There are lots of herbs and spices that you’ll find growing in the wild, or in your kitchens, that make fast and effective remedies for coughs, colds and flu. They all, variously, have potent antibiotic, antiviral and antiseptic properties, and promote sweating (which is the body’s way of reducing temperature and fever). They’re soothing, comforting and taste good, too!
Ginger, lemon and honey
The classic herbal cold and flu remedy. It’s best to use fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale), chopped or grated (you don’t have to peel) and freshly squeezed lemon juice (Citrus limon). Make a tea with the ginger and leave to infuse for at least ten minutes before straining and adding honey and lemon juice. The stronger the better, but make to taste – the idea is to enjoy it!
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.), clove (Syzgium aromaticum) and cayenne (Capsicum frutescens)
Lovely warming spices that are so comforting when you are feeling cold and shivery. They stimulate circulation, warming you right down to the tips of your fingers and toes. Add to your infusion, as above.
Thyme and lemon balm
These are my favourite herbal teas to help relieve the muscular aches and pains you can get with colds and flu. I grow them in the garden, harvesting and drying in the summer. Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) helps too, and blends well with thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).
Inhaling the vapours of aromatic herbal infusions is part of the healing and comforting process, by the way!
You can also add strong infusions (use about 25g dried herb) of thyme and rosemary to a bath to help relieve aching muscles and soothe the senses.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
The antiseptic and astringent properties of these garden herbs make them ideal for sore throats and infections. Use the cooled teas as a gargle. Thyme works well, too.
If you can bear it, garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the best herbal remedies for colds and flu. Its antimicrobial properties are unsurpassed. The best way to take it is to squeeze through a garlic press, or pound in a pestle and mortar, mix with honey (ideally local and organic), and eat it. Smelling it on your breath indicates that it has passed through your lungs, confirming its deep, penetrative action.
And finally, look after yourself…
Drink plenty of fluids such as herbal teas, and juices and smoothies made with antioxidant-packed berries. Cut out dairy products, as they are so mucous-forming. Keep warm. Rest as much as possible. And trust in the healing powers of nature and the body’s innate ability to heal itself, given the right support!
For more advice, take a look at the following blogs, which you can find by scrolling down the side panel entitled Herbal Ramblings Posts.
- ‘A soothing herbal remedy for coughs and sore throats’ : Make your own cough ‘n’ cold linctus using fresh elderberries and kitchen spices.
- ‘Echinacea and the immune system’: Does it really work?