Field Notes: Herbs for Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season is here – and if you’re spending as much time in proximity to other people in their germs as most people in city do you need all the help you can get.

Here is a brief list of some plant allies to help you and your immune system get through this difficult time of the year:

    1. Elderberry – For general immune health, there’s nothing better than elderberry syrup. Widely used for relief of cold and flu symptoms alike, particularly respiratory ones, it gives a boost of antioxidants that help improve the functionality of the immune system, and can help an ailing body recover much more quickly.
    2. Echinacea –  If I feel a bad cold coming on, I immediately start an echinacea infusion.  I find this to be most effective in the first day leading up to sickness when I’m starting to feel under the weather. Plenty of people use it to treat colds and the flu, but I find it to be most effective before they’re in full swing.
    3. Ginger – This herb and peppermint are both godsends for nausea. When it’s hard to keep liquids down, I’ll make a strong infusion of either with honey or elderberry syrup and sip them. Both have added antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits as well – so if you have a stomach bug, they’re an ideal choice.
    4. Eucalyptus – When you feel like garbage and can barely breathe on top of everything else an herbal steam may be the answer. Eucalyptus is one of the best herbs for this, as steam not only provides immediate relief from congestion but the herb itself is used to decrease inflammation and reduce congestion overall.
    5. White Pine Needles- Whether you’re trying to prevent a cold or get over one, vitamin C is essential. If you live near white pine trees or can easily obtain their needles count yourself lucky – the tea you can brew from them contains four to five times the amount of this valuable nutrient per cup than orange juice!
    6. Mullein – Sometimes when you’re sick it all seems to be stuck in your lungs. Nasty post-nasal drip, a persistent cough – this is where Mullein comes in. It is used to primarily to combat illness affecting the lungs. When used in combination with horehound, the two herbs can work together as an expectorant and cough suppressant, while soothing mucus membranes and providing relief from upper respiratory ailments.


    There are countless other herbs that are used to help combat a bad cold or virus – but hopefully you found something on this list commonly used remedies!

    As always if you’re sick you should consult your doctor, especially when it comes to potentially serious viruses and infections.

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