ELDERBERRY (Sambucus nigra)
A powerful anti-viral, Elderberry is as potent as it is delicious. The dark, almost black color of the berries contain Anthocyanin’s which act to improve the upper respiratory tract and reduce inflammation. You can find Elderberry as a syrup or encapsulated as an extract.
[NOTE: Elderberry has gotten a lot of bad press lately due to concerns of a detrimental increase in ‘cytokine storm’ during Sars-CoV-2 infection. Currently, all evidence of this is anecdotal. That being said, I would suggest using Elderberry as a preventative and to cease consumption at the onset of this particular type of flu to error on the side of caution.]
OLIVE LEAF (Ligusticum lucidum)
Olive leaf is a powerful anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Even more, it can help to significantly reduce inflammation in the body. Ligusticum has been used for centuries in TCM for building immunity and for its affinity to the upper-respiratory tract.
[NOTE: The energetics of olive leaf are incredibly drying. It is important to balance these with other moistening herbs. If you are considering supplementing with this plant, consult a qualified herbalist about dosing and pairing requirements.]
Echinacea has potent immune boosting potential (due to its alkamide content) and is one of the most popular and well-known herbs available here in the US. You can find it in most grocery stores across the country, as well as online. It is often marketed for use during cold and flu season and you will see it in numerous herbal formulas catered to immunity.
The most important thing to remember with Echinacea is dosing. To achieve the maximum benefit from this powerful plant, you will want to use (as directed) for the first 48 hours at the first sign of cold/flu. On about the third day in however, you will want to stop this therapeutic and switch to something more symptom dependent. The reason for this is, Echinacea ramps up our bodies ability to produce white blood cells. This is a wonderfully helpful mechanism of action, but at some point we want to divert the energy of the immune system away from ‘preparation’ mode and into ‘fighting, repairing and recovering’ mode. Therefore, you will gain the most benefit from Echinacea (at least in relation to cold and flu) from a heavy but brief dosing schedule at onset. It is not something to take daily as a preventative.
[Note – due to over harvesting and unsustainable farming, there is some concern about the future sustainability of certain varieties of Echinacea. I personally recommend purchasing Echinacea products from reputable companies such as Gaia and Herb Pharm. Or if you know a local supplier that maintains good practices, this is an excellent option as well.]
MARSHMALLOW (Althea sp.)
One of the worst parts of cold/flu is when it sets into your lungs and a cough develops. This can be as painful as it is annoying. Yet, what is happening on a physiological level is pretty genius, as our bodies attempt to expel the invading offender. We can assist in this process by supporting our respiratory tract with moistening and soothing herbs like Marshmallow. One of my favorite go-to’s is a teaspoon of Marshmallow powder mixed with a tablespoon of local, raw honey.
These are antioxidant rich substances found in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially dark colored berries, red cabbage, beets, citrus, rose hips and red and yellow peppers. In addition to neutralizing free radicals, bioflavonoids enhance the absorption and effect of vitamin C, which can dramatically improve the immune system and our bodies ability to effectively fight off bacteria and viruses.
The next time you peel an orange to eat, don’t discard the skin. Scrape off some of that white pithy substance between the fruit and the peel and consume as much as you can. Fun fact – this contains as much beneficial nutrients as the actual fruit itself!
Garlic has a long and trusted history of use for colds and flu. It is incredibly anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory. To get the most benefit from it, you will want to crush the bulb and wait for a few minutes for the active constituents (organosulfur compounds like Allicin) to form through enzymatic reactions.
Because of its hot and spicy energetics, it is not recommended to consume garlic on its own in raw form. I would suggest finely chopping a bulb and mixing it with a spoonful of local honey to take on the daily.
Like Elderberries, Honey is equally tasty and effective. Anti-viral and anti-microbial, honey is still used in hospitals around the world to treat wounds, infections and sever-burns. It is incredibly beneficial to the immune system and can be a soothing therapeutic for sore throats and irritable coughs. It can also be used as a medium for taking various other herbal remedies, like garlic and marshmallow.
***THESE SUGGESTIONS ARE NOT INTENDED TO TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. PLEASE CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL BEFORE USE. AS WITH ALL HERBAL THERAPEUTICS, SIDE EFFECTS AND INTERACTIONS WITH MEDICATION MAY OCCUR.***
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