Treat your Flu and Cold with Healing Herbs
The summer is now waning and many people are dreading the fall and winter because of the usual flu and colds that accompany the turning leaves and drifting snow. Luckily these illnesses can be controlled and even avoided using herbs.
* Garlic: Is very effective in improving the function of the immune system and should be taken proactively to avoid catching the flu or colds.
* Yarrow: This lovely yellow flower is great to treat the fever associated with the flu and can be used in conjunction with Elder to fight this debilitating symptom.
* Elder: Most people have heard of elderberries in wine and never realized that the compound that gives these berries their deep color also can shorten the duration of the flu. The flowers are also useful to treat sinus congestion and fever. There are several sinus congestion teas on the market that have dried elder flowers as the main component.
* Marshmallow: This plant root has been used for centuries to treat sore throat and coughs due to many different viruses. It is very effective in relieving the irritated throat passages and ease lung congestion due to mucus buildup.
* Thyme: although most people use this herb with great effect in culinary creations it also is an extremely powerful antimicrobial which can treat respiratory infections successfully. Do not ingest the essential oil of this plant but instead infuse either dried or fresh leaves in boiling water and drink like a tea.
* Sage: This herb is actually an ingredient in many commercial preparations designed to sooth sore throats. Similar to thyme, sage has antimicrobial properties and can be used to gargle with help relieve sore throat symptoms.
These are the most commonly used effective herbs for the various symptoms relating to the flu and common cold but care must be taken just as one would with synthetic drugs. Dosage and preparation should be carefully adhered to and you should always follow the producers’ instructions or carefully study the best amount. People on blood thinners or heading towards surgery should avoid taking garlic and yarrow supplements. Elder berries need to always be cooked and elder flower must not be used for long periods of time. Avoid yarrow if you have allergies to Echinacea and stop taking it if sensitivity to sunlight develops. If you are on other medications marshmallow may reduce their effectiveness and do not take this supplement if you are diabetic. If you are pregnant or breast feeding any herbal supplementation should only be done with the supervision of a professional.
Yes, everybody is talking about it, and yes, there are indeed herbal remedies that will help you preventing being infected by any flu virus.
- Vitamin D: It seems as though an insufficient level of vitamin D make you very vulnerable to flu viruses, be they ordinary flu or swine flu. Stock up on vitamin D quickly, therefore.
- Sambucol, a syrup made mainly from black elderberries and echinacea, is a good way to treat flu, or boost your immune system when you feel the very first symptoms of flu. This, too, it an item you might wish to stock up on. Black elderberries are very good antioxidants.
- Omega-3 oils helps the body to remain healthy, and to improve your vitamin D levels. Animal-based omega-3 oil is preferable.
- Stock up on items such as face masks, a steam inhaler, latex gloves, hand sanitizer, and other such items that help preventing infections.
Here is a rather longish article that basically warns again a swine flu panic, and gives you good advice on what to do at the very end, which is what I will paste here. While I agree with the authors that it is not a good idea to get vaccinated, I hope that their call to calmness will not lull you into safety and make you postpone taking still necessary precautions. If you do not stock up on supplies now, you might not be able to anymore in a few months, either because they are out of stock, or they have gotten too expensive for you to afford them anymore.
Anyway, here is the end of the article:
For now, my point is that there are always going to be threats of flu pandemics, real or created, and there will always be potentially toxic vaccines that are peddled as the solution. But you can break free of that whole drug-solution trap by following some natural health principles.
I have not caught a flu in over two decades, and you can avoid it too, without getting vaccinated, by following these simple guidelines, which will keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with.
Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I’ve previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu — not the flu virus itself.
This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. I would STRONGLY urge you to have your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are therapeutic at 50-70 ng. ml and done by a reliable vitamin D lab like Lab Corp.
For readers who are in the U.S., we [original writers of the article] hope to launch a vitamin D testing service through Lab Corp that allows you to have your vitamin D levels checked at your local blood drawing facility, and relatively inexpensively. We hope to offer this service by June 2009.
If you are coming down with flu like symptoms and have not been on vitamin D you can take doses of 50,000 units a day for three days to treat the acute infection. Some researchers like Dr. Cannell, believe the dose could even be as high as 1000 units per pound of body weight for three days.
However, most of Dr. Cannell’s work was with seasonal and not pandemic flu. If your body has never been exposed to the antigens there is chance that the vitamin D might not work. However the best bet is to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D around 60 ng/ml.
BUT to keep this in perspective the regular flu, not the swine flu, has killed 13,000 in the US since January. But there is strong support that these types of figures are grossly exaggerated to increase vaccine sales. However, the fact remains that the regular flu at this point in time is FAR more dangerous than the swine flu and were you worried about the regular flu before the media started talking this up?
Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
Have Effective Tools to Address Stress . We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.
Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started.
Take a good source of animal based omega-3 fats like Krill Oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.
– Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap for this — antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
– Eat Garlic Regularly. Garlic works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don’t enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good.
– Avoid Hospitals and Vaccines. In this particular case, I’d also recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you’re having an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to this new bug. Vaccines will not be available for six months at the minimum but when available they will be ineffective and can lead to crippling paralysis like Guillain-Barré Syndrome just as it did in the 70s.
Here is some advice that could very well have come from my grandma… “If you have the flu, go to bed”, is one of them – common sense, people, use common sense !
For years, common wisdom for a cold was to take a pill. But scan pharmacy shelves these days – not to mention bookstores – and the message is changing.
While over-the-counter cold and flu medications have lost favour in light of studies that show the only worthwhile ingredient is the painkiller, natural remedies are gaining ground.
In fact, around 20 per cent of Canadians – about 5.4 million – use alternative remedies and treatments, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.
“Consumers are becoming more wary and are thinking more cautiously about everything we put into our mouths,” says Toronto-area pharmacist Sherry Torkos, author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Wiley).
“With over-the-counter medications, for example, they might mitigate symptoms, but there are side-effects for people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease, all of which are on the rise,” says Torkos. “Overall, along with an increase in people turning to natural alternatives, there are more questions being asked: Are there side-effects? Are there benefits? What are the risks?”
It’s a state of affairs that doesn’t surprise Michele Boisvert, a Montreal pharmacist and Canada’s first female homeopath who recently launched her book Healthy…Naturally: A Guide to Homeopathy. Boisvert says interest in natural therapies is increasing, particularly during the cold and flu season. “There are other ways to deal with those ailments that are safe and gentle,” she says.
For a cold
Wash your hands frequently.
A recent survey by the Health and Hygiene Council Canada found that 90 per cent of Canadians know hand-washing helps avoid contracting the flu or colds, but only 37 per cent of children and 44 per cent of adults soap up before eating. “Wash your hands, especially during winter when we spend more time inside with each other,” advises Boisvert. “Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you have just washed. And think about the tissue you used to blow your nose. Put it in your pocket and you’ve stored 1,500 germs right there.”
Increase your allicin.
You might call it garlic- or onion-breath, but the active compound in those vegetables is both antibacterial and antifungal. Animal studies published since 1995 show that allicin does more than ward off the sniffles. It can reduce atherosclerosis, balance lipoprotein, lower blood pressure and act as an anti-inflammatory. Torkos recommends taking products like Kyolic regularly to support immune function.
Get lots of sleep.
“It seems simple, but when we’re tired, exhaustion impairs immune system function and makes us more vulnerable,” says Torkos, who suggests relaxing activities and avoiding caffeine or rigorous exercise before bedtime. If sleep still evades you, try melatonin, a hormone naturally secreted by the brain that affects diurnal rhythms. Otherwise, she recommends Bach Flower Rescue Sleep, a mild distillation of relaxant flower essences like Star of Bethlehem, rock rose, cherry plum and impatiens.
Echinacea or not?
Is echinacea good for treating a cold or not? Torkos says studies have shown mixed results in its impact on cold severity, but not all research examined the same strain.
“I would say the majority of evidence has shown that one type, echinacea purpura, is good, not for prevention, but to shorten the duration of the cold.” As with all natural remedies, however, she advises talking to your doctor first. Echinacea should not be taken by anyone with an autoimmune disorder.
Drink green tea.
Best known for its weight-busting ingredient, epigallocatechin galeate, green tea also offers an immune function boost and L-theanine, a relaxing amino acid that has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds and flu. According to a 2007 peer-reviewed study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers from the University of Florida and Harvard Medical School administered a form of L-theanine called Immune Guard to 120 participants. After three months, cold and flu incidence dropped by 32 per cent and the need for medical attention decreased by 58 per cent.
For the flu:
Go to bed.
The bad news is that if you have the flu, it can lead to more serious illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia. The good news is that it won’t last more than 48 hours. “The flu comes and goes in a short period of time,” says Torkos. “Really, the best thing is to get rest. If you have a high fever, aches and pains, take Tylenol or ibuprofen.”
“You may not feel like eating, but you must stay hydrated,” says Torkos. However, avoid alcohol, coffee and colas since they can make dehydration worse.
Take Homeocoksinum (9doses) Brand: Homeocan
or Oscillococcinum Bonus Pack (12 doses total) – 12 – Dose
As with many homeopathic remedies, the medical fraternity sees little value in taking a dilution of a Barbary duck’s liver and heart (otherwise known as Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum) to fight a flu. Nevertheless, Oscillococcinum sells briskly in 50 countries during flu season and has been produced in France for 65 years. “If you catch it in the first eight hours, there’s an 80 to 90 per cent chance you won’t get the flu,” Boisvert says. “If you’ve passed that stage, you’ll still get it, but it’ll reduce the duration of the flu by half.”
There are many ways of improving your health the natural way, and a lot of very helpful books have been written on the subject, such as The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. Spices have always been a part of Grandma’s Old-Time Remedies, so this article might repeat remedies you have already heard of, but I am sure it will also offer some new insight even if you are a well versed home remedy user already
Spices do more than make food taste great. Recent research is showing that spices can promote health and well being through a series of actions that are anti-aging and inhibiting of degenerative disease. The vegetarian diet so often associated with good health and lack of disease relies heavily on the use of spice. But you don’t have to be a vegetarian to gain the amazing health benefits these inexpensive flavor enhancers have to offer.
The addition of spices can turn up the taste of almost any food. Add some chili pepper, cumin or turmeric to mashed potatoes or rice. Sprinkle marjoram or rosemary on your salads, and dress up cottage cheese with whatever spicy flavor appeals to you. Add spice to vegetable dishes and sprinkle it on meats, poultry or fish before cooking. Spice up your veggie juices and smoothies. Any way you do it, adding spice means adding a wealth of health benefits.
Recent research continues to show the power of these natural medicines
Spices have more antioxidant power, measure for measure, than fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and premature aging. In a study reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, fifteen aromatic herbs and spices consumed in Central Italy as part of the Mediterranean diet were studied to reveal total phenolic, flavonoid and flavanol content as well as their antioxidant potential as measured by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Comparison was made between salads to which aromatic herbs had been added. The addition of lemon balm and marjoram increased by 150% and 200% respectively the antioxidant capacity of a salad portion, corresponding to an intake of 200 mg. of phenolics and 4000 ORAC units. Among other spices tested, cumin and fresh ginger made the most significant contribution to antioxidant capacity.
Americans love herbs. Consumer use of herbal therapies increased 380% from 1990-1997, and it continues to rise. Many people, especially those wary of pharmaceuticals, believe that herbs are safe and free of side effects. Others appreciate the control that herbs offer – no visits to the doctor are required.
Americans use herbs to treat acute problems such as colds and more chronic problems such as depression and memory loss. Five of the most common herbs are:
Generally used at the first sign of a cold as an immune system stimulant. It isn’t appropriate for long-term use and shouldn’t be used by people on immunosuppressants.
Gineng is used for many purposes, often relating to alertness, energy and mental functioning. Some people believe that it can stimulate the immune system and possibly even decrease the risk of cancer.
Garlic is often used to decrease cholesterol and high blood pressure. It may also thin the blood and can interact with other blood thinners. There is some evidence that regular use of garlic may decrease the risk of cancer.
4. Ginko Biloba
Ginko is generally used for memory loss and dementia syndromes such as Alzheimer’s disease.
5. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is sometimes thought of as ‘mini-Prozac’ and is used for mild depression.
Herbs are popular and generally safe, but some cautions are appropriate. Since many herbs are biologically active, they can have side effects and interact with other medications. Before using any herb, be sure to educate yourself about its use. There are many internet resources with excellent information about commonly used herbs. Two good ones are The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and AltMD.
One of the problems with herbal therapies in the U.S. is that they are not closely regulated by the FDA. Consumer protection studies have been done to evaluate the correlation between stated contents and actual contents in various herbal formulations and the results were disturbing. Many pills had less of the active ingredient then stated, and some actually contained none of the listed herb at all.
There is no definite way to determine which companies are most reliable, but common sense can help a bit. Don’t buy herbs from a deep discount store and be wary of small internet companies. If you find a product that works for you, try to stick with the same brand. And if you tried one brand of an herb but had no result, you could consider trying another brand before giving up.
If you don’t feel confident choosing an herbal plan yourself, there are resources to help you. You could ask your physician for help however, while some physicians are knowledgeable about herbal therapies, many are not. Consider visiting either an Integrative Medicine physician or a Naturopath. We have both available in Baltimore.
Via: Epoch Times
Garlic is an oft-touted natural remedy, particularly regarding affairs of the heart. Regular garlic consumption has been said to improve cardiovascular health. In the past, one way it was believed to improve health was its ability to reduce blood pressure.A previous review found seven trials in which the effects of garlic (powder) were compared with placebo: Three showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (the higher blood pressure value), while four showed a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure (the lower blood pressure value). Overall, the results indicated that garlic had genuine blood-pressure-lowering potential.
Since this review was published, other evidence has come to light. Recently, scientists brought the state of the science on this topic up to date with a meta-analysis, which combined the results of eleven relevant studies.
The results demonstrated the following: overall, a statistically significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (an average reduction of 4.6) and overall, no statistically significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure. [Blood pressure is measured in mmHg.]
Plants for Medicine
Plants have been used throughout the ages for healing purposes. As far back as 4500 BC, people traveled great distances to Ethiopia, the main trading area for herbs and spices. These prized plant products were used for preserving food, cooking and medicine. Ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls list the cooking and healing properties of coriander, fennel, cumin, ginger and thyme. The Egyptians also placed garlic cloves and mint leaves in tombs to be used in the afterlife.
Ancient Romans and Greeks also relied on herbs for medicinal uses. Hippocrates developed a list of 300 herbal-based remedies for conditions ranging from digestive problems to asthma and uterine cancer. Rosemary was recommended to improve memory.
Plant-based medicine is an important component of other cultures as well. The Chinese developed an extensive use of herbs and spices in prepared foods for wellness and healing. The traditional medicine of India, Ayurveda, also makes use of herbs and spices to prevent disease and promote health.
Herbal therapies continue to be a popular form of alternative medicine in the U.S. A survey by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found nearly 20 percent of Americans use natural products to promote health or treat ailments.
The Kitchen Medicine Cabinet
The herbs and spices used by ancient healers are still grown today. And many of them can be found in your kitchen cabinet. Scientists have been testing many of these herbs and spices to determine the real medicinal value of the products. Some herbs and spices have a very strong effect on the body, while for others, the research is not very strong or has produced mixed results. Here is a list of some common herbs and spices and their potential uses:
- Basil – potential cancer-fighting properties.
- Cardamom – inhibits blood clots, reduces gas and aids in digestion.
- Cloves – eases the pain of toothaches.
- Garlic – lowers cholesterol, decreases blood pressure.
- Ginger – eases digestive problems, nausea and vomiting. Also potential for treating pain, colds, fever, arthritis and joint and muscle pain.
- Rosemary – may have potential to fight some cancers.
- Sage – improves cognitive function.
- Salt – combined with water to ease sinus congestion and cold symptoms.
- Thyme – fights fungal infections.
In addition to the herbs and spices, two other kitchen ingredients may have potential medicinal uses.
* Honey may soothe a sore throat and cough, treat diarrhea or constipation and ease insomnia. There is some evidence to show it may also reduce nausea, lower cholesterol and, when applied to the skin, improve wound healing.
* Peppermint oil may be used to treat stomach upset, irritable bowel, headache, respiratory congestion and muscle pain.
Nancy Welliver, N.D., a Naturopathic Physician with Bastyr University, has been using kitchen-based medicine for many years. She says many families have all the herbs and spices they need to treat some of the most common mild medical complaints, like colds and flu, respiratory problems and stomach upset. Two of her favorite herbal recipes are ginger syrup and berry honey. To make the ginger syrup, peel and slice the ginger. Place the ingredients in alternating layer (i.e., ginger, sugar, ginger, etc.) in a container and let stand. After 12 to 18 hours, pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the ginger. Store the remaining syrup in a bottle and use a teaspoonful for stomach upset, nausea or vomiting. The ingredients can also be used to make home-made ginger ale by adding equal parts of mineral water to the syrup.
The berry honey is made from dried blueberries or bilberries that are ground in a coffee grinder. Add a half of cup of honey and mix well. This mixture is a good tonic for diarrhea and can be used straight from the container or spread over crackers or toast.
Welliver also makes an herbal chai tea that she says promotes calming for the mind and energy for the body. The tea is made from boiling water, whole cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, ginger root, and black tea and sweetened with honey or maple syrup. The recipe follows (makes two quarts of tea):
- Boil two quarts of water in a 3-4 quart pot.
- Add 15 whole cloves. Boil for one more minute.
- Add 20 black peppercorns, 3 cinnamon sticks, 20 crushed or split cardamom pods, and 8 or more slices of fresh ginger.
- Cover and boil gently for at least 30 minutes. (Best results obtained by boiling over low heat for 2 to 3 hours.)
- At the end of the boiling time, turn off the burner and add 1 bag of black tea.
- After the tea has steeped, pour the mixture through a strainer into clean containers. It can be used immediately, stored in the refrigerator or frozen.
- Prior to serving, sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup. Add soy or dairy milk.
Both peppers and tomato are helpful in fighting fatigue. The following recipe – Peppers stuffed with savory Spanish rice, topped with a mild tomato sauce – includes both vegetables.
Stuffed Peppers (serves 6)
- 6 green peppers, medium size
- 3 cups savory Spanish rice (see below)
- 1 cup tomato sauce (see below)
Wash peppers, core them. Chop the pepper seeds finely and mix them with the savory rice (unless you are saving the seeds for next year’s crop). Steam peppers for 20 minutes, then fill them with savory rice, half a cup per pepper. Place in a casserole, top with tomato sauce, and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender, at 350F.
Savory Spanish Rice
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- 1/4 lb. lean ground round
- 1/2 cup raw brown rice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups of tomato, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Sautee onion and pepper, brown the beef and drain. Mix sauteed vegetables and beef, then add all other ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, stir, reduce heat, then let simmer for 40-60 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir often as it will stick otherwise, and remove the bay leaf before filling the rice into the peppers.
Mild Tomato Sauce
- 1 cup canned or self made tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp onion, finely diced
- 3/4 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic clove, finely diced
Mix all ingredients and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Top stuffed peppers with the sauce before baking.
garlic, onions, thyme, sage, and vitamin C
- It’s true: Hot chicken soup and lots of garlic help to reduce cold symptoms. Modern science now backs that up.
- And some studies suggest that virtually any way to inhale steam is beneficial. So, savoring a steaming cup of herbal tea may be a good idea.
- Other home remedies said to prevent colds in the first place are: garlic, onions, thyme, sage, and vitamin C, used regularly. Or, if you dare, a daily sandwich of whole wheat bread, raw yellow onion, a half-inch of horseradish, slice of meat, cheddar cheese, and brown mustard. According to old-timers, this really works!
All the following tips boil down to a change in diet.
tea, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onion, brown rice, tomato
- Drinking tea instead of coffee, be it green or dark tea, helps to cut cholesterol. Tea drinkers experience a lot less hardening of the arteries, generally speaking, than coffee drinkers do.
- Cabbage, especially Brussels sprouts, included into the diet regularly, can dramatically lower the so called “bad” cholesterol. The same counts for garlic and onion, which raise the level of “good” cholesterol in the blood and help wash out the bad cholesterol.
- Generous amounts of brown rice in your diet, along with steamed vegetables and baked potatoes, will help to keep arteries unclogged, and will also lower cholesterol considerably. The Pritikin Diet, which relies heavily on these, has proven to work well to clean arteries.
- Tomatoes, eaten when consuming (too much) animal fat like butter, cheese, eggs, beef and many deep fried foods, will help dissolve this fat, thus preventing hardening of the arteries.