c2008 Shanna Ohmes
T’is the season! The cold and flu season, that is. The kids are back in school and the holidays are just around the corner. Stress levels are going up and the immune systems are plummeting. What can you do to prepare for sniffles, sore throats and congestion? Did you know you can have a few herbs on hand to cope with the cold and flu season? Here is an herbal cold and flu kit you can make up ahead of time.
• Garlic: (Allium sativum) Garlic is one of the most powerful herbs for treating an array of ailments. Historically, garlic was found in caves inhabited 10,000 years ago. It was used by the Egyptians, healers in ancient India, Greek athletes and Roman soldiers. In 19th-Century America, physicians used garlic for colds, coughs, and whooping cough. There are many ways to take garlic. A favorite is a hearty chicken soup or potato soup with lots of garlic and onions. You can eat a raw garlic clove by itself, or chop fine over a salad or main meal. Garlic is also available as garlic oil and in capsules. This powerful herb has antibiotic, antiseptic, and expectorant properties.
• Echinacea: (Echinacea purpurea) The Plains Indians depended on echinacea as their primary medicine. Early pioneers and physicians adopted the use of echinacea and by the 20th century, practically every household kept echinacea tincture in the medicine cabinet. By the 1930’s the use of echinacea waned as antibiotics became popular. Now echinacea resuming its place in the common household. This herb builds the immune system and you can take it when you feel the cold coming on. Echinacea can be steeped as a tea, or used in tincture and capsule form. This immune builder has antibiotic, antiseptic and antiviral properties.
• Astragalus: (Astragalus membranaceus) For thousands of years the Chinese have used astragalus as an energy tonic and to enhance the immune system. Recent studies have shown it shortens the duration of the cold. The root is used in soups, teas, extracts and capsules in combination with ginger. Astragalus has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
• Goldenseal: (Hydrastis canadensis) Goldenseal was used by the Native Americans for sore throats. It was not a popular herb with the early settlers until after the Civil War when the demand soared and it was added to several patent medicines. This herb boosts the glandular system, helping with congestion, inflammation, and bronchitis by building up the immune system. It can be used in an infusion with the powdered root, or in tincture and capsule form. Goldenseal has antibiotic and antiseptic properties.
• Ginger: (Zingiber officinale) Ginger remedies were written in Chinese herbal texts around 3,000 B.C. This potent herb helps the respiratory system, easing colds, sore throat, congestion and bronchitis. Grate 2 tsp. fresh ginger, pour a cup of boiling water over it and steep. You can also sprinkle powdered ginger over soups. Ginger has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and febrifuge properties.
These are powerful immune boosting herbs to keep on hand for everyone in your family. Put the tinctures and capsules in a plastic tub, label “Cold and Flu Kit”, and include a note or this article about the garlic and ginger. Now you can confidently ride out the holidays knowing how to cope with the new season, no matter what “gifts” it might bring.