Homeopathy for Colds and Influenza

With the approach of winter there is usually an increased risk of contracting acute ailments such as colds and influenza (“flu”).

We have been conditioned to believe that acute illness is a bad thing. Another way of looking at it is that acute illness is good. It alerts us to the fact that we are run down, stressed, need some time out or that there are weaknesses and deficiencies.

Homeopaths believe that the body is always striving to keep itself healthy or in balance. When the body is threatened by harmful external forces (e.g., viruses), the body’s defense mechanisms produce symptoms such as pain, fever, mucus, cough (in the case of colds or flu). These symptoms, although unpleasant, have a purpose: to restore harmony and balance. Pain is a warning that something is wrong. Fever inactivates many viruses that attack the body. Mucus is produced in the respiratory tract to surround and carry off irritating material. A cough expels the mucus that would otherwise hinder breathing.

Symptoms are regarded by homeopaths as a healthy reaction of the body’s defense mechanisms to harmful forces; such symptoms need to be supported rather than interfered with. Standard medical treatment takes a different view; it regards symptoms to be a manifestation of the disease to be opposed or suppressed.

The common cold, otherwise known as coryza, is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa and is considered to be due to a virus. The symptom picture normally goes through a number of stages as the disorder progresses. The symptoms are sneezing, discharge from the nose and eyes, sore and reddened eyes and sometimes coughing. There may be headache and lethargy.

Stages of the Common Cold

  1. Mucus membrane inflammation and pain, discharge is absent or minimal.
  2. Running of the nose, discharge clear and more profuse changing to white as the cold progresses, eye involvement, sneezing.
  3. Discharge thickening in texture and changing from white to yellow.
  4. Discharge yellow to yellow/green.

Homeopathic treatment can stop a cold at any stage but requires different remedies depending on the individuality of symptoms. Any treatment needs to be supported by resting and taking in plenty of fluids.

Typically, at Stage 1 the homeopathic remedies Aconite, Belladonna, Ferrum Phos are commonly most useful in helping with any inflammation, dryness and fever. At Stage 2, Allium Cepa or Euphrasia are usually indicated for the clear, profuse nasal discharge and watery eyes.

Pulsatilla is a common remedy for use at Stage 3 where the mucus discharge is thickening and changing to a yellow color. The remedy Hepar Sulph can be helpful at Stage 4. There are many other homeopathic remedies that may be better indicated in individual cases (homeopathic remedies are selected on the basis of individual symptoms, are safe to use and cause no side effects).

Influenza is a highly infectious disease associated with a number of viruses. It often has symptoms very similar to those of colds, such as sneezing and streaming eyes. But the flu is more widespread in its symptoms: it usually begins with a sudden fever of short duration, with headache, prostration, severe body pain, chill, and weariness. Aches and pains in the bones and joints are prominent. Inflammation of the respiratory passages typically follows, with sneezing, cough, mucus and hoarseness.

In the early stage of the flu the remedies indicated in Stage 1 for colds can be useful. As the flu becomes more established, remedies such as Gelsemium (intense weariness), Bryonia (wants to lie still), Eupatorium (intense bone pain) and many other remedies where indicated can provide relief.

The aim of homeopathy for acute ailments such as colds and flu is always:

  • To relieve pain and suffering
  • To speed up recovery
  • To support the body’s natural processes


If you would like to reduce the risk of contracting the flu you may want to consider taking a homeopathic remedy as a cold and flu preventative. Many of my clients take the remedy Influenzinum as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of contracting the flu rather than have the flu vaccine.

While neither treatment is a guarantee that you won’t contract the flu the remedy will normally help reduce the severity and length of time affected. The typical protocol is to take one dose per week for 4 weeks at the beginning of the flu season and then one dose each month during the flu season.

To help strengthen your immune system you may consider taking, in addition to Influenzinum, a homeopathic remedy made from the thymus gland. The remedy has the effect of optimizing the functioning of your own thymus gland (the thymus gland is responsible for T-cell maturation for immunity).

Another remedy you may wish to have on hand is the homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum. This remedy is the predominant treatment used in France and in Europe to treat colds and flu. The remedy is most effective if taken at the first sign of symptoms of a cold or flu.

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