This is the time of year when colds and flu start to creep up on us. The colder temperatures and schools back in session, all mean we are becoming exposed to germs galore. To avoid spending the next few months nursing repeated illnesses, now is the time to start building your defenses again the impending germ influx.
When considering herbals, start with the most basic single herbs, like tinctures and teas. Use them one at a time and monitor the reaction that you or your sick patient has. Many times, the simple effort your take to show love and concern for your charge is enough to help him or her feel better. A warm bath, a cup of tea, and some one on one time can work wonders.
Here are 5 herbs that can be made into simple herbal remedies, and administered as needed. If you are just starting out using herbal remedies, these are 5 starter herbs to build your confidence. Don't feel that you have to be a beginner however. These are also the 5 most commonly used herbs in my herbal cabinet. My motto is to start simple and if it works, keep at it.
In no particular order, let's take a look at 5 herbs that help support the immune system and help fight colds and flu.
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm: What's not to love? It tastes fantastic, and has known anti viral properties. I have never met anyone who didn't enjoy the refreshing taste. Lemon balm can be used to fight colds and flu, or help make bitter medicine taste much better.
Lemon balm also is used as a remedy for stress. This can be useful for cranky sick people, who need to calm down and get some rest. That includes most of us at some point. Lemon balm pairs well with other lemony herbs, like chamomile; and is also perfect with a minty blend.
There is nothing that says you can't make a refreshing, but relaxing lemon balm soda for the younger patients.
It is always fun to include this delicious herbal into the mix of remedies. What a great way to introduce someone who is wary of herbs, to the enjoyment that they can bring. I make elderberry syrup all the time, using it on pancakes and diluting with warm water, for a simple tonic for the littlest members of my family.
If you do not have access to wild elderberries, dry will work just as well - be warned, if you dry your own, they shrink to a very tiny size and can fall through the mesh on your dehydrator trays.
Sage is much more than a holiday herb. As a medicinal, it is a goto herb for soothing sore throats and coughs. Make a simple gargle (fancy word for cooled tea), and enjoy the relief this handy herb brings.
Of course, I have to remind you that it should be used with caution for breastfeeding moms, due to its ability to dry up milk.
4. Slippery Elm
I know, this is officially a tree, but the herbal indications are wonderful. Traditionally used as a first food, slippery elm is known to have mucilage properties, perfect for soothing mucous membranes. Turn to this common herbal when suffering frm a sore throat (In fact, dust your homemade cough drops with it), upset stomach and especially for diarrhea. Actually referring to the inner bark of the elm tree, this herb can be fed just like oatmeal or mixed into another cooked cereal.
Something to note, slippery elm is extremely light and fluffy. When you buy a pound, be ready to recieve a huge, fluffy bag of shredded bark. I will never forget my first time opening my package and wondering where in the heck I was going to keep all of it (a glass jar works well).
Check out some of the many benefits of slippery elm. It's not just for cough drops.
It seems no matter what sort of cold we get around here, it always includes lung congestion. This is exactly what mullein can remedy. It helps clear congestion, when used as a tea. I highly recommend mixing with other more flavorful herbs, due to its bitter taste, but an older child or adult can manage it just fine.
Be sure to strain mullein tea twice to remove the tiny hairs that can irritate the throat when consumed. I use an unbleached coffee filter for this task. It ensures nothing but pure tea gets through.