Avoid Antibiotics: Cold, Cough and Herbs

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to public health. Safe and effective alternatives are required to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.  Here are some suggestions:

Since common colds spread easily via droplets and contact, so its important to hand wash and use facial masks for common cold or flu prevention.

1) Alkaline Diet or drinks

Alkaline diets or drinks might have antiviral properties found in vitro studies which demonstrated inactivation effect of respiratory virus in alkaline medium.

2) Probiotics

Probiotics are better than placebo in reducing the number episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infections and reducing antibiotic use.

3)Zinc,Vitamin C and Vitamin D

The length and severity of a cold can be reduced by oral Zinc and vitamin C .

According to 2013 Cochrane review, popping zinc within 24 hours of the start of symptoms helps shorten the sniffle and nasal drainage. But the best result is seen when 75 mg of zinc used (the equivalent of three or four lozenges) per day, and taken as long as the cold symptos lasts.

Infection-fighting T-cells rely on vitamin D for its activation. If vitamin D level is less than 10 ( Normal 30-100),it should be replaced immediately.

4)Elderberries are thought to prevent or shorten the duration of herpes outbreaks, decrease pain and inflammation, and reduce symptoms of upper respiratory infections probably because its active against some human pathogenic bacteria as well as influenza viruses. According to webMD.com , lozens made of 175 mg of elderberry extract can be taken four times daily for 2 days to get best effect. Sambucol (Elderberry Extract from Nature'sway) recommended dose is 15 ml for 1- 5 days.

5)Andrographis Paniculata ( called Green Chirata or Kalmegh in India, Chuān Xīn Lián in Chinese ) It shortens the duration of cough, sore throat and sick leave/time, according to research conducted in India and China. Hardly any major or minor side effect noticed and is very safe to use. According to Drugs.com , the usual daily dose of Kalmegh is 60mg for common cold, sinusitis, and tonsillitis.

6) Green and white teas: These teas are loaded with catechins. It is considered disease-fighting due to epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which have antiviral effects. Studies have found that tea catechins inhibits influenza viral adsorption and suppresses replication of viruses and neuraminidase activity.


1. Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of Influenza A and B virus infections.” J Int Med Res. 2004;32(2):132-40. 

2. Roschek Jr. B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70(10):1255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.06.003.

3.Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus Nigra L.) during an outbreak of Influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995;1(4):361–9. 

4. Krawitz C1, Mraheil MA, Stein M, Imirzalioglu C, Domann E, Pleschka S, Hain T. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses.BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 25;11:16. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-16.

5. Coon JT1, Ernst E. Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. Planta Med. 2004 Apr;70(4):293-8.

6.Mousa HA1 Prevention and Treatment of Influenza, Influenza-Like Illness, and Common Cold by Herbal, Complementary, and Natural Therapies. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jan;22(1):166-174. Epub 2016 Apr 6

7) Xu J1, Xu Z2, Zheng W3.A Review of the Antiviral Role of Green Tea Catechins. Molecules. 2017 Aug 12;22(8). pii: E1337. doi: 10.3390/molecules22081337..

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