When the cold season approaches, frightening us with the prospect of having a flu or a cold, a steaming cup of herbal tea might help. While antibiotics fail to fight a flu virus, simple herbs fortify your body. Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, flu fighting herbs might boost your immune system, detoxify your body and clear your mind. All you need is a bag of delicious tea brewed in a cup. You just need to know what kind of herb to pick. Below is the list of five herbs that will help you to fight the flu.
Usually one teaspoon of herbs is a good dose for one cup of water, and that is exactly the amount contained in a single tea bag. Pour boiling water over herbs in a cup and let it brew for 3-5 minutes. If you used a tea bag, take it away, but don’t forget to squeeze the bag first to keep all nutrients in your beverage. If you used the bulk, strain it, so your tea is clear and pleasant to drink. You can sweeten it with some honey or take it plain. You can drink it hot, warm or cool. The basic rule is to make your tea enjoyable, so you always want to repeat the pleasure.
There is a big variety of flu fighting teas, but one common tea is especially effective. It is green tea. It contains theanine that not only relaxes the human brain and reduces stress, but boosts gamma-delta T cells in our blood – the first defense against infections. Theophylline in tea relaxes air passages and helps with respiratory diseases. Catechins, which are in abundance in green tea, have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Even gargling with tea, popular in Japan, is found to lower rate of flu infections.
Besides flu fighting properties, tea is found to be beneficial against inflammation, different types of cancer, in weight loss, heart and coronary diseases. However, to enjoy the wonderful properties of tea it is better to drink it on a regular basis. White and black teas are also very beneficial. Be careful about the caffeine when drinking tea at night as most black, green or white teas have it. Caffeinated tea may interrupt your sleep routine.
Next on our list of five herbs that fight the flu is echinacea, the herb native to North America. It is good for flu, colds, chronic infections, swollen lymph glands, sore throats, and chronic headaches. It might be taken as tinctures, tablets, or capsules, but it is said that hot water releases properties of echinacea the best, so warm tea works wonderful. Gargling with echinacea extract also helps with the flu, stopping the virus from multiplying. Echinacea increases the number of white blood cells supporting immunity. However, it is not recommended to take this herb on a regular basis and in large quantities. Alcohol free echinacea extract combined with goldenseal extract is safe for children if taken for three days only – four drops for a glass of water or juice every four hours is a safe dose.
The beautiful flowers of European elder trees make a helpful remedy against the cold and flu, easing the symptoms and fighting infections. Elder flower tea opens the upper respiratory tract, dries mucous membranes and stimulates sweating. It is better to drink hot and a little bit sweetened with raw honey. Elder flowers are good to combine with yarrow, raspberries, lemon, and even nettle.
Not only elder flowers are beneficial, but elderberries as well. They are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, and can shorten recovery time if you are affected by influenza. They will also prevent illness from recurring. You can buy elderberry extract ready, or ground elderberries and make tincture by yourself. You can use ground elderberries to make a delicious pie if you want it appeal to children.
Thyme might also help to fight infections of the respiratory tract. It assuages cough and brings relief to the chest during the flu. It opens bronchi and helps to break up phlegm. Thyme’s antiseptic properties are believed to fight fungal, microbial, viral and bacterial infections. It is good to take thyme tea at least once a day if you get sick. You may combine it with Licorice or echinacea. Additionally thyme flowers and leaves have wonderful aroma, and some believe it can clean the air as well. You just need to boil some herbs in an open pot letting the steam do the work.
To give a needed boost to your immune system during the cold season you may brew rose hips tea, the “Queen of the flowers.” With one cup of healing tea you take in vitamins A, D, E, K, complexes of vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, silicon, selenium, magnesium, pectin, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and zinc. It calms your mind, clears respiratory system, tones your body and boosts immune system helping to fight infections. It is good cold, warm or hot, sweetened or plain. Even little children can take a small amount of rose hips syrup to increase immunity.
Start drinking herbal tea to prevent the flu even if you received the flu shot. One helps the other. Hopefully, the cold winter won’t be able to break your immune system if you load it with combined benefits of medicine and natural healing. Our five herbs may help you fight the flu.
By: Alsu Salakhutdinov
Balch, P. (2006). Prescription for natural healing. (4 ed.). New York: Avery.
Zak, V. (1999). 20,000 secrets of tea. New York: Dell Publishing.