade bone broth is such a healing food. It can pack in protein, vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of stuff the body needs into one comforting bowl. You can read about all of the benefits of consuming bone broth in this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation.   I have found that it really helps to keep some frozen broth and frozen soup in my freezer for quick sick meals.  I love using these silicone freezer blocks to freeze perfect soup portions.  Just pop them out when frozen and store in gallon size freezer bags.  

how to make bone broth graphic

It’s also important to make sure the sick patient is getting all of the right vitamins and nutrients.  Below is a list of the vitamins and supplements that I would consider as the basic building blocks for getting my family well.

Vitamin C and Zinc taken together pack a good punch against the common cold.  Studies have shown reductions in both severity and duration of cold symptoms when patients take Vitamin C and Zinc together (source). This study from the Cochrane Database shows that Vitamin C supplementation of only 1-2 grams resulted in an up to 12% reduction in duration of colds in adult and up to 21% in children.  It also points out that due to Vitamin C’s low cost and strong safety record, it should be considered for treating colds.  This study found that Vitamin C supplementation in the range of 8-9 grams per day could prevent the common cold from developing into pneumonia.

In my family, adults will take Vitamin C (1,000 mg or 1 gram) 3 times per day (or more!), while the kids take about 500 mg of Sodium Ascorbate (a powdered form of Vitamin C) about 3 times per day.  My Functional Medicine practitioner has always advised us to take Vitamin C “to bowel tolerance”.  In other words, when your body can no longer absorb any more Vitamin C your tummy will let you know!  At that point, we’d take a couple of hours break from Vitamin C before consuming any more. For Zinc, my family chooses to take about 50mg per day for adults and 25 mg for kids.

Research also shows a connection between adequate Vitamin D levels and a strong immune response (source).  In fact, this study published in the Journal of Reviews of Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders found that low Vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infection. My family chooses to take Vitamin D3 + K2 (about 10,000 IU for sick adults and 5,000 IU for sick for kids). *Note: We don’t take dosages this high when we are well.

I like to mix all of the supplements mentioned above into a kid-friendly drink called my “Get Well Cocktail”! My kids think it tastes great, so they usually down it with zero complaints. Here’s my “recipe”. You can visit my Master List of Product Recommendations to find link to all of these supplements.

get well cocktail recipe card

Elderberry Syrup is also a must when we are sick.  This study found that both duration and intensity of cold symptoms were improved when elderberry was administered to the sick patient.  And this study which involved 180 participants found the following:

jar of elderberry syrup

This study is interesting because, right off the bat, they point out the following:

The researchers quoted above conducted a randomized-controlled trial. It included children ages 2-5 years old that had been diagnosed with an Upper Respiratory Infection by a medical professional.  After 3 days of treatment, they noted “significant” improvements with the homeopathy group as it relates to sneezing, coughing, and overall cold symptoms.  So, to recap, this study explains that the typical decongestants and other medicines that one might normally reach for to treat a cold are ineffective, but homeopathy can make a significant difference. If that doesn’t make you consider homeopathic treatment for your next cold, I don’t know what will!  So let’s get into remedy selection, which can definitely be the overwhelming part of using homeopathy.

two homeopathic remedies sitting on a piece of wood

Most colds come with sudden onset.  Out of the blue, you’ll notice a funny feeling in the back of your throat, and then WHAM! The other symptoms pile on quickly!  At the first sign of those early symptoms, I like to give the Dr. Banerji protocol of Aconite 200C + Bryonia 30C(Gateway to Homeopathy II by Joette Calabrese, page 102).  Then, depending on the severity of the symptoms, I continue giving this combo as my primary remedy every 3-12 hours).  

With this combo in place, I start paying attention to specific symptom complaints to decide what other remedies the sick patient may need.  In homeopathy, we always use symptoms as our guide.  As the symptoms change, we change our remedies to match.  

But the most important thing to remember about using homeopathic remedies is that their are multiple solutions to the same problem.  What works for one person may not necessarily be the solution for the next.  I’ll outline some symptoms and what I remedies I would try first, but I also want to encourage you to consider investing in some books and resources to help you select other remedies when you need them.  I’ll offer those suggestions at the end of this article.

My go-to combo for symptoms of sore throat is Belladonna 30C + Mercurius Solubilis 30C .  The key words to associate with Belladonna are “red” and “hot”, and a sore throat is often both of those. Belladonna is usually most helpful in the very earlies stages of the sore throat. The mouth will be hot and dry.  If you look in the mouth with an otoscope (here’s the one I have for home use), and the tonsils are bright red, that’s another clue that Belladonna can help.  The throat might also feel tight and constricted, and every swallow might be painful and difficult. The sick person may also have a red face. Mercurius Solubilis 30C (Merc Sol) is often indicated when the throat is red, dry, and raw, much like Belladonna. If you notice a strange, bad breath, that’s a hint that Merc Sol might help.

I would give this combo 3-4 times throughout the day.  If the pain was severe, I may “fast dose” in the beginning, meaning I’d give the combo every 15-30 minutes for 3-4 doses to bring some initial relief.

*Note: The Belladonna + Merc Sol combo can also be helpful for Strep Throat, especially if Hepar Sulph 200 is added in 2-3 times per day to help with infection.

You can read more about Belladonna and Merc Sol in and online Materia Medica, like this one from Dr. James Tyler Kent.

If there is an endless drip of snot coming from the nose, Allium Cepa 30C would be worth considering. There may be frequent sneezing and the nasal discharge may burn the upper lip.  Allium Cepa is made from and onion, so the sick person may look like they just chopped an onion… watery eyes with a burning sensation and a watery nasal discharge. You may notice that the patient feels better in cold air rather than a warm room.

Arsenicum Album 30C might be a better choice for a runny nose if there is a thin watery discharge, but the person complains of the nose feeling stopped up. You may also notice that the cold air makes the runny nose worse while a warm room is helpful (opposite of Allium Cepa).  Another clue that Arsenicum Album is the right remedy would be a sick patient that is very thirsty but only drinks small sips of water at a time.  There may be a lack of appetite, lots of sneezing, and the sick patient may look pale.

You can read more about Allium Cepa and Arsenicum Album in an online Materia Medica, like this one from Dr. James Tyler Kent.

Research has shown that homeopathic remedies can be very helpful in treating coughs associated with common cold symptoms. This study from the journal Pulmonary and Pharmacology Therapeutics found that compared with a placebo, a homeopathic cough syrup produced excellent results and they further noted that there were no adverse side effects reported. The researchers said, “We concluded that the homeopathic syrup employed in the study was able to effectively reduce cough severity and sputum viscosity [mucus thickness], thereby representing a valid remedy for the management of acute cough induced by URTIs [Upper Respiratory Infections].”  

Coughing is one of the trickiest symptoms to find an effective remedy match for, but the secret is to keep trying!  When there is a worrisome cough, I often “fast dose” the remedy that I think is the best match (give a dose every 15-30 minutes for 4 doses).  After I’m finished fast dosing, I’ll evaluate with 3 questions: Are the coughing episode spreading further apart?  Are the individual coughing episodes lasting for a shorter length of time?  Does the cough sound a little less intense?  If I answer positively to these questions,  I know I’ve got the correct remedy, and I need to stick with it.  If not, it’s back to my reference books to find another remedy that might be a better match. So, here are some cough remedies to get you started, but don’t be surprised if you need to dig a little deeper to find more options.

  • Bryonia 30C– Bryonia might be an excellent remedy for a cough that is hard and dry.  It will often follow nasal discharge.  You may notice the sick patient holding his chest each time he coughs.
  • Phosphorus 30C– Phosphorus is similar to Bryonia in that is addresses a hard, dry cough, but it is also chesty.  They may complain that their head feels like it may burst when they cough. The cough may be a little tickly. An interesting hint that Phosporus may help is if lying on the left side seems to make the patient feel much worse.
  • Spongia 30C– Spongia is another remedy for hard, dry coughs.  A Spongia cough may sound more like barking, and you may hear some wheezing in the cough. Warm drinks will help the sick patient while both cold drinks and talking seem to make the cough worse.
  • Pulsatilla 30C– Pulsatilla may be helpful for coughs in infants and toddlers.  You’ll notice that sitting up seems to help the cough.  You may notice yellow or green mucus.  The sick patient may also be more whiny and clingy than usual.
  • Hepar Sulph 30C– Hepar Sulph is a good choice if you just can’t decide what remedy to use for the cough.  It is also used to treat croupy coughs that are associated with a rattling in the chest.
  • Drosera 30 C– Drosera is often associated with a spasmodic cough. The person may feel like he is choking when coughing. They may also develop a hoarse voice.

You can read more about all of these remedies in an online Materia Medica, like this one from Dr. James Tyler Kent.

In many cases, it may be wise to let a low-grade fever do its work without interfering.  However, in some cases, treatment may be needed.  If so, consider Belladonna 30 C for throbbing pain, chilly body, and a rising fever.  Gelsemium 30C might be a good homeopathic remedy if the headache is in the back of the head, there is fever, the body aches, and the root of the nose feels full.

​Helpful Hints on Treating a Common Cold Naturally

See some remedies you would like to try, but don’t have them on hand?  My article on Where to Buy Homeopathic Remedies might help.  And I’m always a fan of having a good homeopathy kit on hand BEFORE you need it.  The more options you have at your finger tips, the better off you will be!  You might also want to visit my Master List of Product Recommendations to see quick links to all of the supplements and homeopathy kits my family uses.

In most cases, doctors will tell you that you’ve just got to let viruses like the common cold run their course.  So why not use some natural remedies to support your body while that happens?  I’ll remind you once again that I’m no medical professional, and I’m not making any medical claims here. By all means, if you are concerned about how your sick patient is progressing, seek professional medical advice.  A diligent mama is always paying attention to whether she can continue treating the health problem on her own or whether she needs to get help.  

But in my experience, if I jump on it right when I see the first symptom, natural remedies can be a very effective treatment.  I have yet to stand at the crossroads of debating whether I should seek professional help or keep trying myself, as I always see signs of improvement quickly.  The secret is to stay calm, ask the Lord for wisdom, and keep working through the problem.  You can do this, Mama!

Looking for more natural remedies for your family?  See my Remedy with Diligence page.

My 4 Favorite Homeopathy Reference Books

banerji protocol book with white cover
Materia Medica book with green cover
blue repertory book

The purple book is a great book for beginners. The Banerji protocol book is great is you want to learn about chronic conditions and how to treat them homeopathically. And every mama that is serious about using homeopathy will need the Materia Medica and Repretory (they work together as a team to help you pick the correct remedy to match symptoms).

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