Each year it seems the flu hits with more and more fury. If you have already had the flu this season then you know how it can knock you off your feet for a week or more.
Did you know that flu shots don’t give protection from all types of flu but only the ones the makers guess will be active this winter?
Building a powerful immune system may be the best way to prevent the flu. Of course, this will not guarantee that you will not get the flu, but it cannot hurt and may (in most cases) help.
We all now understand that we are not just physical beings but first and foremost spiritual, emotional beings as well, and as such, staying healthy means decreasing stress and thinking loving positive thoughts as often as possible. Meditation and prayer are wonderful ways to bring us to a loving space in our hearts and minds. Just 5-10 minutes a day in meditation can make a big difference in our overall health.
Drink lots of simple whole plant herbal teas to keep your body well nourished and well hydrated. These herbs are brimming with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, free radical scavengers and so much more that work to help you avoid the flu (and colds). Try herbs like chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower, etc. to help nourish the nervous system and add some slippery elm to help protect the stomach and provide the body with some much needed nutrients.
Make your teas up in your big soup pot so you only need to make it about twice a week. To make: If your pot holds 25 cups, then put 25 heaping teaspoon herb or herb blend and 25 cups water in the pot (ratio is 1 teaspoon herb to 8 ounces of water), cover tightly and bring to boil. Take off heat (but leave on stove) and let steep for at least four hours or overnight. Strain, refrigerate and drink two to four cups daily. Note: If you like your tea sweeter, use whole plant Stevia (sweet herb). This plant is pretty sweet so you only need a little.
Soups are an easy and delicious way to infuse all the healing properties of herbs right into your food. Include herbs like Astragalus, Dandelion, Eleuthero and Burdock roots. I put these tough healing roots in a small muslin bag and infuse it in my pot of soup so I can just pull the bag out when the soup is done. Make sure to add lots of onion and garlic for their amazing immune enhancing qualities and don’t forget the medicinal mushrooms and sea vegetables. You can use some or all of these immune boosting herbs in almost all soups you make.
The flu is caused by viruses, which are harder to treat than bacterial infections. One of my favorite anti-viral herbs is St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum) although Echinacea and some others work well, too. Traditionally taken one dropper full each day for prevention. Note: If you already have the flu, try one dropper full two to four times a day.
One of the best flu herbs is Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) mixed with a bit of Red root (Ceanothus fendleri), in a liquid extract form. Boneset is an immune stimulant that has a long history of being used effectively in cases of influenza and fever. The herb’s common name of boneset was derived from its ability to break the terrible fevers associated with the flu. These fevers were so severe that they were described as bone fever. Red root is a wonderful lymph system stimulant and tonic and anti-inflammatory and more. Traditional dosage of Boneset with Red root tincture: A dropper full two to four times a day in a little water when the flu is active.
Oil of Oregano: For the first few days take about five to ten drops (depending on the product preparation) in water two or three times per day, then decrease to 2-4 drops two times a day as symptoms lessen. Note: Dosages can vary from one product to another so make sure you are purchasing a quality product and follow package directions.
If there is emotional exhaustion (and there usually is) use Motherwort in tincture form to help calm the emotional heart. Traditional dosage of Motherwort tincture: A dropper full two to four times a day and as needed.
For the most part, herbs are pretty safe but do take time to learn about the herbs you are using as a few should be used with caution. You can also check with a qualified herbalist if you are unsure how to begin.
Every day, more and more of us are coming back to the knowing that herbs are our powerful allies for both prevention and healing. Open yourself to the earth and all her healing medicines. She is waiting for you and she will answer – all you need to do is ask.
• Kathleen Gould, Herbalist RH, is with SW Herb Shop & Gathering Place, 148 N. Center St. in Mesa. Reach her at (480) 694-9931, SWHerb.com or at Kathy@swherb.com.