Cold and flu season is by far my least favorite of all the seasons. It lacks the feeling of freedom and never-ending sunshine that summer possesses, and it rains all over the festivities of fall and winter.
I prefer to skip it all together and my best resource for doing so is to arm myself with a stockpile of herbal remedies and essential oils. Using herbs to treat cold and flu at home comes down to two basic strategies: 1) prevention and 2) treatment of early symptoms.
When things progress past a certain point - really high fever for more than a few days, severe head and neck pain, coughing and congestion that impairs breathing, I HIGHLY recommend seeking care from a trained health professional. Herbs are good, not dying is better. Aside from these circumstances, here are four herbal home remedies for cold and flu:
1) Essential Oils
Using a diffuser to disperse antibacterial and anti-viral essential oils into the air can reduce the population of sickness-causing germs that are floating around your home or office, just waiting for your moment of weakness before they can infiltrate your nose and mouth and sneak past your immune system causing sneezing, congestion, body aches and all the rest of those sucky cold and flu symptoms.The best oils for diffusing during cold and flu season are the eucalyptus species, the fir species, the pine species, and the spruce species. All of these oils are overall beneficial for the respiratory system and can help prevent and treat uncomplicated colds and flus.
Essential oils are great for respiratory conditions because they can come into contact - in a very dilute concentration - directly with the inside of your nose and lungs as you breathe them in. I don’t however recommend taking essential oils internally by ingesting them. But that’s a whole other post.
Herbs, especially the aromatic herbs, are so powerful in part because of their essential oil content. When you take in a whole herb, or a tea of a whole herb, you’re getting the essential oils in a dose that’s compatible with your cells instead of damaging to them. In addition you’re getting all of the other substances present in the plant that have health promoting properties, including vital nutrients that support immunity and well-being. Some of my favorite herbs to help strengthen your immune system and prevent illness are Tulsi, Peppermint, Ginger, and Cinnamon. All of these can be used to make single herb teas or can be combined and sipped throughout the day. Ginger and cinnamon can easily be added to many foods you might be preparing. To make an infusion of Tulsi or Peppermint, steep 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup hot water for several minutes. Organic India makes several Tulsi tea blends available in tea bag form as well. If using fresh ginger, use 1 teaspoon chopped or grated ginger root per cup of water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. For dried ginger and cinnamon, use ¼ teaspoon of powdered herb per cup of water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
All of these herbs can be used both to strengthen your respiratory and immune systems and to treat early signs and symptoms if you do come down with something. Of course if you’d like a more personalized herbal protocol, I am always available for herbal consultations and acupuncture treatments to keep you feeling your best, whatever the season.