It's that time of year again...COLD AND FLU SEASON!!
You just never know when bouts of colds or flu will hit so I rounded up some of my BEST remedies (ACHOOO) for bacterial and viral (GESUNDHEIT) respiratory infections. This is NOT a complete list by far, but it will give you several options.
A lot of this material comes from my most popular herb class HERBAL ANTIBIOTICS and some from various articles I've written.
There's plenty of info at the end -- like my best COLD MASTER TONIC and my favorite ELDERBERRY recipes. And, let's not forget about ESSENTIAL OILS. I know there is SOMETHING here for you!!
What can I do about this cold? I have the flu, help me. This is by far my most frequently asked question. I don’t have a panacea; the answer is complex. Herbalists do not have “the magic pill” any more than our friends at the AMA. But, we do recommend common sense approaches, traditional remedies and a sympathetic companion.
My premise is to practice a basic foundation for health. It will serve you well regardless of what your problem is. If you are diligent in building this foundation, you will build health. Does this mean you will never get sick? No. But, it will give your body a fighting chance. It will enable your body to do what it was designed to do: HEAL ITSELF.
|My beautiful garden vegetables.|
My Basic Foundation
1. Eat real food
2. Drink real water
4. Get adequate rest
DIET: Your diet lays the foundation for your health. Your car wasn’t engineered to run on “energy” drinks and doughnuts. Neither were you. Eat food that is as close to the way nature made it as possible. Real food. What do I mean by real food? Lemons are real food. Bottled lemon juice is not. Strawberries are real food. That red gelatinous stuff in the bottom of the yogurt carton is not. Tomatoes are real food. Ketchup is not. I think you’re getting it.
|Growing grains of kefir|
CULTURED FOOD: Cultured foods can transform your life. And, they can stop a cold/flu in it’s tracks. “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon is an excellent reference. Also CULTURED FOOD LIFE is one of the best sites for cultered food there is …and the author is in KC. Be sure to click on the “My Story” link on the right hand side of the screen for Donna’s family’s journey to health. If you decide to go this route, I have kefir and kombucha starters…free.
PURE WATER: Water is a hot topic in today’s health columns. A bottle of water has become an icon of the fit individual. Conflicting reports flood in from every health care provider and fitness guru. Drink lots. Drink little. Choices abound: chlorinated, fluoridated, irradiated, flavored, colored, treated, bottled, vitaminized, mineralized. It’s no wonder we’re confused. What we do know is that water can contain a staggering array of 140 contaminants from rocket fuel waste to weed killers. And, that doesn’t even count the stuff we put in on purpose. USE PURE WATER. Know your water. Not all bottled water is what it claims to be, so do a little research.
Your brain is 98% water. Your blood 94%, internal cell structure 98%, body 76%. You are water! There are wide individual variances, but a person can last 3-6 weeks without food, but only 7-10 days without water. My recommendation: divide your body weight in half. That is the number of ounces you should drink per day. The easiest way is to take your favorite glass, cup or container and measure how many ounces it holds and you will know how many glasses of water you need to drink.
MOVE your body. Run, jog, canter, skip, trot, swim, walk, mosey. Just move. Get up off the couch, outta that chair, and move. Exercise increases energy. Exercise sparks ideas. Exercise stimulates body systems. Exercise helps keep you healthy.
SLEEP. Americans are sleep deprived. Americans are sick. We have developed a culture that says you are a slacker if you are not on the go, in the flow, calling, texting, faxing, emailing, ipoding, blue-toothing, tweeting first one in and last one out. How much sleep per night? It varies with individuals, but you will know when you reach your magic sleep number. You will feel so darn good! When you are sick, your body does every little sneaky trick it knows to get you to lay down. It knows it cannot fight microbes multiplying faster than fruit flies and keep you up and going at the same time. So, do yourself a favor. If you are sick, stay home. Go to bed. Your body will thank you. Your co-workers will thank you. It’s great to use a micro-wave (one of the only micro-wave uses I approve of) pillow with a few drops of lavender oil. Ah, sweet bliss.
WASH YOUR HANDS. Most microbes enter through your nose or mouth. So, keep your hands clean and away from your face. The germiest public place? The handrails on escalators. And, I’d also steer clear of any handrail…stairs, elevators, Disney World.
You must act at the first, the very first, sign of a cold symptom. Since their gateway is your mouth and nose, this is most likely the first place you’ll feel anything. A little scratch in the throat. A tickling in the nose. ACT NOW. If you ignore it, well, you know what will happen. Your chances of “kicking” it are much better before they multiply out of control. If you have lived the “Basic Foundation” outlined above, your immune system will have a head start on the invaders.
Now, specifics. Here is my laundry list of a good armory against colds and flu.
Vitamin C: Human beings and all the higher primates are the only animals who cannot synthesize vitamin C in their bodies. Vitamin C helps everything else you take work better. It’s a driving force behind those killer white cells in your body. It is most effective at 1000 – 2000 milligrams, taken two to three times a day. If the flu already has a strangle hold, you can increase the dose to bowel tolerance. Vitamin C was one of the first natural remedies I worked with many (many) years ago. I have a letter from the two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus C. Pauling which I hold in very high esteem. Pauling advocated vitamin C for the common cold. If you have small children or just one who cannot swallow a pill (I have experience here!), blend the C’s in some juice.
The Famous Four: According to a Cornell University study, four herbs consistently kill 100% of bacteria. If you have a cold, or during the cold season, pile on these powerful plant allies. Garlic. Fresh, the more the better. (Pills are better than nothing, but never as good as real food). Clinically proven to support the immune system. Onions. I know what you’re thinking; it will be easy to stay home and away from people when you load up with garlic and onions! Oregano. Dried or fresh is good, but in this case the extract of Oil of Oregano (more about oregano below) will pack the most punch. It’s HOT HOT HOT. Some people can put it directly under the tongue, but most require it mixed with a little water. It also strengthens cell walls. Allspice. Use whole or ground in culinary dishes. Also available as an oil, but is not as effective as oregano for colds.
Another famous four – the Four E’s: This little tincture quad is essential, especially if painful sinus pressure is involved. Take 1 drop of tincture per 2 lbs of body weight 4 to 6 times a day for 14 days. Generally speaking, one dropper holds 25 drops.
|Queen of my garden: echinacea|
Eyebright. The flavonoids in eyebright act as anti-inflammatory agents that can help relieve inflamed mucous membranes of the eyes, sinuses, and upper respiratory tract.
|Elecampane--bees love it, too.|
Elecampane. Turns mucous into liquid. Contrary to popular belief, it is more beneficial to get it out rather than dry it up. Elecampane are tall stately plants that look terrific in your garden.
Elderberry: great expectorant, another “get it up and out” of the body herb, reduces phlegm and it’s not only anti-bacterial, it’s anti-viral.
|Elderberry--LOVE THIS PLANT!|
We can’t leave out my grandpa Henry’s favorite cold remedy: a good ol’ fashioned hot toddy. Whiskey is good for only two things: disinfectant and medicine!! A shot of whiskey (expectorant-you know, up & out), lemon (makes the cilia stand up-essential for the up & out action & is also anti-bacterial) and honey (demulcent- lubricates, coats and protects the mucosa & is anti-bacterial).
If you are an OTC kind of person, here are several remedies, some of which can be purchased at grocery stores, drug stores, health food stores and on-line. Please check the resource section.
Occilococcinium. This is a homeopathic remedy that can work wonders especially if you catch it in the scratchy throat first stage. It tastes good, you pop it under the tongue and take it every six hours.
Sinus and Respiratory by New Chapter. This is loaded with 16 hard hitters in an olive oil base. Excellent.
Allibiotic by NOW. Five herbs and a pro-biotic in a rice bran oil base. Excellent.
Netti Pot. Or, to use recent terminology, nasal irrigation. It does an herbalist’s heart good to see the mainstreaming of things we have recommended for years. Warm water, of course. Dissolve a pinch of sea salt and flush away. If you’re really infected, add a drop of tea tree and a pinch of Golden Seal (open a capsule). It may burn a little, but you will feel so good after. It’s not unlike stepping out of a good shower after a day in the garden.
For a super duper cold and flu remedy try this Master Tonic
Elderberry - Sambucus Nigra- is one of the most well documented herbs for colds and flu. It is an expectorant, reduces phlegm, stimulates the circulatory system, promotes sweating, acts as a diuretic and is a GREAT IMMUNE BOOSTER.
TIME TESTED AND NANA APPROVED Elderberry recipes:
Elderberry syrup: 3 cups filtered water, ½ cup dried elderberries, 1 cinnamon stick, five cloves, 1 Tbl ginger. Bring to boil then simmer covered to reduce by ½ - usually 20-30 minutes. Add 1 cup honey. Store in frig for up to 2 weeks. If infected take 1 TBL per hour; for prevention take 1 TBL per day.
PS-great on pancakes!
|Only use Scotch with BARLEY.|
|Elderberry tincture in the making|
Elderberry tincture: Fill jar with elderberries, add Scotch whiskey, set 6 weeks, cut 50% with honey: 1 tsp 2 – 3 times a day. Elderberry deactivates the H in the H1N1 virus: the barley in Scotch whiskey focuses healing energy on the respiratory system.
PS-To dissipate the alcohol, squirt in hot water, allow to evaporate a minute or so and drink.
HOT Elderberry lemonade: Slice/squeeze 2-3 lemons into quart jar, add1/2 cup elderberry syrup, fill with hot water. Infuse 2 hours, strain. Reheat to drink. OR put ½ cup elderberry syrup in a quart jar and fill with hot filtered water. Mix , pour into cup ,add 1 drop of lemon essential oil. You can drink it cold, but viruses hate heat!
Add two or three slices of fresh ginger (optional, but helps with the fermenting process) Cover loosely (you can use a canning lid, just don’t screw it on all the way). Let sit for two-three days (depending on warm the spot was and what you’re fermenting).
Store remainder in a cool dark place, in an airtight jar once you’re sure the fermentation process is done (you can put a balloon around the jar mouth overnight, and if it inflates it’s still fermenting.
Elderberry Juice and Elderberry Gummies
Elderberries are a powerful herb for preventing a cold or flu and for shortening the duration of a cold or flu. In this recipe we first make a juice from dried elderberries and other herbs then we use gelatin to make fun gummy shapes. Kids of all ages will enjoy them! Step 1: make the juice: ½ cup dried elderberries, 1/3 cup dried rose hips, ¼ cup cinnamon chips, 2 T licorice root, 1 tsp freshly ground pepper, 3 cups apple cider, 3 T gelatin (for the second step). Place all the ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Strain through cheesecloth, Squeeze out juice. For gummies, go to step two. To make elderberry syrup, add honey to taste, store in fridge. The amount of honey/sugar you add will be the determining factor in how long it lasts. The more you add the longer it will last. General recommended dose--I recommend kids take 1-3 teaspoons a day. Adults can take 1-3 tablespoons per day. If I feel like I am getting sick I will end up drinking a cup or more a day. Step 2: make the gummies: 2 cups of the above juice. Add more apple cider if necessary to have 2 cups. Reserve 1/2 cup of the juice in a pyrex measuring glass. Place in fridge till cold then sprinkle gelatin over the juice and sit for 1 minute. Bring the rest of the juice to a simmer. Pour hot juice over the cooled juice and gelatin, stir briskly. Continue to whisk about 2 minutes or until gelatin is dissolved. If desired add sugar or honey. You might find it is sweet enough already. Pour the mixture into silicon molds OR pour into a glass pan. Put them in fridge to harden. . Remove from molds or if using a glass pan, cut into cubes. Store in a closed container in the fridge. They should last several weeks. Dose: 1-3 small gummies a day.
Elderberry Tea 2 c water (please don’t use tap water!), 2 T dried elderberries ¼ tsp cinnamon,½ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp sweetener--maple syrup, honey or molasses. Bring all ingredients except sweetner to boil, then simmer 12-15 min. Strain. Add sweetener. Great hot or cold.
ESSENTIAL OILS: Use diffusers, handkerchiefs, cotton balls, candles, steam to disperse essential oil. The effect is immediate as diffused oil gets into the respiratory tract and within 15 minutes, all body systems are affected. Inhaled oils will relieve body symptoms in 2-3 hrs. Oils on the bottoms of feet are dispersed throughout the entire body. Oregano, eucalyptus, chamomile and tea tree are great for steaming, diffusing or netti pot.
THIEVES essential oil is a proprietary blend of cinnamon, clove, lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus therapeutic grade essential oils. This concoction is antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-infectious. In 1997, Weber State University showed Thieves oil to have a 99.96% success rate against airborne bacteria. After diffusing Thieves, there was an 82% reduction in M. luteus bioaerosol, a 96% reduction in the P. aeruginosa bioaerosol, and a 44% reduction in the S. aureus bioaerosol following only 10 minutes of exposure. ( Where to get THIEVES essential oil) NOTE: Do not be misled by cheap knock-offs of Thieves oil. The things they do to make it cheaper PUT TOXINS INTO YOUR BODY.
Oregano Essential Oil** Oreganum compactum: The higher the carvacrol (a powerful antimicrobial) concentration (must be 60% AT LEAST), the more effective it is. As aforementioned, oregano was found to be 100% effective against bacteria by Cornell University. This is a wonderful alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics; added to an anti-viral herbal regimen it only makes sense that it would help prevent a secondary bacterial infection.
The Journal of Healthcare Microbiology report oregano to be effective against 2 strains of Staphylococcus. Additionally, it may kill the herpes virus that triggers the normal chilly, pneumonia along with other respiratory bacterial infections.
USAGE: 1 drop in capsule 3X day. 1 drop in a teaspoon of honey 2-3 X day (under the tongue is best)
Or you can use Oreganol P73 available at your natural health store and the Amish sell a great Wild Mediterranean Oregano as well.
NOTE: Synthetic Carvacrol is Poison Synthetic carvacrol in Lysol, Pinesol and Listerine possesses the same germ-killing properties that oregano does. However, without the support of the “complex phytochemical matrix” the synthetic carvacrol in these products has toxic and even deadly effects when ingested.
Lemon essential oil: Citrus limon- Antiseptic, immune stimulant, improves microcirculation. Rub oil on lymph nodes and around ears. Caution, you may want to dilute with olive oil 1:1. Good for children including babies.
“Research by Jean Valnet, MD showed that vaporized lemon oil can kill meningococcus bacteria in 15 minutes, typhoid bacilli in one hour, Staphylococcus aureus in 2 hours & Pneumococcus bacteria within 3 hours. A 0.2% solution of lemon oil can kill diphtheria bacteria in 20 minutes & inactivate tuberculosis bacteria.” Essential Oils Desk Reference
Frankincense essential oil** Boswellia carteri or Boswellia sacra A drop rubbed on chest 2-3 times a day helps with coughing.
Basil essential oil** Ocimum basilicum Antispasmodic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant. Great for the whole respiratory system: bronchitis, coughs, earache, sinusitis, throat. Will restore sense of smell after sinus attack. Dilute 1 part essential oil with 4 parts carrier oil (olive or coconut) and apply 2-4 drops to temples, neck, chest and naval. Sometimes a restful sleep is hard to get when colds or flu strike. Try this recipe: 4 drops of peru balsam, 4 drops celery, 4 drops orange, 3 drops basil in 1 Tbles carrier oil.
Rose essential oil** - Rosa damascena Great for making Rose Oxymel. It must be ROSA DAMASCENA to have the best anti-inflammatory properties. It takes 22 lb of petals to make a 5 ml bottle of oil—hence the price.
CHICKEN SOUP SALVE –‘cause my grandma said chicken soup cures everything! This decongestant rub takes the place of that petroleum stuff in the blue bottle!!
Easy breezy to make: 3 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil, 1 Tbsp jojoba oil, 1 Tbsp beeswax, 1 tsp R.C. blend essential oil**(50 drops) RC Blend has 3 different kinds of Eucalyptus oils (yes, three: E. globulus, E. radiata, E. citrodora.), Myrtle, Pine (Pine has been around since the time of Hippocrates to support respiratory function and fight infection!), Spruce, Marjoram, Lavender, Cypress, and Peppermint.
Heat coconut oil (or olive oil) , jojoba oil and beeswax in double boiler. Or, since this is a ONE JAR recipe, you can heat it in a glass measuring cup in a pot of water. When the beeswax melts, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add RC blend essential oil and pour into 2 oz jar. Wait until it has completely cooled before putting on the lid. Apply to bottoms of feet (put on socks) and chest. Make SURE the chest is covered warmly!!! My mama used to warm a soft wash cloth and pin it to the inside of my jammies. This chest rub can be used every 3-4 hours. Not suggested for use under 2 years.
|Chicken Soup Salve|
For 2 years old and under substitute RC Blend with lemon-30 drops, frankincense (only 2 kinds of frankincense are acceptable: Boswellia carteri or Boswellia sacra)- 25 drops, cinnamon bark 5 drops, clove 5 drops, melaleuca cajeput (Melaleuca leucadendron only-this one is used specifically for the respiratory system) 5 drops, thyme,-5 drops, oregano -5 drops. **
**p.s. There are several GOOD essential oil companies out there. I use Young Living, Mountain Rose and Butterfly Express There are others, just do your due diligence!! You want something REAL not something diluted and fake.
OTHER ANTIVIRAL HERBS: Chamomile, Horehound, Horseradish, Ginger, Lavender, Plantain, Self-heal, St Johnswort, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Yarrow. One dropperful of tincture or a cup of tisane (1 tsp herb per cup water) every hour at the onset of a cold until the symptoms desist or make an infusion (steep 4-8 hrs) with any of the above herbs and add it to homemade soups. Can also use essential oils** as described previously
We've already discussed vitamin C...so let's move on to
Vitamin D3: Inadequate D3 significantly impairs your immune response and makes you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. The United States late winter average vitamin D level is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is a serious deficiency state. It is estimated that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens and 85 percent of the American public may be deficient a in vitamin D. In 2009 Children’s Hospital in Boston analyzed blood samples taken from 5,000 children under age 12. The study showed that nearly one out of five children in the U.S. have low blood levels of less than 50 nanomoles per liter, the level recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, two out of three children have a level below 75 nmol/L—which, based on most research, is still insufficient.
In order for your body to synthesize D3 from the sun, it must be at least 45 degrees with maximum skin exposure for at least 20 minutes. In the US from the end of October thru most of March, the sun exposure is not enough to supply adequate amounts of D3. Optimum sun exposure in summer months is from 10 am to 2 pm; 20 minutes of sun gives you 20,000 IU.
Eggs, fatty fish, liver and cod-liver oil are good food sources of vitamin D. In pill form: If you are getting a lot of sun you may only need 800-1000 IU a day, otherwise take 4000 IU per day for prevention: 50,000 IU per day for 10 days maximum if infected. Or, for ages six and up 35 IU per pound; newborn to 5 yrs ½ - 1 tsp cod liver oil (453 IU.) Keep in mind this is far above the RDA recommended by health organizations; also keep in mind that the RDAs are being changed periodically, it seems they just cannot decide what we need to be healthy. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently doubled the amount of D3 recommended for children to 400 IU.
Well, that's it for today. Hope you found something new to try for those sniffles. :)