HOW TO HANDLE SEASONAL COLDS THE HERBAL WAY
For most of us, succumbing to sickness during cold and flu season is inevitable. If it’s not the overly ambitious, coughing, sneezing co-worker who refuses to take a day off, the stranger who sneezes just a bit too close to you on the subway, or simply the change of seasons, chances are a seasonal cold is going to track you down. You likely have your own tips and tricks up your sleeve, but we recently attended an herbal medicine class at Balance Botanicals in Vancouver and thought we'd share some of their expert insights.
IF YOU FEEL A COLD COMING ON
Take action! Colds can be prevented if addressed with effective remedies right away. This is where oregano, thyme, garlic, ginger and echinacea come into play. In the herbal medicine world they are known as anti-microbials, and help the body fight the pathogens that are trying to make you sick. Anti-microbials help the body strengthen the immune system while warding off illness. Another great herb you might have heard of is Panax Ginseng. Did you know that Cold FX is actually derived from this cold fighting herb? Panax Ginseng is very widely researched and used worldwide for its support of the immune system. These remedies are all available in capsule form, though if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, crush up a couple cloves of garlic, let them sit for about 15 minutes (this allows the enzymes to activate), and mix with honey or olive oil. Eat the mix straight up or add it to a piece of toast, and hopefully you will be able to steer clear of that cold.
BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
If you want to get even one more step ahead of that cold, strengthening the immune system, particularly during the colder months when most people get sick can be really helpful. Herbs like Astragulus, Eleuthero, Panax Ginseng, and medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Cordyceps, Shiitake and Turkey Tail are referred to as deep immune tonics or immunomodulators, and when used for longer periods of time strengthen the immune system. These herbs are available in capsules or in tincture form, and work better synergistically (in combination), used for at least six weeks at a time.
COLD SEASON TEAS
Orange Turmeric Tea
- 3 cups of water
Juice of one orange
3 slices (1/4 inch thick) of fresh ginger
½ tbsp turmeric
1 pinch of black pepper (to improve absorption of curcumin in turmeric)
1 tbsp raw honey (can add more or less to achieve desired sweetness)
- Add the ingredients (except honey) to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add honey and stir.
- Pour tea through a strainer and drink while warm.
Cinnamon Chai Tea
- 1 tsp Rooibos tea
1 stick of cinnamon
2 pieces fresh ginger
2 pieces organic orange peel
- Boil 1 cup of water.
- Combine ingredients in a tea steeper, add water and let steep 10 minutes.
- Remove steeper and drink while warm.
These teas are packed with vitamin C, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herbs that will help ward off colds, and are also great remedies if you already have a cold or sore throat.
*For more information, we suggest checking out The Naturopathic Herbalist, it’s a great resource for herbs and their properties and functions.