I’m Sick – Now What?
The cold and flu season is at its peak right now and it hits hard and fast. While prevention is the best defense, what do we do when symptoms hit? Some of us prepare for the cold and flu season in the autumn by starting our immune protocols and tinctures to stay healthy and treat illness at the onset.
What herbs to use;
Luckily, there are plenty of herbs you can buy at your local supermarket to alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of colds and flu. And, if taken early and often, it is possible to prevent an illness from worsening and turning into bronchitis or pneumonia.
The herbal home remedies below are meant to be simple to make using ingredients that are readily available. The best thing about these recipes is that they can be customized to the individual and many of the herbs can be used to address a variety of illnesses.
Home Remedies for Colds and Flu Shopping List:
Garlic – anti-viral, antibiotic, and antiseptic.
Onion – great for coughs and raw onion keeps the respiratory tract open.
Ginger – antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. In addition to treating cold/flu, ginger is excellent for nausea and vomiting.
Sage – carminative, antiseptic, and astringent – the mouth and throat plant. Used for sore throats and cough. Also used for sinus congestion. Sage should not be used when pregnant or breast feeding.
Thyme – antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. Thyme is great for respiratory infections and coughs. It is also good for the stomach and relieves gas.
Cayenne powder – stimulant, anti-microbial, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Cayenne can help prevent a cold or flu as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu. It brings heat to the body, which can help dispel coldness.
Honey – raw, local honey should ideally be purchased either at a farmer’s market or at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. Do not give honey to children under 1 year old.
Lemon – high in vitamin C, lemon may help decrease the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduce phlegm. Many folks use lemons to build resistance to cold and flu, and speed up healing.
Tea and Infusions
HERBAL TEA – GENERAL PREPARATION
Herbal teas are a great way to treat cold/flu symptoms! Not only do you get the medicinal benefits, but they are also soothing, warm, and relaxing.
• Pour boiling water over the herb, steep at least 20 minutes, and strain.
• You can also use a French press, preparing as above and pressing after 20 minutes
INFUSION – GENERAL PREPARATION
Infusions usually use more herbs than regular herbal teas and are steeped for longer periods of time. I find using a French press to be the best method of infusing and the easiest way to strain. But, any glass jar (mason or recycled food containers) and a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth can be used.
• 2 ounces of herbs or 2 generous handfuls of dried herb
• 600mL of water (if not completely covered add more water until the herb material is completely covered)
• Steep for 4 – 10 hours or overnight
• Strain herbs
Basic Cold & Flu Tea
I use this tea as a base and then add some of the other remedies below if needed. Garlic can irritate the stomach. If you are drinking this often you may need to adjust the amount of garlic or eliminate it.
3-4 slices fresh ginger with skin
One clove chopped garlic
Tea of choice (black, green, oolong, herbal)
Honey to taste
Milk/milk alternative, optional
• Bring 3-4 slices of fresh ginger (skin on) and one clove of chopped garlic to a boil and simmer for approximately 20 minutes
• Use ginger water to steep tea (black, green, oolong or any herbal tea)
• Add cayenne powder as hot as can be tolerated to induce sweating
• Honey to taste
• Add milk or dairy alternative (almond, soy or other)
• Drink 3-4 cups per day
• Drink before bed and bundle up to induce sweat
Ginger, Turmeric and Honey tea
1 knob of ginger sliced
1 knob of Turmeric sliced
1 teaspoon honey
steep for 5 min and drink
This is another base recipe to drink daily through the duration of illness.
2-4 chopped garlic cloves
3-4 slices fresh ginger
• In a 1 liter mason jar combine 2-4 cloves chopped garlic and 3-4 slices of fresh ginger.
• Cover and let steep for at least 20 minutes.
• Add juice of 2-3 lemons and honey to taste (approximately ¼ cup)
• You can strain or leave herbs in mixture.
• Consume warm and as needed. It can be consumed at room temperature, but not chilled.
Below are some easy tea preparations for a variety of symptoms.
Ginger Tea: 2- 3 slices of ginger per cup of water (or to taste – ginger can be strong)
Sage Tea (Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding): 1 ½ teaspoon dried sage (or 3 teaspoon fresh) per cup of water. Great for hot flushs . Drink cold
Thyme Tea: 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 3 teaspoon fresh) per cup of water.