Herbs for Cold and Flu

| November/December 2002

  • Say goodbye to colds and flu with these antiviral and immune-enhancing herbs.

Cold and Flu Recipes:

Ah, winter. Yes, it’s cold and flu season again and you’re looking for some relief. Although colds and flus are caused by different types of viruses, both can leave you feeling tired, coughing, feverish, achy and foggy-headed.

You’ve probably discovered that conventional medicine has little to offer the bleary-eyed sufferer. Over-the-counter remedies such as aspirin, and even prescription drugs, only suppress symptoms; they don’t cure the illness or make you well any faster. While antihistamines dry sinuses, they can also irritate your nose and throat and prolong the infection. As for antibiotics, including penicillin, they don’t target viruses at all and should only be prescribed if a bacterial infection follows the cold or flu.

Simply suppressing symptoms can impair your body’s natural ability to fend off disease. Symptoms tell you what’s wrong and what to do about it. Headaches, sore muscles and feeling tired indicate that you need rest, and fever or indigestion is a sign to eat lightly.

Herbal treatments help your body heal itself and boost natural immunity. Your cold or flu probably won’t disappear immediately, but chances are you will get well sooner and more completely. Then, when next winter rolls along, you may be less likely to pick up a cold. You’ll find plenty of herbal cold and flu remedies in the health-food store, or follow my simple recipes to make your own. In either case, have these remedies on hand in your medicine cabinet so that when the next cold or flu strikes, you’ll be prepared.

Antiviral herbs

Researchers have discovered that some herbs destroy viruses, and they’re studying ways to turn these herbs into pharmaceuticals. But you needn’t wait. Among the herbs that have already been found to inhibit viruses, including the flu, are lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). Also packing an antiviral punch are rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), peppermint (Mentha ¥piperita) and tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). All of these herbs also foil bacteria responsible for infections of the throat, lungs, sinuses, ears and eyes that often tag on the heels of a cold or flu. In addition, they relax coughing spasms, aid digestion, and lower a fever by encouraging circulation and sweating. Tannin compounds found in other herbs such as white oak bark (Quercus alba) and bayberry (Myrica cerifera) destroy flu and other types of viruses, so it’s no wonder they are traditional cold and flu treatments. You can even eat your way to good health by seasoning your food with garlic (Allium sativum), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), marjoram (Origanum majorana), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) and black pepper (Piper nigrum) to eradicate viral and bacterial infections. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is not only antiviral, it also lowers fevers and reduces muscle soreness.



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