In a year characterized by the coronavirus pandemic, how will winter 2020 look
for the natural remedies sector? Kate Miller speaks to the experts 

When the clock ticked over to midnight on New Year’s Eve few of us could have predicted that come autumn we’d be sharing the roads with forests of neon bike lanes and that Boris Johnson would be telling us to get fit in an effort to stop a ‘second wave’ sinking the NHS. 

The Government’s ‘obesity strategy’ comes amid a pile of evidence linking increased BMI with poor COVID outcomes: up to 113% more likely to be hospitalized and 50% more likely to die. Add to this the odd nature of the illness, with factors such as blood clotting and reports of debilitating symptoms of ‘long COVID’, it’s fair to predict that even the slim and toned are likely to be taking a particular interest in their health this winter. 

Prevention and protection
According to Mike Wakeman, clinical pharmacist and scientific advisor to Schwabe Nature’s Way UK, this year’s winter remedies market will be unlike anything previously experienced. “Firstly, due to face coverings, increased hand hygiene and less social interaction, winter bugs may be less likely to pass around the population than in previous years. However, for the same reasons our immune systems may be compromised insofar as we are not circulating as much which means that many of us will be more susceptible to infections. My feeling is that people will be more likely to buy products to protect themselves from winter bugs than to actually treat them.” 

“It is definitely going to be a winter remedy season like no other,” says Sunna van Kampen, founder of Tonic Health. “According to the Office of National Statistics normal flu levels are down on average by about 34% as a result of the additional precautions people are taking. Despite this, Nielsen data still shows the category outperforming last year by 32% as the focus on immune health and prevention is driving growth due to the increased awareness and people taking a more proactive role in their health. This suggests that even without a potential second wave, this will be one of the busiest seasons for natural winter remedies as they play a strong role in prevention.”

Tony Calamita, CEO of Love Hemp, agrees consumers are more focused on health products than ever. “They’re more aware of how they can support their own health at home and are purchasing trusted products to do this.” Spotting the trend, the company brought forward the launch of Love Hemp Immune – a combination of CBD, vitamin C, vitamin D and bilberry extract – by several months.

“Ensuring that we have
the right balance of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in our diet is an important step in providing personal support to our immune systems”

Nutritionist Patrick Holford says the market will see an influx of new customers: “There’s a lot more awareness about nutrition and immunity, which means new customers. Vitamin D got good coverage for the BAME community and that represents a large section of the public. As ever, the more educated people become the more they’ll stock up in preparation. I wrote Flu Fighters, which Viridian is kindly distributing into health food shops, so customers can become informed.”

“The data shows immune health has now actually become the number one health concern for people ahead of more trendy health areas such as gut or brain health,” says Van Kampen.

“I think this increased attention and focus … is here to stay as people realize how important it is, to not only the amount of cold and flu we get each year but also the length of time it takes for our body to recover.”

The right balance
In terms of being prepared for winter, is it too late for customers entering the category now? “It’s never too late,” says Dr Emma Derbyshire from the Health & Food Supplements Information Service: “Ensuring that we have the right balance of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in our diets is an important step in providing personal support to our immune systems. We can’t control our environment, including the bacteria and viruses that could potentially cause infection, but we can do everything possible to get our immune systems ready to respond.” The best advice, she says, would be to review the diet and ensure it contains certain nutrients. “Folate, iron, selenium and vitamins A, C and D are all important for the normal functioning of the immune system.”

As Holford points out, vitamin D has had plenty of press coverage with reports indicating a significant overlap between deficiency and severe COVID-19. Writing in The Lancet, Adrian Martineu and Nita G Forouhi state: “It would seem uncontroversial to enthusiastically promote efforts to achieve reference nutrient intakes of vitamin D, which range from 400iu/day in the UK to 600-800iu/day in the USA. These are predicated on benefits of vitamin D for bone and muscle health, but there is a chance that their implementation might also reduce the impact of COVID-19 in populations where vitamin D deficiency is prevalent; there is nothing to lose from their implementation, and potentially much to gain.”

As well as vitamin D, Holford predicts other remedies containing vitamin C, zinc and elderberry will be popular. “Many products sold out last winter but, hopefully, companies will be more prepared for the onslaught of winter remedy sales.”

While high sales of vitamin C are to be expected, this may be further boosted by the amount of research into its potential role in acute respiratory distress syndrome, with particular relevance to mechanical ventilation in severe COVID cases. A meta-analysis of nine clinical trials published in February in the Journal of Intensive Care found that, on average, vitamin C shortened the length of mechanical ventilation by 14%. 

“Traditionally, immune and winter health has been at the back of store, but there is a real opportunity to increase sales through impulse purchases this winter”

Keeley Berry, nutritional expert at BetterYou – which recently launched its Vitamin C Daily Oral Spray – anticipates the industry will also see a focus on the natural relaxants ashwagandha, turmeric and magnesium. “We’re seeing an increase in the amount of people looking to combat tiredness and fatigue and boost their energy levels after experiencing ‘lockdown burnout’. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw interest in vitamin B12, iron and CoQ10 surge,” she adds. 

Wakeman is another who thinks customers will be looking beyond the usual winter remedies. “Stress enhances and suppresses the immune function depending on the type, duration and frequency of stressors, combination of stress hormones released, and the particular aspect of immunity being examined. I therefore also predict an increase in sales of herbal preparations traditionally used to relieve symptoms of stress such as products containing Rhodiola rosea, valerian and passionflower.”

Up front
Van Kampen notes that retailers should be ready for this surge in interest by increasing the prominence of products. “Traditionally, immune and winter health has been at the back of store, but there is a real opportunity to increase sales through impulse purchases this winter as it is top of mind for consumers.”

He also recommends a good range of price points and formats to cover all consumer preferences. “What we’ve found from research is that quite often specific solutions such as echinacea or bee propolis … are not understood by the majority of people, and they want a more convenient all-in-one solution. If I was ranging an immune health category, I would look to cover the bases for specific specialist ingredients and then focus my efforts on easy-to-understand, mid-range immune health products that can bring new shoppers into the category who might not have previously shopped the fixture, as that should drive increased sales in the season ahead.”

Education is key, says Calamita: “I think what is most important is giving consumers adequate education on products and how to naturally supplement at home. Consumers will be more focused on ingredients and dosing to suit their preferences than ever before and will require the industry’s support to do this.

“Ensuring all health products are clearly labelled … alongside informative marketing collateral is important in consumers understanding the health product and benefits. Also, with the current economic challenges, promotions and discounts.”

All this optimism can’t mask a scary time for many retailers, but Van Kampen stresses it is important to remember that things will get better. “From an economic perspective, these times are incredibly stressful, but it is important to remember everything is cyclical and economies always bounce back. It will just take time, hard work and some inventiveness to stay relevant and keep going. I’ve seen great examples of local health food stores and cafés moving online since the pandemic. That inspires me and is a sign that we will find a way through this.”

“People are going to be understandably nervous about venturing into retail stores, so this will be a difficult time,” adds Berry. “Having said that, consumers have demonstrated a desire … to shop local and whilst adapting to our ‘new normal’, I expect we will see an increase in demand within independent health stores. This industry will recover and recover well.”

Time to bee optimistic
The growing body of evidence regarding the positive role of honey in the treatment of respiratory illnesses was added to in August with a meta-analysis from Oxford University.

Looking at data from 14 previous trials, the authors concluded that honey was superior to usual treatments in easing upper respiratory symptoms. They also highlighted that honey provided a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics. 

This follows the 2018 NICE and Public Health England guidelines recommending honey as one of the first port of calls when treating an acute cough.

Matt Steele, brand manager for Honey New Zealand Europe, says the new study provides a great opportunity to sell all types of honey, including manuka. “It’s come at a good time too, as the long summer is coming to an end. We find sales of manuka honey peak in the winter. The opportunity for retailers now is to explain the difference between normal table honey and New Zealand manuka – which shows antimicrobial activity much above any other type thanks to higher levels of methylglyoxal.”



AlchemLife UK
Tel: 0800 024 84 92
E-mail: [email protected]

Discover PhytoRelief, a natural supplement for supporting immune function and protecting the respiratory tract. It contains a unique blend of concentrated plant actives of GingerG321, TurmericG311 and PomegranateG331 which have been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicinal systems to provide effective relief from symptoms such as common cold, cough and sore/itchy throat.  Vegan, Natural, Gluten Free and Manufactured in Switzerland.
Online Shop for £5.99 for 12 lozenges and also on amazon 


Propolis Winter Mixture

Bee Health Propolis
Tel: 0800 731 6006
E-mail:  [email protected]

Winter can leave your immune system running low, making you more susceptible to coughs and colds. Bee Health Propolis Winter Liquid is a versatile way of accessing the benefits of this wonderful, natural ingredient. Propolis is a natural substance collected by honey bees from buds and trees containing tree resin, essential oils, waxes and bioflavonoids. Propolis offers an array of benefits for many ailments and is one of nature’s richest sources of bioflavonoids for immune support.


Immune Intensive

BioCare Ltd
Tel: 0121 433 3727
E-mail:  [email protected]

We all have moments when we feel far from our best. Immune Intensive is specifically formulated to help put you back on your feet as quickly as possible. A high potency combination of elderberry, sage and beta glucans with vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc which support a healthy immune system. Combined in a tasty berry base, this powder packs a punch!  Zinc and vitamins A, C and D play a role in supporting the immune system and zinc is also important for a healthy respiratory tract. Magnesium helps reduce tiredness and fatigue. This handy powder can be mixed with liquids for flexibility. Suitable for vegetarians.


BeeVantage New Zealand Manuka Honey Throat Lozenges

Kablamo Limited
Tel: 07866 771627
E-mail:  [email protected]

Get ready and BEE prepared for autumn and winter coughs, colds and sore throats with the natural healing power of New Zealand Manuka Honey, Propolis and natural botanicals captured in the new BeeVantage throat lozenges.  With an increased customer awareness of the need to protect against winter illnesses, the BeeVantage range of throat lozenges will be sure to create a BUZZ instore this year.
Available now in four amazing natural flavours, each carefully crafted in New Zealand to help combat seasonal colds, irritating coughs and sore throats.
New Zealand Manuka Honey Throat Lozenges with Coconut Water, Turmeric and Pineapple provides soothing, effective relief from the symptoms of colds, sore throats and irritating coughs. Contains the action of certified Manuka Honey 80+ plus a balanced cough suppressing formula of Pineapple, Turmeric and Coconut Water.
New Zealand Manuka Honey Throat Lozenges contains the action of certified Manuka Honey 80+ plus natural immune supporting New Zealand Propolis.
New Zealand Manuka Honey Throat Lozenges with Red Raspberry Leaf, Menthol & Thyme contains the action of the certified Manuka Honey 80+ plus a balanced decongestant formula of Red Raspberry Leaf, Menthol and Thyme.

New Zealand Manuka Honey Throat Lozenges with Echinacea, Sage & Molasses contains the action of the certified Manuka Honey 80+ plus a balanced anti-inflammatory formula of Echinacea, Sage and Molasses.
All varieties of the throat lozenge are produced in New Zealand from natural ingredients sourced from within New Zealand.  All four products are available in 15 lozenge packs at a great value RRP of £4.99 and offer a 30% margin.

Available exclusively from the Health Store or Thyme Marketing.  


Zincovit®- C

HealthAid Ltd
Tel: 020 8426 3400
E-mail: [email protected]

Zincovit®– C    All year protection – A healthy, well-functioning immune system means having sufficient biological defences to fight infection. It’s up to us, however to provide the body with the appropriate support it needs, through nutrition and supplementation. Zincovit®– C comprehensive formulation provides all the richness and beneficial properties of Zinc, Vitamin C and Propolis in one great tasting lozenge. It works internally to help kick start your body’s defence system, boost immunity and help fight against infection.
 Zincovit®– C retails at £7.99 for 60 lozenges. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit   


Tints of Nature Hand Sanitisers

Healthy Food Brands
Tel: 01403 786460
E-mail:  [email protected]

We know the winter months can be challenging for avoiding colds and flu, and this winter even more so.  Say goodbye to dry cracked hands caused by irritating sanitiser and hello to Tints of Nature’s new range of vegan-friendly, ultra-moisturising Hand Sanitisers. Formulated using naturally derived ingredients, available in a spray and gel format. They contain between 70% – 80% organic alcohol to help reduce bacteria that can potentially cause disease.  Unlike other hand sanitisers the Tints of Nature range also includes natural moisturising and conditioning agents to nourish your hands. Perfect for using on the go and available in a variety of sizes to suit your needs.


Winter Remedies from Helios

Helios Homeopathy Ltd
Tel: 01892 537254
E-mail:  [email protected]

The Helios 18 remedy homeopathic kit for home and family covers some of the most common winter ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats and flu and first aid situations too.  It is an ideal way of having a selection of homeopathic remedies, with a long history of traditional use, to hand at home or when traveling. Remedies are in lactose free, organic, sucrose pill form and each compact kit comes with its own comprehensive booklet to help with remedy selection.


Lamberts® Beta Glucan Complex Beta Glucans 1,3/1,6 with Vitamins D3 & C, Selenium and Zinc

Lamberts Healthcare Ltd,
Tel: : 01892 554313
E-mail:  [email protected]

Beta glucans 1,3/1,6 are naturally occuring polysaccharides derived from the cell wall of Sacchromyces Cerevisiae. Lamberts® Beta Glucan Complex is a high strength one a day product that provides a full 250mg of 1,3/1,6 beta glucans and is suitable for vegetarians. We have also included vitamin D3 at 25µg, 150mg of vitamin C plus 10mg of zinc and 110µg of selenium since all these nutrients are renowned for the role they play in supporting the immune system.


Hope’s Relief Intensive Dry Skin Rescue

Mahi Naturals Ltd
Tel:  0208 886 4001 

Newborns through to adults can be prone to dry skin and eczema, so help your customers find a gentle and effective range that they can trust. No.1 in Australia, Hope’s Relief multi award winning natural skincare helps soothe and heal itchy, dry skin prone to eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
Developed over 35 years of research by naturopaths, Hope’s Relief is an effective, natural alternative to steroid creams and other medicated treatments and suitable for long term use on skin prone to eczema and psoriasis. Formulated with Active NPA10+ Manuka Honey, Licorice and Aloe Vera, the cream is clinically proven to hydrate skin for up to 24 hours after just a single use. Suitable for newborns upwards



Natures Aid Ltd
Tel: 01772 686231
E-mail:  [email protected]

Pro-DEFEND® contains a unique blend of specially selected bacteria with carefully chosen nutrients, including Zinc and Vitamin D to support a healthy immune system. Each vegan friendly Pro-DEFEND capsule provides 10 billion bacteria across three strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacteria animalis subspecies lactis.  Part of the award-winning Microbiome range from Natures Aid.  All the bacteria selected for our Microbiome range have been proven to effectively colonise the microbiome after swallowing, and are stable at room temperature – meaning you do not need to refrigerate your supplements to keep the bacteria alive.


NutraDefence Herbal Remedy Tea

NutraTea Ltd.
Tel: 0203 146 7171
E-mail:  [email protected]

NutraDefence® by NutraTea® is 1 of 19 herbal remedy teas that has been expertly developed to support the immune system and maintain the health of the respiratory tract. This complete herbal blend contains 100% active botanicals that have been sustainably sourced including Boneset, Thyme and Mullein to help improve the symptoms endured from flu and other infections of the respiratory tract. Each natural tea bag contains no flavours, oils or excipients allowing for it to be reused throughout the day, offering a delicious way to support your body’s natural defences and proper functioning of your immune system.



World foods brand management
Tel: 01782 366080
E-mail:  [email protected]

Coldner  is a unique CE medical device containing red seaweed extract which coats the throat mucosa to protect it against bacteria and viruses attaching to it. If infection has already taken place, Coldner is most effective at the first stage of infection, during early symptoms of a sore throat. 

When the mucus is penetrated by the virus, the virus then enters a cell, the virus takes control and uses the cell’s machinery to manufacture more viruses, and these viruses then attack surrounding cells. 

Coldner interferes with this process: after replication, the newly formed viruses are encapsulated by Coldner, directly after leaving its host, therefore preventing them from infecting other cells. This way, Coldner can slow down (or even stop) further viral infestation.



Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

Immuno4 (I-4) is a unique synergistic blend of organically certified nutritional ingredients which aim to help maintain the proper functioning of the immune system when taken as a food supplement. The ingredients in I-4 are known to support the immune system on four levels:
• Physically with shiitake mushroom, Egyptian black cumin seed oil and apple cider vinegar
• Emotionally with flower essences
• On a cellular level with energized colloidal silica
• On a vibrational level with homoeopathic levels of Anas Barbariae
Made with 70% ingredients from organic farming. Certified by ECOCERT SAS F-32600.


Nature’s Answer Sambucus Family

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

Nature’s Answer Sambucus Black Elderberry collection of products for all the family features three super-concentrated formulas extracted using cold bio-chelated proprietary extraction process: Liquid Herbal Extract with 12,000 mg of elderberries per serving; Sambucus Extract Spray with 523 mg of fresh elderberries per serving plus a proprietary herbal blend of echinacea, slippery elm, sage, astragalus and propolis – ideal for keeping on your person and using “on-the-go”; and Sambucus Kids with 4,000 mg of black elderberries per serving plus echinacea and astragalus root to support a healthy immune system for children. All are vegetarian and gluten-, alcohol- and preservative-free. 


NEW Wellness Herbal Collection from Source Naturals

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

Introducing two new Wellness Herbal products from Source Naturals – Resistance Liquid and Throat Spray. Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid features a powerful herbal formula combining traditionally-used and increasingly researched echinacea, elderberry and goldenseal with Yin Chiao, a valued herbal complex used in TCM to help maintain balance in the body. Wellness Herbal Throat Spray™ contains a powerful combination of herbs specially formulated to provide soothing immune support for your throat health, including osha root, echinacea angustifolia root, licorice root, thyme herb, mullein leaf, myrrh, aloe vera juice, and propolis, along with delicious natural raspberry and spearmint flavour. Both are vegetarian-friendly.


D.I.P. Daily Immune Protection™

Wholesale Health Ltd
Tel: 01606 889905
E-mail:  [email protected]

D.I.P Daily Immune Protection from Good Health Naturally is a unique formulation that delivers 10x proven nutrients to support both the innate and adaptive immune system. This super-nutrient blend combines 500mg EpiCor® and 100mg eXselen™ Selenium with a strong dose of 500IU Vitamin D3, 60mg Vitamin C, 21mg Zinc, 400mg Elderberry Fruit Extract 4:1, and 90mg Beta-glucans 1,3 1,6 to help protect against infections, boosts immune response against allergens, and provides extra support for healthy cell growth. 90 vegetable capsules. Suitable for vegetarians.