Pediatrician-Approved Natural Remedies for the Flu

Flu season is right around the corner, and hopefully by now you’ve read my article on the Top Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immune System. But now you’re wondering, what if my kid actually gets the flu? Are there any natural options besides Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Sudafed, or just waiting and watching?

YES! If you understand how to use natural medicines, you CAN do something to not only help your child feel better, but to help her recover faster!

Starting homeopathic and herbal medicines at the very beginning of flu symptoms can significantly shorten the duration and severity of illness and even knock it out of your child’s system within a day or two. So let’s take a look at some of the tools we have to treat your child’s flu naturally. The following are some of what I give to my own kids, and recommend for patients at the start of a cold/flu:



By now you’ve probably seen Oscilloccinum lining the shelves at Whole Foods. This is THE homeopathic flu remedy, and a MUST at the very beginning of a flu or flu-like illness. Studies have shown that taking Oscillococcinum at the onset of flu significantly reduces symptoms and shortens the duration of illness1, 2.

The recommended dosage is 1 vial 3 times over a 24-hour period, preferably at the very beginning of flu symptoms or any illness. The dosage is the same for children and adults. Just down that whole vial of tasty sprinkles and suck on them until they dissolve, ideally at least 10 minutes away from food or drink. For an infant, you can dissolve the pellets in water and give with a syringe or in their bottle or sippy cup.

Individualized Homeopathic Medicines

Specific homeopathic medicines are also very helpful for fevers, colds, coughs, and flu. Homeopathy is one of the safest and gentlest, yet most effective and proven forms of medicine to use when your child is sick. There are virtually no side effects, and no interactions with any other medicines. This is why homeopathic medicines are often my preferred choice of medicine for infants and children, and pregnant and nursing moms. If you haven’t ever used homeopathic medicines, it’s definitely time to try! To learn more about what homeopathic medicines are and how to use them, just take a look at my blogposts What Is Homeopathy – Part 1 and What Is Homeopathy – Part 2.

The particular homeopathic medicine(s) used will depend on the specific symptoms that your child is having. What matters most is how she is experiencing her illness. For example, your daughter may have a high fever with sudden onset, a red, dry face and lots of agitation. Your son, with the same flu, may have a low-grade fever with gradual onset. Even though they caught the same flu virus, they are experiencing their flu differently. Your daughter would benefit from homeopathic Aconitum Napellus while your son would benefit from homeopathic Ferrum Phosphoricum.

There is a vast array of homeopathic medicine to choose from, and it can seem daunting to know which medicine to use. But when you get it right, the results can be amazing! So be sure to stick with me and follow Healthy Kids Happy Kids as I guide you through how to use homeopathic medicines effectively for your child. In the meantime, Boiron’s Coldcalm is a combination homeopathic formula that is great for general cold/flu symptoms, especially when you’re not sure which specific medicine to give.


If you haven’t already, be sure to download my FREE e-book on natural ways to treat your child’s fever:

The Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make When Their Child Has a Fever … and What You Can Do Instead!


Herbal Medicines

There are a variety of very effective herbal medicines that work amazingly well to help your family recovery faster from the flu. These are a few of what I have found to be incredibly helpful.


Windbreaker is a Chinese herbal formula by Kan Herbs. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fever and flu are caused by an attack of “wind”.  It works GREAT for cold/flu, fever, even allergies! This is my “go-to” for me and my kids. No, I won’t lie – it is a bit bitter, but it’s definitely worth a try. I don’t go anywhere without it, and it will definitely be on my packing list for when we travel over winter vacation! (In fact, we travel with 8-ounce bottles so we always have enough to go around if multiple people get hit with a cold/flu on the road!). My kids have been taking this since they were infants, and love the taste. But if your kids are a bit pickier, you can mix with honey or a bit of tart juice like pomegranate or lemonade to mask the flavor. The typical dosage for toddlers is 1-2 droppersful 3x/day; for older kids 3 droppersful 3x/day, and for teens and adults 4 droppersful 3x/day.


Pelargonium Sidoides

Pelar-what? Also known as Umckaloabo, this traditional African herb can significantly shorten the duration and severity of colds, bronchitis, sinusitis, and throat infections. It has been found to improve macrophage activity, kill bacteria and viruses, and improve the ability to clear mucous from the lungs. We carry an alcohol-free syrup of Pelargonium Sidoides called V Clear. It can also be found over-the-counter as Umcka ColdCare Syrup by Nature’s Way. The recommended dosage is ½ tsp 3x/day for children ages 2-6 years, 1 tsp 3x/day for children ages 6-12 years, and 1.5 tsp 3x/day for children over 12 years and adults.


Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry has been found to prevent invasion by viruses and bacteria, and also improve cough. A study found that elderberry has the ability to inhibit H1N1 infection in vitro. The authors of the study note that “the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu).” The typical dosage for kids is 1-2 teaspoons 4x/day depending on their size, and for adults 1 tablespoon 4x/day.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have amazing healing benefits and can be a powerful tool to help alleviate those troublesome headaches in your child.

Lavender is my all-time favorite essential oil to use for colds and flus. Lavender reduces inflammation and spasm, alleviates pain, helps fight infection, calms anxiety, improves mood, and relaxes the body and mind. Perfect for when your child is cranky and feeling achy all over!

Essential oils are very safe and effective for use in kids, and school-age kids can even learn to use essential oils on themselves. Some essential oils like lavender can be applied directly to the skin, while others like thyme should be diluted in a “carrier” oil such as coconut oil as direct application can irritate the skin. Essential oils can be used topically and massaged into the soles of the feet, acupressure points, or anywhere else that feels good. Your child can rub that essential oil blend together in both palms, cup his hands over his nose and mouth and take a slow inhalation through his nose so the oil gets transported straight to the limbic system in his brain to have direct and immediate calming and headache-relieving effects. You can also use a diffuser with 5-10 drops of essential oil to fill the whole house with healing power, or put a few drops in her Epsom salt bath for added calming benefits.


Acupressure is an amazing way to give loving yet therapeutic touch to your kids when they’re sick. One of the easiest and most effective acupressure points to use for any illness, fever or flu is Large Intestine 4 (LI 4). LI 4 is located on the top of the hand, in the webspace between your thumb and index finger. Put your thumb on the point, and your index finger on the palm side of your child’s hand. Squeeze your thumb and index together, make small circular motions with your thumb with firm but gentle pressure. Aim for several minutes or 100 circles. And better yet – massage essential oils right into LI4 to have an even more potent effect on getting rid of that flu!

Additional Immune Supports

  • Increased Vitamin C – to get those free radicals under control and start feeling better faster. I’ve been using Metagenics Ultra-Potent C because it has added ingredients such as lysine and glutathione which assist in fighting viruses.
  • Increased nasal irrigation  with Xlear nasal spray to clear out those germs!
  • Stay hydrated  – this is even more important when your child has a fever as he’ll be losing more body water than usual as he’s sweating and breathing faster. Dehydration will also in turn make his fever worse. Don’t worry about food. Focus on fluids. Fluids with electrolytes to replace what he’s losing are ideal – coconut water and bone broth are my favorites. Be sure to check out our blogpost Nourish Your Family with Bone Broth! for a tutorial on how to make homemade bone broth – easy peasy! Herbal teas like chamomile are soothing and have added antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Get plenty of rest  – let your kid be a couch potato for as long as she wants. She does not, and should not, be acting her usual bouncy self. Allowing her body to rest gives her immune system the chance to do its job and get her back on her way to being her usual energizer-bunny self.

It’s best to have an individualized treatment plan determined by a thorough exam and consultation with an integrative practitioner near you, but don’t worry if you don’t have a holistic pediatrician near you. I want you to be prepared for whatever illness comes your way, because let’s face it, “flu season” brings with it so much more than just “the flu.” There’s still sore throats, colds, coughs, stomach bugs, and so much more to contend with. With my online course, Everyday Holistic Pediatrics , learn HOW and WHEN to use my holistic-pediatrician approved natural medicines (diet/lifestyle, supplements, herbs, homeopathy, essential oils and acupressure) to get your child through their most common illnesses: Fever, Colds, Flu, Coughs, Earaches, Stomach Flu (Vomiting/Diarrhea), Sore Throat, and Pinkeye. You’ll be able to avoid unnecessary antibiotics and trips to the ER where your child is bound to pick up a different bug than what he came in with!

I wish everyone a healthy rest of this winter season. Please share this with any parent you know who wants to understand how to take charge of their children’s health naturally!

xo Holistic mama doc – Elisa Song, MD

**PLEASE NOTE: This is an updated version of the flu remedies post I write every year to reflect my latest recommendations.**


  1. Ferley JP, Zmirou D, D’Adhemar D, Balducci F . A controlled evaluation of a homoeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenzalike syndromes. Br J Clin Pharmac, 1989 ; 27 (3): 329-35
  2. Papp R, Schuback G, Beck E, Burkard G, Bengel J, Lehrl S, Belon P. Oscillococcinum® in patients with influenza-like syndromes: a placebo-controlled double-blind evaluation. Br Homeopath J, 1998 ; 87: 69-76


  1. Thanks for the tips

  2. How do i order the remedies you offer? I did not see an online store.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Elena! Many of these are available online. We are working on getting an online store up and running so that all of these awesome products are available to everyone, but in the meantime, if you’re having trouble finding them, you can call our office and we’re happy to ship to you. 🙂

      • Hi! I tried to order the vitamin C brand you recommend and it asked me to enter a practitioner code in order to purchase. Do you have a practinoner code?

        • Hi Josephine, unfortunately I don’t. For those without a practitioner who can order Metagenics supplements, we have been telling folks to call our office at 650-595-5437 and our reception can help!

  3. Thank you for these tips. I try to teach people holistic treatments too, just don’t go to medicines! I wonder if you have ever heard of Juice Plus? It is one of several things I recommend to my patients (I’m a health coach) and it fits so well with your other ideas. There are 37 research studies (gold standard, independent, placebo controlled, studies published in peer review journals) It basically is 30 fruits and veggies in a capsule or a chewable gummy for kids. If you aren’t familiar with it, I’d love to tell you about it b/c it fits in so nicely with ways to keep your family healthy, the natural way. There are no pesticides or herbicides (among other contaminants) sprayed, picked at the height of ripeness so nutrition is at its best. I can tell you more if you are interested but it would be a great thing to add to your list b/c of the huge variety of phytonutrients it gets.

  4. Thank you so much!!! Can all these products be used alongside of each other? or should we choose only 1 to use?

    • Hi Virginia – you could use all of these, but I typically recommend trying 1 or 2 to start with. You’ll learn what works best for your child that way. But yes, if you wanted to combine the different products for cold and cough, that is fine… 🙂

  5. Hi,
    Thank you for this article.
    Do you recommend putting a humidifier in a toddler’s bedroom. Also, adding essential oils to it?
    My 17 mo old wakes up coughing every morning for a couple of hours.

    • Hi Ashley – humidifiers in general are great for coughs. And you can either put essential oils directly into the humidifier (we put 5 drops into the well of our kids’ humidifiers), or rub on their feet. There are concerns about applying essential oils like eucalyptus too close to the nose of infants, but there are several more recent studies showing that essential oils can be used safely in young children. so I usually stick with either diffusing oils, or applying diluted oil
      to feet. Good luck!

  6. Hi Elisa, I was just looking to purchase 2 of the remedies you recommended, the oscillococinum and the boiron coldcalm just to have in the first aid kit just in case. My baby is 15 months old. I’ve just noticed though that the first remedy says on it – to be used from aged 2 upwards and the second remedy says from 3 years upwards. Do you think its ok to use them on a 15 month old. Thank you for all the great tips.


    • Hi Shirley! Boiron has just come out with Coldcalm in liquid packets like the Cocyntal for colic and Camilia for teething, for easy administration to infants. Homeopathic medicines should be safe at any age. The precaution is to make sure that infants are followed appropriately by a healthcare practitioner and that it is administered properly. Best of luck!

  7. Thank you! I LOVE your one-page PDFs. So nice to have in hand and easily access. I’d love to have this Post converted into a one page :). With much gratitude!

    • Hi Courtney – thanks for your feedback! So glad that you find the handouts useful. I’ll make sure to keep doing them, and will work on one for this post too! 😉

  8. Hi Elisa! I’m so grateful I discovered you. We are currently 7 days into a family-wide cold/flu season episode like no other. Thankfully my 5 yo daughter bounced back from the woes of flu-dom by day 5. Hubby seems to get better but then gets hit again (3 times). My 15 months son and I have been stuck and finally showing signs of improvement just yesterday……but for his poor little spirit the cough has set in. He has been such a trooper through all the feverish days and nights, listlessly waiting like mama for it to get better. We’ve both been running fevers and I’ve had a cough since Day 4. His cough seems to be where his patience runs out. It is so violent and spasmadic he gets flustered and so frustrated. Poor guy. I rushed him to a steamy bathroom and sat in there until it subsided and now he’s finally resting again. I was disappointed to drive and wait and spend 4 hours this evening going to his naturopath to discover she was prescribing amoxicillin for an ear infection. That’s when I had to do research on my own to help my kiddo. I heard on your interview with Kate from Wellness Mama about garlic oil and the pressure points so I gave those a try 🙂 I know this is a very long post but I just wanted you to know that it feels so great to have a pediatrician like you around! I know you are too far for us to pay you visits…oh how I wish! But it feels great to know your blog and your wealth of knowledge is available as valuable resources. Thank you thank you for what you do. It is so much for precious and appreciated than you could ever know. Us mamas who struggle with trying all natural treatments are few and it’s hard to be of such a small herd. Much love and blessings to you! Xoxo

    • You’re so kind, Mary! It’s for mamas like you that I keep doing this work! 😉 Here’s to a healthy rest of your holiday season!

  9. Thank you!! What a great resource! I’ve been devouring all of the information you so generously offer and now have nearly all of the products you recommended, which I’m using with lots of success. I am wondering, though, if you use any homeopathic Banerji Protocols for the onset of an illness. I learned about the Banerji Protocols from Joette Calabrese and the one that is the most helpful at the start of any sickness is 1 dose of Aconitum Napellus 200 mixed with (put under the tongue at the same time) 1 dose of Bryonia 200 taken every 3 hours or so. This has–by itself–held off sickness in our family at times and was so very helpful when we were away and didn’t have all of our other products with us.

  10. Hi Dr. Song!
    Thank you for all the tips. I have ordered everything you recommended. My biggest question is, are all of these safe if I’m nursing, and if need be, can I give it to my 9 month old?
    Thank you!

  11. Thank you SO, SO much for this info. I followed your advice to a T and my daughter’s flu has been manageable and she’s feeling so much better (at day 3)! How long would she be considered contagious? She has been under a bedroom quarantine (which she is truly enjoying!) but I was curious as to when it is safe to have her around her siblings (8, 3, and 4 months). Thank you for all that you do and for instilling confidence in us that we, as parents, can do this!

  12. Just became aware of you and your website after listening to you on the Heavy Metals Detox.
    Love your recommendations for the flu – I gave my kids(they are all over 20yo) ColdCalm in their stockings this past Christmas… great product! We also use Mucococcinum from Oct-March….and, if we were to get sick, will use the Mucococcinum as a remedy. Are you familiar?
    I’m glad I have learned about you – thanks!!

  13. Anyone else addicted to this site and to Dr. Song yet? I’m an academic with an asthmatic kid and enough fear of flu to paralyze me and the rest of my neighbors! However, I have to say – I can’t get enough of this material, your posts, your videos and all the information you share. I have so much to type but unfortunately, need to go and prep for my class and grade a hefty stack of undergraduate papers – but I just wanted to say… I think I speak for MANY when I ask, WHEN IS YOUR BOOK COMING OUT???

  14. Hello Dr. Song,
    I shared this article about natural flu remedies and was asked to explain how this homeopathic medication works- thinking it is so ‘diluted’ that the effectiveness is questionable. Any thoughts on this?

    • Hi Jeri – good question. You can look at pubmed and search for homeopathy and influenza, or otitis media, or diarrhea, etc. and see some of research articles that have been published showing efficacy. And one of the most compelling laboratory studies for me is looking at homeopathic histamine in ultradilution (literally no histamine detectable), and each ultradilution was able to prevent histamine release from immune cells when faced with allergens. (Benveniste, et al. C.R. Acad Sci Paris, 1991). Other studies include:
      1) Homeopathy in acute rhinosinusitis: a double-blind, placebo controlled study shows the efficiency and tolerability of a homeopathic combination remedy. Friese KH and Zabalotnyi DI. Head & Neck Otolaryngology. 2007 Apr;55(4):271-7.
      2) A controlled evaluation of a homoeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. Ferley JP et al. Centre Alpin de Recherche Epidémiologique et de Prévention Sanitaire, Grenoble University Hospital, France. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1989 Mar;27(3):329-35.
      3) Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndromes.
      Papp R et al. Department of Medical Psychology and Psychopathometry of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Kopfklinik, Erlangen, Germany. British Homeopathic Journal, April 1998, Vol. 87, pp. 69 -76.

      Just to name a few…

  15. Thank you so much for this information! I have been wanting to learn to treat our ailments more naturally but have been nervous to do so without a doctor’s knowledgeable insight.

    Do you know what the dosage would be for a 2 year old with elderberry? The kids formula I have only gives dosages for 4 years and up.

    Thank you so much! We are so excited to follow your blog!

    • Hi Melissa – I’m unable to give specific medical advice for your child, but I can tell you that when my child was 2, I gave her elderberry 1/2 tsp 3x/day. Also, if you haven’t already, please do join the Thriving Child Community private Facebook group and post your question there, or find the answer already in the discussion. It’s an amazing resource of collective knowledge from holistic parents and practitioners dedicated to helping children thrive naturally – body, mind & spirit, and I try to get on regularly to answer general questions:
      🙂 Elisa

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