Uh oh! You know the symptoms. You’ve got a cold, or worse, the flu. Actually, most of the time when people think they have the flu, it’s just a really bad cold.
For the most part, knowing which you have doesn’t make that much difference. We now know that Tamiflu, the most commonly prescribed flu drug, not work very well. So what do you do?
Well, the old standbys such as ibuprofen and Tylenol can certainly help alleviate some of your aches and pains, and even your chills and sore throat. Taken just for a few days at the proper dose, these are really quite safe.
But we know that Tylenol taken excessively is one of the leading causes of liver damage in the developed world, and ibuprofen, taken even for only five days in a row, has been known to cause stomach bleeding. And cough medicines really aren’t that good for you, either!
Colds and Flu, usually with a healthy immune system will take care of a cold within a week, with your own loving care. What you can do:
1. Encourage lots of rest
2. Keep a light and healthy diet. Eat a diet of hot broths (miso and seaweed, ginger or peppermint tea.
3. Give lots of water! …especially if a fever. Did you know that juice can actually make congestion in the chest and sinus actually thicker. Although drinking juice is better than not drinking. Try watering down the juice.
4. Reduce sugar – Sugar inhibits a healthy immune system response.
5. No dairy – makes congestion thicker
6. Avoid oranges – makes congestion thicker
7. Nothing cold or raw
8. Make child as comfortable as possible
The following natural medicines can help you kick those winter cold symptoms right back to the North Pole! And they boost your immune system, so they actually benefit you. (And you don’t have to worry about liver damage and stomach problems!)
Here are some of my favourites. You can pick one or two, but I recommend a combination of at least two of the herbal preparations, along with the vitamin supplements. Perhaps you would prefer to discuss these suggestions with your doctor first. If you are elderly, pregnant, have asthma, diabetes, or an autoimmune or immunocompromising illness; please see your physician before self-treating with natural medicines.
1. Tinctures (assuming these are all 1:4 strengths) for 3-5 days
Pleurisy root – 10 drops every 2 hours while awake (up to 6 doses)
Licorice root – 15 drops every 2 hours while awake (up to 6 doses)
Boneset leaf/flowering tops – 10 drops every 2 hours while awake (up to 6 doses)
Use these in combination for 3-5 days
2. Echinacea is safe, gently and capable of both preventing and fighting viral infections. Echinacea reduces the duration of a cold or flu. It can even be given in small preventative doses during cold and flu season.
1 tsp. twice daily (yes, that much – but modify for children down to ¼ of the dose ages 2-7 years old, and ½ the dose 8-12 years old, safe for pregnant/nursing women).
3. Garlic is highly effective for reducing the duration of colds and flu. Try making a garlic and honey tea, simply crush garlic and steep ten minutes, strain out garlic clove and honey. Offer as much as the child will drink.
4. Astragalus is a Chinese herb that is often used as an immune system booster and to combat cancer. This is a great herb to take prior to any big outings to help prevent the illnesses that often occur after being around lots of people. I recommend taking astragalus via tincture or capsule.
5. Oregano oil can help to add a layer of protection to your immunity when used appropriately. If you feel a cold coming on, try placing 3-6 drops into an empty capsule and take 2-3 times daily before meals. Continue this regiment for 5-10 days. In addition, you can help to stop the cold before it starts by taking the recommended serving of organic oregano oil at 1 capsule full of 3-6 drops.
Cautionary – not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or infants.
6. Honey is one of the best medicines we have for treating coughs and the common garden thyme we use as a seasoning is a terrific antimicrobial, anti-viral and antibacterial herb for upper respiratory infections. Taken together in hot water they can ease your symptoms and speed you on your way to recover. Eases hacking coughs and relieves gas and stomach discomfort.
7. Elderberry Syrup is high in vitamins A, B, and C and help support a healthy immune system. It can be taken daily for immune support. Elderberry has been shown to prevent and treat upper respiratory infections. This is seriously delicious! You’ll just want to lick the spoon
1 Tbsp. 3 times daily for adults (modify as for Echinacea for children, safe for pregnant /nursing women). Another dose is Take 2 teaspoons every 4 hours.
8. Ginger fights infections in the upper respiratory system and helps you to break a sweat. It also eases muscle tension. Helps with clearing congestion and settles the stomach. Miso broth with plenty of fresh grated ginger is also therapeutic.
9. Herbal sweat, Breaking a sweat is an important part of clearing toxins and easing your symptoms. Many folks report that they sleep much better after breaking a sweat. The process of raising your temperature to get the sweat going helps fight off nasty bugs – in fact, that’s exactly why your body mounts a fever. You’re helping your body to do its job.
To do an herbal sweat, put 10 drops of any of the following essential oils, or a combination, onto a damp wash rag: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Thyme. Toss the washrag into the shower so that water will hit it when you turn it on. Then turn the faucets on in your bathroom full throttle on hot.
When the room is full of herb ally infused steam, head in and hang out in there until you are breaking a good sweat. To increase this, sip hot ginger tea with lemon. Make sure to keep super well hydrated! After the steam, head to bed and bundle into your blankets for some rest.
10. Ginger Baths -Take hot ginger baths daily. The water needs to be hotter than a regular hot bath to kick sweating in, but not burning. While in the bath, drink a hot cup of ginger tea, then go to bed. To prepare the bath, use a handful of grated fresh ginger steeped in 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes. Keep the pot or jar covered while steeping.
11. Use a vapor rub on your chest. Vicks is a classic, and is made with camphor and eucalyptus, both herbs with help open up the respiratory passages and east coughing, especially at night. Some folks prefer to use an alternative that is not made with petroleum oil as a base. You can find something similar at the health food store. Use these preparations on your chest, only, not your face or in your humidifier. I used an old t shirt when my kids were young and put eucalyptus oil directly on the shirt, put on over top of their pjs.
12. Zinc, 20 to 40 mg/day for teens and adults has been shown to shorten the duration of colds. Start with the lower dose and work your way up over the first day or two. If your throat is sore, you can suck on zinc lozenges rather than try to swallow pills.
13. Vitamin C
14. Moisture vaporizers containing essential oils are helpful with purifying and disinfecting the atmosphere – sage, eucalyptus, cedar bay thuja and rosemary oils
15. Change the bed linens and pajamas frequently
16. Cold care is my go to cold and flu blend! I even give it to my kids in their Christmas Stockings. I would never be without these capsules!!! ?
Note: A fever is very helpful with burning out infections when all else fails. The fever actually stimulates the immune system and helps one to sweat out toxins. A well regulated fever would be very helpful to eliminate a cold, flu, ear infection, sore throat and yin imbalances.
Essential Oils can also be a benefit
Tea tree essential oil (external) is anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. Dilute with a small amount of your favorite carrier oil (mine is coconut oil) and apply along the spine on a regular basis.
Oregano essential oil (external) is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory oil that strengthens the immune system. It’s best diluted in carrier oil and applied to the bottoms of the feet. It’s typically used for a short period of time (7-10 days or so) to fight illness.
Preventative or Proactive
1. Exercise – I’m not a fan of prescribing 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Instead, I recommend moving your body as much as possible. Walk more. Sit less. Hike. Run. Stretch, try yoga!
2. Reduce stress -This is just as important as using immunity-boosting herbs or eating real food. Constant stress wears your body down and weakens your immune system. Pinpoint what’s causing the stress in your life and determine what can be done to change that (and often, it’s a change of mindset and determination to be grateful no matter what the circumstances).
3. Improve sleep – Sleep is a vital time of healing and restoration for our bodies. If you’re not getting enough, create a bedtime routine. Try going to bed a bit earlier. Say no to screens after 8 pm. Use calming essential oils before bed. Your body will thank you.
4. Hand washing – wash frequently throughout the day.
5. Diet – Cook with onions, garlic, turmeric, and ginger, all of which have been used historically to prevent and treat infection, and which modern science validates for antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. Try some soups to strength your whole system, Chicken soup, miso soup and tonic soups.
Herbal Blends to Make Yourself
Cold, Flu and Fever Tea
This tea is for anytime you are feeling under the weather. Cold & Flu Tea is a traditional and effective formula you can drink from the moment you start feeling sick until your symptoms are relieved. This medicinal herb blend helps to support a fever, encouraging your body’s natural defense to fight off infections. The best way to drink this tea is in bed, cozy under the covers.
To prepare: Mix equal parts of the dried herbs. Pour 2 cups of near boiling water over 2 Tbsp herbs. Steep 10 minutes. Strain. Add some honey or maple syrup – I think it is yummy! It lowers the fever, makes you sweat, eases headache and joint pain and I truly believe helps you fight off infection faster. Drink 1/4 cup every hour, while awake.
Make strong ginger tea by steeping 1 tablespoon on fresh grated ginger in 1 cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Cover while steeping then add lemon and honey to Drink hot, up to 4 cups daily.
Honey -Thyme tea
Per 1 cup of boiling water add 2 teaspoons of good quality honey and ½ teaspoon of thyme tincture (alcohol extract). You can also simply put the honey and thyme tincture into a tablespoon, knock them back, and chase with water.
Ok, here’s a recipe you might think sounds kinda weird, but it tastes really good!
To prepare chop 3 cloves of garlic, place into a quart sized mason jar, and cover with boiling water. Let this sit for 15 minutes, and then add lemon and honey to taste.
Drink hot, up to 4 cups per day. This is safe for kids over 2 years old and for pregnant women, too. It can be used to treat cold symptoms and prevent colds and flu, too.
Hot lemon and cayenne
This is my personal favourite hot drink!
To a cup of hot water add fresh lemons with honey and titch of cayenne tincture
Immune Boosting Tonic
Blend of Astragalus Root, Red Reishi, Codonopsis Root, Maitake, Eleuthero Root, Licorice Root, Schisandra Berry and Ginger Root – all organic.
The dose is 1/2 teaspoon once or twice a day or up to five times daily if needed, in a little warm or cold water. It is not for use by pregnant women but is ok if you are nursing.
Fry onions lightly in olive oil. Then add ginger, cayenne, tumeric, coriander, cumin etc. Fry till well done. Add to rice or other grains