These dark berries rich in antioxidants come from the Elder tree (Sambucus). In one study, adults with flu symptoms who took elderberry syrup for five days had a significantly reduced length of illness. Another study found that elderberry was particularly effective against the H1N1 flu strain in a laboratory setting. How those studies translate to children is still a topic of debate, but as elderberries are essentially a highly concentrated antioxidant food, I recommend a dose three times per day to those suffering from flu-like symptoms—along with chicken soup (or a vegetarian option), of course!
These are my first choice for OTC symptom relief. Finding the right homeopathic remedy for each individual child can be tricky, but the good news is that homeopathy is extraordinarily safe. If you pick the wrong remedy, nothing—good or bad—should happen. But if you hit on the right one, voila! It’s magical how quickly these remedies can work. Oscillococcinum is the most well-known flu remedy, but I am also a fan of Boiron Chestal for cough and Boiron Coldcalm for cold symptoms. Follow the manufacturer’s directions if you choose to use any of these remedies.
There are many other options in the natural world for cold, cough and flu prevention and treatment. Some families rely on traditional, cultural practices like Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda while others swear by Reiki or other energy healing modalities. Sometimes doing nothing is absolutely the right thing to do. As the popular medical aphorism goes, “Primum non nocere” (first do no harm). Obviously, check with your pediatrician if your child shows signs of dehydration, breathing distress or just doesn’t seem right to you. Trust your intuition. That’s the best advice I can give any parent. OK, now bundle up and go get some vitamin D!