Astragalus membranaceus or milk vetch has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years to strengthen the immune and respiratory systems and to fight the flu. Astragalus belongs to a class of herbs called adaptogens, and helps the body handle stress. Astragalus also fights pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
Dosage: one dropper of tincture of Astragalus (standardized to 15 percent polysaccharides) to a hot liquid like tea or soup three times a day. As tablets, take 350 to 400 milligrams three times a day.
Zinc: Zinc inhibits the reproduction of rhinovirus, and has been found to be especially good for treating viral sore throats. A recent study on the effectiveness of zinc showed that taking a zinc lozenge every 2-3 hours, shortened the duration of cold symptoms. Overdosing with zinc can have side effects, such as an effect on the uptake of iron.
Dosage: one lozenge every 2-3 hours for duration of the cold or flu. Keep in the mouth for 5-10 minutes. Or 30 to 50 milligrams a day.
Echinacea: Echinacea has powerful antiviral and immunity-boosting effects. It is used to rev up the immune system at the first sign of a cold. Echinacea has been found to work better before you get sick, to build up immunity. It has not been found as effective for treating a cold or flu.
Dosage: take daily according to manufacturers instructions. Take daily during the fall and winter months.