10 key herbs to fight the seasonal flu

garlic in the farmers market

Everyone seems to be talking about the flu this year.  With my growing interest in herbal kitchen remedies, I wanted to find some herbs that could be used to help with flu symptoms.   You might want to consider some of these herbs to stock your kitchen apothecary (in addition to your favorite over-the-counter meds, of course!):

  1. Echinacea – start taking this as soon as you feel under-the-weather.  Echinacea stimulates the immune system to help your body fight off the flu.  Take small amounts frequently throughout the day (I take 1ml of tincture in water every 2 hours during the first few days of a cold/flu, then reduce the amount).
  2. Thyme Thyme is a great remedy for respiratory problems.  I like making a thyme tea (infusion) with fresh or dried thyme leaves, and a little honey and lemon.  Thyme is antiviral and an expectorant.
  3. Licorice / Liquorice – This sweet, soothing root is an expectorant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.  Great for respiratory infections.  May raise blood pressure, so do not use if you have high blood pressure!  Nice to add to teas for a sweet flavor.
  4. Garlic – The kitchen-remedy wonder food!  Garlic is antibiotic and antiviral.  Best to eat raw (I know it’s hard, but you can do it!).  Try chopping it up in food, or take with a spoonful of honey or oil.  Also use freely in cooking. Or make some garlic tea by putting garlic, honey and lemon in hot water.
  5. Elderflower & Peppermint tea – Both elderberries and elderflowers are helpful in fighting the flu.  The berries help inhibit the flu virus, while the flowers induce sweating during fevers.  Peppermint is soothing and relaxing, and helps clear congestion.  Can also add Yarrow to this tea blend.
  6. Skullcap – A fantastic, stress-relieving herb that is nourishing to the body after an illness like flu.
  7. Yarrow – Yarrow is anti-inflammatory and sweat inducing, which can help reduce fevers.
  8. Boneset – Traditional use for treating flu.  Induces sweating, reduces fever, and eases body aches.  Apparently also stimulates the immune system.
  9. Astragalus – This Chinese herb can be used long-term to support the immune system. You may want to consider taking it daily during cold/flu season.
  10. Eucalyptus & Pine or lavender & tea tree inhalation – Just put a few drops of the essential oils in a bowl of just-boiled water, lean over it, and cover your head with a towel to contain the steam.  Breath for 5-10 minutes.

You can take most of these herbs in your favorite preparation – infusion/tea, tincture, or pill.  Remember, I’m not a doctor, just someone interested in traditional remedies for common ailments, so check with a doctor or herbalist before trying these.

What other herbal and kitchen remedies do you use for the flu?

2 Responses to 10 key herbs to fight the seasonal flu

  1. Renee says:

    Be careful with astragalus. My Chinese herbalist warned me only to use it before you get sick, not during as it can increase the cold symptoms. Great preventative herb. I love to put it in winter soups.

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