It’s autumn—nature’s beautiful reminder that winter is coming.
Many of us are reaching for scarves, boots and extra blankets—we’ll take anything to stay warm!
With winter coming, we are also faced with the fear of flu season, which consequently, has us reaching for tissues. However, there are ways to ward off nagging colds and boost our immune systems.
With help from a few herbs and common kitchen items, we can arm ourselves against the many woes that arrive with 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 brings. 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 it 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’ve 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 inch piece of ginger
An ice tray
After peeling the ginger and garlic, chop the lemon into quarters. Using a blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Add the raw honey to taste. We can either use immediately—a tablespoon served in six 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. Lemon 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 aids in fever reduction. Ginger also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which kill colds and viruses, while also alleviating sore throats. As you can see, with just four ingredients, we have the ability to stop a cold in its tracks!
Decoction: concentrated herbal syrups.
This next recipe is a cinch to make—it is a syrup made of elderberry and licorice root. Technically speaking, this preparation is called a decoction, meaning it is prepared by boiling down the herbs to yield a higher concentration.
What you will need:
2/3 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, and 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, 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, vitamin B and a large amount of the immune-boosting Vitamin C. Elderberries are also diaphoretic and contain many bio-flavonoids and other proteins in their 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’s 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 and healing, as well as soothing, and because of the natural sweetness of both herbs and the honey, this 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, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. It also has the ability to preserve herbs by halting bacteria growth.
These recipes are not set and stone, and they can be altered to suit one’s needs. We can add a bit of ginger to our syrup, or even licorice root to our echinacea tincture. The possibilities are endless and so is the healing potential!
Author: Linda Clements
Editors: Caitlin Oriel & Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Unsplash/Dominik Martin