When it comes to cold and flu season, these herbs are a must-have for the kitchen or medicine chest.
Winter and early spring is the time of year most people come down with a head cold or flu, with potential flares from seasonal allergies just around the bend. Allopathic (western) medicine typically targets symptoms but fails to address the underlying cause. Worse, many doctors simply dole out antibiotics to their patients. Not only does this practice contribute to antibiotic resistance, but these medications are ineffective against viral invaders like rhinoviruses that are responsible for colds and respiratory infections.
The secret to successfully warding off a viral infection is to strike when symptoms first appear. This means as soon as you being to feel flushed, begin sniffling and sneezing or get that relentless tickle in the back of your throat. These are signs that a virus has taken hold and is now spreading throughout healthy cells, leaving a trail of inflammation in the membranes of your nasal and respiratory passages. One of your best herbal allies at this point is elderberry. The fruit is loaded with antioxidant flavonoids and antiviral compounds that prevent viral cells from self-replicating by neutralizing the harmful enzymes they would otherwise use their spike-like projections to inject into healthy cell membranes. To learn how to make elderberry syrup, click here.
More Herbal Helpers
Catnip – Relieves fever and headache. Prepare as tea. May also be tinctured.
Ginger – Relieves congestion. Use fresh or powdered in tea and in cooked foods. Decoct the dried root to prepare an infusion.
Hyssop – Has antiviral and expectorant properties. Prepare as tea, alone or with other herbs.
Sage – Soothes sore throat, taken as tea or used as a gargle.
Slippery Elm Bark – High in mucilage, soothes sore throat. Add to tea blends or use to make throat lozenges. Excellent companion to mullein.