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Herbal Remedies for Colds & the Flu

“That” season is upon us! The season of colds, bugs and the dreaded flu! Here is a general breakdown of some excellent herbs to have on hand this season to prevent these illnesses, as well as, reduce the symptoms and timeframe. Stay healthy beautiful souls!

Echinacea can reduce a cold's intensity and duration, often even preventing it from becoming a full-fledged infection. Best if used as a preventative and taken consistently on a daily basis. Hyssop helps prevent colds and infections. Elderberry helps reduce both the severity and the duration of colds. Choose an extract standardized to contain 5 percent total flavonoids and take 500 milligrams three times daily. Garlic (Allium sativum) appears to shorten a cold's duration and severity. Any form seems to work: capsules or tablets, oil rubbed on the skin, or whole garlic roasted or cooked in other foods. Ginseng also improves overall immunity to illness. Regular use of ginseng can aid in preventing colds. There are actually three different herbs commonly called ginseng: Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and Siberian "ginseng" (Eleutherococcus senticosus).

Goldenseal helps clear mucus from the throat. It also contains a natural antibiotic berberine, which can help prevent bacterial infections that often follow colds. Mullein flower is good to soothe inflamed mucous membranes lining the throat. Also relieves coughing. Marshmallow has been used for thousands of years as a soothing herb for cold-related cough and sore throat and other respiratory conditions. Marshmallow roots contain a spongy material called mucilage that soothes inflamed mucous membranes. Slippery elm bark contains large quantities of mucilage that

soothes the throat and suppresses coughs. Peppermint is good for breaking fevers by causing the recipient to perspire. Comfrey also reduces fever associated with cold by inducing perspiration.

Ginger contains nearly a dozen antiviral compounds. Scientists have isolated several chemicals (sesquiterpenes) in ginger that have specific effects against the most common family of cold viruses, the rhinoviruses. Ginger helps relieve pain, fever, suppresses coughs, eases runny noses and has a mild sedative effect that encourages rest (particularly important when we are ill!) Licorice contains antiviral compounds that induce the release of interferons, the body's own antiviral constituents.

Basic Cold Remedy

Combine equal parts of elder berries, peppermint, yarrow, Echinacea and ginger. If coughs or sore throat are a symptom add a part of either goldenseal, marshmallow or slippery elm bark. Steep 1 to 2 tbsp of the mixture in 1 cup hot water for about 10 minutes. This will induce a sweat, and if the cold is caught early enough, may stop it altogether. If cold is already in progress this tea can help the body handle fever and reduce achiness, congestion, and inflammation.

Steaming Mixtures

Choose an herb that correlates to the symptoms you are experiencing (combining herbs makes for an even more effective treatment). Simply add 1-2 tablespoons of mixture per 2-4 cups of water. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat so mixture is very gently simmering. Drape a towel over head to capture steam and carefully place head over mixture to inhale steam. If you are sensitive to the steam it is best to lower the heat to a comfortable degree.

~Ruth David, MS, CMH, RMT, CMP, CBT, NLP, Diet & Nutrition Planning

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