We are well and truly in the throes of the bug season now with people coughing and sneezing and blowing into hankies with noses redder than rudolphs…
I am always being asked for cold and flu herb mixtures and this year I have run a record amount of workshops teaching people how to make their own winter medicine kits.
However, not everyone can travel to my workshops and as I have been asked, here is some info on my ‘go to’ herbs for the season…
Elderberry: Sambucus nigra
This little purple berry is packed full of vitamin C and its primary action is as an anti-viral. It stops the virus from getting into cells, therefore the virus can’t replicate so dies.. Take it at the first sign of a cold and continue until you feel better.
Use it as a tea by making a decoction – one dessert spoon to about 300ml water brought to the boil, simmer it for 10 minutes, strain and drink. Add a little honey if you like and even better; add a stick of cinnamon ( vernum or zeylandicum, NOT cinnamon cassia) and some cloves and a slice of fresh ginger to the water whilst simmering, the spices also help the immune response and liquify and move any mucous.
If you can’t get hold of any dried elderberries then the tincture will be just fine to use. Take little and often, one teaspoon every few hours should do it. Even better to mix Elderberry and Echinacea tincture together again with a small amount of Ginger.
You might need to talk to your local Herbalist to get hold of this mix but it’s worthwhile keeping in the cupboard to use at the first signs of a cold.
OK so you were too late to nip it in the bud and now you have a full blown virus, your body aches, your head is pounding, your sinus’ are blocked, your throat is sore and you have a fever..
Firstly a fever is a good response, try not to suppress it and carry on regardless. Listen to your body and take some tasty diaphoretic or febrifuge herbs, these are terms meaning fever reducing and act by promoting sweating to bring the fever down gently.
My favourite diaphoretic is Yarrow, it is effective and safe for children, can be taken as a tea or a sponge bath or both.
Use with care in pregnancy though, especially early stages.
For a tasty tea to reduce a fever, a tried and tested herb blend is equal parts of:
This tea is best taken warm, combine equal parts of the dried herbs and then use one -two teaspoons per cup of just boiled water, allow to infuse for 5-10 minutes, strain and sip frequently.
Rose petal vinegar – one teaspoon in a glass of water, sipped or gargled.
Sage tea or tincture a very traditional but effective remedy for sore throats. Make an infusion of dried sage leaves – one teaspoon of herb to a cup of boiled water and allow to stand for 10 minutes before straining and gargle as needed, or a few drops of sage tincture in water
Leaky drippy sinus’ respond well to Yarrow and Plantago lanceolata, also Euphrasia. Again Tea or tincture option
Dry stuffy sinus’ where the main symptom is congestion do better with the warming herbs, again ginger, garlic to liquify, warm and move. Even good old horseradish… look at the Master Tonic recipe on an earlier blog post.
Congested sinus’ respond quite well to steam inhalations, try a strong infusion of chamomile flowers maybe a drop of thyme essential oil…
Hope this helps to inspire you and to get you through the season and wishing you all a happy and healthy winter!