An Herbal Approach to the Cold and Flu Season

Cold and Flu Season

The kids are back in school and fall is right around the corner, which means sniffles and tummy aches for many of our little ones. 

 

While I like doctors and am glad to have them when we really need them, we rarely go see ours.  I think our last visit was a year and a half ago when I took my youngest for her 6 month well check.  I’ve come to learn that the vast majority of the time, we can help ourselves, and our little ones, to stay healthy and heal with the amazing gifts that this Earth has given us.  I thought I’d share some of our favorite remedies that I make sure to always have on hand.

 

Garlic – A powerhouse of an herb, Garlic helps with colds, sore throats, the flu, and poor digestion.  It is antimicrobial and antispasmodic, among many other things.  Used daily, it is unmatched in its ability to aid and support the body.  Simply adding it to your cooking every day can do wonders to help maintain your health!  If you find that you have a hard time cooking with it on a regular basis, you can simply swallow a whole raw clove once daily.  During acute infections, 1 clove 3 times a day is suggested.  For my little ones who will swallow but can’t manage a whole clove, I simply cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces for them to swallow.  For the ones who won’t swallow it, I dice it into tiny pieces and mix it into a spoonful of honey.

 

Peppermint – Fragrant, super easy to grow, a great spider deterrent, and a powerful nutritional enhancement to our diet!  Seriously, this one is a no-brainer!  Research has demonstrated that peppermint extract can destroy the bacteria that cause infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and walking pneumonia.  It also works really well as a tummy soother by relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract, while also helping to regulate gut bacteria.  Peppermint makes a great addition to many side dishes such as rice and salad, but also makes a really delicious tea.  Simply place a handful of fresh mint leaves in a teapot and gently muddle.  Pour boiling water over the leaves, let steep for 5 minutes, and add a little bit of honey.  I make a lot of tea in my house, and this is one of everyone’s favorites!

 

Echinacea – A staple in most herbal medicine cabinets, Echinacea boosts the body’s first line of defense against colds, flus, and many other illnesses by increasing macrophage T-cell activity.  It’s used as both a preventative and curative, and is not known to have any side effects or residual buildup in the body.  That being said however, its effectiveness can decrease with continual use, so it’s best to take it in cycles, or use only at first signs of and during illness (5 days on, 2 off).  It can be made into a tea, or taken in tincture form.  The dried herb is also effective, and the powder can be added to food or drinks for those who don’t enjoy the taste of it in liquid form.  At first sign of illness, take it in frequent small doses throughout the day.

 

Elder – My kids beg me for their daily dose of elderberry syrup!  It really is so good!  It also makes a great tea, alone, or combined with other herbs.  The flowers and the berries both help reduce fevers by inducing sweating.  The flowers are ideal for the treatment of colds and flus, as it is both antibacterial and antiviral.  In fact, black elderberry extract was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of the influenza virus.  It also reduced the duration of flu symptoms by a few days in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study!  When combined with Echinacea or St. John’s Wort, it makes an extra powerful immune boosting blend.  We use elder daily as a preventative due to it’s ability to increase cytokine production, and strengthen cell membranes, which helps to prevent virus penetration.

 

* The syrups are concentrated and yummy, but can be expensive at the store.  To learn how to make your own, check out How to Make an Herbal Syrup.  Make sure to stock up early on your elder, as supplies don’t last long during the fall and winter seasons!  My go to source is Mountain Rose Herbs.

 

 

Amy PaolinelliAbout Amy Paolinelli

Amy is a mom of 3 lively kiddos, a wife, and an advocate for natural living. Prior to having children, she worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist with high-risk youth. After having her first daughter, she found her passion in pregnancy, childbirth, babies, and natural living. She is now an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in private practice, a student of Herbal Medicine for Women, and cofounder of 3Girls Holistic – a 100% Natural and Organic Skin Care line. She loves getting her hands dirty in the garden and spending time near the water. You can find more of her writing at www.3girlsholistic.com