10 EASY-TO-BUY HERBS FOR COLD & FLU SEASON
Grandma had her hot toddy. Mom had her over-the-counter cough syrup. And now you have your own methods for combatting winter ailments.
This cold and flu season, you might want to try adding herbs to your medicinal arsenal :
THE SHOPPING LIST:
- Elderberries – antiviral, taken to shorten sick time, and as a preventative
- Slippery elm bark powder – good for diarrhea
- Garlic – strong antimicrobial
- Ginger – helps body sweat to detox and break a fever, also for stomach upset
- Thyme – strong antimicrobial for sinus and respiratory infections
- Astragalus – immunity booster, helps as preventative
- Echinacea – immunity booster, helpful for when a person is already sick
- Peppermint – stomach upset from nausea
- Fennel –stomach upset from gas and bloating
- Rosehips – high in vitamin c, good preventative
“They do more than just symptom mask,” said Jennifer Pillari, owner of Oriental Herb Company. “I think that for a lot of the western, especially the over-the-counter, medications … the goal is to minimize the symptoms but not actually make you better, not actually heal you or make you stronger.”
Pillari said her most popular Chinese herbal blend, Cold Snap, is available nationwide in Kroger stores, and on Amazon.com. Ready-made herbal blends such as Cold Snap, or capsules such as Nature’s Way Astragalus capsules, are a great way for a beginner to start using herbs, taking out the guesswork.
ANOTHER SIMPLE WAY TO DIP INTO THE HERBAL WORLD IS PREPACKAGED TEAS.
Peppermint tea, such as Traditional Medicinals’, can help relieve upset stomach due to nausea. It can be cooling and refreshing for those with fever. Fennel tea is recommended for gas or bloating, often a discomfort associated with holiday parties. Echinacea tea is drunk to support the immune system.
BUT IF YOU’D RATHER SAVE MONEY BY MAKING YOUR OWN,
HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT.
Health food stores, even large chains like Whole Foods, often sell dried herbs in bulk. If you are not near that type of store, a popular online site is MountainRoseHerbs.com.
You can get a bag of herbs, transfer them into an airtight container and then store in a cool dry place for several months. Making your own tea is often as simple as pouring hot water over the leaves using a tea ball or strainer, then steeping and sipping.
Alison Birks, a teacher, author, practicing herbalist and nutritionist in Woodbury, Connecticut, said using familiar foods helps prevent a person from inadvertently using toxic herbs, especially in use with children.
“GARLIC IS A VERY POTENT ANTIMICROBIAL AND EXPOECTORANT,”
said Birks. “Garlic can be used for chest cold, bronchitis anytime there is a need for a strong antimicrobial.”
She said the best way to use garlic is to take the fresh cloves and mash it up and let is sit for 15 min so that it activates the allicin. You can put it on toast, or you can take a spoonful.
Mixing with honey can help.
For children who understandably might not want to eat even a sweetened clove of garlic, she recommends foot poultices: mash a clove of garlic per foot, and mix with some olive oil and put it on the bottom of a child’s foot, then wrap some gauze hold it in place and put socks on the feet. Leave on through the night.
Birks also suggests using a teaspoon of oregano or thyme steeped in hot water for coughs and respiratory ailments. Ginger root can be frozen, then cut up or grated later for a tea that helps produce warmth and sweating in the body — good for detoxing and breaking a fever. Slippery elm bark powder can be mixed with water and sipped to help ease diarrhea, or mixed with honey and taken as a cough suppressant.
Jenna Payne, herbalist and office manager at the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism, recommends keeping a winter window herb garden because the volatile oils (active ingredients) in fresh plants are higher than in dried.
“THYME IS GOOD FOR ACUTE RESPIRATOR OR SINUS INFECTIONS,”
said Jenna Payne, herbalist and office manager at the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism. “You take the plant and you boil water and you simmer the herb in the water for maybe 5 minutes or so and you put your face over the pot with a towel over your head and covering the pot and you breath in the steam. That’s really good for sinus infection, bronchitis and any respire ailments. You can also put it a pinch of it in a tea but you definitely have to blend it because it’s strong.”
Rosehips and elderberries have long been used to make jams and syrups, and both are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Much like cooking websites, MountainRoseHerbs.com often offers helpful recipes for using your herbs. A favorite is their elderberry syrup recipe, which incorporates simple pantry ingredients.
Whether you shop at a chain, a neighborhood apothecary or online, whether you buy ready-made blends or single herbs for your own recipes, beginning herb use really can be as easy as eating and drinking to your health.
Grandma would approve.
HELPFUL LINKS :
This article was written by Sarah Buehrle, contributor for The Daily Clutch, and certified aromatherapist. You can find her www.facebook.com/SarahABuehrle.