Monday, May 21, 2012

Herbs to beat colds and flu this winter.

Temperatures have plunged overnight, and thoughts of winter miseries are beginning to surface. As I am writing this, I have to "touch wood" all over, because I seldom get a cold, and haven't had a full blown flu in 30 years. My secret? Well, I have a few. Number one is, I don't wait for the flu, I take preventive action. I keep my diet quite simple (not too much stodgy food), and at the slightest hint of change in myself (loss of appetite, headache, scratchy throat), I take a herbal formula which I've developed. It knocks the bugs immediately, and doesn't give the flu a chance.

There are several herbs which can act prophylactically, to prevent the virus taking hold. But first you have to do a little work at not allowing a pleasant environment for invasion and occupation of viruses and bacteria. Keep your diet fresh, with plenty of leafy greens, vegetables and herbs in your cooking, like garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, sage and rosemary. In a nutshell, keep your diet savoury. Sweets, chocolates, puddings and cakes are going to make you a perfect target for a regular flu and colds. 

Herbs have different roles to play in the defence of your body. Not only do you need antibacterials, but also liver cleansers and kidney boosters. One of the secrets to good health is good nutrition and effective filtering of the blood by the liver and the kidneys. Soups are a great way of providing preventative care, because you can put so many good herbs in a soup - herbs that nurture the kidneys and liver like celery, parsley, nettle, turmeric, garlic and sage.

 If after all your healthy eating and including herbs in your diet, you still succumb to the flu, all is not lost. There are many herbs to help fight it, and reduce the severity. Flu often causes hot and cold shivers, so you want to raise the body temperature quickly to kill the bugs. Elderflower tea with a good dollop of ginger, (either fresh or dried) will help with this. Echinacea is an excellent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Your phytotherapist will have a good formula with Echinacea and possibly some anti-viral herbs to really attack the problem. If the cold spreads to the lungs, many Phytotherapists have herbal syrups and cough medicine which will help the cough clear up quickly. I make a syrup with horehound which I grow myself. It gets picked and cooked with thyme and aniseed to make a wonderful effective and safe syrup.

Each season presents its own challenges. But having some knowledge of the herbs around us, can help with most of the common seasonal illnesses. And if you MUST have caffeine with your medicine, just make a good strong cup of coffee. It is also a herb and has its benefits too.