Cold and Flu prevention is a huge market, no matter what part of the world you live in. Vitamins and supplements purported to stave off and treat infection line the shelves of markets and pharmacies, all promising some statistical result meant to sell their product.
With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to pick the right remedy – especially if you’re already not feeling well. Here we’ve detailed 15 potent herbs with historically-confirmed and scientifically-backed cold- and flu-fighting power to help you in your quest for wellness.
Andrographis paniculata – also known as “Indian echinacea” – is a traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic healing herb with a long history of use in the treatment of upper respiratory infections. Studies of andrographis have shown the herb to be effective in treating cold, flu, and sinusitis symptoms – including inflammation, headache, runny nose, and sore throat – as well as in shortening the duration of these symptoms.
Keep in mind that the recommended use of Andrographis may vary based on the strength of the dose and the form you choose to take. Be certain to carefully read and follow all of the instructions on the packaging and as always, consult with your doctor regarding any possible drug interactions or side effects before taking this herbal remedy.
Eupatorium perfoliatum is a traditional Native American fever-reducer and pain-reliever. This herb is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen, decongestant, and diaphoretic with an impressive history of successful use in the treatment of influenza.
Boneset contains an impressive number of immune-boosting nutrients including selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc. These vitamins and minerals contribute to the prevention and healing of the viral infections that cause colds and the flu. Boneset is also loaded with other vital minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium which improve the absorption, circulation, and over-all effectiveness of the herb’s main cold and flu fighting nutrients.
3. German Chamomile
Matricaria chamomilla (also Matricaria recutita) is well known for its ability to soothe nerves, relax mind and body, and help us sleep. What you may not know is that this popular herb is also great for relieving cold and flu symptoms including congestion, nausea, headaches, and sinus pressure.
The best way to take Chamomile for sleep and to alleviate nausea is the traditional way: brewed as an herbal tea.
For other symptoms, steam inhalation is the recommended delivery. Simply bring a pot of water just to boiling, reduce heat, add herbs, then let them simmer for about 10 minutes. Once you have a lovely pot of herb-infused steamy water, remove it from the stove and let it cool until the steam is warm, but not so hot that it will burn your skin. Close your eyes and lower your face over the water, drape a towel across the back of your head and over the sides of the container to catch the steam, then inhale deeply for several minutes to relieve congestion, sinus pressure, and aches.
Want to experience the magic of German Chamomile for yourself? Try these Whole Dried Organic German Chamomile Flowers to cure what ails you.
Salvia officinalis is a powerful anti-microbial and one of the most useful and easy-to-grow medicinal herbs in the world. This marvelous plant is traditionally recognized as a panacea, a literal cure-all for everything from healing wounds to improving memory. As far as natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms go, if you’re prone to sore throats then sage is definitely the herb for you.
When a sore throat strikes, brew up some warm sage tea and drink or gargle it. You’ll notice the swelling and pain in your throat will begin to dissipate fairly quickly, with maximum relief of sore throat symptoms in under two hours.
Add Sage to your cold & flu season herbal regiment. You can order Organic Dried Sage Leaves here.
Echinacea angustifolia (also Echinacea puruprea, Echinacea pallida) is one of the most widely used natural cold and flu remedies in the world. It’s also recognized as one of the most effective. Echinacea is known to improve the body’s natural immune system to help prevent viral illnesses, as well as reduce the length and severity of a cold when taken immediately after symptoms appear.
Remember, be sure to discuss the use of Echinacea with your doctor before taking the herb, as it is known to have possible side-effects and drug interactions.
Add Echinacea to your cold and flu season survival kit. You can order it in capsule form here.
Hydrastis canadensis is another popular modern herbal treatment for cold and flu. Goldenseal is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for cleansing the body of infection while at the same time reducing symptoms such as pain and congestion.
Echinacea and Goldenseal are most often used together to knock out a cold or flu “bug” at the first sign of symptoms. You can purchase them as a premixed tincture here or try Echinacea and Goldenseal tea such as this one by Celebration Herbals.
7. Pau d’Arco Bark
Handroanthus impetiginosus is a traditional herbal cold and flu remedy native to South America. The primary active compounds contained in Pau d’Arco bark, lapachol and beta-lapachol are both powerfully anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. The herb is most often used to treat cough and fever symptoms, but also has many other health benefits. (Read more about Pau d’Arco bark on paudarco.org.)
While dried Pau d’Arco bark is traditionally boiled to make a strong bitter tea, it is far more palatable when taken in capsule or tincture form. Also, it is important to note that this herbal remedy has some possible side-effects and may be toxic in large enough doses, therefore use of Pau d’Arco should be limited to a few days at most. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid Pau d’Arco as even trace amounts of the herb passed through the umbilical cord or in the mother’s milk are harmful to fetuses and infants.
Pau d’Arco tea is also a highly effective topical anti-microbial and may be used to disinfect surfaces to prevent spread of cold and flu.
8. Ginger Root
Zingiber officinale is one of the best and most popular herbal remedies for treating cold and flu symptoms and for helping the body to heal. Ginger works on several levels, most notably by inducing sweating to aid in detoxifying the body and by soothing the digestive tract so a sick person can eat without feeling nauseous.
Traditionally, ginger root has also been used to control coughing and reduce inflammation associated with colds and the flu.
While fresh ginger root is highly recommended for treating cold and flu, you can also order the dried herb here.
9. Cinnamon Bark
Cinnamomum verum is a natural antimicrobial and is known to boost the immune system. Traditionally considered to be a “warming” herb, Cinnamon bark may be used to treat and heal a viral infection which has begun to affect the entire body with such symptoms as muscle aches, weakness, and cold-sweats.
Try the combined cold and flu-fighting power of Ginger and Cinnamon together in this Chilled Soojong Gwa, compliments of epicurious.com!
10. Stevia Leaf
Stevia rebaudiana has gained a great deal of popularity as a calorie-free sweetener in recent years. Indeed, this all-natural sugar-substitute can now be found in just about every grocery store right next to all of the herb’s artificial counterparts. However, most people may not realize that Stevia leaf is also a potent anti-microbial. (You can read more about the health benefits of Stevia on healthfree.com.)
Add powdered Stevia leaf to foods and beverages to take advantage of the herb’s germ-fighting capabilities.
11. Slippery Elm
Ulmus rubra (also Ulmus fulva) is one of the best herbal remedies for soothing a sore throat. When brewed and consumed as a tea, Slippery Elm coats inflamed and irritated mucus membranes in the throat to offer immediate relief of symptoms. Slippery Elm may also be taken in the form of a lozenge for this purpose. The herb has no known side effects and is even considered gentle enough to be administered to children in moderate doses.
Despite the relative safety of this herb, use of Slippery Elm is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
Additionally, fresh garlic extract has been shown to improve the antibiotic activities of other medicines when taken together.
Also, be sure to check out this great recipe for making your own cold and flu-fighting tonic using fresh garlic and other immune-boosting herbs.
Sambucus nigra is a traditional folk remedy for cold, flu, and sinus infections which has been scientifically proven to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties. Recent scientific studies have determined that anthocyanins found naturally in elderberries help to strengthen the immune system and inhibit virus attachment to cells inside the body, thus preventing the infecting virus from replicating.
Elder has also traditionally been used as a diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, and topical anti-inflammatory. Due to the tannins and viburnic acid contained in the fruit – both of which are known to have a positive effect on cold and flu symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal tracts and nasal passages – these traditional claims boast fairly solid backing by modern science.
Elderberry is a must-have for cold and flu season which you can find in many forms (another testament to its efficacy!) such as these dried Elderberries, tincture of Elderberry extract, Elderberry syrup for kids or for adults, Elderberry-Zinc lozenges, and Elderberry capsules.
Mentha × piperita is an extraordinarily versatile herb with a long history of use in herbal medicine. When cold or flu bugs strike, try drinking peppermint tea to help soothe a sore throat, reduce gastrointestinal distress, and bring down a high fever.
Peppermint steeped in boiling water may also be steam-inhaled to reduce inflammation and open airways, as well as to relieve congestion of the sinuses and lungs.
Dried Peppermint leaves may be found at most natural health food stores. Alternately, you can order organic dried peppermint leaves in bulk here.
Thymus vulgaris is an herbal expectorant – meaning that it helps to loosen mucus in the airways so you can more easily cough it out – that works better than any commercial cough medicine. Emily Main of rodalenews recommends, “Instead of reaching for that nasty, goopy cough syrup, try an herbal tea concocted from thyme.” Prepare this remedy by steeping two teaspoons of fresh thyme in one cup of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
Alternately, you can add a handful of dried thyme to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam to loosen mucus in your chest.
Ready to add Thyme to your cold and flu season survival kit? You can order dried organic Thyme leaf in bulk here.
Dried herbs and herbal tea aren’t only way to benefit from these incredible natural ‘medicines.’ Many of the herbs on the above list can also be used in their essential oil forms for relieving cold and flu symptoms.
Read all about it in our 10 Tips and Tricks for Using Essential Oils to Help You Survive Cold & Flu Season!
This is part 3 of our 5 part series: “The Ultimate Guide To Beating Cold & Flu With The Power Of Nature“. To check out the rest of this series, use the links below:
- Part 1: 20 Natural Tips to Help You Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season
- Part 2: 10 Tips and Tricks for Using Essential Oils to Help You Survive Cold & Flu Season
- Part 3: 15 Herbal Remedies to Help You Survive Cold and Flu Season
- Part 4: 13 Foods to Help You Beat the Flu and Feel Better Faster
- Part 5: 14 Foods to Boost Your Immune System for Cold & Flu Season