Home-made Herbal Remedies for
Busting your Cold
Most people are content to let the common cold run
its course. My granny used to say that "If you take medicine for a cold, you
will be cured within seven days, and if you don't, you will be cured within a
But the common cold is the cause of considerable
misery. Searches for its cure are like
searches for the Holy Grail. Fortunately herbs have much to offer.
What To Do When You Catch a Cold
If you have a healthy, functioning immune system, your cold should not last
more than three or four days. Do not expect miracles or immediate results from
natural remedies. In fact, since most of these remedies will assist the body, as
opposed to suppressing the symptoms, your symptoms may temporarily worsen.
Base your primary treatment on helping your body to detoxify and support its
natural defense mechanisms (your immune system). Avoid trying to include as many
remedies as possible, it seldom works, and if it does, you will not know which
remedy actually did the job. By selecting herbs that fit your individual needs
and addressing immune support, diet and lifestyle, the common cold should not
present you with a problem.
You can include one or two herbs to help relieve your symptoms, especially if
they make your life miserable. Although this may sound contrary to the advice
that you should not suppress your cold symptoms, most of the herbal remedies you
have at your avail will alleviate your symptoms without suppressing them.
Remember, they are Nature's Little Miracles.
A Sample Herbal Cold
- At the first sign of a cold decrease your food intake, or eliminate it
completely for the first 24 hours. Take an Epsom salts bath and consume lots
of liquids – water and/or lemon balm tea.
- Get sufficient rest. Even if it means staying in bed for a day or two.
Your health is your most valuable asset.
- Avoid sugar (even natural sources) as it can impair immune function.
Orange juice for example contains a much higher level of sugar than vitamin C.
Therefore consuming lots of orange juice during a cold may do more harm than
- Increase your intake of vitamins A and C and take supplemental zinc. There
is good scientific data to support this practice.
- Use one or more of the herbs discussed below. A proven combination is
equal parts of yarrow, peppermint and elderberry. If you can tolerate cayenne
(chillies) increase your daily intake to your individual maximum tolerance.
- Lastly, use your common sense. If your symptoms persist, or become worse,
consult your doctor or health care provider.
Herbal Cold Remedies
Cayenne (Capsicum sp.)
Chillies, especially Jalapeno, are probably the best, most available and
most effective antiviral. Unfortunately, unless you are used to taking it, your
digestive tract won't tolerate enough cayenne to treat your virus infection. Try
to integrate more chillies into your diet before you get sick. Then, when you
need it, you'll have a better tolerance for high doses. To get accustomed to the
heat of chilli try a glass of water or milk with a few drops of Tabasco sauce on
a daily basis. Gradually increase the drops. You can grow your own chilli plants
or you can buy chillies from your green grocer.
Echinacea (Echinacea sp)
Taken frequently, and in sufficient quantities, this is undoubtedly the best
herb to take during the early stages of your cold. It is not an antibiotic - it
does not kill germs. Instead, it works by stimulating the production of white
blood cells, accelerating their maturity, and speeding their travel to the area
of infection where they fight off the invaders. You can also take echinacea in
small quantities before you get a cold (especially when everybody around you is
getting sick) to help build your immunity. Take echinacea as an infusion or as a
tincture. Both are available from health shops.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat colds and flu. Recent
research indicates that elderberry fruit extract may de-activate cold and flu
viruses by preventing them from replicating (they must reproduce or else they
can't infect the body.) Although this finding is exciting it only proves what
millions have known for ages - it works for colds and flu. It is best taken at
the first signs of a cold either as an infusion, tincture or capsules.
Discontinue use as soon as your symptoms subside. Available from health shops.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is sometimes referred to as a truly natural antibiotic as it can
destroy foreign bacteria without any side effects. Its antibiotic properties
stem from the substance allicin, a potent antibacterial agent that is released
when garlic cloves are cut or bruised. The volatile oil containing the allicin
is excreted via the lungs. This explains why garlic is so successful in
combating respiratory infections such as chronic bronchitis, catarrh and
recurrent colds and flu.
Garlic is best when fresh but it can also be taken in
capsule form. But make sure that the capsules contain natural allicin - the
synthetic alternatives are useless. Many people use it daily as a tonic to
maintain health and to prevent recurrent respiratory infections. About 4 g fresh
garlic (one medium sized clove) daily is recommended for tonic use, or if you
prefer capsules, one capsule twice daily. For a therapeutic dose use one clove
three times a day. Obtain it from your grocer or try and grow your own.
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Ginger, either freshly grated or powdered, taken as a tea induces sweating
and elimination. Hot ginger tea (or my favourite - ginger brandy made with 10
year old KWV brandy and fresh ginger root) also supports and tonifies the
stomach, spleen and large intestine and it improves bowel function. It is a
classic immune system and respiratory tonic. Ginger will also provide relief for
virtually all of your cold symptoms - fever, sinus congestion, sore throat,
stomach ache and nausea. Available from you grocer or supermarket as fresh root,
ginger powder or tincture (Lennon's Jamaica Gemmer.)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop is specifically indicated for bronchitis and it has some properties
that make it a very valuable herb for treating colds. It has diaphoretic
properties, loosens mucous and is a demulcent (membrane soother). The nervine
properties are also very valuable in the treatment of colds. You can easily grow
your own hyssop and plants are readily available. Take it as a standard infusion
made with 3 - 6 teaspoons fresh herb (use a third of that for dried herb) three
times a day.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon Balm is an excellent carminative, anti-depressive and nervine. It is
mostly used for stress and tension related problems but is often found in cold
formulas for feverish conditions. It is an excellent remedy to take in the wake
of a cold to nurture the nervous system and to expel feelings of lethargy. Best
used fresh, you should grow your own supply. Plants are readily available and
dried material can be obtained at health shops. Make a standard infusion with 4
- 6 teaspoons fresh herb. Take a cup three times a day.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Peppermint is most valuable in the treatment of fevers and especially colds
and flu. When viral illness involves stomach trouble, you may not be able to eat
much, or keep down your remedies. Peppermint is a good, cooling stomach soother
that will help with nausea. It also relieves pain. It should preferably be used
fresh and is very easy to grow. Take a standard infusion made with 4 - 6
teaspoons fresh herb, three times daily, or as needed.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs available to us and has become a
standard remedy for aiding the body in dealing with fevers. For colds it is best
combined with other herbs such as peppermint and elderberry. Yarrow is easy to
grow and plants are freely available - so grow your own. Make a standard
infusion with 3 - 6 teaspoons fresh herb, or 1 - 2 teaspoons dried herb. Take
one cup three times a day.
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