Combatting Your Cold and Flu Naturally
It’s still flu season, and with this years epidemic we thought it was time to do some research on how to stay healthy, naturally. Flu cases have been reported in more than half of Texas, with our health officials saying this season is worse than in past years. We wanted to offer up some natural ways to combat the dreaded flu, so you can stay away from the chemical laden cold and flu medicine.
One of the best things you can do is to drink fluids. By consuming warm liquids, especially herbal teas and broth, you’ll thin mucus secretions. Taking steam showers help loosen mucus as well, and if you don’t have access to a steam shower, you can bring a quart-size pot of water to a boil, place it in front of your face at a comfortable distance and cover your head with a towel. You’ll want to inhale through your nose if you’re stuffed up, or through your mouth if the congestion is in your chest.
Now on to the herbs that help fight and treat the flu.
First off we have echinacea. This is a herb that enhances the immune system which will help prevent respiratory tract infections. The most effective way to take echinacea is either from the juice made of the above ground parts of the plant or the tinctures made from the roots. The best time to take doses of echinacea is at the onset of symptoms, as it can shorten the duration and severity of a cold. You may also want to take echinacea if you’ve been around someone with a cold. The recommended dosage is two droppers full of echinacea mixed with water.
Next up we have andrographis, one of the new comers to the cold season herbal scene. A study in 2004 showed that the herb may be a safe treatment for the relief of upper respiratory tract infections. A Russian study found that children that took andrographis leaf extract and eleuthero root reduced the severity and duration of common cold symptoms. Although not well heard of, it’s starting to move up in the ranks of herbal remedies.
Now to one of a well-loved cold and flu superhero, the elderberry. This European cold and flu remedy is to combine elderberry flowers and peppermint leaves. However, studies have shown that the best part of the elderberry is the actual berry from the black elderberry tree. The extract of these berries aids the immune system and helps fight the flu and other respiratory viruses. This is the herb to look into if you’ve already come down with the flu, as two studies have shown rapid recovery when patients consumed the extract of the elderberry.
Next we have ginseng (Asian ginseng) and eleuthero (American ginseng). Both of these herbs have been reported useful in fighting respiratory viruses. These two are particularly helpful for the elderly. The beneficial part of the herb is the root, and it is recommended to chew on the root when you’re starting to come down with a cold. If you can’t access a ginseng root, an extract will do the trick.
Last but not least is licorice root. This plant has many properties that relieve cold and flu symptoms. It soothes sore throats, relaxes coughs and expels respiratory mucus. Not only that, it’s sweet tasting and makes herbal blends taste delicious. A study found that drinking six cups a day of tea that contained licorice root relieved throat pain. Word of caution for those of you that love the taste of licorice, don’t take it for more than four to six weeks, as it causes your kidneys to retain water and sodium while losing potassium. It’s also a root to avoid if you’re pregnant, have high blood pressure or low blood potassium.
You are now armed with the information to combat flu and cold season, naturally. For more information on how to stay healthy, check out Mother Earth News. And if you’ve already come down with something awful (or you love fun facts), check out these 11 bizarre ways they used to treat the flu, it’s guaranteed to make you laugh which will make you feel a little better.
We just got in products from local herbalist, Plant Spirits Apothecary. We wanted to stock some already made herbal tinctures, and we have some that are specifically blended for kids, so they’re alcohol free. Just because they’re labeled as “children’s” doesn’t mean you can’t take them. They’re herbal blends that will work for young and old alike. And if you want your very own formula, we have the elderberry syrup, which contains organic elderberries, organic ginger, brandy and local Texas honey. Taking a spoonful a day will support your immune system, and if you feel a cold coming on, take a spoonful several times a day.
For the kids we have the Immune Support, which is a sweet alcohol-free extra formula of organic echinacea, organic elderberry, organic yarrow, organic peppermint and organic ginger root. We also have the Yummy Tummy, which is a blend of organic fennel seed, organic chamomile and organic ginger root. And if you or your little one is coughing, we have the Cough Calm, which is made of organic elecampane root, organic lavender blossoms and organic valerian root.
So whether you feel like mixing up your own batch of herbal remedies or want to stop by and pick up a locally made formula, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s to staying happy and healthy in this cold weather!