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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Herbs for Cold and Flu Season


I happened to see this article in an old magazine in some waiting room I was in. Thought I'd share bits of it with y'all. There's a bunch of good herbal allies herein.

15 Natural Remedies for the Season

Echincea (echinacea pupurea and e. augustifolia)
A go-to herb for colds, echinacea may help support your immune system to fight viruses. The root, leaves and flowers are all medicinal. To Use: Take 1/2 teaspoon of tincture every two hours until symptoms are gone. Echinacea also comes in tea bags.

Elderberry (sambuca nigra)
As a syrup (elderberry's classic form) this remedy is tasty and effective. European studies have shown it to be helpful for seasonal flus (talk to your doctor before using it of H1N1 or swine flu). To Use: Follow package directions for the syrup at the first sign of symptoms.

Goldenseal (hydrastis canadensis)
For short-term use only, goldenseal can help to clear up bacterial infections and restore the respiratory system lining after a bad cold. To Use: Goldenseal is very bitter so stick to tinctures or capsules. Use small does of this potent herb. Safety Note: Pregnant women and those with hypertension should not use goldenseal.

Astragalus (astragalus membranceus)
Astragalus, which has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, may help to strengthen the body against illness when used over time. To Use: Take astragalus in tincture or capsule form thought the cold and flu season. You can also incorporate dried astragalus slices into soups or rice; remover the astragalus before serving.

Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus)
With antibacterial and expectorant properties, eucalyptus can loosen congestion and help you breathe easier. To Use: Pour near-boiling water into a pot. Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil, turn off the heat, and drape a towel over your head and the pot. Breathe for five minutes. Safety Note: Do not use essential oils internally.

Eleuthero (eleutheroccus senticocus)
Also known as Siberian ginseng, this well-studies herb can help your body resist the effects of stress and boost your immune system. To Use: Take in tincture or sapsule form, or make an immunity chai by blending eleuthero with cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Simmer for 20 minutes and strain; drink two or three cups daily.

Mullein (verbascum thapus)
Mullein's expectorant and soothing properties make it a cough treatment supreme. To Use: For coughs, try mullein tea. Pour a cup of boiling water over a tablespoon of mullein leaves; let steep for 20 minutes and strain. Add honey and lemon to mask the bitter taste. Treat ear infections with drops of oil infused with mullein and garlic.

Elder Flower (sumbucus nigra)
The flower form of the elder plant can induce sweating, which may help reduce fever. To Use: Look for elder in cold formulas. To make a tea, pour boiling water over a teaspoon of dried elder flowers. Steep 10 or 15 minutes then strain. Drink up to three cups per day. Or make a tea that combines elder, echinacea and a pinch of peppermint.

Ginger (zingiber officinale)
A cup of ginger tea can help ease congenstion and warm the body, which helps your immune system fight infection. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good sore throat remedy, too.
To Use: Simmer fresh or dried ginger for 20 minutes; strain and add a touch of honey and a squeeze of lemon, if desired. Incorporate ginger liberally into stir-frys and soups.

Slippery Elm (Ulums rubra)
A sore-throat-soother extraordinaire, slippery elm products are high in "mucilage" a substance that coats the throat and help relieves coughs. To Use: Look for slippery elm lozenges at health food stores; follow package directions. To make a tea, simmer one tablespoon dried slippery elm bark per cup of water; strain and drink.

Thyme (thumus vulgaris)
Loaded with antibacterial compounds, fresh or dried thyme is a cold-season powerhouse. To Use: use fresh or dried thyme in stews and soups. To make a steam, pour near-boiling water into a pot. Add a pinch of thyme or dried thyme, turn off heat, and create a tent by draping a towel over your head and the pot. Breathe in the steam for five minutes.

Tulsi (ocimum santcum)
Believed to boost overall health, tulsi (also known as holy basil) contains antiviral and antibacterial compounds. It may help prevent illness when used over time. To Use: Tulsi makes a delicious tea; look for it in packaged form or brew your own with loose tulsi. Aim for two to three cups daily.

This centuries-old Chinese formula stars a number of immune-boosting herbs and can help ease cold symptoms such as sneezing and congestion. To Use: Use at the first sign of illness; follow package directions or consult with a TCM practitioner.

Sage (salvia officinales)
Common culinary sage can help to ease a sore throat and dry up sinuses. To Use: For a sore throat, make a strong tea. Cool to room temperature. Gargle with the mixture is gone.

Licorice (Glycyrrhica glabra)
Licorice's immune-boosting and throat-soothing properties make it an excellent addition or coughs and cold formulas. To Use: For coughs, make a tea that combines licorice and mullein leaves. Safety Note: People who have high blood pressure should avoid this herb.

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End extract of article.

I imagine that many of you would have a few of these herbs in your kitchen, at least the thyme, sage and ginger. These are all good herbs for the cold and flu season. I would also up my Vitamin C, D3 and zinc intake and take a bunch of Echinacea caps. Chew up a couple cloves of garlic. You know the rest: lots of liquids (water is best), rest, stay warm and be peaceful.
HM