Every time a friend, family member, or patient comes down with a cold, I love being able to suggest a few easy things to do, like cold wet socks, a couple of herbs or homeopathics, and then hearing about how quickly and easily they recovered.
The most common immune herb is Echinacea; and although it’s one of my favourites it’s not the only one that can pack a powerful punch for a nasty bacteria or virus.
1. Licorice – A great tasting and multipurpose herb! It soothes the digestive system, nourishes your adrenals, and helps the immune system. Add a little licorice glycerite in warm water or purchase licorice mint tea, fill a thermos and bring it to work or school.
Please note: If you have high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease or liver ailments, licorice is something you should NOT take or should discuss with you ND.
2. Hawthorne – This herb has been used to treat heart disease as far back as the first century. However, I love to use it for kids and adults with chronic asthma or even acute
asthma attacks that are brought on by stress and emotion. Hawthorne is available in capsules or solid extracts, but should also be discussed with your ND if you are taking certain medications.
3. Elderberry – Back at naturopathic school when we learned to make tinctures, salves and poultices in first year botanical medicine class I loved putting elderberry in my cough syrups. It’s great in the early stages of coughs, colds and flus. Kids love the taste and it is ideal for any feverish child. You can use a little elderberry syrup mixed in water and sip it throughout your sick day. Buy some dried elderberries today to make your own!
4. Eyebright – This herb is great when there are thick secretions from the eye. Mix a few drops in warm water and then dip a clean cloth into the mixture and wipe the eye, around the outer corner where you tear.
5. Echinacea – Of course, I can’t say enough about this one. This is a staple in most of my herbal immune medicine combinations. If you are one of my patients you have probably encountered my favourite cold liquid tincture by St. Francis called Echinaseal or Echinacea Combo. The root contains most of the medicinal parts. It is anti-microbrial – anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. Not the best tasting herb, but it is very powerful.
Eucalyptus contains a compound called eucalyptol, also known as cineole, which is a compound found in eucalyptus oil. It has been found to decrease nasal congestion, cough frequency, and cold-related headaches by decreasing inflammation and mucous build-up.