Herbs Used for the Treatment of a Cold or Flu
By Christa Sinadinos, Clinical Herbalist

There are an abundance of herbs which support the immune system; some of which can be used as a long term to enhance resistance to infection and others which are beneficial for the treatment of acute infections. Bayberry, boneset, Echinacea, elder flower, and elder berry, are amongst the herbs which can be used for the treatment of a cold, flu, fever, and upper respiratory infections.

Bayberry (Myrica cerifera) (Wax Myrtle)

Bayberry has potent astringent actions and can be very beneficial for the treatment of upper respiratory infections. It tightens the tissues, improving circulation and reducing inflammation. Taken internally, bayberry is beneficial for treating conditions which result in excessive mucus secretions, such as allergies and sinus infections. It can also be used to reduce minor bleeding. Additionally, it has lymphatic properties. A decoction of the root bark, gargled, is helpful for treating a sore throat or for tender, bleeding gums. Bayberry can be consumed as a decoction, a liquid extract, or in capsule form.

Contraindications: discontinue using bayberry if it is overly drying.

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Boneset is a valuable remedy for colds, flu, and fevers. It is a strong diaphoretic, which helps to break a fever. It helps to reduce muscular aches and pain which accompany a fever. The herb was used extensively during many flu epidemics including “break-bone fever,” which is how it acquired its common name. Boneset is also used as a remedy to reduce excess secretions of the mucus membranes. Drink 4-8 ounces of hot tea at frequent intervals to break a fever.

Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia) (Purple coneflower)

Echinacea can be used as an immune stimulant for the treatment of acute cold and flu, and as a preventative when one feels symptoms of illness emerging. It stimulates and increases white blood cells, and enhances the body’s immune response. Echinacea inhibits viral and bacterial growth, and has lymphatic actions. It can be beneficial for the treatment of sore throat, swollen glands, laryngitis, chicken pox, and upper respiratory infections. It can be consumed as a tea (decoction), a liquid extract, and in capsule form. Echinacea should not be used on a long term basis for prevention.

Contraindications: regular use of Echinacea should be avoided by individuals with Lupus. Consult an herbalist before consuming Echinacea, when treating other autoimmune conditions, as it may be contraindicated.

Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra, Sambucus mexicana)

Elder flower has a mild and pleasant flavor which is very palatable as a tea. It is beneficial as a diaphoretic; a hot infusion of the flowers induces sweating. Elder flower is indicated for viral infections accompanied by muscular aching, stiffness, rheumatic pains, and fever. It has mild expectorant actions.

Elder Berrry (Sambucus nigra, Sambucus mexicana)

Elder berry reduces lymphatic swelling, and has antiviral and expectorant actions. It is highly beneficial in the treatment of cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections. It tastes delightful and can be consumed in the form of an infusion, a glycerin extract, or a liquid extract.

Disclaimer: the herbs mentioned in this article enhance the body’s response to an acute infection; however, they are not a substitute for medical treatment. Information and statements about the products on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.


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