It’s the end of September and the cold is coming if it hasn’t arrived where you live yet (in the northern hemisphere, of course). Snow is already falling in the higher altitudes and with damp cold, comes the sniffles, the flu, runny noses etc. You know what I’m talking about.
I already got hit with a sore throat. My weapon of choice: Echinacea.
But there are so many other herbs that can help with coughs, flu, fevers, congestion and phlegmy respiratory tracts that I took the liberty to compile a quick list of common-ish herbs that can help you this season!
Otherwise known as a purple coneflower, Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a powerhouse for helping cure a common cold. (I’ve actually wrote about my experience with echinacea in the beginning of the year when I got a cold on New Year’s Day. ) The root and aerials of this plant is mainly used in modern herbal medicine and is a great antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergenic and lymphatic tonic. One could also take Echinacea capsules, just double and triple check that it’s high quality and organic. However, the taste of the tea is quite nice, and I’d recommend that! Echinacea relieves a sore throat, cold and influenza among other uses.
A summer flowering plant, Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is commonly known as a cleansing type of plant. It’s actually mentioned in the Bible over a dozen times. (“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7) Both the leaves and the flowers are used for cold remedies in syrups, teas, tinctures and essential oils. Hyssop is a natural expectorant, phlegm reducer, antiviral and promotes sweating among other benefits. Drink this tea hot at the onset of a cold/flu.
A wonderfully spicy herb, ginger (Zingiber officinalis) has been used for centuries in Asia to dispel chills among many other versatile uses (like a hangover for example). Ginger promotes circulation, sweating, is an expectorant, relieves nausea and vomiting, and is antiseptic. Either drink ginger tea made from the dried root or take a couple of slices and steep for 10 minutes in boiled water. Side note: if you don’t like the bite from a hot cup of ginger tea, try cold-brewing it instead and it goes down much smoother.
Described as a “complete medical chest,” these powerful flowers cure excessive phlegm and mucus. The elder flower (Sambucus nigra)is native to Europe and is actually surrounded by a wealth of folklore. The flowers are powerful in stimulating circulation, a great expectorant, promotes sweating and is anti-inflammatory. Other parts of the plant, like the berries or bark, are used for other benefits but the flowers are mainly used for fevers, colds, coughs and flu. A hot cup of elderflower tea clears away the respiratory tract and an elder syrup is a great remedy for congestion. It pairs well with lemon and raspberry.
Who doesn’t love a cuppa peppermint tea whether one is sick or not! One of the most common herbal teas, Peppermint tea a cooling a soothing herb that treats fevers, congestions and even travel sickness. Much like ginger, peppermint prevents vomiting, nausea promotes sweating (but is internally cooling), and an analgesic. Another side benefit to peppermint is that it gives a gentle boost of alertness and is very uplifting. Read more about non-cold-related benefits of peppermint.
Bonus…if you’re brave:
It is great little warrior for infections but I don’t have the courage to brave this one yet!
I hope that as we enter the cold seasons, that you keep these brave little herbs in the back of your minds and tea cupboards for when the sniffles come on, you’re prepared to attack it head on!
Keep on steeping, tea lovers!