Herbal Help for the Common Cold

So, you've managed to "catch" a cold. Bah! 

You try to go about your daily life, but you feel just plain awful -- people will even TELL you that you look awful – and you just want some relief!

Over-the-counter medications only suppress sneezing and mucus production, lengthening the amount of time the body needs to expel the virus.

Instead of suppressing or “fighting” the virus, why not try strengthening and supporting your system with some herbal helpers?

My favorite herbal helpers for the common cold (along with our friends: Garlic, Ginger, Licorice, Sage, Eucalyptus, and Peppermint) are:

1. Echinacea –Taken at the FIRST sign of cold and in large doses – this is where Echinacea is most effective.  Using 30 drops of the tincture every hour upon onset until symptoms cease is a favored and most beneficial dosage.

For that painful, irritated, sore throat - drip Echinacea tincture (30 drops) down the back of your throat (mixed with your saliva) every 15-20 minutes until you get relief; continue every 2-4 hours until all symptoms are gone.  You can also purchase ready-made Echinacea sprays that are convenient and easy to use (some are mixed with Goldenseal for the added anti-bacterial benefit).

2. Elderberry/Flower – Tremendous anti-infective herb for either cold or flu.  Elder contains antioxidants that protect cell walls against foreign substances; useful for upper respiratory infections and headaches associated with “the cold”.  Elderberry syrup is quite soothing and cooling to a feverish, worn out body – keep some on hand and take daily for immune support!

3. Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) – For those aches and pains, fever and chills; noted to work better than Echinacea for that “upper respiratory thing that won’t go away”.  Either the homeopathic formulation or tincture will provide excellent results.

4. Red Root (Ceanothus spp.) – This herb helps clear out dead cellular tissue from the lymph, increasing the speed of recovery.  It is especially helpful for those swollen/inflamed/infected nodes in your neck, tonsils, and the entire back of throat.  Additionally, Echinacea’s ability to “heal” is greatly enhanced when you add Red Root and/or Licorice to the mix!

5. Red Clover (Trifolium pretense) – Another wonderful lymph “cleaner”; has an affinity for the glands about your neck, under your ears, toward the back of the neck. Red Clover is remarkable for healing that tender node in your neck that shoots pain into your ear when you swallow, and helps clear up that drippy, irritating cough (thin and clear).

6. Mullein – The leaves of this plant are helpful for respiratory problems such as cough (those dry, rough, harsh ones that make your sides ache) and for that heavy, congested feeling in your chest (making it difficult to breathe deeply). Mullein works to clear chest congestion by moving phlegm and mucus out of your lungs, and can also help prevent a more serious infection from settling in.

7. Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) – Some consider Horehound “the champion herb for chest problems”; it is an effective immune booster and works best for non-productive coughs. It relaxes the bronchiole tubes, and loosens phlegm and mucus (cough it up!).  Horehound is beneficial for treating hoarseness and laryngitis as well.

8. Pleurisy Root (Asclepiasa tuberosa) – For that “wet” condition that has settled deep into the lungs. Pleurisy Root will move the fluids out of your lungs and disperse them through the body’s tissues, bringing up phlegm and creating perspiration.  The picture of someone needing this is lungs that feel “wet below, dry above” --- when you feel that soggy, wet sensation in the lower part of your lungs, but the upper part is so dry that you aren’t coughing up anything productive.  I have also found Pleurisy Root quite beneficial in turning around early stage bronchitis.

Certainly building up your immunity during the cold/flu "season" will be an added bonus to helping you fend off a cold, or at least help you have an easier time dealing with it, but colds happen, it's life, it's okay.  Sometimes your body just needs some "down-time" and an illness that makes you slow down or take to bed for a day or two is just what you need!

In any case, hopefully the information I've presented will help you move more easily through your next bout with illness, and help you support your body's process of healing, rather than fighting and suppressing the virus/infection.  Make plans to have these remedies on hand so you aren't caught off guard the next time those sniffles, sore throat and cough start in on you.

Be well!
Content copyright Yvonne H. Laine

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