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November 15, 2016
At this time of year, when it comes to the cold and flu, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. While no one manages to completely escape the occasional bout of seasonal illness, many are able to drastically reduce the frequency, severity and duration of the common cold or flu.
It’s hard to talk about colds or flus without mentioning the very popular purple coneflower called Echinacea. It’s still one of the most commonly used herbs today in North America. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it was also used in the 18th and 19th centuries before the introduction of antibiotics, since it covers such a wide range of both bacterial and viral infections. This herb is rich in alkylamides and polysaccharides which have both anti-inflammatory as well as immune stimulating properties. Echinacea is a great lymphatic herb and works well to alleviate swollen glands and infections in the mouth, throat, tonsils, sinuses, ears and respiratory tract. It’s best used at the onset of a cold or flu.
Researchers believe that the olive tree had its origin approximately 6,000 – 7,000 years ago. The leaves of the tree come with powerful antioxidants compounds called oleuropeins, which have been studied for their broad spectrum anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory activities. Olive leaf is used for infections including the common cold and flu as well as illnesses caused by the family of herpes viruses, such as chicken pox and shingles. If you’re someone who tends to get a cold sore outbreak when sick or under stress, Olive Leaf Complex would be the ideal choice to help counteract that recurrent virus.
Oregano is a wonderfully powerful plant and is known as one of nature’s most effective antibiotics. The leaves are especially rich in essential oils, especially carvacrol, which has a broad spectrum antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effect. Oregano oil is excellent for respiratory infections. It should be limited to a maximum use of 2 to 4 weeks at a time. Oregano now also comes in a fermented herb form, providing 100% bioavailable plant compounds along with organic acids and naturally occurring probiotics. This one is an ideal option for those with sensitive tummies and may be used on a longer term basis if dealing with a more chronic infection.
This age-old remedy, often consumed in the form of chicken soup, has a lot of merit to it. The broth made from the bones of chickens, beef or turkey, deliver a rich array of minerals, collagen, gelatin and amino acids. These nutrients work to thin out the mucus that builds up in our cells when we’re sick. This keeps pathogens and debris moving out of our system. Bone broth also reduces tissue inflammation and helps to heal the lining of our gut tissue which keeps unwanted bacteria and viruses out of circulation. A vegetarian-based broth can be made with vegetables and spices such as; ginger, garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme and turmeric.
One of my favourite essential oils for colds and flus is eucalyptus oil. It can be added to a steam pot, a hot bath or an essential oil diffuser. You can also mix it with a base oil such as coconut oil and rub it under your nose as well. Inhaling essential oils delivers molecules through the respiratory system rapidly and then to other areas of the body. Eucalyptus essential oil (eucalyptus globulus) has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds. It is also considered to be an expectorant which loosens mucus and clears congestion and sinus headaches. It’s a great little remedy to keep on hand when travelling and to help with acute symptoms. It is meant for external use only.
When choosing any herbal medicine, always look for a liquid extract or liquid inside a capsule for best absorption of both the fat and water soluble compounds from the plant. These forms also increase absorption and assimilation so that you can receive the full benefit quickly from whatever herbal medicine that you’re using. Ask your natural health store or other natural wellness experts about any questions you might have. Wishing you a healthy and happy winter season!