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Dear Pharmacist

I dread that my son is going back to school because it means that he will catch a cold and remain constantly sick until Thanksgiving. We will all get sick as a result! Please make suggestions to keep our family well?

--C.S., Gainesville, Florida

Answer: There are lots of parents who feel your pain and deal with a sick household at the beginning of the school year. Germs are everywhere, yet not everyone catches cold, and not everyone stays “constantly sick until Thanksgiving.” The difference between your child and others is how strong their immune system is. Immune cells live primarily in the digestive tract so what you eat directly controls how frequently you become ill. When the gut flora is missing or you have an overgrowth of Candida yeast, you will get sick more frequently, and it may linger. Read my series on Candida posted at my website.

Children who incessantly cough not only spread their germs to everyone, but they disrupt classrooms around the country so I’ll focus on that aspect of the cold. Here are ways to treat symptoms:

  1. Sugary foods- Get rid of them. Sugar upsets the mineral balance leaving children more susceptible to infection so the number one thing you can do is eliminate sugary juice boxes, candied cereals, cookies and soda. Most junk food manufacturers deceive parents and label their product with “fortified with...” and to me, this is a joke If you have to fortify something, it’s garbage to begin with.
  2. Marshmallow- Not the soft, white puffy ones, I mean the root which is sold at health food stores; it relieves sore throats and chest colds. Buy the tea and serve it three times daily.
  3. Licorice- Again, not the candy, the root. Licorice has antibacterial properties and is very soothing when you drink the tea three times daily. Not for people with high blood pressure.
  4. Slippery Elm lozenges- A native American herb used for centuries to soothe sore throats, also great for people with GERD, irritable bowel, Crohn’s, IBS, ulcerative colitis or diarrhea. Sold at all health food stores.
  5. Herbal rub- Mix two tablespoons olive oil with 1 or 2 drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil. Rub it on your child’s chest.
  6. Delsym or Robitussin DM- These OTC medications contain “dextromethorphan” which is a cough suppressant, related to opiates.
  7. Mullein Tea- This herbal tea acts as an expectorant and is very helpful for coughs and bronchitis.
  8. Ibuprofen (Advil)- Sold at pharmacies, children like the liquid flavors and chewable tablets so it’s easily administered. Ibuprofen is an effective anti-inflammatory and relieves your child’s body aches and pains, while reducing fever.
  9. Garlic- Huge when it comes to prevention, garlic is Mother Nature’s antibiotic. Eat it or buy odorless supplements.
  10. Zinc lozenges or Vitamin C- These antioxidants are known for their ability to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)