6 Plant Allies for Cold & Flu Season
Winter is here and so are seasonal diseases like colds, sinus infections, and the flu. Here are a few of my favorite plant allies for cold season, including a few common household staples:
Peppermint ~ the OG herbal ally for cold and flu season. Inhaling the volatile oils (which includes menthol) in Peppermint essential oil eases nasal congestion, reduces coughing, and boosts energy. The herb itself is an antimicrobial, analgesic, antitussive, and decongestant, making it a go-to ally for relieving many symptoms of colds and the flu, especially fevers, muscle aches, coughing, and congestion. Drink the herb as a tea or use it in a facial steam, and use the essential oil in a muscle or vapor rub. Because it's a cooling herb, its best paired with warming herbs if you're treating a fever or chills. Find peppermint in Lionheart Tea, Heal Bath Tea & Facial Steam, and Invigorate Bath Tea & Facial Steam.
Ginger ~ best-known for its ability to relieve nausea and upset stomach, ginger is also a phenomenal anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, and expectorant. It can halt the onset of an upper respiratory infection, and its warming, immune system-boosting actions make it useful for both bacterial and viral infections. Best used fresh - add it to tea or smoothies, chew on it, or create ginger-infused honey by pouring raw honey over in a jar over fresh slices of ginger. Let it infuse for at least a week, opening it up and stirring it daily. You can add this to teas, put it on toast or oatmeal, mix it in yogurt... whatever you normally do with honey!
Sage ~ we're talking culinary sage (Salvia officinalis), not white sage (Salvia apiana), which is commonly used for smudging. Sage's drying, warming, and anti-inflammatory properties soothe sore throats and tonsillitis, especially with issues of excess mucus, which sage helps expel. Use sage in tea or as a facial steam. An infusion of sage can also be gargled as a mouth wash to soothe inflammation - my go-to remedy for cold sores! Find sage in Invigorate Bath Tea & Facial Steam.
Rosemary ~ another great herbal ally for sore throats, rosemary is uplifting, warming, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, and a circulatory stimulant. The volatile oils in hot rosemary tea or her essential oil keeps colds, sore throats, flu, coughs, and chest infections at bay. She promotes healthy lung functioning, clears congestion, and relieves headaches and fatigue. She pairs wonderfully with peppermint in a tea or facial steam or use their essential oils together in sinus-opening vapor rubs or bath salts. Find rosemary in Invigorate Bath Tea & Facial Steam.
Elderberry ~ I don't know how I ever lived without elderberry in my life. I used to get debilitating sinus infections 4 or more times a year that would knock me flat for about a week (thanks, deviated septum!), but taking elderberry syrup at the first sign of sinus infection or cold significantly lessens my symptoms and kicks it out of my system entirely within 2-3 days. Elderberry is an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and diaphoretic (promotes sweating), plus it strengthens cell walls to prevent viruses from replicating. Use ripe black berries from the black elder (Sambucus nigra), not the red berries (Sambucus racemosa), which are toxic. Do not pick wild elderberries if you're not very familiar with this tree - unripe berries can be toxic, and even the ripe berries must be cooked. If you're not comfortable making your own, I recommend purchasing elderberry syrup from expert herbalists like Mountain Rose Herbs.
Nettle ~ This should be a year-round kitchen staple! Nettle is one of the most nutrient-rich herbs, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, amino acids, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. In fact, 1 cup of nettles contain more calcium than 1 cup of cow's milk (428mg vs 305mg), and 3x more than kale, so it's a great substitute any time you might eat leafy greens. Just be sure to wear gloves if you're wild harvesting nettle because of the tiny hairs that cover nettle's stem and leaves. Because it's so nourishing and an anti-inflammatory, herbalist recommend drinking nettle on a daily basis, especially when you're feeling a little lackluster and could use a pick-me-up. It makes a great addition to any teas! Find nettle in Goddess Tea and Heal Bath Tea & Facial Steam.
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any medical condition. Please see your healthcare provider if you have any adverse reactions.