Herbal & Nutritional Programs for the Cold Season

Herbal and nutritional supplements have a long tradition of use in treating and preventing illness during the cold season. Colds and flus, coughs, sore throats and congestion all can respond favorably to natural medicine. There is, however, confusion as to which remedy to take, when to take it, and the length of time it should be used. This question is often asked: How do you combine an herbal remedy with other nutritional supplements for maximum effectiveness?

Although all natural medicine prescriptions should be individualized for optimal results, there are many effective programs to try. A program that utilizes a series of herbs and nutrients in a specific sequence is most effective. Rotating and alternating remedies creates a synergistic effect which enhances the body’s ability to maintain optimal health. This is especially true during the winter when the body’s resistance may be compromised. Furthermore, by using natural remedies in specific cycles, the body remains more sensitive and responsive.

The following programs are for the cold season. They are divided into three categories: the acute phase, the recovery phase, and the maintenance phase. These easy-to-follow programs should give you enhanced results for winter health care.





Acute Phase


This program is for the body that is under acute, physical stress. This is the acute infectious stage we see so often during the cold season, whether it is viral or bacterial. Symptoms include cold, flu, fever, sore throat, aches and pains, etc.. Note that the dosage during this phase is rather large.


  • Step 1

    Echinacea & Goldenseal Combination

    A combination of these two herbs possesses anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and is the foundation for acute cold and flu treatment.
    Dosage: Every 2 hours

  • Step 2

    Blood Cleansers

    The blood cleansers include Red Clover, Sage, and Burdock. When the body is under stress of an acute infection, there are many toxic metabolites that result. The blood cleansing herbs assist the body in “cleaning up” this condition, as they are effective in draining the lymph system. Using Chinese medical terminology, Echinacea and Goldenseal are considered the “generals”, while the blood cleansers are the “soldiers”. We find that the blood cleansers, by reducing tissue stress in the body, make the immune-enhancing properties of Echinacea and Goldenseal more effective.
    Dosage: Every 2 hours

  • Step 3

    Zinc (preferably as a lozenge)

    Clinical findings, as well as documented research, show that Zinc reduces the intensity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.
    Dosage: At least 5 mg every 2 to 4 hours.

  • Step 4

    Antioxidants

    Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Selenium work synergistically with the blood cleansers in reducing tissue and blood toxicity and are therefore useful during the acute phase.
    Dosage: 2 to 3 times daily

  • Step 5

    Herbal Decongestant

    Numerous herbal decongestants are available that can effectively reduce nasal and sinus congestion which accompany many viral and bacterial infections. They use Chinese Ephedra as the active ingredient. Ephedra contains ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine, which are vaso-constrictors of the nasal sinuses. This means that fluids causing the congestion are forced out of the sinus cavity and back into the blood stream, thus reducing congestion. This type of supplement should only be used on a short-term basis to relieve symptoms.






Recovery Phase


Protocol for the acute phase should be used until the symptoms of fever, chills, and infection have been relieved. Once the body is clearly “healing”, the recovery phase should be implemented. At this time, the body’s resistance, which was called upon during the acute phase, must be replenished and any lingering toxicity should be cleared from the body. This program should be used for up to two weeks, as it supports the return to optimal health. Many people make the mistake of stopping treatment after the acute phase because they feel so much better. The result is occasional relapses, possible lingering symptoms, and low energy. So, keep up the treatment during this phase!

  • Step 1

    Echinacea & Goldenseal Combination

    Use of these herbs should continue, but reduced in frequency compared to the acute phase.
    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Step 2

    Chinese Astragalus or Astragalus Combination

    Astragalus is a deep immune system tonic and is used to support the body’s natural resistance. Research and centuries of use in the Orient have proven the effectiveness of Astragalus as a tonic herb for recovery from illness and stress.
    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Step 3

    Antioxidants

    The antioxidants: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Zinc may be used again for this phase.
    Dosage: 2 to 3 times daily

  • Step 4

    Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

    Pantothenic Acid supports adrenal function and helps tonify the body’s reserves.
    Dosage: 100-250 mg, 2 times daily






Maintenance Phase


Once the body has recovered, use the following general program to support resistance during the winter months. This will help you maintain optimal health and prevent illness during the cold season.

General Program:



  • Week 1

    Echinacea & Goldenseal combination

    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Week 2

    Siberian Ginseng combination

    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Week 3

    Echinacea & Goldenseal combination

    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Week 4

    Chinese Astragalus combination

    Dosage: 3 times daily




General Program with Additional Nutritional Support:


The above general program can be combined with additional antioxidants and blood cleansers:


  • Week 1

    Blood Cleansers (Red Clover, Sage, or Burdock)

    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Week 2

    Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium

    Dosage: 2 to 3 times daily

  • Week 3

    Blood Cleansers

    Dosage: 3 times daily

  • Week 4

    Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium

    Dosage: 2 to 3 times daily






Enjoy good health this winter. And remember, these programs are not intended as a substitute for individualized care. In the event of serious illness, consult your health care practitioner.

Janet Zand, OMD, L.Ac., is a respected naturopathic physician who lives and practices in the Los Angeles area. She has developed a unique and effective method of combining herbal medicine with nutrition, homeopathy and acupuncture. Her credentials include a Doctor of Naturopathy, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, and Certified Acupuncturist. Dr. Zand has over fifteen years of clinical experience treating with natural medicine, as well as formulating her own line of herbal supplements.

Janet Zand LAc OMD Written by Janet Zand LAc OMD

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