When it comes to dealing with colds and the flu, most of us treat the symptoms and try to get through it. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately because of the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (nCoV). We have many herbal remedies that apply to the cold and flu and this virus, but most people don’t know or don’t use them.
And most of the useful commercial treatments have disappeared from the store shelves. For example, I used excellent echinacea and zinc throat lozenges that worked like a charm. I can’t find them anymore. I can buy echinacea lozenges or zinc lozenges, but not the combination.
Prepare Now for Cold and Flu Season
A bad flu is going around my area and my son caught it. I was out of town at the time. It occurred to me then that my knowledge was useless to him.
I should have prepared my remedies before the flu season began, so that I could quickly point him to the right remedies, even from hundreds of miles away. Having your treatments in stock, prepared, and ready to use is essential when an outbreak happens.
Preventing Illnesses, Cold, and Flu
Boost your Immune System
Boosting your immune system can prevent infection, even when household members are sick. If you do get sick, your immune system has a head start and your illness may be less severe. If you begin taking herbs to boost your immune system before the flu season starts, you have a big head start in defeating the virus.
Many herbs boost the immune system. I take these when an illness is going around and throughout the flu season: Echinacea, Astragalus Root, Ashwagandha, Elderberry, Ginger, Garlic, cinnamon, and Turmeric. These herbs and spices can be taken in tea, as a cold remedy (see recipes below), or as a supplement. I also take Vitamin C and Vitamin D, which boost the immune system.
Disinfect Skin and Surfaces
Doctors are adamant that hand washing is your best defense against catching a cold. What they usually don’t mention is that you need to be serious about your hand washing. Wash with soap for 20 seconds, rubbing your skin together. Twenty seconds is the equivalent of singing Happy Birthday twice. Time Baby Shark or another popular song for your kids’ hand washing serenade.
For disinfecting surfaces, bleach water is in widespread use. One-quarter cup of bleach in a gallon of water, freshly made, is sufficient. However, I prefer to use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Either alone is a good disinfectant, but when you use them together, they are dynamite against bacteria and viruses. I put spray nozzles on each bottle and spray one, then the other on the surface. Leave it to dry naturally, if possible. Use this combination on all surfaces that are touched often. Both vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are safe for kids and pets.
Treat Infection with Antibiotic and Antiviral Herbs
If you’ve come down sick with the flu or a cold, it is time to increase your herbs. Continue taking your immune-boosting herbs, but add antibiotic and antiviral herbs. My favorite here is Oil of Oregano, but many others work just as well, including my favorites: horseradish, cat’s claw, licorice root, elderberry, and nettle leaf. Take these herbs as a tea, infusion, syrup, or supplement.
Treat the Symptoms
Treat the symptoms to keep your patient comfortable. This can include inhaling the steam and drinking chamomile tea for general cold symptoms and to clear the nasal passages. Eucalyptus is excellent for clearing a stuffy nose, also. Put it in boiling water and breathe the steam, or rub a little eucalyptus ointment under your nose and on the chest to clear congestion.
For sore throats, tea with honey and lemon is lovely. Echinacea and zinc suppress the infection and soothes the throat. My choir director swears by gargling cayenne in water for a sore throat. I can’t tolerate the heat of cayenne, so I haven’t tried it, but my son says it works for him. I do use a little cayenne in my Cold and Flu Vinegar.
Keep Taking the Herbs
You may feel fully recovered, but your body still needs time to heal completely. Continue taking your herbs for another week or two to prevent relapse and build your body strength.
My Cold and Flu Remedy Recipes:
Cold and Flu Vinegar
This vinegar is also good taken daily to reduce inflammation.
- 1/2 large red onion, chopped fine
- Two heads garlic, chopped fine
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger root, grated
- 1/4 cup fresh turmeric root, grated
- 1/8 cup fresh horseradish root, grated
- 1/8 cup fresh thyme, chopped
- One fresh cayenne pepper, more or less to taste tolerance
- 1-quart raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1. Put all the herbs in a clean and sterilized quart jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the jar with unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. All herbs should be covered entirely by the vinegar.
2. Seal the jar tightly and place it in a warm place, like a sunny window.
3. Steep the herbs and vinegar for four weeks, shaking the jar daily.
4. Strain out the herbs or leave them in and consume them with the vinegar.
5. Consume a tablespoon daily during cold and flu season.
Cold and Flu Tea
I use this tea as a base for other herbs when needed for specific symptoms.
- 3-4 slices fresh ginger with the skin
- One tea bag, herbal, green, or black tea; Chamomile is also good
- Cayenne powder to taste, as hot as you can stand it
- Honey to taste
1. Bring the fresh ginger to a boil in 1 to 2 cups of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove the ginger slices.
2. Steep the teabag in the ginger water for 5 to 8 minutes, or to your liking.
3. Add the cayenne powder as hot as can be tolerated. Cayenne induces sweating. You can leave it out if fever is not present.
4. Add honey to taste. Drink 3 to 4 times daily.
Cold and Sore Throat Honey
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1/8 cup powdered echinacea
- 1/8 cup powdered elderberry
1. Place the honey and herbs into a dry, sterile jar.
2. Place the jar into the top of a double boiler and heat gently.
3. Simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not let the honey boil or burn.
4. Stir the honey, remove from the heat and cool.
5. When completely cooled, seal the jar and store in a cool, dark place.
6. Use immediately or let the herbs steep in the honey before using it.
7. Give ½ to 1 teaspoon every two hours, as needed.
*Do not give honey to babies or young children.
Herbal Steam Inhalation
- 4 cups of water
- The herbal combination of your choice, see below
- Large towel
1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, add a handful of your herbs and pour in the boiling water.
2. Place your face over the bowl and throw the towel over your head. Caution: hold your head far enough away to avoid burning your face.
3. Inhale the steam for 10 minutes or more.
*Herbs can also be used in a steam vaporizer or boiled in water, strained, and used in a cold vaporizer.
*You can also use essential oils for steam inhalation.
- Eucalyptus and Sage
- Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, and Peppermint
- Ginger, Orange peel, and mint
There many more effective herbs that I have not mentioned here. I tried to use herbs that are readily available everywhere. If you have a favorite herb for treating colds and the flu, please let us know in the comments below. The point is to be proactive during cold and flu season so that you don’t have to suffer.