Bioceuticals: Helpful herbs and nutrients for winter wellness

Nothing slows you down quite like a cold or flu. Feelings of exhaustion, congestion, coughs, sneezing, or watery eyes can all take a big toll on your daily rhythm. Though the two are usually conflated, colds and flus are really quite different. Where the common cold is usually the result of infections or viruses like rhinovirus or adenovirus, a flu is caused by influenza A or B, and will often bring on more intense symptoms like fevers or chills.

Despite their differences, colds and flus both have the capacity to knock you off your feet! Gone are the days of simply “getting on with it” or “soldiering on”; a more current, respected way of moving through these illnesses these days is to rest deeply, avoid socialising, and to prioritise nourishing yourself to optimise recovery. Herbs, minerals and vitamins, when used in alignment with advice from your healthcare professional, have an excellent capacity to support your immune system and recovery. Below are some of our favourite natural ingredients to support winter wellness.


The vibrant green leaves of this wonderfully bitter plant are commonly looked to when our immune function needs a little extra support. Andrographis has been used in Thailand as part of traditional health systems for centuries and more recently, The Ministry of Public Health in Thailand has elected to include it as an essential medicinal plant in public health services and hospitals.

Mild fevers, sore throats, and other symptoms of the common cold can all be alleviated by the powers of this herbal medicine. Due to its cooling nature, Andrographis may also help the body to fight against fevers and excess heat—beneficial when a nasty flu has taken hold!


A well-known herb, and an important element for maintaining a healthy immune system, Echinacea is commonly used as a supportive measure when illness arises. Echinacea (otherwise named purple coneflower) was used by traditional healers in North America for throat infections, coughs, and stomach pains[i]. Due to its antimicrobial actions this herb can work against a range of viruses and bacteria[ii]. The immune-enhancing effects of Echinacea are associated with its ability to support cells to ingest, and then eliminate, bacteria or other foreign substances.

Olive leaf

The humble leaves of this Mediterranean tree were often used as a folk remedy for fevers[iii]. One of the main compounds in olive leaf is oleuropein. This constituent produces antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties, making it a very useful herb when you are suffering from a cold or flu[iv].


An essential mineral that plays a critical role in immune function, Zinc can be found in foods such as fish, nuts, meat, and legumes. However, zinc deficiency is common worldwide and in times of immune challenges you may need additional zinc. It can help to balance the innate immunity response, which is the first line of defence when germs enter the body[v].

Vitamin C

This vitamin is not produced in the body and therefore it is important that we obtain it either from diet (through foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, or capsicum), and/or supplementation. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that offers protection when infections are present[vi]. Furthermore, Vitamin C may support a decrease in cold severity[vii].

We hope you enjoy a winter free from colds or flus, but should you feel your immune system suffering, we invite you to treat it as a chance for reflection: what might you be lacking that you could offer yourself more of? Perhaps you could increase your intake of water, nutritious foods or adequate rest. Or maybe you could take the opportunity to discuss herbal and nutritional supplementation with your healthcare professional to build and maintain a strong immune system.

Pop into your local WholeLife Pharmacy and Healthfoods store to check out the full range of Bioceuticals vitamins and other supplements, or to speak to one of our friendly pharmacists for advice. Remember to always read the label and follow directions for use. Product availability may vary from store to store.


[i] Hostettmann K. Geschichte einer Pflanze am Beispiel von Echinacea [History of a plant: the example of Echinacea]. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003 Apr;10 Suppl 1:9-12. German. doi: 10.1159/000071678. PMID: 12808356.

[ii] Hudson J, Vimalanathan S. Echinacea—a source of potent antivirals for respiratory virus infections. Pharmaceuticals. 2011 Jul 13;4(7):1019–31. doi:10.3390/ph4071019

[iii] Borjan D, Leitgeb M, Knez Ž, Hrnčič MK. Microbiological and antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds in olive leaf extract. Molecules. 2020 Dec 15;25(24):5946. doi:10.3390/molecules25245946

[iv] Haris Omar S. Oleuropein in olive and its pharmacological effects. Scientia Pharmaceutica. 2010;78(2):133–54. doi:10.3797/scipharm.0912-18

[v] Maxfield L. Zinc deficiency [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2023 [cited 2024 Mar 14]. Available from:

[vi] Bucher A, White N. Vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of the Common Cold. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2016 Feb 9;10(3):181–3. doi:10.1177/1559827616629092

[vii] Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C reduces the severity of common colds: A meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2023 Dec 11;23(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-023-17229-8

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