As the leaves begin to change and the temperatures drop, many of us are reaching for scarves, boots, and extra blankets. It’s autumn: nature’s beautiful reminder that winter soon approaches.
With the many joyous happenings of the winter months, we are also faced with the cold and flu season, which consequently, has us reaching for tissues! However, there are ways to ward off those nagging colds and boost our immune systems so we need not be both cold and sick.
Because let’s face it… there isn’t anything worse!
With help from a few herbs and common kitchen items we can arm ourselves against the many woes that arrive with the cold and flu season. So let’s get brewing!
The Power of Echinacea
If there is one thing we can all recognize it is the onset of a cold. It may be an itchy throat or a stuffy nose, whatever the symptoms may be, catching them early is key to avoiding a full blown cold or virus.
Echinacea has the power to boost the immune system and ward off the calamities that illness’ bring. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Several clinical trials have shown that people who take echinacea as soon as they feel sick reduce the severity of their cold and have fewer symptoms than those who do not take the herb.” Echinacea is an effective staple in my home and hopefully it will be in yours too.
When it comes to preparation I find it best to use a tincture. That way you can access it with more convenience and variety. Remember, adding a few drops of tincture to your brews and remedies packs a stronger punch than either alone. Echinacea can also be administered in capsule form. as well as. brewed tea and should be taken several times throughout the day for no more than 10 days. Being the most researched and studied herb, echinacea is proven to deliver.
Use What You Got to Make A Lot!
While catching your symptoms early on and avoiding getting sick all together is ideal, it doesn’t always happen that way. Heck, it seems that sometimes we just wake up in the blows of an awful cold or even the flu. When this happens it’s time to get crafty. I’ve come to rely on a few trusted remedies that help to shake off those unbearable symptoms and get myself and loved ones back in tip top shape.
This particular recipe is a cinch to make and uses mainly common kitchen items.
- 1 organic lemon (since we will be using the peel too)
- 1 head (yes, the entire bulb and all its cloves) of garlic
- 4-5” of ginger
- Raw honey
- An ice tray
- Hot water
After peeling the ginger and garlic, chop the lemon into quarters. Using a blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Adding the raw honey to taste, you can either use immediately; a tablespoon served in 6 ounces of hot water, or freeze the constituents in the ice trays to dissolve in hot water later.
These four basic ingredients have the power to get you feeling back to normal, and here’s how. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which helps support the immune system. It also has antiseptic properties that directly ward off colds and viruses. Garlic has strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, so it attacks the sickness on various levels. Ginger is a natural diaphoretic meaning it stimulates perspiration and aid in fever reduction. Ginger also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties to totally kill colds and virus’ while also alleviating sore throats. As you can see, with just four ingredients you have the ability to stop a cold in its tracks.
Decoction: Concentrated Herbal Syrups
This next recipe is one of the first that I’ve learned and is a cinch to make. It is a syrup made of elderberry and licorice root. Technically speaking this preparation is called a decoction; It is prepared by boiling down the herbs to yield a higher concentration.
What you will need:
- ⅔ cup black elderberries (dried)
- 3 1/2 cups of water
- 1/4 cup of dried licorice root
- 1 cup raw honey)
Bring water to a boil then add elderberries and licorice. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the liquid has reduced to almost half. Once it’s reduced, cool and pour through a strainer and into a glass jar or bowl. Once the decoction is lukewarm, add the honey and dissolve into the mixture. Once everything is mixed and smooth, store it in a pint sized mason jar. You can take up to a tablespoon every three hours. If you don’t have licorice root, marshmallow root and peppermint can be substituted.
Elderberries have many healing compounds in them such as: amino acids, vitamin A, B and a large amount of the immune boosting Vitamin C. Elderberries are also diaphoretic and contain many bio-flavonoids and other proteins in the juice that destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. Licorice, another great immune boosting herb is also mucilaginous, so it can coat the throat and lessen the harshness of a cough. It is also an expectorant so it has the ability to bring up that yucky phlegm that comes along with a bad cough. Elderberries and licorice together are preventative, healing, as well as, soothing. And because of the natural sweetness of both herbs and the honey, it has an appealing taste that will be enjoyed by the whole family.
Honey on its own has tremendous healing power. This sweet gift naturally boosts the immune system due to its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It also has the ability to preserve your herbs by halting bacteria growth.
These recipes are not set and stone and can be altered to suite your needs. You can add a bit of ginger to your syrup, or even licorice root to your echinacea tincture. The possibilities are endless and so is the healing potential!